Archive for the ‘Criminal Lawyers Vista’ Category

Vista Defense Attorney: Child Molesting Laws In CA

Monday, 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.

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Soliciting Sex With A Minor In Vista, California

Friday, 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.

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Fighting Charges of Possession or Distribution of Child Pornography

Monday, 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.

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A Federal Court Rules California’s Death Penalty Is Unconstitutional

Friday, 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.

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Have You Been Accused of Torture in San Diego?

Sunday, 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

Monday, 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

Friday, 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?

Monday, 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

Friday, 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

Monday, 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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