The Court’s mission is to fairly and impartially facilitate the administration of justice. The Court has five courts of appeal, 43 district courts, five family or juvenile courts and 48 city courts. Learn more about the LA criminal court.
Defendants may hire private criminal attorneys or request the services of a public defender to represent them in a case. Clerical staff can provide many services by phone, eliminating the need to come into a courthouse.
How Does the Court Work?
The criminal case process in LA starts with the arraignment. During this hearing, the judge or a court clerk will read out loud the charges against you and ask you to enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest. It’s important that your attorney be there to help you understand the pros and cons of each plea option so you can make an informed decision.
If you’re charged with a felony, you have the right to a trial by jury. Misdemeanors do not have the same protections, and can only be tried by a judge.
The courts are overseen by a Judge and a number of Judicial Assistants, who manage the clerical aspects of courtroom activities including interacting with attorneys and defendants, administering oaths, and impaneling juries. Clerical staff also answer questions and provide many services by phone. In addition, Los Angeles has a variety of community-based organizations that assist individuals with their cases.
Which Court is My Case in?
The mission of the Court is to fairly and impartially facilitate the administration of justice, promote public confidence and trust in the judiciary, protect individual rights and liberties, and provide access to the Court by all Louisiana citizens. The Court strives to do this through openness, transparency and accountability.
There are different types of cases that may be filed with the Superior Court. Typically these include civil cases like personal injury, contracts, landlord-tenant issues and small claims; bankruptcy; divorces; and criminal cases including felonies and misdemeanors. For the year 2018, there were 1,521,413 filings in Superior Court.
If you want to search for a specific case, you will need the OC Pay number and citation (case number). This can be found by searching by name through Case Access. You will also need the county and courthouse where your case was filed. If you don’t have this information, you will need to visit the courthouse where your case was filed and look up the information in person.
What Should I Do?
When charged with a crime in Los Angeles, you must appear at the correct courthouse. The system can be complicated, but an experienced criminal defense attorney can help you navigate the process and fight for your freedom.
The prosecutor and police will do their own investigation of your case. For domestic violence cases this usually involves detectives from a Domestic Violence Unit. Detectives will contact witnesses and anyone else involved in your case to learn more about what happened. They will then make a filing recommendation and send it to the City Attorney or District Attorney for felony or misdemeanor charges.
At your arraignment you will have the opportunity to enter a plea. It is important to talk with your lawyer about the different plea options before entering a plea. You may want to consider a plea of no contest, which is the same as pleading guilty but doesn’t carry a criminal record. It’s also possible that you can get the case expunged from your record.
Do I Need an Attorney?
It can be tempting to try and deal with your criminal case on your own, especially if you believe you are innocent. However, it is never a good idea to go up against the prosecutor’s office without a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer. Criminal convictions can ruin your life, career and reputation.
If you are found guilty of a crime it could also impact immigration status, professional licenses and other important parts of your life. This is why it is so vital to hire a private criminal attorney with experience and expertise in defending cases similar to yours.
While the court system is legally obligated to provide you with a public defender, these attorneys are often overworked and inexperienced. They may miss important legal arguments and mistakes that could be catastrophic to your case. Instead, you should always hire your own Los Angeles criminal lawyer who has extensive experience and track record of successful defenses.