Most criminal court systems are established on a three tier system consisting of a trial court, an appellate court and a high court.
The main function of the trial court is to make factual findings based on evidence presented to it. It is the primary court in the system that takes evidence. Although there are circumstances in which an appellate or high court may take new evidence, these circumstances are very limited. Therefore, it is extremely important that a complete and compelling evidentiary record be created and established at the trial court level. The strength of any appellate case is measured against the quality of the evidentiary record in the trial court.
After establishing an evidentiary record, the trial court will then make a decision about the case by applying the existing law to the factual record.
The importance of experienced counsel at the trial court cannot be overstated. An experienced attorney can navigate the complex evidentiary rules to ensure a thorough factual record; can properly preserve issues for appellate review, and advocate for how the facts should be interpreted by the court. Equally important is that an experienced criminal lawyer can negotiate charges and sentences with the district attorney or city attorney prosecuting the case to avoid the most serious consequences such as jail time or mandatory deportation.
Aliens who are charged with crimes are exceedingly vulnerable to unexpected consequences of what happens in the trial court. Regardless of the charge level or the sentence imposed, many crimes will render an alien deportable, ineligible to adjust his or her status, or ineligible to naturalize. For instance, ANY recent crime relating to a federally scheduled controlled substance (other than simple possession of a small amount of marijuana) will render an alien ineligible for a green card FOR LIFE. Any domestic violence conviction will render an alien deportable. Most criminal defense attorneys are not conversant with the ever-changing landscape of immigration law. For that reason, it is important for aliens facing criminal prosecution to hire an advocate who is intimately familiar with immigration law.
At Berke Law Offices, Inc. we are equipped with the knowledge to navigate our clients through the criminal justice system with an eye toward controlling the collateral consequences of a conviction.
Sometimes, of course, a case cannot be resolved without a trial. There are many attorneys who shy away from doing jury trials. At Berke Law Offices, Inc. we have a long track record of acquittals and hung juries, and we regularly appear in federal and state criminal courts in Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Ventura, and Orange Counties.