My name is Givelle Lamano. I’m a criminal defense attorney with Lamano Law Office, and the purpose of this video is to explain to you the confusion of what happens when you, or your loved ones, are charged with a crime.
The first thing that happens is supposedly, a crime has been committed. After a crime has been committed, a police report is filed. Generally, when a crime is committed, the police are called, the police file a police report, but sometimes a crime is committed, and the police aren’t automatically called, and then what happens is what’s called an investigation.
This is when somebody from the police station, a detective, a police officer, calls you, or comes knocking on your door, and says, ‘Hey. Why don’t you come on over and have a little chit-chat with us.” It’s really important that you understand that you have a right to remain silent. So, if at any time you’re at this stage of the criminal process, you make sure to let them know that you want to invoke and exercise your right to remain silent before, and even after, they arrest, if they do.
Once a police report is filed, sometimes it goes to somebody who’s in charge … at the police station to make sure that that police report is beefed up enough, so that when it goes to the district attorney’s office, there’s enough information on that police report to file charges against you.
Now, people often use the word, “district attorney” very loosely. Who is a district attorney? I know the district attorney. My friend knows a district attorney. Well, there are actually many district attorneys. The district attorney, are attorneys that are paid by the county to represent the interests of the state of California.
So, let’s say that you get charged with domestic violence charges. Sometimes people will say, “It was a mistake. My wife doesn’t want to file charges against me. My husband doesn’t want to file charges against me.” Well, you know what? It’s not your wife or husband that actually gets to decide whether or not charges are filed against you. It’s the state of California that is bringing charges against you, and the state of California is represented by … the district attorney’s office.
Now, as I said earlier, there’s a whole bunch of different district attorneys. One of them is called the charging district attorney. That person’s job is to sit at their desk and go through all the different police reports to determine what charges are going to be filed against you. It could be one. It could be two, three, four, many charges. And what happens is, that … complaint … against you, goes on a piece of paper, listing what all those charges are. You receive that piece of paper at your very first court appearance, which is known as the arraignment.
So, this is kind of called the pre-phase. This is what happens before your first court hearing. A crime is supposedly committed. An investigation is made. A police report is filed, and it goes straight to the charging district attorney’s desk, unless the police say, “Beef up this report a little bit more,” and then it goes to the charging district attorney’s desk. And then essentially, it becomes what’s called, a complaint.
Now, the second part is what happens when you actually go to court. As we know, the first part is called the pre-phase. The second part is called the court phase. And like we said, there was a complaint earlier. That complaint is given to you at what’s called your arraignment.
Arraignment is basically the fancy legal word for, “Your first day in court.” On your first day in court, a lot of things happen. They talk about your constitutional rights, your right to remain silent, your right to have an attorney, your right to have a speedy trial. You have so many rights. One of those rights includes your right to what’s called, a preliminary examination, okay?
Just to abbreviate it, we’ll call it PX. A preliminary examination is basically a mini-trial. There’s no jury, but just like a trial, you have an opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses against you. Those witnesses could be police officers, neighbors, anybody who supposedly is part of the investigation of the crime, that’s put into the police report, okay?
Now, before we go into the preliminary examination, let’s go back to the very first date. I kind of like to think of it as a romantic relationship. The arraignment is the first date where the district attorney introduces themselves to the … defense attorney. Either the public defender, or the defense attorney, and vice versa. “Hi. My name is Givelle Lamano. I’m representing the defendant.”
“Hi. I’m the district attorney. Here’s the complaint.” And we go through all of those rights. [One of those rights like, again, as I said, is the preliminary examination. You have a right to this preliminary examination either within 10 … 10 court days, or 60 calendar days. Now … this is important to note because essentially, there are about three levels of crimes.
The first … the lowest level is actually called an infraction. This is kind of like, a speeding ticket, running a stop sign. You basically get a ticket, you don’t necessarily get arrested. Above that, is what’s called a misdemeanor. This is like, petty theft, DUI. Above that … is what’s called a felony. These are the most serious and violent crimes, okay?
Now, the reason that I wanted to explain this hierarchy to you, is because if you were being charged with the most serious crime, which is a felony, you have a right to this preliminary examination within 10 court days or 60 calendar days. And that’s really important if you’re in custody, and you’re sitting in jail, brewing, waiting for your day in court, okay?
So, that’s what happens at the arraignment: they give you the complaint, and they talk about your rights, including your right to a preliminary examination. After the arraignment, you have the second date, and that’s basically called a pre-trial hearing. Sometimes it’s called a status conference. Whatever the- whatever it’s called, the second date is generally the day where you get to negotiate. This is where we get to know each other, and the value of our case. This is where we actually sit and look over what’s called, the discovery. The discovery is basically the fancy word for the police report and all of the evidence in your case.
Now, just like any romantic relationship, the first date is where you just get to know each other. The second date is where you get to know each other better. And depending on how serious the relationship is, or how serious the crime is, there could be numerous negotiation meetings, or pre-trial hearings.
So, there could be two dates, three dates, four dates, and sometimes if it’s a really serious matter, like a murder, could go on to 20 or more dates. In between those dates are generally about two to four weeks, okay? So, let’s say, at our first negotiation date, the district attorney says, “Oh, his blood-alcohol level was so high, and he was so intoxicated,” we get to say, “Well, why don’t you give us the information of the machine that measured, his blood alcohol level, and in order for us to determine whether or not that machine is actually accurate.”
Then they’ll say, “All right. Come back for your next pre-trial hearing while we gather that information for you,” Because a lot of times people say, “My case is taking so long.” A lot of times it takes long because we’re gathering all the information in order to give you the best defense, because we don’t want to just take any deal without making sure that we’ve gone through all the holes in the police report, because that police report generally makes you, or your love one, look like a monster. And we need to poke holes at all of that, to show that you’re not a monster.
So, arraignment, second date, pre-trial date, maybe third, fourth, however many dates we need to go over all the discovery, which is known as your evidence, and to go through negotiations, okay?
Just like any romantic relationship, there’s the first fight, which is pretty much known as a preliminary examination. This is where we really go to town, to talk about everything that we talked about in pre-trial, everything that happens at the arraignments, everything that’s on the police report. Of course, we’re going to be a little selective about our defense, but this is where we strategically get to argue about the evidence in your case, and whether or not there is enough information to hold you to the charges against you.
Now, it’s very important to note, that this here, the preliminary examination, you only have a right to that if you’re being charged with the highest crime, which is called a felony. If you have a misdemeanor, you don’t have a right to this. You do have a right, however, to all of this. The pre-trials.
Now, after the preliminary examination in a felony matter, you start over … and you have an arraignment again. This time, at the arraignment, we talk about whether or not the charges you were originally filed with are going to be held to be the same, or if they’re going to drop charges or add more charges. So, let’s say, for example, you’re only charged with one count. After the preliminary examination, they can say there’s not enough information to charge that person with a count, and so we’re going to drop the charges. Alternatively, they could say, “We actually feel that he should’ve been charged with more,” and then they add those counts at the arraignment.
After the arraignment, again, more things. More pre-trials, more negotiations. And between all of this, are, of course, a couple of days where hopefully you’re not in custody, while all of this is happening.
After all of this, just like any romantic relationship, there’s what’s called … the breakup. Also known as the jury trial. Or, the makeup, which is called a plea bargain. The reason it’s called the break up in a jury trial is because, throughout all these negotiations, we couldn’t come to an agreement on what is going to happen in your case. We couldn’t come to an agreement as to whether or not you’re going to do any jail time, whether or not you’re going to do alternatives to jail time, whether or not you’re going to pay fines. We just couldn’t come to an agreement, and instead of dealing with this, we’re going to have 12 people decide whether or not you’re guilty, or you’re innocent.
Now, sometimes you are able to come to an agreement, and you do what’s called a plea bargain. A plea bargain is basically, an understanding between the district attorney, your Oakland criminal defense attorney, and yourself, or your loved one, about how you’re going to settle this case. This jury trial can sometimes be deadly, because if they find that you’re guilty, there are no more negotiations, as to whether or not, um, you’re going to take a plea bargain. It’s just a matter of sentencing after that, and how much time you’re going to do in jail.
Now, the purpose of this video is to basically explain the entire confusion of what happens in a court case, because when you go to court, you’re vulnerable, you’re scared, you don’t understand what’s happening, and you hear all these words getting thrown out, “trial, arraignment, negotiation,” you don’t understand what’s happening. It’s always the same in every criminal matter. There’s an arraignment, there are negotiations, also known as the pre-trial. If it’s a felony, you have a preliminary examination. And if it’s not a felony, it’s still the same thing. You either break up … and go to trial … or you make up … and you take a plea.
Hopefully, this information was helpful to you. If you have any questions, please contact us today.