What to Do If Your Child Is Arrested

July 28th, 2014


You probably know that you should immediately contact a lawyer if you have been arrested, but many parents don’t realize that the same advice applies to their children. If your son or daughter is arrested, you should immediately seek a San Diego juvenile lawyer with a proven defense record.

While juvenile courts operate differently than their adult counterparts, a juvenile’s rights are largely the same -including their right to remain silent. When your child is arrested, he or she should insist on remaining silent and speaking to a lawyer -you should speak with a San Diego juvenile defense attorney to discuss the best way to get your child released from custody and what to do next. Juvenile criminal charges do not allow bail for incarcerated minors.  If your child was arrested and being held at Juvenile  Hall, it is important to have a lawyer prepared to argue for release from detention at the first court hearing.

Once you have dealt with the immediate issues involved with getting your child released and obtaining legal representation, there are a number of other things you can do to help your child’s case. When you speak to your son or daughter, tell him or her not to speak to the police until their lawyer is present. Tracking down report cards, reference letters and documentation related to positive achievements by your child can help strengthen your child’s case by showing that he or she is a good student and responsible citizen. Always present these to your San Diego juvenile lawyer for evaluation before giving them to the judge.  Also, make sure to let your child’s attorney know if he or she has a learning disability or mental illness that may affect his or her behavior.

Remember, juvenile courts in San Diego are different than those used for adults who are charged with crimes. It is critical to work with a top San Diego juvenile attorney with experience in this specialized legal system. Peter M. Liss has over 30 years of experience defending juvenile and adult offenders and he can help your child as well. Please call (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024 to schedule a free initial consultation.

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Drunk Driving and the 40 Year Old Virgin

July 25th, 2014

The 40-Year-Old Virgin, starring Steve Carell, Seth Rogen and Paul Rudd, is a cult favorite. While there are a lot of fantastic scenes in the movie, the one that really stands out in the mind of most Vista DUI defense attorneys is the one where a drunk girl gives Andy the (terrifying) ride of his life -as seen above. While watching the scene makes it obvious that Nicky is driving drunk, the real question is how many charges could she face and what defenses would be available to her? Also, could Andy be charged for blowing into her ignition interlock device? Let’s look at these questions one at a time.

First, which laws has Nicky broken during this quick drive? Her first crime is asking Andy to blow into her IID for her. Then she starts driving while under the influence and given how intoxicated she acts, it is possible that she is actually above the .15 BAC limit for increased sentencing. Since she already has an IID, this also means she has at least one prior DUI on her record. Once she starts going, she is driving recklessly at excessive speeds. She then hits what appears to be five different cars and since she doesn’t stop, these would all be hit and run accidents. Finally, the ride is brought to an end when she slams into another car, claiming it “came from nowhere.”

Obviously, there are a lot of rules broken in that scene and any Vista DUI lawyer who chose to defend her would have his hands full. Nicky could face enhanced DUI charges for a second offense with excessive BAC, reckless driving charges, up to five hit and run charges, a misdemeanor for making Andy blow into the IID for her, and her negligent driving caused a serious crash, which could turn the DUI charge into a felony if she caused any injuries or deaths. That means she could face a serious DUI felony charge with enhancement along with up to seven misdemeanor charges.

Since it would probably be pretty difficult to argue that Nicky is completely innocent of all charges, it would be up to her Vista DUI attorney to push for some of the charges to be dropped or to obtain lighter sentencing on her behalf. For example, it would be possible to argue that because she took two shots just before she got in the car that her BAC wasn’t as high while she was driving as it was when she was tested after the car accident. This rising alcohol defense may work to eliminate the excessive BAC enhancement on the DUI charge. Her defense lawyer could also try negotiating for a plea bargain that would result in minimal sentencing for all of these crimes in exchange for her pleading guilty. And since she obviously has received a DUI in the past and still has not been able to stop drinking, entering Nicky into a serious, long-term, alcohol-treatment program might make securing a plea bargain a little easier since it would show that she is committed to changing her ways.

As for Andy, he too committed a crime by blowing into Nicky’s ignition interlock device. This misdemeanor offense is punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $5,000. The thing is, a person must knowingly break this law in order to be convicted of it. While the police might arrest him if he said that he blew on it before the car started, few prosecutors would press charges without any evidence to show that he knowingly violated the law by blowing on the IID. If charges were filed, it is very unlikely that a Vista DUI attorney could not show the court the prosecution lacks evidence to prove these accusations. So, ultimately, Andy would almost certainly be able to beat these charges.

If you find yourself facing any DUI-related charges, even if it is for unknowingly blowing on someone’s ignition interlock device, it is critical you contact a Vista DUI defense lawyer as soon as possible. Please call (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024 to schedule a free initial consultation with Peter M. Liss, a top drunk driving defense attorney in Vista

Minors In Possession of Alcohol Charges In CA

July 20th, 2014


In California, being under the legal drinking age doesn’t just prohibit you from consuming alcohol, it also prevents you from being in possession of it in any public place. If you are a minor who has been charged with this crime, or the parent of one, you can fight the charges, but it is critical you speak with a top San Diego juvenile defense attorney as soon as possible.

There are many defenses your San Diego juvenile lawyer can use to help you fight these charges. For example, the minor wasn’t actually in possession of the alcohol, the minor wasn’t in a public place when the police arrested him or her, the police discovered the alcohol during an illegal search and seizure, or the minor was delivering the alcohol for a parent or boss. Many of these defenses cannot be relied on if the minor tells the police information to the contrary, which is why teens, like adults, should never speak with the police without having an attorney present.

If a minor is convicted of being in possession of alcohol, he or she may be sentenced to pay fines, perform community service and to lose his or her driving privileges for a year. With the help of an experienced criminal lawyer,  it is common to have minor in possession charges dropped to a non-alcohol related infraction.  The great advantage to this is the minor doesn’t lose his driver’s license or have a criminal record.

The misdemeanor will also appear on the juvenile’s record, which could affect his or her ability to get into a good college or obtain employment after school. When the minor turns 18, a San Diego juvenile attorney can help him or her to expunge his or her criminal record, but this is not something that happens automatically and it is always better to fight against the charges in the first place than to wait until a minor can have his or her record expunged.

If you are a minor who has been charged with possession of alcohol or the parent of a teen facing these charges, San Diego juvenile crimes defense lawyer Peter M. Liss can help. Please call (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024 to schedule a free initial consultation.

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Have You Been Accused of Torture in San Diego?

July 6th, 2014


Everyone has a pretty basic understanding of what torture is, but like many criminal acts, the legal definition isn’t quite the same as the commonly accepted definition. If you have been accused of torture in San Diego, it is critical you contact a skilled San Diego criminal lawyer as soon as possible.

Under the law, torture involves inflicting great bodily harm on another person with the intent to cause cruel or extreme pain for the purpose of revenge, extortion, persuasion, or for any sadistic purpose. It’s important to note that the specifics of this crime are far more concerned with the intent of the defendant than the actual pain suffered by the victim, which is partly what distinguishes torture from aggravated battery. In fact, if the prosecution cannot prove you intended to cause cruel or extreme pain for the purpose of revenge, extortion, persuasion, or for any sadistic purpose, your San Diego criminal attorney should be able to get the charges reduced or dropped.

A few notable things about the law is that torture does not need to be premeditated, the pain does not need to be prolonged and the victim doesn’t even need to suffer pain at all as long as the defendant intended to inflict pain. Also, the injury does not have to be permanent, disabling or disfiguring although it does have to inflict substantial physical injury. This means that if someone broke into an apartment of someone they wanted to get revenge on, cut off their victim’s toe and then ran away before realizing the victim had no sensation in his foot, they could still be convicted of torture even though the act ended up being quick and painless.

Even worse, if the victim dies, then a defendant can face the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Whereas aggravated battery is punishable by up to four years in prison and a strike on your record, torture is drastically more serious and can carry a life sentence. This is why the intent and motivation are so important to this crime and why it’s critical you speak with a San Diego criminal lawyer as soon as you are arrested so you do not say anything to the police that may later harm your case.

If you have been accused of any violent crime, particularly torture, please call(760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024 to schedule a free consultation with top San Diego violent crimes defense attorney Peter M. Liss.

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Violating California’s Mayhem Law

June 30th, 2014


The crime of mayhem refers to maliciously disfiguring or disabling another person. There are a number of details that distinguish mayhem from the more serious offense of torture and the less serious crime of battery. With so many critical distinctions involved in this crime, it is critical you speak with a San Diego criminal lawyer as soon as someone accuses you of mayhem.

Whereas torture charges are largely based on the intent of the defendant rather than the injuries to the victim, mayhem cases are more focused on the nature of the victim’s injuries than the type of force used. That’s because mayhem charges require the prosecutor prove the defendant unlawfully and maliciously deprived, disabled or disfigured a part of the victim’s body, removed an eye, or slit the nose, ear or lip of the victim. If the victim is not disfigured or disabled, mayhem did not occur. As you can imagine, despite these terms having specific legal definitions, there is a lot of room for debate when it comes to many specific injuries. That is why San Diego criminal attorneys will often work to have the charges reduced to battery by arguing that the victims injuries are not disabling or disfiguring.

Other defenses against mayhem charges include self defense (in fact, many women’s self-defense classes go out of their way to show students how to dismember or disable someone in order to get away), and accidents. Since there are so many nuances involved in mayhem laws, you should not speak with the police or anyone else about the case until you first discuss your circumstances with a San Diego criminal lawyer.

If you are convicted of mayhem, you can face up to eight years in prison, a $10,000 fine and formal probation. Even worse, you could face additional penalties if the victim suffers great bodily injury or if he or she is under 14, over 65, blind, deaf, developmentally disabled, a paraplegic or a quadriplegic.

Mayhem is a very serious crime. If you have been charged with any type of violent crime, including mayhem, torture, assault or battery, please call (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024 to schedule a free initial consultation with top San Diego defense attorney Peter M. Liss.

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Loitering With Intent to Commit Prostitution

June 27th, 2014


In California, a prostitute doesn’t need to have actually participated in a sexual act for payment in order to be charged with a crime. In fact, if police believe you were loitering with the intent to offer your services as a prostitute, you can be arrested and even charged with a misdemeanor. Fortunately, this is a very difficult crime to prosecute, so a Vista criminal attorney can help you successfully fight the charges.

The problem with the loitering with intent to commit prostitution law is that it requires prosecutors to actually prove that you intended to sell sexual favors for cash or other forms of payment. Generally speaking, this means they won’t even attempt to press charges unless they have some evidence that you were attempting to solicit your services, for example, you were in an area known for prostitution while accompanied by someone who has been convicted of prostitution or you were seen approaching several cars and talking to the drivers for short periods of time. If prosecutors do file charges with minimal evidence of intent to commit prostitution, your Vista criminal lawyer may be able to have the charges dropped quickly with minimal hassle.

Even if there is enough evidence for the case to go forward, much of this circumstantial evidence can be fought with simple arguments. For example, if the police saw you in an area known for prostitution (like El Cajon Boulevard), dressed in skimpy clothing, stopping and talking to drivers or sitting on a bus bench and not boarding the bus when it arrives, this may be enough evidence for the prosecution to argue that you did intend to commit prostitution. However, a Vista criminal attorney could argue all of these factors were merely innocent circumstances. For example, you could have been attending a lingerie party or a club in that neighborhood, which would explain  your attire and location. If you were seen stopping and talking to drivers of nearby cars, you could be saying hi to friends, offering directions, or even if someone approached you thinking you were a prostitute, you could be explaining that you are, in fact, not. Similarly, waiting at the bus stop and not boarding the bus could be explained by it not being the right bus, your waiting for a ride from someone you know or even the fact that something about that bus made you unsafe so you decided to wait for the next one.

The crime also includes those who are loitering for the purpose of finding a prostitute. The police may arrest you if they have reason to believe you are trying to pick up known prostitutes.  Like those accused of loitering for the purpose of selling their bodies, there may be many innocent reasons for your behavior.

Of course, many defenses to this crime can be negated by what you say to the police when you are arrested, which is why you should always request to speak with a Vista criminal attorney as soon as you are arrested. In fact, if you outrightly say you are working as a prostitute, you will likely be charged with prostitution instead of, or along with, loitering with intent to commit prostitution, which will make your case that much more difficult to fight.

Whenever laws come down to someone’s intent, it is all too common for innocent people to be charged with these crimes. That’s why Vista criminal lawyers like Peter M. Liss are so important to protecting your rights. If you have been accused of loitering with intent to commit prostitution, please call (760) 643-4050 to schedule a free initial consultation.

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Accused of Unlawful Assembly in California?

June 23rd, 2014


Unlawful assembly is a little understood charge that many peaceful protesters find themselves facing at one point or another. If you are accused of unlawful assembly, your Vista criminal attorney can help you fight the accusations and protect your First Amendment rights.

California defines unlawful assembly as two or more people assembling for the purpose of doing something illegal or doing something legal in a violent, boisterous or tumultuous manner. While this sounds fairly broad, the courts have widely protected the public’s First Amendment rights against charges of unlawful assembly, ruling that this law can only be used to prohibit assemblies that are violent or that pose a clear and present danger of imminent violence. For this reason, many persons arrested for unlawful assembly will never be brought up on charges and many who are have the charges dropped with the help of their Vista criminal lawyers.

It’s important to note that in order for someone to be convicted of this crime, they must be a willing participant in the unlawful assembly. That means that if you are part of a peaceful protest that turns into an unlawful assembly, you must have a chance to leave the gathering before you are considered a part of the unlawful assembly -although you do not personally need to act in a violent manner. Also, if some small fringe groups break off to commit violent acts while an otherwise peaceful group continues their assembly, those who remain in the peaceful factions cannot be arrested.

Of course, when violence is occurring or there is a strong threat of violence, police often make quick and rash decisions to get people off of the street and prevent any further acts of violence. For this reason, many innocent people are arrested for unlawful assembly charges. In the rare instance that the prosecution insists on filing charges against all persons arrested, they must be able to prove that you were part of the group who turned violent and unruly and were given a chance to leave the group before you were arrested. That is why the defense for these cases often comes down to your Vista criminal lawyer arguing that you were not part of a violent group or a group threatening violence, that you were part of a peaceful faction acting within the law, or that you were not able to disperse from a violent group before you were arrested.

While few convictions of this crime carry the maximum sentence, if you were a leader or a major influence in the violence, the judge may choose to make an example out of you. In these cases, you could be sentenced to up to six months in county jail.

If you have been accused of unlawful assembly, please call Vista criminal attorney Peter M. Liss to discuss your case in a free, no-obligation consultation. You can schedule an appointment any time by calling (760) 643-4050.

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Drug Transportation Charges in San Diego

June 20th, 2014

counter illicit drug operations

The transportation of illegal drugs is a crime in California and will be charged as trafficking if prosecutors believe you intended to sell or distribute the substance. If you are arrested for any type of drug charge, what you say to the police could drastically affect your case. That is why it is critical you speak with a top Vista criminal lawyer as soon as you are arrested.

If you are caught transporting drugs, the most important factor in your case will be your intention for the substance. If you were merely moving your personal supply from one place to another, you were not trafficking narcotics. While you could still be charged with drug possession, you will not be facing the more serious, felony charge of trafficking.

The quantity of drugs found, and whether or not you possessed packaging materials and scales would all be evidence used in determining your intent to sell. A skilled Vista drug lawyer would also carefully analyze the police search in which the drugs were found and if it was performed illegally, he would file motions to dismiss the case due to the search being performed improperly.

When there is evidence to show you intended to sell or distribute the drugs, your potential sentencing will vary based on the substance, quantity and your criminal record, but the crime will always be a felony and cannot be reduced to a misdemeanor. Since these charges could have life-changing consequences, it is critical anyone accused of trafficking speak with a top Vista drug defense lawyer as soon as possible.

In some cases, these charges will even be handled at the federal level because they involved the DEA or took place while crossing the international border. When this happens, you need to be sure your Vista criminal attorney also can handle cases at the federal level as the two courts do not operate exactly the same.

There are a number of defenses for this crime ranging from transporting a personal supply to police entrapment. Every case is different, so if you have been arrested for drug transportation, please call Vista drug attorney Peter M. Liss at (760) 643-4050 to schedule a free initial consultation.

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Attempted Murder Charges in Vista, CA

June 16th, 2014


The concept of attempted murder seems pretty simple, but in practice, these trials can be fairly complex and come down to the tiniest details. If you have been accused of attempted murder, a Vista criminal lawyer like Peter M. Liss can help.

Attempted murder charges are filed when the victim is still alive after an attempt is made at their life. It is important to note that thinking or talking about killing someone is not the same as attempted murder. Additionally, there must be an intent to kill. For example, if John hates Tom and hits Tom with his car while traveling at 15 miles per hour, there may be enough evidence to show that John intentionally harmed Tom, but not that he attempted to murder him, even if John previously stated that he wished Tom was dead. For this reason, attempted murder charges can be difficult to prove, especially if you have a top Vista defense attorney on your side.

In order for the prosecution to prove attempted murder charges, they must be able to show the defendant specifically intended to kill.   If the evidence shows a deliberate and premeditated attempt to kill then the defendant faces life in prison.

The prosecutors must not only show that an attempt was made to harm someone, but that there was an intent to kill that person. In a case where someone was shot at once and hit in the leg, for example, it would be very hard for the prosecution to prove that the defendant was attempting to kill the person when the wound was so far away from the head and vital organs.

Of course, this also rests upon you invoking your right to silence. If you tell police you were trying to kill someone and wished you succeeded, it will be a lot harder for your Vista criminal attorney to argue that you did not actually mean to kill that person.

Even if there is enough evidence to show you intended to kill someone and acted towards that means, your Vista defense lawyer may be able to help you in other ways. By arguing that you acted in self defense, or by negotiating a plea bargain with the prosecution, for example.

Whatever your specific circumstances, please call Peter M. Liss at (760) 643-4050 to schedule a free consultation.

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Is Lester Legally Responsible For Sam’s Death In Fargo?

June 13th, 2014


The new Fargo series has a predictably violent plot that really gets started when ridiculously meek Lester Nygaard meets dangerous assassin Lorne Malvo in the hospital. What happens next is exactly the kind of occurrence that Vista criminal lawyers deal with every day.

Note: If you haven’t already watched the Fargo TV show, don’t worry, we’ll only be discussing what happens within the first half-hour or so of the pilot, so there aren’t any spoilers here.

While seated next to each other in the emergency room, Malvo gets Lester, who has a broken nose, to start talking about what caused his injury. Lester admits that he was picked on by the man who used to be his high school bully, Sam Hess. Lester also reveals that Sam taunted him about having sexual relations with his wife back in high school.

At this point, Malvo says that if he was in the same position, he would have killed Sam. He then reiterates all the terrible things Sam did and says he is a man who does not deserve to draw breath. Lester argues at first, but then agrees and says that he could never do such a thing, frustratedly blurting out, “if you’re so sure about it, why don’t you just kill him for me?”

When Malvo confirms “you’re asking me to kill this man?” The nurse arrives as Lester says that he was joking and tries to cool the situation by saying that he and Malvo are just chatting. Malvo tries to get him to confirm the kill by either saying yes or no. When the nurse starts harassing Lester to go with her or give up his spot, he jumps up exclaiming “yeah, I’m coming” at her -never confirming or denying that he wants Malvo to act. Unsurprisingly, Malvo does kill Sam Hess, sparking off the chain of events that makes up the rest of the season.

Of course, this is a legal blog and while Fargo is a good show, there would be no point in bringing it up if it wasn’t to discuss a legal issue and in this case, the question that requires a Vista criminal attorney’s expertise is: could Lester be brought up on charges for Sam’s death?

The obvious answer for those who saw the exchange would be no, since Lester never hired Malvo, but the real-life examination of the issue is a bit more complex since no one actually overheard the conversation. In this case, when police identify that Malvo killed Sam Hess and recognize that he is a hit man, they would discover that Lester was seen talking to Malvo in the hospital and they  would realize that he does have an issue with Sam. This could be enough evidence for police to confront Lester.

Because it could be possible to construe Lester’s saying “yeah” to the nurse as his covertly saying yes to Malvo, it would be a pretty good idea for Lester to contact a lawyer before speaking to the police. A Vista criminal lawyer could tell you that sometimes just trying to help the police in an investigation can end up putting you in the defendant’s seat.

In this case (without looking at the other events of the show), it would be pretty unlikely that Lester would be charged with any actual crime and even less likely that he would be convicted. Even so, it’s easy to see why he might want to speak with an attorney before things get even more messy.

Similarly, if you find yourself in a legally challenging situation, please call (760) 643-4050 to schedule a free initial consultation with Vista defense attorney Peter M. Liss.

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