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Details: Trial of John Le
FINAL UPDATE SEPTEMBER 2012:
SAN DIEGO — A 28-year-old pet store owner in California has been sentenced to five years' probation after he pleaded guilty to animal abuse.
The North County Times reports (bit.ly/U5pWED) that Johnson Tan Le of El Cajon recently pleaded guilty to one count each of misdemeanor animal abuse and having an unsanitary animal enclosure. Le had faced more than two dozen animal abuse counts and health violations from unhealthy conditions at his businesses.
Authorities in March seized 117 animals, including 57 puppies, rabbits, birds, a turtle and a 7-foot python and closed Le's three pet stores. All the animals have since been put in new homes.
Prosecutors say Le also is prohibited from selling or possessing animals during his probation.
The Associated Press
From the San Diego Animal Defense Team: We met with a representative from the SD Humane Society and the DDA prosecuting this case in early September. At that time we turned over 19 pages of photos and other information including potential ADT witnesses who were willing to testify in the trial.
Previous news on this case:
Breaking News: The Preliminary Exam has been moved to August 29. We don't have the courtroom yet but if you meet us outside room 11 on the second floor, we will go to the courtroom together. Please be there no later than 8:15.
We have pulled public records for some of his past offenses and have started a dialogue with the prosecuting attorney.
John Le, the owner of Puppy Stars, Pet Place and Naedeen Pups, has been charged by the District Attorney with 4 felony counts and 10 misdemeanor counts of animal abuse. His stores and home were simultaneously raided on March 27, 2012. 100+ animals were confiscated including 57 puppies. Those puppies have now been released for adoption by the San Diego Humane Society. Le was arrested and held on $50,000 bail.
The San Diego Animal Defense Team protested at the three stores for eight months, researched their puppy mill breeders and broker, and made ongoing complaints about the conditions of the puppies and the stores to the Department of Animal Services and the Humane Society. We are very grateful for their intervention to help the animals.
The Preliminary Exam for John Le has been set for Thursday, August 29, 2012 at the San Diego Superior Court, 220 W. Broadway. We plan to follow this trial closely and be in the courtroom whenever possible.
A Preliminary Examination is the first stage in a Felony Case, and by law it must be scheduled within 14 days from the date of arraignment. Sometimes called a Probable Cause Hearing, the Preliminary Exam serves two legal purposes. First, if a Preliminary Examination is actually held (as opposed to the far more common practice of waiving it) the Prosecutor has to prove that a crime was committed, or a law broken. Second, the Prosecutor must prove that there is at least probable cause to believe the Defendant committed that crime. Now in practice that really means this: The prosecutor must convince the Judge that it’s likely a crime was committed it, and that there is an honest, at least debatable question of fact that the Defendant committed it. This is what lawyers call a low threshold, or low standard, meaning that the Prosecutor doesn’t have to prove much. In fact, after a Preliminary Exam, unless the Judge is convinced that the case against a Defendant is so weak that it practically screams to be dismissed, the case will undoubtedly be bound over, or transferred, to the Circuit Court.
The Preliminary Exam stage serves several very important purposes in the handling of a Felony Case. If a Defendant is in Jail, the lawyer can seek to have the Judge reduce the bond so the person can get out. In some cases, the Felony Charge can be reduced to a Misdemeanor and the whole matter concluded in the District Court, without the need for further proceedings in the Circuit Court.
Pre-Trials occur in both Felony and Misdemeanor Cases. In a Misdemeanor Case, the Pre-trial comes after the Arraignment. Some District Courts schedule Defendants for what reads like an “Arraignment/Pre-Trial.” The Pre-Trial is generally the meatiest of all Court proceedings, because it’s where the Defense Attorney and the Prosecutor discuss ways to resolve a pending charge. Often, a Plea-Bargain, or reduction of the original charge to one less serious, is produced. There can be more than one Pre-Trial hearing in any given case.
In a Felony Case, the Pre-Trial is held after the Preliminary Exam, usually within two weeks, and is the first hearing in the Circuit Court, where Felony Cases are handled.
A Trial, while perhaps the most complex of legal proceedings is the easiest to describe. A person who believes him or herself innocent of a charge, or a person who believes or hopes that the Prosecutor will not be able to prove him or her guilty beyond a reasonable doubt can have their case decided by Trial. There are two kinds of Trials: Bench Trials, meaning Trials heard by a Judge with no Jury, and Jury Trial, which of course mean Trials heard by a Jury. The end result of a Trial is a Verdict, which means a finding, either by the Jury, or the Judge if there is no Jury, of either guilty or not guilty.