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Legal analyst provides insight to what's next in court for accused US sailors

Posted at 8:58 AM, Aug 04, 2023

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – Two U.S. Navy sailors -- one based out of San Diego and the other out of the Los Angeles area -- are facing charges from the U.S. Justice Department of giving sensitive military information to Chinese intelligence officers.

"Representing someone who is charged with any crime is a challenging job, and the role of a federal public defender is maybe even more so,” said legal analyst Ryan Stitt.

The Associated Press reported the sailor arrested at Naval Base Ventura County was assigned a federal public defender.

RELATED: Navy sailor assigned to San Diego-based ship faces espionage charges

“If the person is not able to afford their own lawyer, a public defender or a court-appointed lawyer in private practice will be assigned to represent the defendant moving forward. And the decision whether a person can afford council depends on the case,” said Stitt, a former federal public defender for 12 years in San Diego.

Stitt told ABC 10News it is still in the beginning stages of the legal process with this case.

“Their next court dates will be for hearing before a district dourt judge to find the legal challenges against the case or against the chargers rather,” Stitt said.

Stitt said he believes that could be lengthy.

“Practically speaking, that will take some time to review all of the evidence to put together what those challenges may be and that process will play out over the next court dates,” Stitt said.

The next court date for the San Diego-based sailor is a detention hearing on Aug. 8.