The Problem With “Let’s Be Cops”

September 12th, 2014

At some point or another, we’ve all thought about what we would do if we had the authority of a police officer. The new comedy Let’s Be Cops takes that fleeting quandary and explores what would happen if someone took advantage of a police officer’s power without accepting any of the responsibility. While the film is a comedy, it sure wouldn’t be funny to get caught impersonating an officer and that’s only one of the crimes the duo commits in the film. Solana Beach defense attorney Peter M. Liss explains why you should never exclaim “Let’s Be Cops,” unless you actually intend to go through the official SDPD hiring process.

The most obvious crime the duo is guilty of is impersonating a police officer. Falsely representing yourself as a public officer and intimidating any person (which the characters do even in the trailer), is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison. Additionally, false impersonation is a felony offense, punishable by up to three years imprisonment and given the situation, the duo could face sentencing enhancements that could result in their having additional time added to their sentence. They would also be charged with the separate crime of impersonating a police vehicle, which is only an infraction. On top of all this, the two could be charged with both fraud and use of false identification -which could add five or more years to the sentence. Keep in mind that all of these charges are directly related to their impersonation of police officers, which is why any San Diego criminal lawyer will tell you this is a terrible idea.

The most serious offense the two men could face would actually be kidnapping, as they abduct a man involved with the mafia in order to get information necessary to bring down the gang. Because the two used their fraudulent police identification to kidnap the criminal, they could face aggravated kidnapping charges, which is punishable by between five years to life in prison.  With all the crimes combined, the film’s two heroes could face some pretty substantial sentences and it would take some serious legal wrangling on the part of their Del Mar criminal defense lawyer just to get them a minimal sentence -let alone successfully fight all of charges stacked against them.

Of course, being as how this is a film filled with comedy and Hollywood magic, it’s unlikely that the heroes will be arrested and charged with these crimes. The person who is kidnapped works for the mob, so he would likely never report the crime and undoubtedly, their work to help bring down a major criminal would be praised rather than chastised.

In real life though, even if you help do something noble by committing a crime, you’ll still usually be charged with a crime. If you are charged with a criminal offense of any type though, Carmel Valley defense attorney Peter M. Liss can help you fight the charges. Please call (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024 to schedule a free initial consultation.

More Common Questions Asked of A San Diego criminal Lawyer

September 8th, 2014


This blog has already covered a few of the most common questions people ask their San Diego DUI lawyers, but so far, it hasn’t covered general questions that apply to most defendants. Here are a few common questions asked by those accused of a crime.

The police asked me to come down to the station and explain my side of the story, should I do it?

Not without your San Diego criminal attorney  present. Police often rely on a suspect’s lack of knowledge about the law in order to get a confession. This is why you should always speak to your San Diego defense lawyer as soon as you are accused of this crime.

I wasn’t read my Miranda Rights when I spoke to the police. Doesn’t that mean what I said is inadmissible in court?

Miranda warnings only have to be read if a suspect is under arrest and questioned.  If the police do not question you after arrest, they do not need to Mirandize you.   During the police investigation, the police can ask you questions without a Miranda warning so long as you are free to leave.

I am innocent. Should I take a lie detector test to prove my case?

No. In most cases, evidence from lie detectors can only be admitted to the court as evidence if both parties agree to admit the results. Generally speaking, if it helps your defense, the prosecution will not admit it and if it helps the prosecution, your San Diego criminal lawyer will not admit it.

If you’re wondering why police even ask you to take a lie detector then, the answer is simple: it is yet again another way to get you to confess to something. Even if the test results aren’t admissible in court, what you say during the test is.

Should I just refuse to say anything to the police then?

Yes and no. You should not make any statements to the police without your lawyer present to advise you. That being said, the Supreme Court has determined that simply staying silent altogether can be used as a sign of guilt. Instead, you must state that you are invoking your right to remain silent under the Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution. After stating that, ask for the name and phone number of the police officer you are speaking with and tell him your attorney will call him back. Then hang up and give your San Diego criminal lawyer the information.

I know I’m guilty and I plan to confess. Do I still need a San Diego defense lawyer?

Yes. A lawyer can do a lot more than just defend someone’s innocence. An attorney can ensure that your rights are not violated during the investigation or the trial. He or she can also ensure that if you work out a plea bargain that you get the best possible deal and, if the case still goes to trial, he or she can urge the judge to be lenient in sentencing.

If you are accused of any type of criminal act, San Diego defense lawyer Peter M. Liss can help. Call (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024 at any time of the day or night to schedule a free consultation.

Creative Commons Image by Andreanna Moya

Enhancements To Child Pornography Cases In California

September 5th, 2014


If you have been accused of production, distribution, sale or possession of child pornography, you should be aware that these cases often carry enhanced sentences based on the specifics of your crime. Your Vista child pornography lawyer can tell you whether or not your case involves any of these enhancements, but so you are more familiar with the law, here are a few of the most common enhancements in these types of cases.

Prepubescent enhancements can be added to a case when the minor depicted in a piece of pornography is prepubescent, meaning he or she has not yet hit puberty. This sentence enhancement is particularly severe because the courts deem anyone under the age of 13 to be below the age of understanding consent. This enhancement can generally be fought with the help of a top Vista child porn defense attorney because the children seen in most pornography cases are unknown, so their age is not clear. While the prosecution may argue that a child appears to be prepubescent based on certain factors, your defense lawyer can argue that puberty affects everyone differently -for example, some girls don’t develop breasts until they are 15 or 16, even if they started their period at 12 or 13.

Penetration enhancements, as you may surmise, involve child pornography that features sexual penetration of a body part or object. It is important to remember that many child porn cases may involve nothing more than an image of a nude minor, but they can also involve hardcore pornography. These cases carry enhanced penalties and should only be handled with a top Vista sex crimes defense lawyer at your side.

Quantity enhancements are applied when a defendant was in possession of a large quantity of these materials. Aside from facing an increased number of charges if you were found to be in possession of a large quantity of child pornography, you may also face enhanced sentencing for the charges.

All cases involving child pornography are serious, but if you are facing any of these enhancements, it is imperative you speak with a top Vista child pornography attorney as soon as possible.  Call (760) 643-4050 today to schedule a free initial consultation with Peter M. Liss.

Creative Commons Image by Javier Carcamo


Frequently Asked Questions About Child Molestation Charges In California

September 1st, 2014

Though most people are familiar with the term “child molestation,” very few actually understand the complex laws California has enacted to deal with the matter. Fortunately, Vista child molestation defense lawyer Peter M. Liss is here to help you better understand the law.

What crime are accused child molesters charged with?

If someone is accused of inappropriately touching a minor, they will formally charged with committing a lewd act against a child under 14.

If I thought the victim was 18, can I use that in my defense?

No. Unlike statutory rape charges, it does not matter how old you believed the victim to be. It only matters how old he or she actually is.

The minor was the one that initiated the activity, so I can’t be charged -right?

Wrong. It doesn’t matter if the minor consented or even initiated an activity, if you were involved with an act intended to cause sexual stimulation or pleasure, you can be charged with child molestation. Vista defense attorneys understand this, which is why you should always speak to your legal representative before talking to the police.

I never touched the child’s bare skin or their genitals, so how can I be accused of child molestation?

It doesn’t actually matter what part of the child’s body you touched or what clothes he or she was wearing, if you touched a child with the intent of causing sexual arousal or gratification to you or the child, it is considered child molestation. In fact, even if you only had the minor touch themselves or only touch you, but you never even touched them, you can still be charged with this crime.

The alleged victim or his/her parents called me. Should I talk to them?

No. One common way police obtain confessions for these crimes is to have the child or their parent call the suspect while police record the call. The child or parent will often use charged statements to get the suspect to admit guilt, for example, by saying the child is now having nightmares or being teased about what happened by their classmates. Even saying, “I’m sorry” during these conversations can often be used as a confession of guilt.

If you have been accused of a sex crime, do not answer the phone for anyone you do not know. Screen your calls with voicemail and if you do accidentally answer a phone call from someone involved with the case, do not discuss the accusations and say that you are going to call your Vista child molestation attorney. Once you hang up, follow through and call your lawyer to tell them what happened.

If you are accused of this serious offense, Vista child molestation defense lawyer Peter M. Liss can help you. Please call (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024 to schedule a consultation as soon as possible.

Vista Defense Attorney: Child Molesting Laws In CA

August 25th, 2014

US Marshals arrest child molester

What most people refer to as child molesting is actually charged as lewd acts with a child under the age 14 according to California law. You can also be charged if the child is 15 or under and you are more than ten years older than him or her. These lewd acts need not be explicitly sexual, must be for the purpose of sexually gratifying at least one of the people involved with the activity. If you are accused of performing a lewd act with a child, immediately ask to speak with a Vista child molestation defense lawyer as soon as possible. Remember, what you say can be used against you and even things you say to defend yourself may still be turned around to harm your defense later on.

Note: For the sake of clarity, this article will be using versions of the phrase “child molest” rather than lewd acts with a child under age 14 or 15 and under if the victim was ten years younger than the defendant, as most people are more familiar with the terms “child molesting” and “child molestation,” but it is important to recognize that this is the formal charge used by the police and courts.

If you have been accused of child molesting, contact a Vista sex crimes defense attorney as soon as possible -even if charges have not been formally filed yet. Your lawyer can help protect you against false accusations that may ruin your reputation as well as improper and illegal search and seizure methods when the police do get involved. Additionally, if formal charges are filed, your attorney can help keep the publicity around the case so your privacy and reputation can be protected from the damaging title of “child molester.”

There are a lot of aspects of child molestation that most people do not understand, which is yet another reason it is so important to speak with a Vista child molestation lawyer. For example, the touching need not be in a sexual area or on bare skin. In fact, there need not be any touching between the participants at all. If you are accused of getting a child to touch their own body -even through clothing, you can still be charged with child molesting. The most important aspects of the crime are that the act was committed with “the intent of arousing, appealing to, or gratifying the lust, passions, or sexual desires of yourself or of the child” and that the child was 14 or under at the time.  Lastly, sexual arousal or pleasure need not to have occurred as long as the person accused of child molesting intended the act to cause sexual arousal or gratification.

For example, if a person was accused of getting a twelve year old to massage their feet, it could be considered child molestation if the adult involved  had a sexual interest in the activity. On the other hand, if a doctor rubbed a child’s bare buttocks for the purpose of applying a topical cream to a rash, it would not be child molestation.

Unlike statutory rape charges, it does not matter if you believed the child was over 18 at the time. In fact, if you attempt to defend yourself by saying this, it will likely be used as evidence against you later on. Additionally, even if the child consented to or even suggested the idea, you can still be convicted of child molestation. This is why it is imperative you do not speak to the police until you contact your Vista defense attorney. Child molest cases are complex and require experience and tact. Peter M. Liss has over 30 years of experience defending people from sex crimes such as these.

This crime is a felony, punishable by up to eight years imprisonment, and it counts as a strike under California’s three strikes law. Additionally, once you are convicted, you will be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of your life. Do not take chances with your defense when handling a case this serious. Call (760) 643-4050 to schedule a free initial consultation with a top Vista child molestation defense lawyer.

Creative Commons Image by U.S. Marshall Service

Soliciting Sex With A Minor In Vista, California

August 22nd, 2014


In California, it is not only illegal to engage in a sex act with a minor, but even to attempt to meet with one for the purpose of sex. In fact, the other person need not even be a minor for you to be charged with this crime. Because the laws concerning sexual acts with a juvenile are so complex, it is critical you speak with a Vista child molestation defense lawyer as soon as possible if you have been accused of any crime related to having sexual relations with someone under 18.

First, it’s important to recognize that you need not even touch a minor to be charged with a sex crime. Arranging to meet with a minor when your actions are “motivated by an unnatural or abnormal sexual interest in children,” for the purpose of “exposing your genitals or rectal area, having the child expose his or her genitals or rectal area, or engaging in lewd or lascivious behavior” is a crime. Additionally, the person you made the arrangements with doesn’t even need to be under 18. If you believe the person to be a minor, you can still be charged and found guilty of soliciting sex with a minor. With so many aspects of the law relating to your intentions and beliefs, it’s easy to see why you should insist on speaking with a child molest defense attorney in Vista before you discuss the crime with the police. Remember, anything you say to the police can be used against you.

Most cases involving the solicitation of sex with a minor occur online, so it is important your Vista sex crimes lawyer also have experience handling computer crimes defense as well so he or she can protect you against illegal search and seizure of your property, including electronic devices. Your attorney should also understand the ins and outs of entrapment laws since many people charged with this crime are victims of police sting operations.

While arranging to meet with a minor for a lewd or lascivious purpose is sometimes charged as a misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail, it is still a sex crime that can result in your being required to register as a sex offender for the rest of your life. If you actually arrived at the meeting place, then the crime will be charged as a felony and you will face an additional two to four years in prison. Arrival at the meeting place will also get you charged with attempted child molestation if you thought the minor was under 14 or if you thought they were 15 or under and you are at least 10 years older.  If you solicited a minor prostitute for sex, you will face an additional $25,000 fine.

With such serious consequences at play, it is easy to see why you should always contact a Vista child molester defense attorney immediately. With over 30 years of experience, Peter M. Liss has a proven track record of helping people fight these types of charges and he can help you too. Please call (760) 643-4050 to schedule a free initial consultation.

Creative Commons Image by me and the sysop

Fighting Charges of Possession or Distribution of Child Pornography

August 18th, 2014


If you are convicted of possession or distribution of child pornography, you will not only face a lengthy prison term, but you will also be forced to register as a sex offender for the rest of your life. Even the accusation of such crimes can ruin your reputation and may ruin your relationships with neighbors, friends, family members and business associates. This is why it is so important to speak with a top San Diego child pornography defense attorney as soon as possible.

Possession or distribution of child porn can be prosecuted in either state or federal court. Distribution can mean emailing or sharing with other individuals child pornography. There is no requirement you sell the material for you to be guilty of distribution.

Police and prosecutors often try to convince those accused of owning or distributing child pornography that they will be found guilty and their best option is to negotiate a plea bargain. While plea bargains are sometimes beneficial, other cases can be successfully fought. Never discuss such an agreement without having your San Diego child porn defense lawyer present. Even if you are going to seek a plea bargain, your attorney can help make sure you receive the best possible offer for your specific situation.

Remember, the prosecution must prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, which is why they will collect all the evidence they can to make their case against you as strong as possible. A San Diego criminal attorney with experience defending those accused of child pornography possession and distribution can ensure that any searches of your property, including digital files on your cell phone or computer, are performed within the scope of the law. If your rights are violated during a search, your lawyer may be able to have that evidence withheld from the trial.

Additionally, if the case goes to trial, your San Diego defense lawyer can remind the jury that your IP address alone is not enough to convict you of a computer crime as it is all too common for people to share IP addresses. Beyond that, even if the illegal material was found on your computer, it does not necessarily mean you were the one who downloaded it or that you even knew it was there. Guest users and viruses can download files without the owner of the device’s knowledge.

Computer-related crimes are extremely complex and you should only fight these charges with a knowledgeable  computer crimes defense attorney in San Diego with a proven track record of fighting these charges. If you have been accused of any crime related to child pornography, San Diego attorney Peter M. Liss can help defend you. Please call (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024 to schedule a free initial consultation.

Creative Commons Image by ephidryn

A Federal Court Rules California’s Death Penalty Is Unconstitutional

August 15th, 2014


Last month, a federal judge in Los Angeles declared California’s death penalty is unconstitutional. Despite what you may hear from advocates against the death penalty though, Vista defense attorney Peter M. Liss  believes this ruling won’t actually change the legal system in the state very much for a variety of reasons.

It is important to recognize that U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney did not rule that the death penalty itself is against the law. What he declared unconstitutional is the way California handles the sentence -notably how long inmates must wait in prison before they are executed. Calling the system  “dysfunctional” and beyond repair, Carney explained that a death sentence in the state ultimately means “life in prison, with the remote possibility of death.”

As most Vista criminal lawyers are aware, the state hasn’t actually executed anyone since 2006. Even before that, only 13 people were executed since 1978, despite the fact that 900 people have received the death penalty.

Carney went on to explain even those 13 people who were executed waited so long for the sentence that the punishment was ultimately meaningless. As a result, he ruled that the death penalty violates the 8th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

So what does this decision mean for those who commit a crime punishable by the death penalty and those who already received the sentence? Vista criminal defense attorney Peter M. Liss argues that it won’t change much for a few reasons.

First, the case will almost certainly be appealed and will likely be settled in the Supreme Court before any final decision is made. Even if the state temporarily bans death penalty sentences while the case is being appealed, the 748 people already on Death Row will remain there.

Since the system itself was what Judge Carney declared unconstitutional, not the sentence, it is possible that the U.S. Supreme Court will agree. In this case, California may choose to not eliminate the sentence, but instead change the way the death penalty is handled -speeding up the appeals process for those who receive the sentence so the punishment can be enacted more quickly. Ultimately, this would just mean more Death Row inmates would be executed although the same number of people would presumably receive the death penalty.

If the death penalty is ultimately declared unconstitutional (or if the state opts to end it), the sentence will no longer be given out and those who have already been sentenced to execution will have their sentence converted to life in prison. Given that so few people have been executed in the last 25 years and that no one has been executed in almost a decade, this still won’t be a drastic change to those whose sentence is commuted.

If you are charged with a crime punishable by  sentence of death, the most important thing you can do is call a top Vista criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Peter M. Liss offers a 24/7 answering service so you can speak with someone any time of day. If you are accused of a crime, call (760) 643-4050 to schedule a free initial consultation.

Creative Commons Image by LonPicMan

Obtaining Bail After A Domestic Violence Arrest

August 8th, 2014


If you are arrested for domestic violence, you may choose to post bail in order to earn your release from jail. This article explains how that process works, the cost of bail related to your crimes and similar details you might want to ask your Vista domestic violence attorney.

First, it’s important to realize that because domestic violence is taken very seriously in San Diego County, bail for domestic violence is higher than bail for committing battery against a random stranger on the street. Next, it is also worth noting that domestic violence charges can be filed against either partner in a relationship and that the couple does not need to be married, or even together at the time. Domestic violence charges can be brought up against lovers, exes, spouses, co-parents of a child, and other persons involved in an intimate relationship. If you aren’t sure whether your connection to someone else qualifies as a “domestic” relationship, your Vista domestic violence defense lawyer can help evaluate the situation.

Most of the time when police are called in for domestic violence, they end up arresting someone -sometimes they even arrest both parties. If there is sufficient evidence that domestic violence occurred, the prosecutor will generally press charges even if the other person does not wish to do so. That’s why it is so important to speak with a domestic violence attorney in Vista as soon as you are arrested.

After you have been arrested, you may choose to pay bail or wait for the arraignment to see if the judge will release you on your own recognizance. If you choose to stay in jail instead of posting bail, typically you wait three court days until your arraignment. Weekends and holidays do not count as court days so an arrest at the start of a long weekend can mean waiting five days in jail before you see a judge. If you are not released, you can also take this opportunity to have your lawyer argue for the bail to be reduced.  

If traumatic condition occurred to the victim, then the arrest is for felony domestic violence and the bail is $50,000.  An additional $50,000 bail will be added if the victim suffered great bodily injury.   Many times, however, prosecutors choose to charge a felony arrest for domestic violence as a misdemeanor. Additionally, if you violated an existing stay away order, you may have an additional $10,000, $20,000 or $40,000 in bail.

If you have been charged with any type of spousal abuse and have any questions, please call Vista domestic violence lawyer Peter M. Liss at (760) 643-4050.

Creative Commons Image by Randy Heinitz

The Officer’s Testimony During Your DUI Trial

August 4th, 2014


When you go to trial for a DUI, the prosecution will present the evidence against you just like they would for any other type of crime. There are three main types of evidence used in these cases -officer testimony, field test results and the results of your chemical test. The officer testimony is one of the most important parts of a drinking and driving trial and having a Vista DUI lawyer who can ask the right questions is crucial in fighting these charges.

While witness testimony is important in many cases, driving under the influence charges rely on the testimony of a police officer, who is considered an expert witness. Most officers have been on the stand dozens, if not hundreds, of times before and they are not shaken or nervous about speaking in court. They also tend to have experience spotting, arresting and providing testimony against drunk drivers. For these reasons, what they say is generally more believed and accepted by the jury and judge than an average person who is asked to be a witness after they saw a crime occur.

It is the job of your Vista DUI attorney to remind the court that while the police officer may be an expert in this field, he or she is still human, and thus, subject to biases, forgetfulness and errors. One of the most important aspects of the officer’s testimony is his or her reason for stopping your vehicle. If you were not breaking the law and were driving reasonably, the officer might not have had a legitimate reason to stop you. If he or she pulled you over for no reason, your rights were violated and your DUI lawyer may be able to have the charges dropped. Dashboard driving cameras installed in many police cars can help provide additional evidence to backup or contradict the officer’s testimony.

While juries and judges are inclined to believe a police officer’s observations regarding whether or not someone is intoxicated over the observations of a random person, a DUI attorney in Vista might be able to help convince the court that these assumptions aren’t always valid. In fact, a study conducted by scientists from Rutgers University’s Alcohol Behavior Research Laboratory determined that police, social drinkers and bartenders were all equally good at evaluating whether someone was inebriated; with all three groups correctly identifying the subject’s condition only 25% of the time.

Having a Vista drunk driving attorney with expertise in these types of charges is critical when you attempt to fight a DUI. If you have been arrested for driving under the influence in Vista, please call Peter M. Liss at (760) 643-4050.

Creative Commons image by woodleywonderworks