Thinking Outside the Box: Bench Warrants and Alternatives to Deferred Entry of Judgment (DEJ)

Posted by Debra White | Jul 27, 2009 | 0 Comments

As criminal defense attorneys, we are trained to analyze the criminal laws and to apply them to the facts of our cases. When we fight for our clients in court, we tend to keep with us these rigid notions of what the criminal law states, what the criminal law means, and how it should be applied to our clients' cases. Sometimes, however, this rigid framework, which has been instilled in us since law school, does  criminal defense lawyers more harm than good. Often, we obtain the best results for our clients when we think outside the box and forget about what the penal law says according to a strict interpretation.

I recently handled an old bench warrant case out of Inglewood Court. The case had been in bench warrant status for seven years for a straight possession of cocaine charge. My client was a smart, accomplished professional who constantly traveled for work and was rarely in one state long enough to complete any type of drug treatment program. Seven years ago he had been sentenced to complete a Deferred Entry of Judgment Program (DEJ) and had failed to do so because his job required him to travel every few weeks. His criminal lawyer at the time was aware of his job restrictions but had discovered that he was eligible for DEJ, under the statute, and advised him to accept a DEJ deal despite his obvious job conflict.

Now, when reflecting on my client's case, and deciding how best to help him, if I had simply looked at what the options were under the California Penal Code/Health and Safety Code, I would have either: (1) asked the court to reinstate the client in the DEJ program; or (2) asked the court to place the client on formal probation with drug conditions and possible community service or jail time. Of course, both of these options would have set the client up for failure because he does not stay in one state long enough to complete DEJ or to be supervised on formal probation.

Instead, I decided to think outside the box. I requested a chambers conference with the Judge and showed the Judge my client's employment references which demonstrated seven years of dedicated and reliable employment, and no criminal history other than this old case. I proposed a unique and creative solution. I suggested that my client be allowed to complete 20 narcotics anonymous classes in lieu of a DEJ program, because NA classes are available in every state in the United States and Worldwide. Not only did the Judge agree to the informal type of drug program, but he agreed to dismiss the case completely after 18 months if my client had no arrests and had completed the classes.

My client is now able to keep his job, to clean the skeletons out of his closet, and to move on with his life without suffering from a permanent criminal record. Sometimes, all it takes is a little creative thinking to help our clients obtain the most outstanding results.

if you are charged with a drug crime, or have an old bench warrant case, then you should immediately consult with the highly skilled Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers at White Goldstein to evaluate your options. Call us today for a free, confidential consultation at: (877) 77 WE-WIN or (877) 779-3946.

About the Author

Debra White

Attorney Debra S. White is an aggressive and talented trial attorney based in Los-Angeles, California who has successfully represented clients accused of sex crimes in both state and federal courts since 1999. Ms. White is a fierce advocate who enjoys the many challenging aspects of sex crimes defense, including defending against false accusations, faulty memories, and prosecutorial misconduct.


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White Goldstein

At White Goldstein, we provide our clients, and their loved ones, with nothing less than excellence in criminal defense. Unlike many criminal defense attorneys in Los Angeles, we fight for our clients with compassion and emotion as well as intellect and skill because we genuinely care for our clients and their families