I had a case a number of years ago in downtown Los Angeles where my client was charged with murder. He had been involved in a bar fight with another person and that other person actually waited outside for him and my client ended up stabbing him with a knife. It was captured on video and there were obviously witnesses.
So, he really couldn’t say that he didn’t do anything or that he wasn’t there, but what he did say was that the guy threatened him — threatened to kill him — waited outside for him.
Our strategy was, instead of getting the murder conviction under California Penal Code 187, we had offered to the prosecutors prior to the trial, that my client would plead guilty to voluntary manslaughter because I knew they were at least going to be able to get him for that.
Cross Examination of Witnesses
I pointed out all of the mitigating factors to them, but they refused to give the voluntary manslaughter charge and we ended up going to trial downtown. A number of witnesses testified and after a long trial, I was able to convince the jurors that voluntary manslaughter was the right charge.
He ended up being convicted of that. They found him not guilty of the murder which requires malice of forethought and comes with a much more serious punishment than voluntary manslaughter under California Penal Code Section 192(a).
The high term for voluntary manslaughter is 11 years. If you get hit with a murder conviction you could get 15 to life, 25 to life, depending on the circumstances of the case, depending on whether the jury finds it’s a first- or second-degree murder.
Agreement to Accept Plea Bargain Prior to Trail
So, long story short, my client was very happy with that result. We had agreed to take that deal prior to the trial, so that’s really where you have a situation where the prosecutors, in my opinion, were very unreasonable.
He didn’t look at the weaknesses and flaws in their case, and I think a lot had to do with the prosecutor that was assigned to the case. He simply couldn’t see the problems with his case.
Unless the boss is willing to really dig into the evidence and look at it – -and usually they’re not — they’re going to rely on the prosecutor who is in charge of the case to tell them whether or not it’s a good or bad case, and they’re going to rely on their view of the case. That’s what I believe this particular boss did.
He relied on the prosecutor who was in charge of the case, and that prosecutor, obviously wasn’t savvy enough or just simply didn’t want to get the case taken away from him and resolved, and decided to not be truthful with the boss and so they end up with the same result that we were willing to take.
For my client is was huge because if he had been convicted of the murder, he probably would have never gotten out of prison again.
Taking Criminal Cases to Trail When Necessary
So, long story short, you have to be ready to fight these cases, especially if the client is not guilty of the murder charge. Sometimes you have no choice but to go to trial even if you don’t want to go to trial.
If you have a client is saying they’re innocent, and in this case, I believe the client was innocent because the alleged victim had waited outside for him, had threatened him. He shouldn’t have used a knife because the victim didn’t have a knife, and only had their bare hands.
Didn’t have a gun. So, that’s really where his error was. But the bottom line is, when we fight these cases, we’re fighting with all the marbles on the line with somebody looking at spending the rest of their life in prison.
So, if you or a loved one is in that position and you need a good attorney who has been down that road, you’ve come to the right place. There’s a real short list of attorneys that have the experience, the know-how, the skill and also are not afraid to take a case to trial and do everything they can to win.
Hedding Law Firm is a criminal defense law firm located in the San Fernando Valley at 16000 Ventura Blvd #1208 Encino, CA 91436. Contact our office for a free case evaluation at (213) 542-0940.
Categorised in: Violent Crimes