The District Attorney’s Office Parish Court Unit prosecutes all misdemeanor and traffic cases. Parish courts have criminal jurisdiction over all misdemeanor and traffic violations. Misdemeanors are those violations that are punishable by a fine not exceeding $1,000 or by imprisonment not exceeding six months, or both. They range from charges of drunk driving to simple assault, and theft to shoplifting. The Parish Court system in Jefferson Parish is comprised of two Parish Courts. First Parish Court is located in Metairie, and its jurisdiction covers offenses occurring on the East Bank of Jefferson Parish. Second Parish Court is located in Gretna, and its jurisdiction covers offenses occurring on the West Bank of Jefferson Parish and Grand Isle. Each Court consists of two judicial divisions as well as a designated traffic court presided over by a traffic court hearing officer.
District Attorney’s Office, First Parish Court
924 David Drive, Metairie, La. 70003
District Attorney’s Office, Second Parish Court
100 Huey P. Long Ave., Gretna, La.
What if a Defendant wants to reschedule a hearing?
The District Attorney’s Office does not have the power to reschedule a hearing. Only the court can grant a continuance of a hearing. The court cannot do this until the defendant makes a formal written request. A defendant who wants or needs to reschedule a hearing needs to make a formal request to the court and provide a copy of that request to the District Attorney’s Office. The District Attorney’s Office does not prepare or file a request with the court on behalf of the defendant. This is solely the defendant’s responsibility. People often contact the clerk’s office to request to reschedule a hearing. Occasionally, the court clerks refer the people to the prosecutor’s office. As indicated above, the prosecution does not have the authority to continue a hearing.
What if I miss a court date and I am a defendant?
If you failed to appear for your arraignment or trial, you must appear as soon as possible at the original division of court and time you were assigned to enter a plea or make arrangements to have your trial rescheduled. In this situation, a contempt of court fee may be applied to your case. In addition, an attachment will be issued for your arrest. In addition, if you fail to appear in court for a traffic citation, your traffic citation information will be forwarded to the Louisiana Department of Public Safety, which will result in the suspension of your driver’s license and additional fees.
What if a defendant wants to discuss the case before their first court appearance or the pretrial conference?
Many defendants will contact the District Attorney’s Office immediately after they receive a ticket or after their first court appearance to try to discuss the case with the prosecutor. This is normally done in an attempt to avoid having to appear in court. In nearly all cases, practical considerations keep the prosecution from resolving a case before a pretrial conference. The District Attorney’s Office cannot make an appropriate decision on what to do with a case until all the information about the case has been gathered. Two common misconceptions defendants have are that the District Attorney’s Office knows immediately when a citation has been issued and has access to the information about the incident the day after the citation is issued. Law enforcement agencies do not automatically provide a copy of a citation or a police report to the District Attorney’s Office. The office will not become aware that a citation has been issued until the law enforcement agency that issued the citation forwards the citation or arrest report to the office. Another consideration that makes it difficult for prosecutors to talk to defendants in advance of the pre-trial conferences are that the prosecutors handling the misdemeanor case load have anywhere from 30 to 40 cases per day set for trial. Combined with other work assignments, it is not realistic to expect that the prosecutor assigned to the case has the time available to obtain information about a case outside of the normal protocol for gathering the information. Although exceptions are made for emergency situations, defendants seeking to discuss their case before their pretrial conference will need to wait until their pre-trial conference to talk to the prosecutor. If you are a defendant and are represented by an attorney, the District Attorney’s Office cannot communicate with you directly outside the presence of your attorney. Please make arrangements with your attorney to speak with the District Attorney’s Office.
Why won’t the prosecutor talk directly with a defendant who is represented by an attorney?
The Louisiana Rules of Professional Conduct prohibit an attorney from discussing a case with a defendant who is represented by an attorney. A prosecutor can face sanctions or have his law license revoked if he discusses the case with a defendant who he knows to be represented by an attorney. The defendant’s attorney can give consent for the prosecution to talk to the defendant without the defense attorney present. This occurs in very rare circumstances. The prosecuting attorney will usually decline to talk to the defendant in such a situation unless the defense attorney’s consent is in writing.
What if I’ve been subpoenaed as a witness on a case?
A subpoena is traditionally defined as a command to appear at a certain time and place to give testimony regarding a certain matter. If you are served with a subpoena and have questions, or are unable to attend on the date specified, you must contact the agency or attorney that subpoenaed you. If you are a state witness and you cannot attend court as a witness on the date stated in the subpoena, you should contact the District Attorney’s Office immediately to discuss your conflict. In some cases, the prosecutor handling the case can put you “on call,” so that you can go to work or school on the day you are subpoenaed, and you will be called at a pre-arranged phone number an hour or so before you are needed in court. Do not ignore the subpoena. A subpoena is a court order. Willful failure to appear as ordered is punishable as contempt and may constitute a crime. If you fail to appear without receiving prior permission from the assistant district attorney, a warrant maybe issued for your arrest. The District Attorney’s Office cannot put defense witnesses “on-call.”
I am the victim in a case, and I want to drop charges. What should I do?
Crimes are charged by the District Attorney’s Office on behalf of the People of the State of Louisiana, not on behalf of the victim. The decision to dismiss charges can only be made by an attorney in the District Attorney’s Office. If you are the victim in a case that has been filed and you wish to have the case dismissed, you should discuss your reasons with a representative of this office. Your request and the reasons for it will be considered, but the final determination as to whether or not charges will be filed or dismissed can only be made by an assistant district attorney.
Jefferson Parish Clerk of Court: http://www.jpclerkofcourt.us