Westlake Village Criminal & DUI Defense Lawyers

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Criminal Process

Criminal Defense Attorney Serving Westlake Village

The Criminal Justice System

A person enters the criminal justice system when they are arrested for committing a crime. The criminal process then begins. You may be charged with either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on your prior record and the severity of the crime. If you find yourself in this situation, it is crucial to retain a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible in order to carefully plan your defense. It requires the expertise of a knowledgeable attorney to help you through it.


After your arrest, you must have an Arraignment within 48 hours. You will appear before a judge and get formally charged for the crime you have been accused of. Depending on the crime, bail will be set, or you may be released on your own recognizance if the crime is minor or it is your first offense.

Our office can assist you in negotiating your bail, and attempting to get it waived or as low as possible. At the arraignment you are required to plead guilty or not guilty. In most cases it is in your best interests to plead not guilty and attempt to plea bargain for a lesser charge or attempt to get a dismissal.

Pre-Trial Conference

In the case of misdemeanors, after a defendant pleads not guilty his case is often set for a pre-trial conference. This is an opportunity for the defense attorney to discuss the case and possible settlement with the prosecutor and/or the judge prior to setting the case for trial.

In the case of felonies, after a defendant pleads not guilty a preliminary examination or preliminary hearing is set, to establish a probable cause determination. The prosecutor must prove that there is a reasonable likelihood that a crime was committed and that the defendant was the one that committed the crime. If the judge finds that probable cause exists, then the defendant is charged with the felony charges. A trial date will then be set.


Once a trial is set, your attorney will fully investigate the facts behind the alleged crime to prepare for your trial. This is an extensive task that requires a skilled and knowledgeable attorney. A jury will be selected, who will listen to the facts of the case from both the prosecutor and your attorney. Once all the evidence is heard, the jury makes their decision, and you will either be acquitted or found guilty.

Following the trial there is sentencing by the judge, which can range from probation to years in prison, depending on the crime you have been convicted of. There is always the possibility of an appeal to be filed, if you have been wrongly convicted.

Call Jeffrey S. Vallens, Effective Criminal Defense Lawyer

When facing one of the most difficult and serious situations in your life, you need to have someone with the experience and dedication that the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Vallens has. With over 20 years working with the residents of Westlake Village, Agoura Hills and Thousand Oaks, our firm is committed to providing you the strongest most effective defense you can get. Call us today for a free initial consultation.