Posts Tagged ‘san diego criminal lawyer’

Understanding California’s Lynching Laws

Monday, April 14th, 2014

2163691046_ca21f66155_o 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.

Defending Bucky For His Role As The Winter Soldier

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.

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Watch Your Head If You’re Like Shaun of the Dead

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

6227639271_6876fde754_bThere 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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Could the Seinfeld Cast Really Be Busted for Doing Nothing?

Sunday, January 27th, 2013

In one of the most famous season finales in television history, George, Elaine, Jerry and Kramer are all charged under a “Good Samaritan Law” for watching someone get car jacked and failing to offer any assistance. But almost fifteen years later, countless fans still find themselves wondering if such laws even exist and if so, could the gang actually be convicted for doing nothing? It’s time to find out.

First of all, it’s important to note that while there are plenty of Good Samaritan laws on the books, these do not actually involve interfering with criminal activity, but instead with helping people who are injured. In fact, most of these are written not to force persons to help, but protect those who do provide assistance from civil litigation. The criminal statute that the Seinfeld gang violated was actually what is known as a “Duty to Rescue” law.

At the time of the finale, the US only had a handful of Duty to Rescue laws, and the small town of Latham, Massachusetts did not have one at all. According to San Diego criminal attorney Peter Liss, even if you put the cast in modern day California, they could still only be found guilty if they failed to report the murder or rape of someone under 14. The state does have strict reporting regulations for those who observe child or elder abuse, but only if those persons happen to be what the state considers “mandatory reporters” of these crimes because they work in places such as nursing homes, doctors offices, therapy centers or schools.

States that do have Duty to Rescue laws on the books allow for someone to be charged with a misdemeanor for failing to report a violent crime, but even then, the laws do not require someone to put themselves in danger in order to do so. Being as how the carjacker had a gun, the group would not be legally required to intervene to stop the crime. In fact, even the arresting officer in the show says the law requires people to help or assist anyone in danger, “as long as it’s reasonable to do so.” Even the strictest prosecuting attorney in the nation would agree that it is not reasonable expect a stranger to interfere with someone holding a firearm.

On the other hand Jerry still could be accused of failing to help the victim by not calling the police with his cell phone. That being said, San Diego criminal lawyer Mr. Liss points out that an attorney could defend the group from such accusations by explaining that they did not want to attract the carjacker’s attention by calling the police while an armed man is near them -not to mention, their inactivity in a crime that happened that fast would not have helped stop the crime. Either way, police would have to chase down the carjacker. Duty to Rescue laws do not specify that you need to call the police while see someone committing a violent crime, only that you need to report the crime.

Additionally, the criminal attorney in San Diego points out that, if anything, the gang helped the defendant by video taping the encounter and recording extremely useful evidence of the event that could convict the carjacker. That means that even if they belittled the victim at the time, they would still be helping him and therefore, deserve to be commended.

When you watch the scene though, it’s easy to see that the one person who should truly be punished, aside from the carjacker, would be the police officer who was in the area when the carjacking happened, but still thought his time would be better spent arresting innocent bystanders who obtained evidence of the crime.

Of course, no one wants to be found guilty for merely doing nothing, so if you ever find yourself being accused of failing to do something, like the gang in Seinfeld, please call top San Diego criminal lawyer Peter M. Liss to discuss how to fight the charges against you.

What Is Reasonable Doubt?

Friday, January 4th, 2013

reasonable doubt Vista defense attorney You’ve almost certainly heard the phrase “guilty beyond a reasonable doubt,” but have you ever given thought to what that actually means? As an American, you should because this phrase is a corner stone of our national justice system. Rather than some countries that consider you guilty until you are proven innocent, the American legal system allows criminal suspects the privilege of being innocent until proven guilty and that guilt needs to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. This means your Vista criminal defense attorney must only show the jury that the prosecution does not have enough evidence to undoubtedly prove your guilt. The concept of reasonable doubt is one of the most powerful weapons on the side of all Vista defense lawyers because it means that the simple fact that charges have been filed against someone does not serve as evidence against them. So what is a reasonable doubt? Proof beyond a reasonable doubt is proof that leaves jury members with an abiding conviction that the charge against the defendant is true no matter what evidence was presented on their behalf by their Vista criminal defense lawyers. Although some people believe that the standard of reasonable doubt means there cannot be a question in the mind of the members of the jury, that is not true. After all, few things in this world are totally black and white and many people who serve in a jury will question their ultimate decision at some point or another, no mater how convincing the evidence that led them to make their decision. The evidence need not eliminate all possible doubt because everything is life is open to some possible or imaginary doubt. However, if they based their decision on the standard of a reasonable doubt, then they will not have found the defendant guilty unless they were utterly convinced, meaning they will not have to look back on their decision and regret sending an innocent person to prison. Even if the prosecution proves the defendant to be mostly guilty, but their Vista criminal defense attorneys have left a good seed of doubt in the juror’s minds, the defendant should still be found innocent because the evidence is not enough to quell all reasonable questions of the jurors. If you have any question about the true meaning of reasonable doubt and how it could play into any charges you are facing, please call Vista defense lawyer Peter M. Liss at (760) 643-4050 to schedule a free initial consultation. Creative Commons Image by Pauho

The Downside to Wolverine Claws

Monday, December 31st, 2012

laws about wolverine claws

Wolverine’s claws are admittedly cool-looking, but they also offer some serious draw backs. Aside from the pain associated with the claws pushing through his skin every time they come out, they present a number of legal issues as well. For example, Logan could be accused of carrying a concealed weapon and if he ever uses his claws to intimidate someone, he could be charged with assault with a deadly weapon. Luckily, he could defend himself from these charges -as long as he hired a skilled criminal lawyer like Vista defense attorney Peter M. Liss.

By consulting with a defense lawyer in San Diego before traveling, he could discuss the different concealed weapons laws in the areas where he travels. For example, while he might not need to do anything in some areas, in other places though, he may need to obtain a permit to carry a concealed weapon. If he did forget to do his research -or needed to go somewhere immediately, a Vista criminal defense attorney could help him fight any weapons charges he might be accused of on the grounds that he did not willingly violate the local laws because his claws are not actually knives or blades, but adamantium-covered bones.

On these same grounds, good Vista criminal defense lawyers could help defend Logan from any assault with a deadly weapon charge that he may face if he attacked someone with his claws. While most of Wolverine’s work as an X-men would fall under the realm of self-defense or defense of another person, Logan’s temperamental attitude means this would not work for all situations as he has been known to fight with little provocation. In these cases, he could still be charged with assault or battery, but his Vista criminal defense lawyers would be able to ensure he did not face most assault with a deadly weapon charges because deadly weapons must be extrinsic to a person’s body, whereas Logan’s are actually a bodily mutation, not an actual weapon. Of course, this assumes the law is not changed to cover mutants and their powers in a post X Men world.

On the other hand, assault with a deadly weapon can be charged without an actual weapon in the case that the attacker used enough force to likely produce great bodily injury. With Wolverine’s claws, it’s pretty obvious that using them at all could cause great bodily injury and Logan should undoubtedly know that. That means that he would almost certainly face charges of assault with a deadly weapon by means of force if he was not careful about the use of his claws.

If you happen to be cursed with any similar biological mutations and have been accused of criminal charges as a result, please call Vista defense lawyer Peter M. Liss at (858) 486-3024.

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Will I Look Guilty If I Don’t Cooperate With The Police?

Sunday, December 9th, 2012

should you cooperate with the police Vista criminal lawyer

Being investigated for a crime is intimidating and many people believe that the best way they can clear their name is to cooperate with the police in every step of the investigation and answer any and all questions detectives may ask. They worry that if they invoke their right to contact a San Diego criminal defense attorney before answering questions or insist that police get a search warrant before searching their property that they will seem guilty.

Unfortunately, this line of thinking is not only wrong, it is dangerous as it can lead you to give up your rights during the investigation process and things you say or do could actually point to your guilt and be used against you later on.

It is critical that anyone accused of a crime contact a skilled criminal lawyer in San Diego before answering any questions or permitting a police search of their property. It rarely is the case that you can talk your way out of trouble. Even if you think cooperating will help, it may actually hurt your case and make you look guilty. If you do have evidence that could exonerate you, your North County defense attorney can convey any information showing your innocence to the police  without exposing you to an interrogation. You should not let police threaten to arrest you if you do not cooperate or otherwise allow them to intimidate you into talking with them without first consulting an attorney.

A San Diego criminal defense lawyer will always evaluate your specific circumstances to determine the best course of action to protect your rights, your freedom and your good name.

Even if your defense attorney in North County San Diego recommends a course of action that could make someone suspicious of your motives, the bottom line is that it is better to protect your rights and not say or do something that could lead you to be convicted of a crime than it is to temporarily look innocent -only to be charged and convicted later. Your first priority should always be protecting yourself and blindly cooperating with police investigators can sometimes be the worst thing you can do in these situations.

If are being investigated for a crime or have already been charged, please call San Diego criminal lawyer Peter M. Liss at (760) 643-4050 to schedule a free initial consultation where you can discuss the right course of action given your specific circumstances.

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Could Santa Be Charged For Breaking Into Your Home?

Sunday, November 25th, 2012

is Santa a criminal Vista defense attorney

Over the years, many people have questioned whether or not Santa Claus has the right to enter homes and leave gifts behind wherever he goes. While the law may vary from country to country and state to state, North County San Diego criminal attorney Peter M. Liss believes that Santa has certainly not violated any laws in California.

The most common crime Santa is accused of is breaking and entering, but this particular matter is not actually a crime in California. Instead, San Diego criminal lawyers know that persons can instead be charged with related charges such as burglary and trespassing. Fortunately for Santa, he cannot be charged with either of these crimes in the Golden State.

Under California state law, in order for someone to be convicted of burglary, they must have entered someone’s property with the intent to commit a felony or a theft. Since Santa is only entering other person’s homes in order to leave gifts and is not there to commit a felony or steal, a San Diego criminal defense attorney would be able to successfully fight any burglary charges.

Even the fact that he has been known to eat cookies and milk inside the homes could not be considered petty theft, as everyone knows these are traditional gifts offered to St. Nick in exchange for his kind deliveries of seasonal cheer. There is an implied, non-verbal contract that Santa may enjoy these food offerings while he delivers gifts to a home and a good San Diego North county defense lawyer should be able to have such charges dismissed before Miss Claus finishes knitting another elf sweater.

Simple trespassing in California requires the person to enter a residence without consent.  A criminal lawyer in San Diego would be able to argue Santa has implied consent because Santa only goes to houses where he is wanted, and any milk and cookies left out in the home could be used as further evidence of Santa’s implied invitation into the home.  Additionally, a person not wanting Santa to visit could also take the preemptive measure of closing their chimney or being naughty.

More serious trespassing charges in California require that the person entering the property have some intent to violate the owner’s property rights. If the visitor refuses to leave when asked, damages the property, occupies the property without permission, or otherwise interferes with the owner’s rights, they are committing an act of trespassing. On the other hand, Santa merely enters the property, leaves gifts and then goes on to the next home. As he has not violated anyone’s property rights, a criminal defense lawyer in San Diego should be able to have Santa acquitted on such charges.

Two other crimes Santa Claus is commonly accused of are animal cruelty and slavery or sweat shop labor. But so far as anyone can tell, his reindeer are well-trained domesticated animals who are cared for very well and only expected to work one day a year. While flying across the world overnight may be stressful for many animals, the reindeer seem well-trained and prepared for the ordeal, and are not, in fact, abused in the process. The fact that each of the nine reindeer has lived and worked for so long further proves that they are, in fact, particularly healthy animals.

As for the elves, it is important to note that even if they were sweat shop laborers or slaves, the North Pole is not part of any country, so they would not be covered by any employee labor laws. That being said, those who have seen Santa’s workshop have said that the elves seem particularly happy and content in their duties, indicating that they may even be volunteers receiving free housing, food and cash stipends in exchange for their generous services. Until an elf complains or is seen being abused, there is no reason to believe they are being mistreated, even if it is only an ethical issue and not a legal matter.

Santa, if you are accused of violating any law in California, North County San Diego lawyer Peter M. Liss can help. Please call (760) 643-4050 to schedule a free initial consultation.

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Is It Legal to Kill A Zombie in California?

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

the legality of killing zobies

The Walking Dead shambled back on the air last week with record ratings, making it the most watched episode of any drama show in basic cable history. But with all the focus on the morality involved with life after a zombie outbreak, few people have breached the subject of the legality of killing the undead. Fortunately, San Diego criminal lawyer Peter M. Liss is here to clear the air about this important zombie issue.

For the purposes of this article, we’ll be focusing on the initial zombie outbreak -when there are still judges and police officers around to uphold the law. After all, by the time the outbreak has become a zombie apocalypse, basic issues of law and order most likely won’t be around any more. Additionally, we also will be focusing on zombies like those seen in Dawn of the Dead and The Walking Dead, not those seen in Lucio Fulci movies because if you can’t possibly kill the undead then there is no point in discussing the legality of killing them.

The first legal issue is whether or not zombies are considered to be human. This is a complex matter that many zombie-film affectionados still hotly contest. In the early days of a zombie outbreak, a criminal attorney in San Diego might be able to argue that a zombie is not a human and, therefore, killing one cannot be considered murder.

Even if the zombie is a human though, California law defines death as occurring when a person is brain dead. While zombies must have some basic brain functions in order to operate their bodies -hence the reason a blow to the head will kill them, they may already be brain dead. In fact, in The Walking Dead, the CDC did an MRI on the brain of a person during the zombie transition that showed that only a minute amount of the brain stem reanimates after the individual dies. If your San Diego criminal attorney can successfully prove that the zombie you injured was already brain dead, then you can’t be convicted of murdering it.

These two arguments are important, as if zombies are considered living human beings, you would only legally be able to kill them in self defense. Self defense is allowed if a person is in imminent danger and you use only reasonable force to repel the attack. If you picked them off from the comfort of a mall rooftop, as survivors did in Dawn of the Dead, merely out of boredom, you could be accused of murdering someone. Fortunately, since they are not alive, a San Diego criminal attorney would be able to successfully fight any murder charges you faced for killing the undead.

Murder is not the only legal issue you could face for killing a zombie though. In California, it is illegal to desecrate a corpse. Again, a San Diego defense lawyer would most likely be able to fight the charges if you were acting in self defense, but if you killed the zombies when you were not in danger, you could be subject to charges.

Additionally, if you used firearms to murder the walking dead, you could be arrested and charged with firing a weapon within city limits, carrying a concealed weapon and illegal possession of a firearm if you did not obtain the weapon through proper legal channels. These are all complicated legal issues that require the expertise of a skilled San Diego defense attorney -even if they occur during the onset of a zombie outbreak.

Lastly, assisting a friend or loved one in suicide because they have been infected with the zombie virus would still be a legal gray area, just as it is when it involves cancer. If you want to help a someone who has been infected end their life, but don’t want to face legal troubles, you should leave them with a weapon they can use to end their own life and not be directly involved with the matter.

If you believe the living dead have risen and you aren’t sure what you can or should do from a legal perspective, please call Peter M. Liss. If you are charged with any crime in San Diego, zombie-related or not, please call (760) 643-4050 to schedule a free initial consultation.

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Insurance Fraud Charges in San Diego

Sunday, October 7th, 2012

Insurance fraud can vary from someone visiting the doctor with a friend’s insurance card to a dentist filing insurance claims for procedures that never occurred to a person committing arson in order to collect insurance money. The bottom line is that if you used any kind of false claim or false information to obtain money or services from an insurance company, you could be charged with insurance fraud.  If you have been accused of insurance fraud, you will need the kind of quality representation that only comes from working with a top San Diego criminal attorney like Peter M. Liss.

The most commonly prosecuted types of insurance fraud in San Diego include automobile and workers’ compensation fraud.  If you are accused of  falsely reporting your car stolen or submitting  phony rental car claims you can be prosecuted for fraud.

Workers’ compensation fraud cases focus on both employers and employees.  Employers can be prosecuted for understating their payroll or paying workers in cash to avoid carrying sufficient workers’ compensation insurance.  Employees who are accused of faking injuries can also be prosecuted.

Depending on the amount of money the act of fraud cost the insurance company and whether other crimes were involved -such as arson or identity theft, insurance fraud may be charged as a felony or misdemeanor.

Even if you have not yet been arrested or charged with insurance fraud, if you believe you are under investigation for the crime, you should immediately contact a skilled San Diego criminal lawyer. A defense attorney in San Diego can help protect your rights during the investigation process and ensure you do not unwillingly provide additional evidence to the police that may hurt your case.

It is important to know that insurance companies have entire departments of specialized investigators working to catch those who commit insurance fraud and any evidence they uncover against you will be given over to the police to be used against you in the criminal investigation. You do not want to go against these specialists alone. A Vista defense lawyer like Peter M. Liss can help prepare you and defend you from these investigators as well as those employed by the police.

If you have any questions or are ready to schedule a free initial consultation, please call (858) 486-3024.

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