Richard Novak is one of southern California’s leading criminal defense attorneys. He is a former Los Angeles Superior Court judicial officer and has represented defendants, witnesses and individuals under investigation by law enforcement and other government agencies for the past two decades. He has vast experience in federal and state criminal investigations, prosecutions and appeals. He is a meticulous strategist, a highly skilled negotiator, an aggressive trial lawyer and a nuanced appellate advocate. He also has a unique background representing parents and minors in juvenile dependency and delinquency cases in which law enforcement is investigating and prosecuting claims of child abuse and in which teenagers are accused of criminal conduct.
Richard is a lifelong resident of California. He attended U.C. Berkeley, where he obtained a bachelor’s degree with honors in economics. He attended UCLA Law School and was admitted to the State Bar of California in 1990. In 1990, Richard received a prestigious Skadden Fellowship that allowed him to establish a cutting-edge legal services program for homeless youth living on the streets of Los Angeles. He then served as a trial attorney and as lead appellate counsel for a law firm representing parents and minors in juvenile dependency proceedings. He then served as Deputy Federal Public Defender in the Central District of California. While working full-time as a federal public defender, Richard also served as an As-Needed Referee in the Los Angeles County Juvenile Court, presiding over juvenile dependency and delinquency proceedings. At the age of 40, Richard left the practice of law after being selected by the judges of the Los Angeles Superior Court to serve as a Superior Court Commissioner, where he presided over a wide range of criminal proceedings. Richard then returned to the practice of law and his private practice has been almost exclusively devoted to federal and state criminal defense, forfeiture matters and juvenile dependency and delinquency proceedings for the last decade.
Richard is a present or past member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, California Attorneys for Criminal Justice, the Individual Rights Section of the Los Angeles County Bar Association, the Federal Bar Association and the American Bar Association. He is a past President of the Los Angeles Chapter of the National Lawyer’s Guild.
IF YOU ARE CHARGED WITH COMMITTING A CRIME, YOU HAVE A CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO FORCE THE GOVERNMENT TO PROVE BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT TO A UNANIMOUS JURY THAT YOUR ARE GUILTY
Examples of jury trials that did NOT result in a conviction for Richard’s clients:
- Richard’s client, a career federal government employee, was charged in federal court with theft of government property. Richard’s client proclaimed her innocence, the case proceeded to trial, and the jury returned a verdict of not guilty.
- Richard’s client was a member of a local motorcycle club under investigation by the ATF. He was charged in federal court with possession of an illegal firearm. The client proclaimed him innocence, the case proceeded to trial, and the jury returned a verdict of not guilty.
- Richard’s client was charged in federal court with a “cold-case” murder, and other less serious charges. Richard’s client proclaimed his innocence as to the murder, the case proceeded to trial, eight jurors voted not guilty on the murder charge, the court declared a mistrial and the government decided not to seek a retrial on the murder allegation.
- Richard’s client was charged in federal court with four felonies. He proclaimed his innocence as to the two most serious charges and the case proceeded to trial. The jury announced it was deadlocked on those more serious charges, until the trial judge coerced the jury into reaching a unanimous verdict of guilty. A federal appeals court reversed those convictions, and the case was then settled.
IF YOU KNOW OR BELIEVE THAT YOU ARE UNDER INVESTIGATION BY ANY GOVERNMENT AGENCY, YOU NEED THE ADVICE OF COUNSEL BEFORE A CHARGING DECISION IS MADE
Examples of cases in which an investigation did NOT result in a prosecution of Richard’s clients:
- Richard’s client, a real estate professional, was under investigation for mortgage fraud. After Richard presented federal investigators and prosecutors with a thorough analysis of why the law did not support a prosecution, the government declined to present the case to a federal grand jury.
- Richard’s client, a certified public accountant, was under investigation in connection with an international money-laundering scheme that originated in Africa and involved hundreds of millions of dollars. His client initially agreed to speak with a federal agent about the matter, but retained Richard before doing so. After Richard informed federal prosecutors that his client would only speak with federal agents pursuant to an immunity agreement, the government turned its attention to other aspects of the investigation.
- Richard’s client, a local government official, was under investigation in connection with an international securities fraud scheme involving tens of millions of dollars. Richard negotiated an immunity agreement for his client, who later testified in a deposition and in a federal forfeiture action.
- Richard’s client, a music industry professional, was informed that she was under investigation in relation to an international narcotics smuggling operation that involved a homicide. After agreeing, through Richard, to provide federal prosecutors with information concerning her knowledge of these events, she was not prosecuted and her assistance to law enforcement was never disclosed to those who were prosecuted or the public.
- Richard’s client, a licensed professional, was under investigation for downloading child pornography through an on-line file-sharing program. Law enforcement obtained a search warrant and computers were seized from his home and reviewed by forensic experts. The case was never referred for prosecution and neither the client’s employer nor his licensing authority ever learned of the investigation.
- Richard’s client, the husband of a foster parent, was accused by a troubled teenage foster child in their home of multiple acts of sexual abuse. Law enforcement initiated a criminal investigation and the county foster care system removed from their home three young foster children they were preparing to adopt. After a trial, a juvenile court judge determined that the allegation of sexual abuse was unfounded, the other children were returned to the permanent care of their foster parents and there was no criminal prosecution.