Legal Question in Criminal Law in California

My husband received a citation for a misdemeanor child endangerment after he (stupidly) left my son in the car for literally 2 minutes (it was not hot out & the car was right in front of the store he ran into to use the restroom & my son was sleeping. He is 3 years old) and someone called the police. The officer was very nice & made notes to his report that he was very remorseful, only gone for 2 minutes, weather conditions, etc...). CPS came to our house a week later to do a home visit which we were told was standard protocol after an incident such as this. She said everything was great (nice, clean house with lots of food, toys, saftey locks, a nice bedroom for our son, etc...). The citation my husband signed had a mandatory court date of March 27 @ 8:00am. He showed up for court this morning & his name was not on the docket. He spoke to the court clerk & she looked it up on the computer & she said that he was not in the database nor did he have a court date. She said either it was filed late, or the DA might be reviewing the case to see if they might want to just dismiss it. He was reluctant to leave court because he was afraid that somehow he would be found in violation for not showing up & they could issue a warrant. The court clerk assured him this would not happen. She said he will probably receive a letter in the mail with either a court date or a dismissal. What should he do now? What do you think is going on with this situation? Thank you.

Asked on 3/27/12, 3:27 pm

5 Answers from Attorneys

Joe Dane Law Office of Joe Dane

The clerk was correct.

Your husband's written promise to appear was just that - his promise to appear on the date on the citation. He fulfilled his obligations and there is no case to appear on. What is going on? Although I can't say for sure, there are some possibilities:

1. The police haven't gotten the paperwork to the DA yet.

2. The DA is still reviewing it

3. The DA has decided to send it back to the police for further information/investigation/clarification, etc.

4. The DA has rejected the case and will not be filing charges.

He can call the DA's office - NOT to discuss the facts, but just to see what the status of the case is. The only possible risk to that is that it could prompt them to find the case and then file charges. Instead, if the DA decides to file charges, they typically will send a letter to the address your husband gave the police indicating charges have been filed.

Read more
Answered on 3/27/12, 4:24 pm
Terry A. Nelson Nelson & Lawless

The DA has not yet decided whether to file charges. If they do, you will get a letter advising of a new court date. If so, HIRE AN ATTORNEY. Those are serious charges. If serious about doing so, feel free to contact me.

Read more
Answered on 3/27/12, 5:46 pm
Theresa Hofmeister Theresa Hofmeister, Attorney At Law

Or hire an attorney to monitor the situation if that eases your mind. It is possible that a warrant can get issued rather than a notification letter. Also I've had it happen where a letter did go out with the new court date however it was sent to the wrong address (transposition of numbers - something like it was sent to 115 Main instead of 155 Main.) In that case, an arrest warrant will eventually be issued, and you may receive a letter stating that it has been issued.

Those are all unlikely scenarios; however, I have seen them all happen. The safest way, if you choose to take that route, is to have an attorney on the case. That way, the attorney will be advised of the new court date (if any) directly and so the mail and address will not be "wild cards." Good luck!

Read more
Answered on 3/27/12, 6:30 pm
Glen Fleetwood Mister DUI-800-468-2-502

Your husband went to court in Ventura on a case that could get him jailed, and lose him custody of his child, without an attorney??

After leaving his 3 year old alone in the car??

Why would he go to court without an attorney?

Restated: Is there any matter serious enough that your husband would think to himself:

"Maybe I should get a lawyer to go to court with me?"


Read more
Answered on 3/27/12, 9:39 pm
Anthony Roach Law Office of Anthony A. Roach

I agree with Ms. Hofmeister. I've seen cases where a party showed up on time, and the DA filed charges later in the day. As the attorney, I always check with the DA's office when a client has been cited but the case is not on calendar. It is best to folow up and make sure that no case has been filed, as clerical errors and miscommunication can lead to an arrest warrant causing more headaches later.

Read more
Answered on 3/28/12, 10:16 am

Related Questions & Answers

More Criminal Law questions and answers in California