August 29th, 2014
There was a time when cell phones simply stored phone numbers and records of when calls took place, but with so many smart phones in use today, a cell phone can now provide banking records, photos, email conversations, texts, internet search histories and more. Back in 2011, the California legislature tried to enact a bill requiring police to obtain a warrant before they could search a cell phone, but Governor Jerry Brown vetoed the law. Now, finally, a U.S. Supreme Court decision has made it clear that in order for cell phone searches to be used as evidence, police must first obtain a warrant. If your phone was searched without a warrant, a Carmel Valley criminal attorney can ensure any resulting evidence cannot be used against you.
In fact, it was a San Diego defense lawyer who helped his client, David Riley, appeal the case all the way to the Supreme Court after Riley was convicted of attempted murder and other gang-related charges that were largely based on evidence discovered in a warrantless search of his cell phone. In a unanimous decision, the judges ruled that warrantless searches of these devices violate the constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizure.
While some police departments already required officers to obtain a warrant before searching someone’s cell phone, the fact that there was no official guideline to do so meant that some departments didn’t require such roadblocks. Notably, that included the San Diego PD. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court’s decision did not specify what should happen when it comes to those already convicted in cases that involved warrantless cell phone searches. If you or a loved one were convicted in a criminal case that was largely based on evidence uncovered from your cell phone and the police did not obtain a warrant, please contact a Del Mar criminal attorney to discuss whether or not it would be beneficial to appeal your case based on this recent decision.
If you are currently facing criminal charges and you believe evidence being used against you was pulled from your cell phone without a warrant, please schedule an appointment with Solana Beach criminal defense lawyer Peter M. Liss to discuss how this Supreme Court decision can affect your case. Call (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024 to schedule your free initial consultation today.
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August 15th, 2014
A new law has recently been introduced to the California State Senate that would increase penalties for juveniles who sexually assault someone in a defenseless state. Since it is likely to pass as no senate member wants to be seen as soft on sex offenses, here is what you should know about the law courtesy of San Diego juvenile sex crimes lawyer Peter M. Liss.
The law is officially known as SB 838 but has been nicknamed “Audrie’s Law” after teenager Audrie Pott, who was the victim of a violent sexual assault while she was passed out after drinking too much. The three boys responsible not only raped the young girl, but also drew crude images of her and photographed the assault. They then shared the pictures online. After classmates teased her and bullied her for eight days, the 15 year old girl took her own life.
The three boys responsible for the attack were all convicted of two felony charges. Two of the boys received 30 day sentences that were to be served on weekends and the other boy was sentenced to 45 consecutive days incarceration. Since the boys are minors and the rape was not forceful, they were charged in juvenile court and San Diego juvenile sex offender attorney Peter M. Liss says it is possible they will not be made to register as sex offenders either.
In response to the high profile case and the light sentencing of the boys, Audrie’s Law aims to make penalties more severe for teens who sexually assault someone in a defenseless state, including unconsciousness or being developmentally disabled. The crime would also add an enhancement to any sexual assault in which the offender shares video, photos or other media of the incident with the intent to further harm the victim.
So what does this mean for juveniles accused of sex crimes in San Diego? Lawyers defending juvenile sex offenders who have not been accused of forced rape, sodomy, and oral copulation are currently tried in juvenile courts and the proceedings are not made public. This bill would add rape, sodomy and oral copulation committed on a defenseless victim to that list, meaning the three boys who raped Audrie would most likely have been charged in an adult court and have their names and photos available to the public. On top of that, the boys could also face an enhancement for sharing the photos of Audrie that would add an additional year imprisonment to their sentence.
If you are a juvenile accused of a sex crime, or the parent of one, San Diego juvenile attorney Peter M. Liss can help you fight these charges. Please call (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024 to schedule a free initial consultation.
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August 1st, 2014
If you are arrested for stealing something, please call a San Diego defense lawyer as soon as possible. Remember that what you say can be used against you, which is why you should always insist on speaking to an attorney before talking to the police.
Most thefts that do not involve firearms, vehicles or violence against the victim are either grand or petty theft. The difference between the two charges is that petty theft occurs when the stolen property is valued at under $950 and when the property is valued at more than that, it is grand theft. While grand theft can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, petty theft is always a misdemeanor, so if the value of the stolen property is just over $950, a Carmel Valley theft defense attorney may be able to negotiate for the charges to be filed as petty theft.
Prosecutors even have the discretion to reduce petty theft charges to an infraction. This is important because the misdemeanor petty theft charge requires a defendant to go through the book and release process at the jail and it will count as a prior conviction on your record, whereas infractions merely result in a fine and do not appear on your criminal record.
The most common form of petty theft is shoplifting, but fraud is also very common. If you are convicted of petty theft, you could face up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1000.
Fortunately, there are a lot of potential defenses against this crime. Illegal search and seizure, improper arrests, false accusations and more can lead to the charges getting dropped. Similarly, your Del Mar defense attorney could also argue that you did not intend to take the item or that the item was actually yours to begin with. This is why it is so important to remain silent until you speak to an attorney, trying to explain your situation may end up hurting your defense later on.
If you have been accused of petty theft, please call Carlsbad theft lawyer Peter M. Liss at (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024 to schedule a free initial consultation.
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July 20th, 2014
We’ve covered a number of drug crimes before, but one of the most common crimes outside of possession are those involving the sale of illegal substances. If you have been arrested and accused of selling a controlled substance, please call San Diego criminal lawyer Peter M. Liss.
It’s important to note that sentences for the sale of illegal drugs vary greatly depending on the quantity and substance in question. Obviously you would face much stricter penalties for selling a kilo of cocaine than a single marijuana joint. If the crime is charged as a felony, you could face lengthy prison sentences and massive fines. The penalties for drug sales with prior convictions for the same crime are particularly harsh and can result in large prison terms. No matter what the specifics of your case, there are a number of different defenses to these accusations, but it is critical you speak with a Carmel Valley criminal attorney as soon as possible in order to protect your rights and ensure you do not do anything to jeopardize your case.
Defenses for charges dealing with the illegal sales of drugs include the police performing illegal search and seizure tactics, arguing that the substance in question was for personal consumption and not sale, and that you were an unwitting accomplice to someone else’s actions. In some cases, you might be better off discussing a plea bargain than pleading innocent. Before trying to explain your case to the police, always ask to speak with a Del Mar drug defense lawyer who can evaluate your case and help you determine the best possible defense for your situation.
If you have been accused of selling drugs or possession with intent to sell, please call (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024 to schedule a free initial consultation with top Solana Beach drug attorney Peter M. Liss.
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June 28th, 2014
In Hollywood, a pimp is someone who forces someone to sell their body for sex and then takes all of their money. These Hollywood pimps are willing to beat, drug and even rape women to exert control over them. In reality, pimping is much less clear cut and even friends of prostitutes who offer them protection in exchange for a fee are still technically considered pimps. Even someone who helps a prostitute list her services on Craigslist in exchange for a percentage of the woman’s pay would be considered a pimp. That’s why anyone accused of pimping should immediately contact a Mira Mesa criminal lawyer as soon as possible.
The first thing you need to understand when exploring the legal issues of pimping and pandering are the legal definitions of each term. Under California law, a pimp is someone who collects all or some of a prostitute’s pay, whether or not that person helped the prostitute solicit clients. Pandering is a separate offense under California law and occurs when someone helps make someone available as a prostitute by encouraging or persuading an individual to become (or remain) a prostitute. In legal terms, this sound complex, but essentially, a pimp is someone who collects all or some of a prostitute’s pay and pandering occurs when someone encourages or persuades someone to become or stay a prostitute.
Whether a person acts like a stereotypical violent pimp, physically abusing a women until she agrees to sell her body and then taking all of the proceeds, or a business associate, transporting a prostitute to a client’s home before giving them a word of encouragement about their skills as a prostitute, that person could be charged with both pimping and pandering.
Both pimping and pandering are felonies, punishable by up to six years in prison and$15,000 in fines. If any prostitutes were minors, the sentence may also be increased to up to eight years and you could be forced to register as a sex offender. As you can see, it’s critical anyone accused of these crimes contact a Solana Beach criminal defense attorney.
There are many different defenses for these crimes and ultimately, they will each come down to the specifics of the case. For example, if a woman accuses you of forcing her into prostitution, your Del Mar sex crimes lawyer could argue that she was falsely accusing you or that there is insufficient evidence to prove the claims. Alternatively, if you take a prostitute to a client’s house and then try to talk them out of having sex for money, you are not guilty of pandering because you did not encourage or persuade the prostitution. Additionally, intent is critical in these cases, so if you are collecting a portion of someone’s pay in exchange for offering security services, but are not aware that person is acting as a prostitute, you are not guilty of pimping.
Since these cases can often be very complex, it is important you refuse to answer any police questions without speaking to a Carmel Valley sex crimes defense attorney first. If you have been accused of pimping or pandering, please call (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024 to schedule a free consultation with Peter M. Liss.
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June 21st, 2014
The San Diego police arrested over fifty gang members in late April for their role in the West Coast Crips. Here are a few of the charges those arrested might face and links to better understand each of the specific crimes and possible defenses to the crimes, courtesy of Mira Mesa gang crime lawyer Peter M. Liss.
The West Coast Crips are one of San Diego’s oldest and largest gangs, surviving for over 30 years and containing several hundred members. The arrests of the fifty gang members relates both to San Diego gang crime investigations and three, detailed, long-running, federal conspiracy investigations.
Seventeen people are going to be charged with participating in an enterprise responsible for five murders, numerous attempted murders, high speed car chases, armed robberies, prostitution, money laundering and the importation and distribution of cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana. If the conspiracy charges stick, these defendants will likely face life sentences in prison, which is why those accused of this conspiracy should seek the help of a Carmel Valley federal crimes lawyer as soon as possible.
Twelve people will be charged with a second conspiracy, which involved using students from El Cajon Valley High School to smuggle meth across the U.S. border. While these charges vary based on the amount of drugs being smuggled, generally speaking, every person charged with this conspiracy will be facing at least ten years in prison.
The last federal conspiracy charge is being brought up against six gang members who have been accused of trafficking meth and firearms. The sentence for both of these crimes varies based on the quantity involved, but it is likely these defendants will face sentences of at least twenty years in prison.
Another twenty two gang members will be facing state charges for robbery, drug sales, illegal firearm possession and sales. These defendants will likely also face gang crime enhancements and many of those convicted will likely have a strike added to their record, which for some of them, could be a third strike, meaning they will risk going to prison for life if they are found guilty. It is also possible the prosecutors will choose to charge some of the defendants with crimes such as drive-by shootings, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and possession of drug paraphernalia.
All of the defendants are adults, so none of them can hope for lighter juvenile sentences. Because the charges are so serious and conspiracy charges allow for each person to be tried for each crime even if they weren’t directly involved with it, their San Diego criminal defense lawyers will have a hard time fighting these charges.
It is possible that the Carmel Valley defense attorneys for some of these gang members will negotiate a plea bargain to minimize their client’s sentence in exchange for their client’s testimony against other members of his gang, but that remains to be seen.
If you or someone you know is accused of any type of gang-related activity, Solana Beach criminal 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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February 26th, 2014
Everyone knows that fraud is a crime, but few people know the complexities involved with fraud cases and how many types of fraud there are. In fact, one crime could result in multiple fraud charges since each type of fraud charge involves a different specific aspect of the law. That is why anyone accused of fraud of any kind needs to contact a San Diego criminal lawyer as soon as possible. In the meanwhile, here is a list of a few of the more common forms of fraud in San Diego County:
- Identity Theft: When someone pretends to be another person in order to get access to their personal information, property or money.
- Credit Card Fraud: Any form of fraud that involves using credit cards to purchase items or steal money. Sometimes this crime involves making false credit cards, other times it involves stealing and using other people’s credit card numbers.
- Insurance Fraud: This form of fraud can be committed by a person trying to get free or reduced healthcare, a person trying to get insurance money for a falsified claim, or a doctor or other professional billing an insurance company for services that were not performed. Many arson cases also involve insurance fraud charges, so if you believe you may be accused of either crime, it is important to contact a San Diego defense lawyer as soon as you suspect you may be under investigation for these crimes.
- Prescription Fraud: When a doctor writes an unnecessary prescription for a patient (often for cash) or when a person falsifies a prescription. In many cases involving prescription fraud performed by an individual seeking access to drugs, a San Diego criminal attorney can negotiate a plea bargain that will result in the defendant going through a drug diversion program rather than being sentenced to incarceration.
- Securities Fraud: When someone attempts to get someone to make a purchase or sale decision based on false information. These cases are exceptionally complex and should only be handled with the help of a San Diego fraud defense attorney with experience in this area.
- Mail Fraud: Any type of fraud that involves the use of the mail.
- Wire Fraud: While less obvious than many of the other forms of fraud, this is one of the most common fraud charges simply because it covers any fraudulent activity that involves wire, radio or television communications, including telephones and the internet.
While not actual forms of fraud, the following charges are also often brought up against those who have been accused of fraudulent activities:
- Money Laundering: These charges are often brought up against those who have been accused of fraud as most people who commit these crimes attempt to hide the money and property they gained illegally in order to avoid arousing suspicion from the IRS or local authorities
- Conspiracy: When a person works with at least one other individual to commit fraud, everyone involved can be charged with conspiracy. Each fraud charge can carry a separate conspiracy charge, which can double the amount of charges one person is facing.
If you suspect someone might be investigating you for any type of fraud, contact a San Diego criminal attorney as soon as possible in order to protect your rights. Call (760) 643-4050 OR (858) 486-3024 to schedule a free consultation with Peter M. Liss to discuss your situation.
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February 19th, 2014
While marijuana is one of the least dangerous illegal drugs around and carries some of the least strict criminal sentencing in California, it is also subject to some of the most complex drug laws in the state. That is why it is so important that anyone who has been arrested for a marijuana-related crime always speak with a San Diego drug defense lawyer as soon as possible.
As a whole marijuana is still illegal in California, but medicinal marijuana laws mean those with valid prescriptions can grow, purchase and use the drug. Even those with medical cards are subject to limits to the amount they can grow or possess and rules regarding where they can use the substance though, so it is still possible to violate the law even if you have a medicinal marijuana license. If you have any questions about your rights as a medical marijuana user in California, a San Diego criminal lawyer can answer them for you.
Those who don’t have a medical license and are caught with marijuana in their possession will only be subject to a fine of under $100 if the amount is less than an ounce. If police have reason to believe you intended to sell the drug though, you could instead be charged with a felony, even if the amount was under one ounce. Because the distinction between personal possession and possession with intent to sell often comes down to small distinctions like packaging, scales, and having large amounts of cash on hand, anyone accused of intent to sell should immediately speak to a San Diego criminal attorney as it might be possible to have the charges dropped due to a lack of conclusive evidence.
In many cases involving marijuana possession or cultivation charges, a drug diversion program may be available in place of imprisonment. Always ask your San Diego criminal lawyer if this option is available in your situation.
It is important to note that if you are arrested by a representative of the federal government, like a DEA agent, you will be subject to federal laws, which means carrying any amount of marijuana is illegal even if you have a medical marijuana card.
Additionally, if you are under 21 and caught with any amount of marijuana in your possession, you will lose your driving privileges.
If you have been accused of any crime related to marijuana, please call San Diego drug lawyer Peter M. Liss at (760) 643-4050 OR (858) 486-3024.
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January 24th, 2014
By far the most talked about film of the year so far has been The Wolf of Wall Street, based on the best-selling memoirs of Jordan Belfort. But while Belfort claims his tale is a cautionary one, federal prosecutors claim he hasn’t really learned his lesson and is continuing to cheat his investors. Whether or not this is true is still a matter for the courts to decide, but it’s still something San Diego criminal lawyer Peter M. Liss believes people should know about the movie.
Ordinarily when people are convicted of the number of federal fraud charges that Jordan Belfort faced (to be specific, 27 charges of securities fraud and money laundering), they’d be lucky if they got out in twenty years. But Mr. Belfort only received a four-year sentence and was able to get out on parole after serving two years in prison. To put things in perspective, Bernie Madoff was charged with 11 counts and sentenced to 150 years in prison.
The reason Belfort was able to receive such a light sentence is because he worked with the FBI to help identify and testify against his associates. Part of his plea bargain involved Belfort paying of 50% of his earnings for the first three years of his probationary release and keep paying victims until he returns the $110 million he owed his investors -not a bad deal if you ask most San Diego criminal attorneys.
But according to prosecutors, Belfort hasn’t exactly been jumping at the bit to pay back those he bilked so long ago. In fact, while he’s paid $243,000 over the last four years and surrendered $10 million in assets, he has earned nearly $1.8 million. The government even had to file supeonas and restraining notices on Bantam Books, Warner Brothers and Appian Way in 2007, in order to learn more about Belfort’s income from his book and movie deals and to collect income from them.
Meanwhile, Belfort says that he has repeatedly offered to give 100% of proceeds from his book and movie back to his investors, though the prosecution says this has not happened. They also point out that all the money from the books and film will still not be enough to pay off the remaining $100 million he owes investors.
San Diego criminal lawyer Peter Liss points out that while Belfort cannot be imprisoned for failing to pay back his restitution fines after his probationary period and will only be subject to wage garnishments and other civil penalties, he could be sent back to prison if the court finds he did not pay the 50% of his income he was ordered to pay for his first three years of supervised release from prison. If he was not earning enough to survive on an income cut in half, his federal crimes attorneys could defend his underpayment, but the fact that Belfort made $1.8 million since his release means that he could survive on $900,000 earned over the course of four years and this defense would be a losing strategy.
While the prosecutors and Belfort’s lawyers are working to arrange an agreement on the issue, it’s possible that the inspiration for the most popular movie our right now will end up back in prison by this time next year.
Remember, if you are having trouble meeting the requirements of your probation or parole, San Diego criminal attorney Peter Liss can help you work within the system to revise the restrictions you are facing before you break the rules. If you have any questions, please call (760) 643-4050 or(858) 486-3024 to schedule a free initial consultation.
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January 23rd, 2014
If you have been accused of or arrested for domestic violence, you may wonder whether or not you’ll be facing misdemeanor or felony charges. Unfortunately, there is no cut and dry answer to this question as ultimately, it is up to the District Attorney to decide on the severity of charges filed against you. Whether you are facing a misdemeanor or a felony though, you need the help of an expert San Diego criminal lawyer like Peter M. Liss to help defend you against the charges. A San Diego criminal attorney can help you arrange for a bail hearing if you need the bail to be reduced.
While they are charged under the same statute, there is a big difference between a misdemeanor and felony domestic charge. If you are brought up on felony charges, the maximum sentence is four years in prison, whereas a misdemeanor carries no more than a one year jail term. A San Diego domestic violence lawyer like Peter M. Liss may be able to work with the prosecution to have the charges reduced to a misdemeanor. In fact, in some cases, the District Attorney may even decide to drop the charges all together based on the available evidence.
If you are convicted of any form of domestic violence, you will be required to attend mandatory counseling and you may be issued a restraining order as well.
While most people think of domestic violence occurring when a husband hits his wife, the incident does not need to involve spouses, nor does it only occur when a man hits a women. Gay and lesbian couples can be involved in domestic violence cases and women can abuse men as well. Additionally, the couple does not need to be married, if they are or were cohabitating, married, or if the couple has a child together, an act of violence is considered domestic violence.
Domestic violence is a serious crime in San Diego. If you are accused of physically harming your partner, please call San Diego criminal lawyer Peter M. Liss at (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024 to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case.
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