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.