The Difference Between an Arrest and a Conviction in a Los Angeles Criminal Case

Many of our clients mistakenly believe that when they have been arrested they have also been charged. This is not the case. If you have been arrested for a Los Angeles criminal offense, you have not been charged. The common belief is that the arresting officers are the ones that charge you with a criminal offense, but it is actually the prosecutor that makes charges.

When you are arrested, it is only on the basis that there is probable cause that you have committed a criminal offense. The officers will give you a Notice to Appear at the time of your arrest. This Notice to Appear will have a date and a courthouse at which you will be required to appear. This appearance is mandatory, not voluntary so you must be present. If you hire a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney, the attorney may appear for you in most cases.  In that case, you will not have to be present in Court.

Being issued a Notice to Appear that requires you to appear in Court also does not mean you have been charged. Many times we appear in Court on the Notice to Appear date and no charges have been filed. This does not necessarily mean that the case has been dismissed, charges may be filed later.

After your arrest, the officer will do an investigation and prepare a report based upon their findings. This report will then be sent to the Prosecutors. Prosecutors will review the investigation and the report and then make a determination as to whether charges will be appropriate. If they find that there is not sufficient evidence that the offender will be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, they will likely dismiss charges.

There is a window between the arrest and up to the point when a Prosecutor determines whether charges will be filed. This is the perfect opportunity for a knowledgeable and experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense attorney to negotiate with prosecutors to refrain from pressing charges.

It is to your benefit if the lawyer that you retain has significant experience in the criminal field, but also knows the prosecutors and the Courthouse. This helps to make the negotiations go smoothly. If your attorney is familiar with how the courthouse and the prosecutor operate they can use that to their advantage when discussing a dismissal. This is particularly useful when the evidence against you is not strong and the prosecutor is on the fence about making a decision. A strong argument could help persuade them in the right direction.

If you find yourself in a situation where you have been arrested, remember that you have not yet been charged. Retaining a Los Angeles Criminal Defense lawyer is the best strategic move you can make to ensure yourself the best possible outcome on your case. Be smart and make moves early, do not wait until it is too late. It could make the difference between a dismissal and a full on criminal case.