True Stories 3: 15 Year Old Warrants in San Fernando and Van Nuys


This is a case from last month:  The client, Mark R., called me from the state of Montana, where he’d been running a several auto body shops for the past two decades.  In his younger years he’d had some issues related to substance abuse- a sick wife, life as a single dad- and he’d picked up a couple cases- one in Malibu and one in San Fernando.  His family was from San Fernando, and his parents still live there.

He didn’t know the warrants existed until he started dating a woman in Canada, and the Border Patrol alerted him to the warrants.

Both cases were at warrant, the Malibu case was a drug diversion where he had failed to show up for the final hearing (a dismissal of the charges),  the San Fernando case was an assault charge where the client had failed to submit proof of community service.

Complicating matters was the fact that the the Malibu Court House was closed some time ago, all the cases were moved to Van Nuys.  Since the client was living in Montana, I went to Van Nuys to try to clear the warrant without him.  There, the Judge said that he would not clear ANY warrant without the physical presence of the client.  I left court, called the client, and we made arrangements for him to fly out.

The next week, we went to Van Nuys- miraculously, the client still had the 15 year old proof he needed to obtain the dismissal.   We got the case dismissed, then went to San Fernando, where the Judge flipped out and threatened to throw the client in jail for failing to clear the warrant sooner.   I asked for a continuance over the weekend- mainly to give the Judge time to cool off.

We went back the next week, and the Judge agreed not to throw the client in jail.  Unlike Van Nuys, the client did not the proof of the work he was supposed to do originally, so he had to back to Montana, and after he does what he was supposed to do originally (community service, anger management class) the case will be dismissed.   I charged the client 1000- 500 for each violation.  In retrospect, I probably would have charged more, but a deal is a deal. 

True Stories 2: Four Year Old Warrant of Arrest in Orange County


Emily X. called me last month with a tough situation- a four year old warrant of arrest in Orange County (Harborside Justice Center/Newport Beach) for failure to complete her 18 month second offender DUI class.  Emily had been living in fear for the last four years, as she raised her son as a single mother- with the warrant out she was afraid of being arrested, but she was also afraid that the Judge in Orange County would send her to jail for failing to clear the warrant.

I charged her 500- standard for a probation revocation, and told her I would go down to Harborside Justice Center by myself the first time, put the case on calendar and talk to the Judge.  Not all Judges will clear warrants without the client present- Orange County is particularly bad in this regard, but even if the Judge won’t clear the warrant, he or she will give an idea of what the punishment is likely to be.

Last month I went down there and the Judge surprisingly cleared the warrant, and agreed to set the revocation hearing out a month, so that Emily could see her kid graduate Junior High.  I’d advised her that jail was a real possibility, and I always want my clients prepared for the worst.   Today was the day of the revocation hearing.

We lucked out and got a visiting Judge- especially in Orange County- getting a Judge other than the “usual” Judge hearing a probation revocation is a win- they are never harsher than the original Judge, and usually they go a lot easier.  Such was the case here, the Judge didn’t even violate Emily, and let her off with 40 hours of community service.

Unfortunately, Emily waited too long to go back to the class, so she has to do the 18 months all over again.  That’s a drag.  When I asked Emily if I could share her story on this blog she said, “Of course- it went a lot better then I was expecting, I’m glad you prepared me for the worst, but now I feel great. I’m so glad it’s over!”