SEXUAL BATTERY CASE – AVOID SEX REGISTRATION

Probably one of my favorite memories in my 26-year career so far was a case where my client was charged with sexual battery.  He had gotten very intoxicated and did something stupid that he would normally not do.

No criminal record, he had kids and he really didn’t want to register as a sex offender which is what is required for a sexual battery case.  That’s what is required in Los Angeles county if you’re convicted of a sexual battery.

So, that was my job.  He knew he had done something wrong.  He knew he was going to be punished, and obviously, he knew he had to take a conviction of a case that hopefully we could later get dismissed once he successfully completed probation, and there was no question he was successfully complete probation.

The issue was the sex registration.  What a lot of people don’t realize in these sexual battery cases where they’re trying to make you register as a sex offender, is that it’s the charge which requires a sex registration typically, not the prosecutor just getting rid of it.  In other words, if you plead to that sexual battery you have to register as a sex offender.  So, the key was getting him a different charge.

I remember the head prosecutor in the particular court in Los Angeles county was a real jerk and would not move off the sex registration.  We basically waited until he retired and a new head prosecutor came in.

He was much more reasonable, much more of a level head, could see that my client was not a sexual predator, did not need to register as a sex offender, and finally was willing after many months of battling it out, because the prosecutors control the charges, not the judges.  Judges only control the sentence.  So, we needed the DA’s office in this case to agree to give a different charge other than the sexual battery.

Fortunately, we were able to get it, and I’ll never forget coming out of the DA’s office and walking down the hallway of this particular courthouse and my client and his father were there and I said, we got it gentlemen and I remember them coming and giving me a big bear hug.

Both of them nearly killed me, and just how happy they were because he was going to be able to live out his dream of coaching his kids and interacting with his family.  He was going to be punished for what he did, but not punished to such a degree that it would affect him the rest of his life and pretty much ruin a lot of the thoughts that he had about his life and what he was going to do with his family.

That was such a great victory to me and it made me so happy because it was the right resolution and I was just glad that I was patient and waited until that prosecutor got out of there.  Sometimes you need a little bit of luck combined with skill in order to get the right resolution when it comes to a criminal case, and especially one like a sexual battery where registration is typically required.


KIDNAPPING NOT GUILTY VERDICT

Years ago, I had a kidnapping case in one of the courts in Los Angeles county.  To protect the privacy of y client I won’t say which of the 38 courts, but the bottom line is that the client was looking at life in prison.  It was a very serious case.  We tried it and I remember in August.  It was a hot trial that lasted a couple of weeks, ultimately ending in a not guilty verdict.

I think the reason that we were able to achieve the not guilty verdict was because the main witness in the case who was claiming that he had been kidnapped, beat up, threatened, just didn’t have good credibility.  First off, he had threatened my client and other people involved with the case and he himself was involved with trying to get stolen property and then he just didn’t handle it the right way, and ultimately, he ended up double crossing people who became very angry with him.

But really to get a kidnapping conviction the prosecutors are going to need to prove that whoever they are charging with the kidnapping moves somebody against their will, threatens them in some way.  Really, the key to the kidnapping is the movement.

But if the person is moving on their own accord and is part of whatever scheme is going on as it was in this particular case, then obviously they’re not going to later be able to claim that they were being forced to being moved, when in reality they themselves were up to no good, and ultimately, they themselves were doing criminal activities and when things didn’t go their way they wanted to cry and call for the police.

But in talking to the jury after the kidnapping case, what they keyed in on was the lack of credibility from the alleged victim.  There was a witness in the case, but the witness himself didn’t really see any of the alleged activity.

So, when you have one of the those case where it’s necessary for the victim him or herself to testify otherwise you don’t have a case and that victim’s credibility is questionable, now you’re in a position where if you’re the prosecutor, you’re going to have a very tough road to follow.  That’s why the prosecutors in these kidnapping cases are going to try to do is try to get corroboration for their case.

In other words, they’re going to try to get other witnesses who can testify.  They’re going to try to get any video evidence — any evidence they can get their hands on so that they can help show that their alleged victim is telling the truth.

So, if there’s no corroborative evidence and their alleged victim is in question, now they have a real big problem and probably put themselves in a situation where the defense is going to be able to defend the case, because realize in kidnapping cases and all criminal cases, the prosecutors have the burden of proof.  In other words, they have to prove the case.

When the case starts, if the jury has to vote at that time, the defendant is not guilty.  So, unless they can put forth evidence that shows that they’re guilty to meet all of the elements of a kidnapping charge, it’s a not guilty verdict and that’s exactly what we got in this case.  I was able to effectively cross-examine the alleged victim, show some of the things that he did wrong and show his lack of credibility related to the case.


NOT GUILTY IN MURDER CASE IN NORWALK COURTHOUSE

I tried a big murder case in Norwalk courthouse in the 1990s where my client and two of his friends went into a bar, ended into getting into a fight with some other patrons in the bar, guns were pulled out, fired, one person ended up dying and my client ended up getting charged with murder along with one of his co-defendants.

The case went to trial.  The prosecutors wanted a life sentence, basically, so they were offering 25 to life and they would not move on their offer.  It really wasn’t an offer because 25 to life at that time was you would probably never get out again, so the client figured he might as well go to trial.

We went to trial.  It took about a week to try.  One of the key pieces of evidence for the prosecutors in the murder case was one of the co-friends that with the bar was there to testify against my client.  Him and his brother, when they were tested for gunshot residue, gunshot residue came up on their hands.  It did not come up on my client’s hands and that ended up being a key piece of evidence in attaining the not-guilty verdict.

It was interesting because at one point there was a discrepancy over whether the Spanish interpreter who had taken the statement from my client and the co-defendant that was cooperating with the prosecutors, whether they had accurately given the information.

It ended up coming into evidence that the testifying co-defendant — whose brother by the way was claiming that he was insane and was in Patton Mental Hospital and not being tried for the case — he had indicated that at one point he fired the weapon which we were able to prove was the murder weapon and my client’s story about him also firing the weapon and then the co-defendant who was testifying taking it away from him and shooting a shot, ended up coincided with this individual statement that he had fired a weapon.

Of course, at the trial he denied that he fired the weapon even though he had GSR on his hands and that statement came out through the investigating officer.  I think that hurt the prosecutor’s case very badly.

Ultimately though, the jury came back not guilty and I believe the prosecutors gave immunity to the one brother that ended up testifying.  So, he didn’t get prosecuted for the murder.  I never did find out what happened with the other brother who was claiming that he was insane.  He probably ended up getting tried.  I’m not sure if he got convicted.

That was an interesting case because my client was willing to take a deal, but their offer was so bad that it really left him no choice but to go to trial.  Fortunately, he ended up with a not guilty verdict and I believe in the long run, justice was done.


FELONY DUI REDUCED TO A MISDEMEANOR AND NO JAIL TIME IN VAN NUYS COURT

I recently had a case in the Van Nuys courthouse.  My client was charged with a felony DUI after a multi-car accident on the 101 Freeway.  What was interesting about the case is that the injury — which triggered the DUI — was not of any of the other people that she got in the accident with, but it was her own passenger.  Her own passenger somehow broke her ankle during the accident in the case.

One thing people need to realize about these felony DUI’s, it can sometimes be a defense, is that the driver of the car and the defendant in the case that’s going to get the felony DUI actually has to be the one that caused the injury.  If something else caused the injury in a felony DUI, then the driver’s not responsible and that’s a huge difference in these cases in the Van Nuys courthouse because instead of being charged with a felony, looking at potentially three years in prison for the felony plus another three years because you caused great bodily injury to somebody else, now you’re looking at a misdemeanor.  The max on that is six month.

Typically, on a first-time misdemeanor DUI you’re going to get any jail time, so that’s a huge difference.   Plus, nobody wants a felony on their record.  Nobody wants to be facing prison time.  So, this argument about who caused the accident is crucial.  In this particular case, my client entered the 101 Freeway and somehow somebody else was flying along and hit her from behind, causing her to lose control and the passenger ends up getting injured.  One thing was, there was an argument that the passenger actually caused their own injury because as they jumped out of the car as it was moving, and this was not something that was foreseeable to my client, not something that was reasonable under the circumstances.

The prosecutors were arguing that no, she didn’t jump out of the car, but it just didn’t make any sense how she got the injury to her ankle.  She wasn’t wearing a seat belt either which was another strange thing, and there might have been an argument that she broke her ankle getting out of the car.  So, this gives you an idea of how you could argue that the injury wasn’t caused by the person’s DUI activity; it was instead caused by someone else — like the person who got the injury or it could even be by a third party — some hit-and-run driver can fly by, hit somebody, cause an injury and then when the police come and they end up arresting the defendant for a DUI, and they’re just not sophisticated enough to figure out who actually caused the injury.

When it comes to these felony DUI’s in the Van Nuys court, another interesting thing is there can also be multiple causes of an injury.  If there’s multiple causes of an injury, then how it’s evaluated is by looking at which of the multiple causes was a substantial factor?  If there’s a number of substantial factors — and there’s a whole test for that , a jury instruction — then anything that’s a substantial factor is going to be responsible for the felony DUI — responsible for the injury in the case and be the cause of the injury.  So, if the defendant is responsible, then the defendant is going to be guilty of the felony DUI.

So, you can see these felony DUIs are not only tricky and hard to figure out, they also come with a lot of consequences that you don’t want.  Nobody wants to go to jail.  Nobody wants to be facing prison.  So, what we need to do in these felony DUI cases is really evaluate them step-by-step, see who caused the injury in the case, make sure the injury is bad enough to even be on par with the felony DUI.  It has to be a serious injury or it’s not a felony DUI.


PASADENA COURT CRIMINAL RESULT ROBBERY CHARGE DISMISSED

I had a case in the Pasadena courthouse recently with a client charged with a robbery, looking at prison and a strike on his record, and probably losing an important career that he had because of this serious robbery charge that he was facing.  We were able to do the preliminary hearing in the case, and long story short, we did some real damage to the prosecutor’s main witness.  He was drunk.  His story was all mixed up.  He said some things that were inconsistent with some evidence that we had.  We had a video of him — a lot of the social media stuff will sometimes kill witnesses on either side when they lie about something and then they’re seen doing something else, or there’s a witness that has information that has him doing something else.

The bottom line is, once you damage the credibility of a witness in Pasadena court, or any court related to a criminal matter, the prosecutors realize they’re going to have a problem with the case and they could potentially lose it.  If a jury is so turned off by the alleged victim and don’t believe some parts of their story, the question starts to become, how can they believe any of their story.  So, once the prosecutor saw that, we sat down — a very reasonable prosecutor up in the trial court level — and we were able to get a non-robbery charge for my client, give him a chance to earn a misdemeanor in the future because he did do something wrong, and we were also not only able to keep him out of prison, avoid him getting a strike, but he didn’t do a day in jail which was huge for him because he has a promising career and that was going to be seriously interfered with with any type of custody time.

So, the bottom line is you put the work in.  You do the investigation and preparation, but then you have to be able to execute in the courtroom.  That’s where my skill lies as a criminal defense attorney.  I’ve handled thousands of cases and I know how to damage the credibility of a witness and then I know how to sit down with the prosecutors and point out the problems with their case to get the result that my client must have, and that’s what we got in this Pasadena case.

I’ve had many successful results in that courthouse through hard work, ingenuity, experience and knowing how that particular system works.


FEDERAL NARCOTICS CASE

Client charged with transporting large quantities of cocaine: Mr. Hedding successfully negotiates a disposition involving community service and a lesser charge. The client avoids federal prison, a serious narcotics-related charge and a ten-year mandatory minimum sentence.


NORWALK SUPERIOR COURT

Client charged with murder and three counts of attempted murder: Following a week-long trial, client is found not guilty of all charges and is released. After facing life-imprisonment without possibility of parole, the client is now working and living his life with his family and friends.


CRIMINAL COURTS BUILDING, DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES

Prosecution dismisses murder charges: Client charged with the crime of murder. Following a thorough defense investigation and a lineup, the prosecution finds that they have the wrong person and the case is dismissed.


VAN NUYS SUPERIOR COURT

Robbery charges dismissed following preliminary hearing: During the preliminary hearing, Mr. Hedding cross-examines the alleged victim after which time, the judge dismisses the case and the prosecution decides not to refile.


CRIMINAL COURTS BUILDING, DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES

Carjacking charges dismissed: At preliminary hearing Mr. Hedding convinces the judge that the client was not involved in the carjacking and the case is dismissed.


SAN FERNANDO COURT

Client was charged with Domestic Violence and was in danger of losing their state bar license. Our client received no jail time and his license was saved.


SAN FERNANDO SUPERIOR COURT

Client charged with assault with a deadly weapon (gun). Hedding Law Firm got on the case. The offer was 6 years state prison. After a lot of negotiating we were able to get a probationary sentence for client who avoided the 6 year prison sentence and was able to preserve his job.


VAN NUYS SUPERIOR COURT

Client charged with 2 counts of DUI. The Hedding Law Firm was able to negotiate a speed contest. Client was able to avoid jail time and avoid his license getting suspended. The case will be expunged and dismissed.


SAN FERNANDO SUPERIOR COURT

Client was charged with felony grand theft for embezzling property from his work. The Hedding Law Firm was able to negotiate a misdemeanor charged as opposed to a felony and client was simply ordered to pay back company. Case expunged off record.


SAN FERNANDO SUPERIOR COURT

Client was charged with battery with great bodily injury which is a strike. Client facing state prison. When the preliminary hearing was conducted, all the fact came to light and the Hedding Law Firm was able to negotiate a misdemeanor battery. Client avoided prison time and was given CalTrans as a punishment.


GLENDALE SUPERIOR COURT

Client charged with DUI with accident. Client had a high blood alcohol level and was facing jail time. The Hedding Law Firm was able to negotiate the minimal punishment with a fine and alcohol program. No jail.


SAN FERNANDO SUPERIOR COURT

Client charged with assault with a deadly weapon (baseball bat) and making terrorist threats. Client was facing multiple years in prison. After investigation and thorough cross examination, it was revealed that the victim was actually looking to burglarize a home in the area of occurrence and our client was simply protecting his home. The Hedding Law firm got the case reduced to a misdemeanor batter and client avoided jail time.


VAN NUYS SUPERIOR COURT

Client was charged with a DUI after losing control of car flying through intersection and hitting a house causing $100,000 worth of damages to house. Client was facing jail time and serious punishment. After investigation, it was determined that client’s blood alcohol level was not that high and the defense showed that something else interfered with client’s ability to drive. The Hedding Law Firm got the matter reduced to a speed contest. No jail.


VAN NUYS SUPERIOR COURT

Client was charged with a DUI causing accident. The Hedding Law Firm got on the case. Client was offered 90 days in jail due to the blood alcohol level and accident. The Hedding Law Firm gave the defense version of what happened. Client avoided jail time.


VAN NUYS SUPERIOR COURT

Client is facing third strike case (25 to life). Client had 2 old strikes at least 10 or more years old. Client charged with cultivation of marijuana. The Hedding Law Firm was able to negotiate a probationary deal and get both strikes stricken.


VAN NUYS SUPERIOR COURT

Client charged with a DUI causing accident. Client had high blood alcohol level and was facing jail time. After showing the client’s version of what happened and pointing out mitigating factors, the Hedding Law Firm was able to achieve a no jail resolution.


SAN FERNANDO SUPERIOR COURT

Client charged with burglary. Client facing prison time and loss of current and future employment. The Hedding Law Firm brought to light the client’s impeccable record and all the facts and we were able to negotiate a simple trespass preserving the client’s future record. The case was also set up to be expunged and wiped off client’s record after 24 months.

Client was charged with petty theft. Looking at loss of current job and loss of future employment because of theft related offense. After investigation and revealing clients impeccable record, the Hedding Law Firm was able to obtain a resolution of a diversion program where client was able to avoid any conviction or any bad future ramifications.