I had a case a number where my client was charged with residential burglary. It was actually a pretty weak case against him but the prosecutors had filed it anyway. Basically, whoever the burglar was had gone up to burglarize a house and apparently was wearing some plastic or latex gloves to make sure that his or her fingerprints weren’t left at the burglary scene.
They broke through the plane on the door and there happened to be somebody home who yelled, so the burglar ran away. In their haste, they through the gloves inside-out on the ground. Inside the gloves was DNA.
Someone my client’s DNA came up on the glove along with some other people’s DNA they could not identify and they ended up filing the burglary under California Penal Code Section 459 against my client.
Review of DNA Evidence
We did the preliminary hearing and during the hearing the only evidence the prosecutor had was that my client’s DNA was on the glove and what we were able to do was find a case that said that DNA evidence alone is not enough.
In other words, you need one more thing and I remember the prosecutor foolishly arguing that the one more thing that they had was that there was other people’s DNA on the glove and I said, the one more thing is not something that’s against the prosecutor’s case.
It has to be for the prosecution’s case. The fact that there’s other DNA on the glove could mean somebody else committed the burglary.
The judge realized that I was right and ended up dismissing the residential burglary charges. My client walked out. They never filed that case again. They had no other evidence to be able to find.
Close Review of All the Burglary Evidence
So, you really have to look at everything, especially when you get a case like that where you’re scratching your head and saying that doesn’t seem right, that just because somebody’s DNA is inside a glove that was thrown on the ground, doesn’t mean that they were the burglar.
Don’t you need some other evidence — like maybe you find some stolen property on them, an eye witness puts them at the scene — some sort of evidence — they’re found with a bunch of latex gloves.
Whatever the case may be, but you can’t just get somebody just because their DNA happens to be on a glove in that type of scenario. There are a lot of cases like that where it just doesn’t make any sense.
You have to realize the prosecutors can file these cases and they can try to go after them, but you need a great criminal defense attorney to fight back because if you don’t fight back they’re going to go for that conviction and say why is that person’s DNA on that glove?
Proving Burglary Case Beyond a Reasonable Doubt
What other explanation is there? Whatever excuse is there? Did he testify and explain why the DNA wasn’t on there. The bottom line is you don’t have to testify. You don’t have to explain anything because it’s the prosecution’s burden to prove every single case beyond a reasonable doubt, and if they can’t do it then it’s a not guilty verdict period. Plain and simply.
So, I always learn from doing criminal defense for the last 26 years that if something seems wrong, it usually is and it’s my job to figure it out, to find the case law, to find the angle to get the dismissal if that’s the right thing to do.
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Categorised in: Theft Crimes