Burbank Office Hearings in lieu of Criminal Charges
Posted on May 20, 2011 9:00am PDT
If you have been accused or involved in a dispute with a neighbor in the city of Burbank, what options are available to resolve your case? While the vast majority of criminal allegations will end up filed in the Burbank Criminal Court, on a case by case basis, a few matters will be considered for a process known as an "Office Hearing." The "Office Hearing," while very limited, is a more informal process handled by the local prosecutor's office, which allows involved parties a forum to resolve their differences, outside of the court system.
Because of the thousands of cases each prosecutor's offices must handle every year, a process is in place to help prioritize the most serious ones in court, while still addressing the rest of the problems in an appropriate manner. In some cases involving neighborhood disputes, license and code violations, as well as some low-level misdemeanor cases, the prosecutors' offices have found the "Office Hearing" process to be a valuable option. So, how does it work?
If a neighborhood has a problem with a noisy neighbor, barking dog, or other "nuisance" type situation, the local police agencies generally have a "community-relations" officer who attempts to resolve the problem informally, without court intervention. Many times with these problems, however, tensions are elevated, and a slightly more formal approach can be effective in solving the problem, such as an "Office Hearing."
The "Office Hearing" process usually takes place in the local prosecutor's office, where each side explains their perspective. The hearing officer, who can be either a prosecutor or non-attorney (such as a retired police officer) try to deescalate the situation, and develop creative solutions to provide closure in the situation. Since some of these cases involve inappropriate conduct from all parties involved, the prosecutors' offices typically explain to the involved persons that if the problem continues in the future, that charges could be filed in court, leading to a much more involved process.
The "Office Hearing" process can be suggested by a concerned citizen, police officer, as well as an attorney representing one of the parties. Because of the severe repercussions of a criminal filing in court, all reasonable efforts are made by the local prosecutors' offices to deescalate a local community problem to allow harmony within the local community.