Archive for the ‘Criminal Lawyers Vista’ Category
Monday, April 21st, 2014
At the San Marcos campus of Palomar College, a serial arsonist has struck nine times since December, each time in a men’s bathroom at the school. Here are some of the potential consequences he could face if arrested, which is why the arsonist, along with anyone accused or suspected of a crime should always contact a Vista criminal lawyer.
Arson charges are almost always felonies in California, particularly in cases like this where the defendant has acted repeatedly and in a setting where people were likely to get injured. Because the fires were obviously started intentionally in a public space and multiple fires were started, the crime will likely be charged as “malicious arson,” which carries a sentence of up to nine years in prison, up to $60,000 in fines and a strike on the person’s criminal record that will count towards the three strikes law. Additionally, if the person who commits the crime has a prior criminal record, or if he starts another fire that injures someone or causes multiple structures to burn, the sentence could be increased another one to five years.
Alternatively, the suspect could be charged with aggravated arson, which is premeditated arson with the intent to injure or burn multiple individuals or property, with a prior arson conviction or damage of $6.5 million dollars. This crime is punishable from 10 years to life in prison. At the other end of the spectrum, arson can sometimes be reduced to reckless burning charges which carries less severe penalties and can result in probation or even a misdemeanor conviction.
As you can see, these penalties are incredibly serious, which is why anyone who believes they are under investigation for these crimes needs to speak with a Vista criminal attorney as soon as possible.
In addition to the penalties listed above, the arsonist could even be labeled as a “convicted arson offender,” which means he will be subject to a similar set of restrictions and rules as those labeled as sex offenders. Failure to abide by all of these rules could result in an additional year in jail. A Vista criminal defense attorney can help someone obtain a certificate of rehabilitation, if necessary, so that person will no longer have to register as an arson offender.
The most common defense used by Vista criminal defense lawyers in arson cases is that the fire was started by accident. Because this case involves a serial arsonist, this defense will probably not work, but there are other defenses available to this crime, including insufficient evidence, mistaken identity and more.
If you believe you are under investigation for arson or have already been charged with the crime, Peter M. Liss can help. Please call (760) 643-4050 to schedule a free initial consultation.
Creative Commons Image by Thomas’s Pics
Monday, April 14th, 2014
When you hear the word lynching, you probably think of a horrific scene where someone takes the life of an innocent person merely due to his or her race or religion, but under California state law, the term actually refers to rioters working to take a person under police custody. Here’s what you should know about the crime, courtesy of San Diego criminal defense attorney Peter M. Liss. The reason for the confusing name goes back to the other historical definition of lynching, wherein an angry mob seizes a criminal from the local jail and hangs him before he has a chance to defend himself in court. But while historical lynchings were almost never beneficial for the person being taken from police custody, that’s not the case in modern times. In fact, a person can even be arrested and charged in their own lynching if they intentionally tried to get the public to help set them free. Because these arrests occur in a riot-like situation, it is critical anyone charged with this crime seek the help of a San Diego criminal defense lawyer. Even if the attempt to free the person in police custody fails or if an attempt to riot falls flat, those responsible can still be charged with attempted lynching. You may be curious how this crime is any different than the crime of “rescuing a prisoner,” which involves freeing someone from prison, jail or police custody and the main difference here is that lynching requires a riot to occur. Because a riot is considered much more dangerous to the public than a standard prisoner rescue, the crime is more serious and carries a maximum sentence of up to four years in prison. With such serious penalties at stake, it is easy to see how important it is to work with a top San Diego defense lawyer if you have been charged with lynching. In many cases like these, it is easy for a person just walking by to be swept up in the riot and arrested as part of the mob. Similarly, someone could be protesting an arrest of someone they believe to be innocent, but not trying to physically release the suspect and still get arrested and charged with lynching in the chaotic mess of this type of riot. If you have been accused of rioting, lynching or rescuing a prisoner, San Diego criminal lawyer Peter Liss can help. Please call (760) 643-4050 OR (858) 486-3024 to schedule a free initial consultation.
Friday, April 4th, 2014
Captain America: The Winter Soldier might not be out yet, but fans of the comics already know some of the key plot points. That’s why without releasing any spoilers, we can sagely assume that Captain America’s sidekick and best friend, Bucky, didn’t really die in the first movie, but instead lost an arm and was kept in suspended animation by the Soviets, who also provided Bucky with a bionic arm. When the Soviets wake him up periodically over the next 60 years, Bucky’s severe memory loss allows the Russians to reprogram him to become an assassin with the code name: Winter Soldier. As the Winter Soldier, Bucky kills a number of important political targets. Captain America must stop his friend, but he also feels he must rescue him from his brainwashed state. You’ll have to watch the movie to know the outcome, but assuming Captain America is successful, Bucky could likely be charged with espionage and treason. That’s where San Diego criminal lawyer Peter M. Liss comes in.
While the Winter Soldier undoubtedly would be guilty of espionage and treason, Bucky would have a strong insanity defense against the charges given that his higher brain function was destroyed in the accident that led everyone to believe he had died.
In order for a San Diego criminal attorney to prove that a person was legally insane, the person must have a mental disease or defect that resulted in him or her being incapable of knowing or understanding the nature and quality of his or her act and of distinguishing right from wrong at the time of the offense. Suffering brain damage severe enough that someone can reprogram you to become an assassin who is completely unaware of your past undoubtedly falls under this definition of legal insanity, which means Bucky should be able to escape these charges.
In a major case like this that involved treason and espionage, it might be more difficult for a San Diego criminal lawyer to prove their defendant was suffering from insanity at the time of his or her crimes, especially if his or her mental faculties were restored by the time of the trial. But Bucky would have two distinct advantages on his side when it comes to swaying a jury. First, he was a decorated WWII veteran known for his heroic acts at the side of one of America’s greatest and most trusted heroes. Second, that hero, Captain America, would likely be there to testify for his friend at the trial in order to corroborate Bucky’s tale of brainwashing and recovery.
Obviously, Bucky’s situation is a particularly unique one, but it does show how versatile the insanity defense is for all types of crimes and mental illnesses. If you aren’t sure if you can use the insanity defense in a case you have been accused of, San Diego criminal attorney Peter M. Liss can evaluate your case to help you work out the best defense for your specific situation. If you are ready to schedule a free initial consultation, please call (760) 643-4050 OR (858) 486-3024.
Creative Commons Image by Pat Loika
Wednesday, March 19th, 2014
Everyone knows that the police can’t enter your home without a warrant in most cases, but there are always exceptions. Obviously, if you invite the police into your home or if she sees someone being held hostage over your shoulder when you answer your door, she can then act without a warrant, but there are many more exceptions as well. If you aren’t sure if your rights were violated during a warrantless search of your property, Vista criminal lawyer Peter M. Liss can help you fight to have the evidence uncovered during the search suppressed from your case.
Under federal law, police are given permission to search a property without a warrant if exigent circumstances apply. The problem with these types of situations is that there is no hard and fast rule about what does or does not qualify as such a situation. That’s where your Vista criminal attorney comes in.
Exigent circumstances are, essentially, pressing situations in which the police must act immediately. If, for example, an officer hears a chainsaw and a woman screaming, she can act immediately, because waiting to get a warrant could result in a woman being injured or even murdered. While that’s an extreme example, even this situation could be questionable. If it turns out that someone was chopping down a tree in the backyard while someone else was watching a horror movie with a woman screaming, then the officer did not actually need to act immediately. Even so, if something illegal was found in the home, the prosecution would likely argue that the officer still was acting under exigent circumstances. It would still be up to the Vista defense lawyer to explain that the police officer acted without a valid reason and that an average person would recognize that no one was actually in danger.
A far more common situation arrises when police knock on a suspect’s door and believe they hear a paper shredder or toilet flushing. In these situations, the police may act if they believe paper evidence is being shredded or drugs are being flushed down the toilet. This is when the exigent circumstances area of the law becomes very complex as there are ample legal reasons for a person to be shredding paper or flushing a toilet. Even if the police did find something during these searches, a Vista defense attorney can often prove that their reason for entering the home was not within the scope of the law and, thus, any evidence uncovered during the search cannot be used against the defendant.
If the police request to enter or search your residence, person or property without a warrant, you should politely decline. Do not struggle with them if the police insist on searching, just make sure you tell them it is over your objection.
As you can tell, these cases can become incredibly complex and it is ultimately up to the judge to determine whether the evidence was procured in a legal manner. That’s why it is so important you always work with a top defense lawyer in Vista, such as Peter M. Liss. If you have any questions or would like to schedule a free initial consultation with Mr. Liss, please call (760) 643-4050.
Creative Commons Image by West Midlands Police
Wednesday, March 19th, 2014
Statutory rape laws vary drastically from state to state, but in California, if a person has sex with someone under the age of 18, he or she has committed statutory rape. The law is that basic, which is why it is critical anyone accused of statutory rape speak with a San Diego sex crimes attorney before answering any questions for the police.
In cases involving statutory rape, it does not matter if the minor initiated the act or if both parties are under the age of 18, it is still a crime. In cases involving two underage persons though, the prosecution will rarely press charges. The only time it is legal for a minor to have sex is if he or she is married to that person. It’s important to note that it is legal for a minor to date someone and then have sex with him or her, as long as the actual intercourse occurred after the minor turns 18.
Fortunately, while the law defining statutory rape is pretty cut and dry, prosecuting it is often more complex. That’s because the prosecution must prove that the parties were not married, did have sex and that the alleged victim was under 18 at the time the intercourse occurred. In many cases, finding sufficient evidence to prove sex occurred is difficult, especially if the minor is uncooperative with the police and prosecutors, or if the minor or their parents have something to gain by charging the other party with statutory rape. In these cases, a San Diego criminal lawyer can help show the accusers have reason to make such claims, and may be willing to lie or bend the truth in order to get their way.
Statutory rape can be either a misdemeanor or felony. In cases involving people who are no more than three years apart in age, the charges will be a misdemeanor. If the age difference is greater than three years, the proseuctor will decide whether to charge the crime as a misdemeanor or felony based on the defendant’s criminal background and the specifics of the case. A San Diego criminal lawyer may be able to convince the prosecutor to charge the crime as a misdemeanor rather than a felony.
Misdemeanor statutory rape charges carry a penalty of up to one year of jail time and $1,000 in fines while felonies carry a maximum sentence of three years imprisonment although it could be as long as four years if the defendant was over 21 and the alleged victim was under 16 when the intercourse was said to take place. While statutory rape is a sex crime, it does not require mandatory registration as a sex offender although this could still be added as part of the sentence. In cases where you may be at risk of being labeled a sex offender, your San Diego criminal attorney may be able to negotiate a plea bargain that will ensure this does not happen.
The most common defense to statutory rape is simple, but effective -the honest belief that the person involved in the sexual activity was over 18. It is hard for the prosecution to prove that you knew someone was under 18 in most cases, particularly if you met him or her at a bar or club where people must be over 18 or even 21 to gain access.
Consent is not a defense in these crimes, though many defendants try to excuse themselves by arguing this point. That is why it is critical you speak with a San Diego sex crimes attorney before you speak to the police and risk saying something that could hurt your case. If you have any questions or would like to schedule a free initial consultation with San Diego defense lawyer Peter M. Liss, please call (760) 643-4050 OR (858) 486-3024.
Creative Commons Image by Elliott Brown
Wednesday, March 12th, 2014
One of the biggest arguments used by both those against pornography and those in favor of legalized prostitution is that it is illegal to pay someone for sex, but as long as you film it, it becomes a porno and is then legal. So, is this entirely true? Can you hire a prostitute, film the encounter and then avoid the risk of being charged for solicitation? Or, could a prostitute set up a camera in her room and avoid any legal convictions? Here’s what Vista criminal attorney Peter M. Liss has to say on the matter.
First, the base logic behind this argument is sound. It is legal to film pornographic material in San Diego, though prostitution is illegal. The courts have upheld this opinion since it was first established in the 1987 case of California vs. Freeman, where the state accused pornographic film producer Harold Freeman with pimping. Because putting something on film brings into question the matter of free speech, the judges concluded that as long as the film was not being made for the purpose of pleasuring the director or the actors, and thus, did not involve prostitution.
On the other hand, a Vista criminal lawyer will advise you that merely hiring a prostitute off the street, filming the encounter and then claiming you were making a porno will not clear you from any risk of prostitution charges. The biggest thing preventing anyone and everyone interested in prostitution from merely placing a camera in front of them while they have sex is that pornographic films have a number of laws they must follow in order to comply with the law. You may need a business license, you will need the consent of all people who appear on camera, you need sufficent paperwork to prove that anyone on camera was over 18 and you need to show that all the people performing in the film were tested for STDs within the last 30 days.
If you fail to follow these laws, you could still be charged with prostitution as the prosecution may show you only filmed the act to attempt to skirt the law and had no intent to make an adult film or to express your first ammendment rights. You could also be charged with breaking these laws as well. In fact, if you didn’t tell the other party that you were filming the encounter, you could even be charged with wiretapping, which can be a felony crime. While you don’t want to get charged with prostitution or solicitation, getting charged with wiretapping and prostitution is a whole lot worse. That’s why you should always consult with a Vista criminal lawyer when you want to do something and you aren’t sure if it could be considered illegal.
Remember, it’s a lot easier to discuss something with your Vista defense attorney before you break the law than it is to fight criminal charges after they have been filed. If you have any questions, you can always call Peter M. Liss at (760) 643-4050 to schedule a free initial consultation with one of the top sex crime defense lawyers in Vista.
Wednesday, March 5th, 2014
One of the biggest problems with computer crimes is that it is incredibly difficult to prove who was actually comitting a crime behind the screen. Merely identifying the specific machine used in a computer crime is hard enough, but proving who was, or was not, using the computer when the crime actually occurred is even more challenging -especially if the computer is frequently used by more than one person. That’s why it is so important to only hire a Vista criminal lawyer who has knowledge and experience fighting these types of serious and complex charges.
Recently, Washington District Judge Robert Lasnik helped further secure the rights of those accused of computer crimes by determining that an IP address alone is not enough evidence to pursue legal action against a person. He explained that merely having the name of the person associated with a particular IP address says very little about the person who actually committed the crime using that IP address, noting that “While it is possible that the subscriber is the one who participated… it is also possible that a family member, guest, or freeloader engaged in the infringing conduct.”
While this particular case took place in Washington and specifically applied to copyright infringement, it can still be useful for criminal lawyers in Vista as it helps set a legal precedent that could apply to all types of crimes involving computers and in areas outside of Washington -especially since Lasnik is a federal judge and not just operating at a local level.
Cases like this provide yet another reason why it is so important to work with a top Vista criminal attorney. When someone keeps up on current news in the legal field, it can directly affect your case and, ultimately could mean the difference between your freedom and imprisonment.
If you have been accused of any type of crime related to computer usage, please call Vista criminal attorneyPeter M. Liss at (760) 643-4050 to schedule a free initial consultation.
Creative Commons Image by Collin Anderson
Wednesday, March 5th, 2014
There are a lot of romantic comedies out there to enjoy during Valentine’s Day, but only one promises romance, comedy and zombies. In celebration of the greatest romantic comedy featuring undead hordes, here’s a look at one of the most perplexing legal questions in Shaun of the Dead. No, it’s not whether or not it was OK for them to kill the zombies (that was already covered in this article on our other blog). The real question is could the gang legally be excused for breaking and entering into the Winchester while waiting for the whole thing to boil over? And, just as important, can you follow in Shaun’s footsteps if you find yourself, your best friend and your romantic interest in a similar, zombie-filled situation? San Diego criminal lawyer Peter M. Liss has all the answers you need.
First, it’s important to remember that England’s legal system is drastically different than our American system and even the individual laws of San Diego are quite different from those of Boston (otherwise our founding fathers would have fought in a fairly pointless revolution). That being said, our laws were based on the English system and over the years, the two countries have adopted the ideas and practices of each other’s legal systems quite a few times, so we do have distinct similarities as well. This means that even if the names of the specific charges vary, many of the legal defenses against such charges would still apply. So while this article may discuss the law as it would apply to someone who sought the advice of a criminal attorney in San Diego, the defense Peter Liss offers would still likely apply in London.
While smashing the window, breaking into the Winchester and drinking their booze while there would normally result in charges of property damage, breaking and entering, robbery, burglary and trespassing, the law does provide exceptions to almost all charges when someone’s life is in danger. The same legal concepts that permit police to enter a home without a warrant if they believe a person is in distress also allow a civilian to enter someone’s property in cases of emergency. An emergency could be seeing an axe-weilding serial killer in your neighbor’s home, which means you would legally be excused for breaking into the home and saving them. Similarly, if you are outside during a hurricane, you could be excused for breaking into a gas station in order to seek shelter.
The other crimes would also be excused given the situation though it might require the help of San Diego defense attorney like Mr. Liss. Breaking the window is an extreme method of entry, but in a time of emergency, when time is of the essence -like when zombies are threatening your life- this type of action is excusable although you would likely be required to pay for the property damage you did. Similarly, eating and drinking from your temporary emergency shelter would be forgivable if you were willing to reimburse the property owner for the amount you ate and drink.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you’d have free reign during an emergency. If Shaun and his friends vandalized the bar or tried to steal cash or valuables, the could still be charged with crimes. Given that the group was not acting maliciously and was just seeking shelter, they would be able to use the defense of necessity because they had no other alternative and committing a crime saved them from encountering a greater crime. In many cases, they would not be charged given the situation, but if they were, a lawyer, like San Diego criminal attorney Peter M. Liss, would probably be able to arrange for the charges to be dropped in exchange for the group paying for everything they used and damaged. On the other hand, the ending of the film brings up issues of zombie’s rights as tying people up (undead or not) for use as entertainment or cheap labor is both morally and legally questionable, but that issue is an entirely different matter altogether.
If you ever find yourself in an emergency, just remember, there are exceptions to common laws we all obey during non-emergency situations. Just be considerate and don’t do anything more than you need to do to survive. If you are charged with a crime despite the extenuating circumstances though, call San Diego criminal lawyer Peter M. Liss at (760) 643-4050 OR (858) 486-3024.
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Wednesday, February 26th, 2014
In San Diego County, when you are arrested, you may have the option of posting bail in order to get out of jail while you wait to attend trial. Since most people only know about the process from what they have seen on television and movies, Vista criminal lawyer Peter M. Liss is here to explain how he bail system works and why you may or may not choose to take advantage of the opportunity.
The purpose of bail is to help ensure you will return to court. When you are arrested and booked for a crime, you can generally post bail based on the San Diego County bail schedule as soon as you are put behind bars. The bail schedule determines how much your bail will be based on the crime you have been charged with.
While you should always speak to a Vista criminal attorney as soon as you have been charged with a crime, you may want to contact a relative or friend to help you secure bail. In many cases, that person will have to go through a bail bondsman who will post bail for you in exchange for a premium, which will legally be no higher than 10% of your total bail. For example, if your bail is $10,000, your bail bond may cost you a total of $1,000. If you post cash bail, the jail will usually require a bank check or money order posted during business hours, although for smaller amounts, they sometimes take personal checks. There is also a more complicated process where you can use real estate to secure bail. You need twice the amount of the bail in equity and have to obtain the court’s approval. No matter what method you use to secure bail, after it is posted, you should be released within the next few hours.
If you are not bailed out immediately, you will be arraigned within three business days of your arrest. During the arraignment, the judge may allow you to be released from jail, or may increase or reduce your bail, as you await your trial based on whether or not he or she believes you to be a flight risk or a threat to public safety. Having a Vista criminal attorney at your arraignment is not only critical to ensuring the charges against you are as minimal as possible, but also to help you get released on your own recognizance or on reduced bail.
Once you’ve posted bail, you must appear in court on the scheduled date or your bail will be forfeited to the court and a bench warrant for your arrest may be issued. If you used a bail bond, the company will seek full reimbursement from you or your cosigner. If you had a reasonable excuse for missing the court date and are able to appear within 180 days of the scheduled date, a Vista defense lawyer may be able to have the forfeiture vacated, which means the bail forfeiture will be reversed so you, or the bail bond company will still be eligible to retrieve the bail if you show up for your rescheduled court date.
After the trial is completed, the bail will be returned to the bond company if you used one. If you paid a cash bail, you will receive the full bail back if you are not convicted, but if you are, the money may be applied towards any restitution or fines you have been ordered to pay.
If you still have any questions about bail or aren’t sure if it is worth acquiring a bail bond in your circumstances, please call Vista defense lawyer Peter M. Liss at (760) 643-4050.
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Thursday, February 20th, 2014
Under US law, a defendant is supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, but if you have been accused of child molestation, you’ll have an uphill battle as you attempt to protect your reputation while fighting the charges. Having a top Vista criminal lawyer to help you with the process is critical when you have been accused of such an emotionally charged crime.
Because child molestation is such a highly publicized and vilified crime, those accused of the act are often judged long before they enter the courtroom. This means your friends, family, co-workers and neighbors may all develop a drastically different opinion of you if they learn you have been accused of the crime, which is why a good Vista sex crimes attorney will help you work to keep the charges as private as possible. Even worse, the jury may start to judge you as soon as the charges against you are read. Because an impartial jury is critical to a fair trial, it is up to your Vista defense lawyer to remind the jury that they must be unbiased. If anyone involved with the accusations could benefit from your conviction, making that connection evident to the jury is up to your defense attorney.
Vista courts label anyone convicted of child molestation to be identified as a sex offender for the rest of their lives -even if you negotiate a plea bargain that minimizes the penalties you will face. This means your name, address and the crimes you were convicted for will be available in a public database for anyone to see. You will also have to check in with the local government every time you move or get a new job. You may also be barred from living in certain areas and working in certain jobs. With these consequences on the line, it is easy to see how important it is to find the right Vista defense lawyer.
As soon as you are aware of an accusation of child molestation, you should call immediately call a Vista criminal defense lawyer. Even a call from the alleged victim might be arranged by law enforcement and recorded, so you should not delay in contacting an attorney. If you have been accused of this serious crime or believe you may be accused of child molestation, please call (760) 643-4050 to schedule a consultation with Vista sex crimes defense attorney Peter M. Liss.