Penal Code Section 784.7 – Assumption of Jurisdiction
It is a general legal principle that a person is tried in the local jurisdiction where the crime occurred. However, there are exceptions, such as domestic violence, where one county in California can assume jurisdiction and pursue criminal charges for offenses occurring in other counties. For any defendant facing additional charges occurring in multiple counties, it is important to understand how Penal Code Section 784.7 works and what it means for their cases.Why There Are Laws on Jurisdiction
Jurisdiction is an important principle in criminal law. These laws ensure that a local community can police itself and dictact how crimes occurring in the area are prosecuted. In addition, prosecuting crimes locally is significantly more convenient for all parties, including victims, witnesses, police officers and even the defendant. This is why the law generally limits criminal prosecutions to the county in which the crime occurred.Exception to Jurisdiction Laws
There are exceptions to the general principle that crimes are prosecuted in the community in which they occur. There are situations in which defendants pick up multiple similar offenses occurring in multiple counties, sometimes even involving the same victim. In these cases, Penal Code Section 784.7 may apply which allows one county to assume the jurisdiction of another jurisdiction and allows certain cases to be tried together at the same time.
Under Penal Code Section 784.7(b), if more than one violation of sexual battery under Penal Code Section 243.4, statutory rape under Penal Code Section 261.5, child abuse under Penal Code Section 273a, corporal injury to a spouse pursuant to Penal Code Section 273.5 or stalking under Penal Code Section 646.9, occur within more than one jurisdiction and the defendant and victim are the same for each offense, the jurisdiction for these offenses can be joinable with that same offense in any other jurisdiction where at least one of the offenses occurred. This means that if a defendant committed domestic assault against his wife both Los Angeles County and in San Francisco county, either of those counties could prosecute him for both offenses.
In addition, under Penal Code Section 784.7(a), sex crimes occurring in more than one jurisdiction may be joined and heard in any of the jurisdictions where any of the offenses occur, subject to a severance hearing where the District Attorney would have to show that all other District Attorney offices agree to the assumption of prosecution for their offenses.Benefits and Drawbacks to Section 784.7
For a prosecutor, prosecuting a similar case from another county against a current defendant may sound tempting, as a jury could potentially hear about multiple similar crimes committed by the defendant, often against the same victim. However, it may be difficult to secure witnesses and evidence when dealing with a jurisdiction that is hundreds of miles away, and witnesses may not be willing to come to court if they have to travel across the state.
For a defendant, defending against charges occurring in another county may be difficult for similar reasons, as critical witnesses and evidence may be unavailable.
If you or a loved one have been charged with a crimes occurring in multiple counties, it is crucial that you discuss your case with a experienced criminal defense attorney right away. As a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience, Michael Kraut understands how to effectively fight criminal charges on behalf of his clients.
For more information about joinder of cases, and to schedule your free consultation, contact 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.