You’re entitled to certain rights when you’re charged with a crime in California. These rights help to ensure that the criminal proceedings against you are fair and that you have every opportunity to defend yourself. One fundamental right includes the requirement that you’re arraigned before a judge within a reasonable time after your arrest. For misdemeanors, your arraignment must generally be held within 48 hours of your arrest.
The arraignment hearing will set the tone for the rest of your criminal case. A judge will read the charges against you, set bail, and accept preliminary motions. You may be able to stop the criminal case in its tracks by filing a 991 Motion. If granted, your criminal case will be dismissed.
Penal Code 991 PC
Penal Code 991 PC allows defendants in misdemeanor criminal matters to ask a court to dismiss a case for lack of sufficient evidence. In other words, you can file a 991 Motion and a judge to throw out your case because the state lacks probable cause. Without probable cause, the state cannot satisfy its burden of proof. If it can’t satisfy its burden of proof, the state cannot convict. A 991 Motion basically asks the court to save time and money by throwing out a case that is likely to be dismissed or unsuccessful down the line.
Who Can File a Section 991 Motion?
Filing a 991 Motion can help to stop the criminal proceedings against you before they ever really get started. You can be eligible to submit a 991 Motion if you:
- Have been charged with a misdemeanor offense
- Are held in state custody until the time of your arraignment hearing; and
- Have pleaded not guilty to the crime.
Penal Code 991 PC is reserved for defendants charged with a misdemeanor offense. You may be able to achieve a similar result by filing a section 995 Motion if you’ve been charged with a felony.
What Happens When a 991 Motion is Submitted?
A Section 991 Motion asks the court to determine “whether there is probable cause to believe that a public offense has been committed and that the defendant is guilty thereof.” Simply put, as a defendant, you have the right to ask a court to throw out your case because the state lacks the proof it needs. Once your motion is submitted, a judge will generally immediately review the request. The review can be suspended for up to three days if you or the state asks for additional time.
Penal Code 991 PC directs judges to consider the following information during a 991 Motion review:
- Arrest warrant(s)
- Supporting affidavit(s)
- Sworn complaint, including incorporated documents and reports, and
- Other reliable documents related to the case.
In reviewing this information, a judge will make two decisions. First, the judge will decide if there is sufficient evidence to establish probable cause to “believe that a public offense has been committed.” In other words, the judge will determine whether or not the state has enough evidence to support its case. Second, the judge will decide if the evidence was obtained legally. Evidence that was obtained in violation of your rights can be suppressed. Without this evidence, the state may not have enough to support its criminal case against you.
What Are the Possible Results of a 991 Motion?
A judge will either grant or deny a Section 991 Motion.
991 Motion Granted: A judge will dismiss the case if he or she determines that there is not probable cause to support the charges against you. You’ll be released from state custody and free to leave. However, the state will have the option of refiling the criminal complaint against you within 15 days. This new complaint can contain new evidence to bolster probable cause.
991 Motion Denied: Your criminal case will continue, uninterrupted, if a judge finds that there is probable cause to support the charges against you. You will still have the opportunity to challenge the legality of the state’s evidence and file additional motions.
Are you facing criminal charges for a misdemeanor in Los Angeles? Have you been detained in police custody leading up to your arraignment? Contact our criminal defense attorneys to learn more about filing a Section 991 motion. A successful motion can stop your criminal case before it gets off the ground. Call our office to schedule a free consultation today.