Countering the Trial Strategies of the Prosecution in Your California Criminal Trial

judgeWhen you are facing criminal charges, you are likely to face off against a prosecutor who is both very knowledgeable when it comes to the law and skilled when it comes to maneuvering within the criminal legal system. The prosecutor in your case may know many legal techniques and strategies to give the state a strong chance of achieving a conviction. To give yourself a fair chance in your criminal trial, you need to have the same amount of resources, meaning a skilled San Francisco criminal defense attorney with an in-depth knowledge of the law and the system.

An example of how trial strategy matters, and how you can counter the prosecution’s strategies in some situations, was a recent case from San Mateo County. Willard was on trial for felony domestic violence. The charges against the man were definitely serious, since they included “felony enhancements, prior strikes and prison priors.” This meant that Willard’s current case had the potential to conclude with his receiving a very long incarceration sentence.

In Willard’s case, the prosecution was attempting to exclude from evidence a statement by a police officer to a deputy prosecutor that the alleged victim was “a little unreliable and inconsistent,” and the defendant was seeking to keep that statement in. The judge ruled against the prosecution, meaning that the statement critical of the alleged victim stayed in.

Hit with this unfavorable ruling, the District Attorney asked for dismissal of the case. This might seem like a great result for the accused, except the District Attorney re-filed against the man the next day. The new case eventually was assigned to the same judge who presided over the previous matter. The prosecution asked to replace the judge, and the court granted that request.

Willard wisely appealed this ruling. Clearly, according to the defendant, the prosecution’s procedural techniques and strategies were all just an end run to get around the judge’s evidentiary ruling on the police officer’s negative statement about the alleged victim.

The appeals court agreed with Willard. While other cases in the past had allowed the prosecution to replace a judge in a re-filed case, none of those decisions involved a circumstance in which the re-filed case was “virtually identical to the dismissed case,” and the only reason for the dismissal was to dodge “the impact of rulings made in the first case.” The prosecution freely acknowledged that the re-filed case was basically a duplicate of the dismissed one and that the successful dismissal request was fueled by the judge’s evidence rulings. Essentially, the prosecution’s strategies were a maneuver to erase the evidence ruling that it didn’t like. The appeals court stated very directly that the law and justice did not “allow such gamesmanship.”

While the criminal trial process is intended to arrive at an outcome that accomplishes justice, it is also still an adversarial process with advocates who may know many tools and strategies to win a case. Some of these are entirely allowable, while others are impermissible gamesmanship. To protect your rights or those of your loved one facing trial, retain the experienced San Francisco criminal defense attorneys at Uthman Law Office. Our team has been providing effective representation to our criminal defense clients for many years. Attorney David Uthman has over 20 years of experience as a litigation attorney and almost a decade of experience as a police officer. Put our knowledge of the law and the legal system to work for you. Call us today at (415) 556-9200 to schedule your FREE initial consultation to get the help you need.

More blog posts:

When Is (or Isn’t) a Warrantless Police Search of an Impounded Vehicle Allowable in California?, San Francisco Criminal Lawyer Blog, May 9, 2018

What You Can (and Cannot) Be Ordered to Pay For as Part of Restitution in a California Domestic Violence Case, San Francisco Criminal Lawyer Blog, April 25, 2018

Photo Credit: mohamed mohamed mahmoud hassan, [CC0 License], via PublicDomainPictures.net