There are several misperceptions defendants have when going to Los Angeles criminal court, the most common of which we will reveal below. Regardless of whether you have been arrested or charged with a seemingly minor offense, or something more serious that will potentially leave you facing severe criminal penalties if convicted, it is highly advised you seek the legal support of a seasoned LA criminal defense attorney.
Here are five of the most common misperceptions regarding Los Angeles criminal court:
1. I won’t show up for court, and the issue will go away. Not true – you should appear in court any time it is requested of you. Failing to appear will likely result in a warrant being issued for your arrest. These warrants remain in the computer systems of law enforcement agencies indefinitely, so it won’t “go away.” In fact, there are times when a warrant may be revealed many years or even a decade after it was issued. This could prove to be embarrassing, depending on your career and life at that point in time.
2. I don’t need a lawyer; representing myself will save time, effort, and money. While it may save you money, representing yourself in court is one of the most costly mistakes you can make. You are the defendant, the one who has been accused of a crime. A criminal defense attorney is your ally; prosecutors and judges are not. A talented defense lawyer can evaluate your options objectively, and devise an effective defense strategy to fight the charges against you.
3. I should plead guilty, after all I am guilty as charged. Even when you believe you are guilty of the offense you have been accused of, it is still important to have the facts carefully analyzed by an attorney. There may be options which can greatly reduce the penalties you will face. It’s also important to note that mistakes can be made in the criminal justice process, which could be to your advantage. It’s natural to want to resolve your problem as quickly as possible so that you can move on with your life, however it is critical to make sure your legal rights are protected. Remember: Until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, you are innocent.
4. I can resolve the issue by explaining what happened to the judge. Many defendants believe that when they arrive for an arraignment hearing, they can simply explain the situation to the judge and all will be resolved. This is not the way the legal system works, and considering the dozens of cases judges handle on a daily basis, time is a precious commodity. An arraignment hearing is where a defendant is advised of criminal charges and his or her rights. If you believe you can persuade the judge to listen to your story, it could backfire – the judge may only become agitated, and the court process delayed.
5. I was only charged with a civil infraction or misdemeanor, so it’s not really a big deal. True, an infraction or misdemeanor is not as serious as a felony charge, however it should still be taken seriously. Any time you face a criminal charge it is serious, and could negatively impact not only your reputation, but career, future employment opportunities, professional licensing, and even immigration.
If you have been arrested and facing Los Angeles criminal court, don’t make these mistakes. Consult with a skilled criminal defense lawyer who is experienced, knowledgeable, and dedicated to obtaining the best possible result in your case.