991 Motions

Motion to Dismiss Misdemeanor Charges at Arraignment – California Penal Code Section 991 991 Motions

After a defendant has been arrested, the law requires that they are arraigned in front of a judge within 48 hours of that arrest. In misdemeanor cases the first appearance in front of a judge is crucial. The reason why this first appearance is so crucial is that various determinations are made by the judge including: bail, granting O.R., determining whether the case should go forward or be dismissed altogether, and in domestic violence cases the issuance of a Criminal Protective Order. Because so many important determinations are made at the arraignment it is critical to have the representation of a skilled criminal defense attorney from the very start. It is even possible to have the case dismissed at the first appearance should the case lack the evidence required to justify the charges.

California Penal Code Section 991 Motion

Under California Penal Code Section 991: If a defendant is in custody at the time he appears before the magistrate for arraignment and, if the public offense is a misdemeanor to which the defendant has pleaded not guilty, the magistrate, on motion of counsel for the defendant, shall determine whether there is probable cause to believe that a public offense has been committed and that the defendant is guilty thereof.

What Penal Code Section 991 aims to do is throw out cases with evidence that would not be sufficient to support the charge or charges in a case, or to throw out cases that would likely result in an acquittal after a costly and time-consuming trial. Additionally, a Penal Code Section 991 motion is another way to dismiss cases that have evidence that will in all likelihood be suppressed because the investigation or arrest was conducted in violation of the law.

Although the 991 motion is limited to misdemeanor offenses, a similar version called a 995 motion is reserved for felony charges. The reason why the law provides this added protection to misdemeanor offenses is that the government’s interest in holding someone in custody for an extended period of time is low when compared to the defendant’s interest in remaining free, given the minor nature of the offense.

991 Motion hearing

Under Penal Code Section 991, a defendant is required to have a hearing to determine whether there was probable cause to justify the arrest and the charges. At this hearing the defendant is represented by their lawyer and a determination is made whether (1) there is enough evidence to support a probable cause determination and (2) whether the evidence was obtained in accordance with the law. Should it be determined that there is no probable cause, the case against the defendant must be dismissed. However, if the evidence presented at a 991 hearing does not support a showing of sufficient probable cause, the court may postpone the hearing for three days so that the prosecution can have additional time to provide additional evidence and documentation.

Should charges be dismissed pursuant to Penal Code Section 991, the prosecution has 15 days from the day of dismissal to refile the case. If the case is dismissed under Penal Code Section 991 for the second time the prosecution will not be able to refile charges again from this same set of facts.

If you or a loved one has been charged with an offense or have recently been arrested, it is imperative that you consult with a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney right away. Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer Michael Kraut is a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience who understands how to effectively litigate 991 motions.

For more information about 991 motions, contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut at the Kraut Criminal & DUI Lawyers located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1520, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.

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