Legal Question in Criminal Law in California

A friend was charged with HS 11378 B F and HS 11379 F, when he was walking out of a convenience store and approached by an officer for a random probation search. Nothing was found on the individual, officer continued to vehicle which concluded to finding evidence needed. Defendant hired an Attorney at wanted to take case to trial at Preliminary Examination, Defendant was 20 minutes late and an Warrant for $50,000 was issued moments earlier. Upon arriving Defendant was taken into custody. Question: Is this normal? b) Could the Attorney done more to prevent Defendant taken into custody? c) Any feedback on possible agenda of the Judge, DA or Defendants Attorney? Case is in Alameda County, CA

Asked on 10/15/09, 1:05 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Robert Marshall Law Office of Robert L, Marshall

Since he's on probation, your friend should know that court is like a job interview: you need to show up on time, be prepared, and dress and act like it's the most important thing in your life. If your friend doesn't do well in a felony case, his next job could be at Folsom Prison, making license plates for sixty cents an hour.

I doubt that his attorney had an "agenda," other than to represent his client, which is very difficult when your friend doesn't take the case seriously enough to make it to court on time. Since I wasn't there, I don't know if there's anything his lawyer could have done.

When one of my clients shows up late for court, I usually tell the judge I'm surprised that he's not there, and ask if the court can handle other cases while we are waiting for my client to show up, so I can call my office and see if we've heard from the client. Sometimes that works, but if the judge has no other cases and the courtroom is full of witnesses waiting to testify, the judge may not be as patient.

The judge's agenda is usually to keep the "rocket docket" moving quickly. When a defendant has trouble making it to court on time, judges often take the attitude that they won't have to worry about it if the defendant is in jail and the sheriff will make sure he is transported for his next court date.

The DA's agenda is to convict as many suspected drug dealers as possible. (Health & Safety Code section 11378 is possession of specified drugs for sale, usually methamphetamine; 11379 is transportation or sales.) They also know it's better for a defendant to fight a case if he's out of custody, so the DA used your friend's tardiness to gain an advantage in the case.

If the cop detained your friend without knowing he was on probation, there may be grounds for a motion to suppress the evidence. Your friend needs to start taking this case seriously and cooperating with his lawyer.

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Answered on 10/15/09, 2:15 pm

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