I've been practicing in the Van Nuys courthouse for twenty-five years now, dealing with sex crime cases. Ronald Hedding, Sr., has had an office in the Van Nuys area in the late 1970s, so we know this courthouse.
It's about five minutes from or Encino office, and we do a lot of sex crimes there and know how those cases are dealt with from a local perspective.
We know what types of strategies work in these Van Nuys court sex crime cases and when it's time to fight the case and go to jury trial and when the prosecutors have the evidence. It's time to negotiate the best plea bargain possible – taking into account your record, sex registration, and all the other things that are relevant when it comes to a Van Nuys sex crime case in that particular courthouse.
Sexual Prosecution Team
The Van Nuys courthouse has a sexual prosecution team that deals with sex crimes. It's a whole hierarchy where the sex crime office related to the prosecution of sex crimes is not even in the Van Nuys courthouse.
It's in the courthouse across the way, known in Van Nuys as the civil courthouse.
So, when I meet and speak with the head DA related to a sex crime case, I'm going across to that building. I am going to go in there with a complete mitigation package. We're going to sit down face-to-face and talk about my client, his version of events, the defenses in the case, and really what the reason is looking for when it comes to a sex crime case in the Van Nuys courthouse.
Another unique thing about sex crime cases in Van Nuys and other courthouses throughout Los Angeles County is the fact that typically in a sex crime case, they're going to assign the District Attorney's office – even the City Attorney's office – is going to give a specific sex crime prosecutor whose sole responsibility is to deal with that case.
Unlike other criminal cases where it just runs through the general process and whatever court you go to, whatever prosecutor is there is going to deal with the issue, it's a lot of changing hands when it comes to a non-sex crime case in Van Nuys.
This does help the prosecutors because it helps them keep track of the case, keep track of the defendant in a particular sex crime case in Van Nuys courthouse, look at the person's criminal record.
Sex Crime Prosecutor
So, when I go on a sex crime case in Van Nuys courthouse, I know I'm going to have to wait for the sex crime prosecutor who is assigned to that case versus you go to a regular criminal case – whoever the arraignment prosecutor is sitting in that court can deal with the case.
You do the arraignment, the bail is set, and the new court date is set. But when it comes to a sex crime case, they will not let that arraignment prosecutor touch the case. The sex crime prosecutor assigned to it has to deal with it.
This makes things a little more complicated. I take advantage of a lot of situations where the prosecutors are asleep.
They don't know what they're doing. They're not prepared. They haven't put in the time in the investigation of a case.
But when it comes to a sex crime case, this advantage is not as great for the defense, especially in the Van Nuys courthouse where sex crime prosecutors specifically assigned sex crime cases in that courthouse where they have a hierarchy as a head sex crime District Attorney.
You can go above the sex crime head sex crime prosecutor and go to the second in command in Van Nuys courthouse, or you can go to the head DA in Van Nuys courthouse. Still, usually, they're going to defer to the sex crime prosecutor because that individual is in charge of the cases, is consistently dealing with the issues. They don't want to step outside of the hierarchy to avoid it.
So, suppose you have a case in the Van Nuys courthouse, and you're charged with a sex crime. In that case, whether it be sexual battery, Penal Code §288, or any of these severe other sex crimes, you're going to want to get an attorney like me who has dealt with sex crimes in the Van Nuys courts, who knows what the tendencies are, who knows when we can win a sex crime case and when we can't win a sex crime case.
That's really what it takes – getting down to the nitty-gritty about how the case needs to be tried, about what the tendencies are in the Van Nuys court, what the jury pool is going to be if you try a jury trial in Van Nuys court and the person is charged with a particular sex crime.
So, if you have one of these cases, you're going to want to make sure you get an attorney that's local and knows how to deal with them.
What Are Some Defenses To A Sex Crime In The Van Nuys Court?
Well, listen, one defense – especially if the person is not underage – is always consent. They consented to it.
I thought it was okay, and then they had second thoughts later. This happens all the time in date-rape cases or cases where the alleged victim has had alcohol or drugs, and now they wake up the following day, and all of a sudden, they think, well, something wrong must have happened.
I would have never done that. Yet the defendant didn't have any idea there were any problems.
The other person seemed to be into them, and they didn't feel like they did anything wrong. This happens when I do these sex crime cases in Van Nuys court, which is a defense. Consent is a defense as long as the person is not under eighteen in California.
If they consented to it and you didn't go too far with what was agreed to, then that's not a crime.
So, I have those types of circumstances all the time. It usually involved drugs or alcohol and the person – somehow thinking that something wrong has happened, and in fact, nothing bad happened at all.
Other times when you're looking at defense to a sex crime, you're going to have to look at the facts of the case.
The facts and the circumstances of a Van Nuys sex crime case will spin on what happened. Are there witnesses in the case? Is there physical evidence?
Did they do a SART exam where they check the alleged victim out? Is there DNA in the case? All these things have to be looked at, and they are not all applicable in every sex crime case.
So, if you have a case pending in the Van Nuys court and you're charged with a sex-related offense, come and sit down. We'll go over everything, and we'll see what your best strategy is based on the circumstances of your particular case.