Attorney Leo Herrera, of Herrera Law PC, was engaged in a five-day trial starting October 19, 2015 at Metropolitan Courthouse. Mr. Herrera's client was charged with a misdemeanor violation of Penal Code section 273.5, subdivision (a), commonly known as domestic violence with a corporal injury.
Mr. Herrera's theory of the case was that the complaining witness was the aggressor and that she had not been injured. Further, Mr. Herrera alleged that his client simply defended himself from the attack, kept the complaining witness at bay, and received serious injuries himself, including a black eye.
After three hours of deliberation, the jury returned a not guilty verdict. This means that all 12 jurors decided that the District Attorney had failed to prove his case beyond a reasonable doubt. Mr. Herrera's client was able to avoid criminal conviction, have his bond exonerated, and avoid costly immigration consequences. The charged crime is a crime of moral turpitude for immigration purposes, potentially disqualifying Mr. Herrera's client from renewing his Dream Act permit.
The jury could have come back with three different results: 1) The jury could have returned a guilty verdict, meaning that the prosecutor proved the charge beyond a reasonable doubt. 2) The jury could have been hung, usually understood to mean that several jurors believed the prosecutor proved the charge but at least one jury did not believe the prosecutor had met his burden. 3) The jury could have returned a not guilty verdict meaning that all 12 jurors decided the charge was not proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
A guilty verdict is a bad result for obvious reasons. A hung jury is also a bad result because it allows the prosecutor to re-file the charges against the client and begin the process all over again. However, in the case of a hung jury, prosecutors must weigh wasting prosecution and government resources on a case that they have already failed to prove.
This was a great victory for Mr. Herrera's client. He was vindicated and justice was served in that an innocent man was able to go free without settling and pleading guilty to a lesser charge simply to avoid risking losing at trial, which happens all the time.