I had a case where I was defending somebody charged with a robbery at a particular store in the San Fernando Valley and I remember my client giving me kind of their version of events and then comparing that to the police report and just kind of scratching my head and thinking there is something no right about this case. Something doesn’t make sense. I’m going to get to the bottom of it.
I was in the middle of the Preliminary Hearing against a pretty weak prosecutor who really hadn’t paid attention to the case and I was grilling over the shopkeeper about exactly what had happened and I got to a point that was kind of untested in the police report.
Cross-Examination of Witness
I started asking her questions about it and the prosecutor really wasn’t paying any attention. I was standing up and I could see over the prosecutor’s shoulder. She was kind of playing with her phone as I was tearing this witness up and basically, she admitted that whenever the alleged property was taken, she wasn’t even inside the store at the time.
She had left to go in the back and when she came back the person was gone and she had perceived that the individual had taken certain property.
But when the police took the report, they had just kind of assumed that the woman was present when the property was taken and it was much more clear that that particular person — the person they were claiming was my client — was actually the alleged robber.
Well, as the evidence started to come to light, two things became very apparent. Number one, this was not a robbery, because for a robbery to occur, the person has to actually take the property in question from the presence of the person.
It’s force or fear being used to take property, and if the woman was not actually in the shop when the property was taken, there was no way the case could be a robbery.
So, my client was definitely not going to be held to answer at the preliminary hearing for robbery. California Penal Code 211 defines the crime of robbery.
Exposing Weak Police Report
But then when we took the additional step of being able to show that the woman wasn’t even present when the property was allegedly taken and the police had basically screwed up and had done a horrible job on the report.
Now it was very clear that they might not even be able to prove any case whatsoever, because for a robbery, you need somebody present when the property is taken or, number two, during the escape, some sort of force or fear was used. So, they didn’t have that here.
So, the next question is going to be, can they still get my client for grand theft because the property that was taken was worth over $950.00, but since there was no eye witness to the property taken and some time had passed between the woman leaving the store and coming back, there was a possibility that somebody else actually came in the store and took the property.
So, once the judge realized that, the entire case was dismissed at the end and I wanted to just nudge the prosecutor to just have her dismiss the case once she realized how idiotic it was and how poor of a police job they had done, but she was oblivious — didn’t even know what to do, didn’t even know what to say.
Weaknesses in the Prosecution’s Case
By the time she figured out how idiotic her case was, the judge was dismissing it and it was over.
That’s a big thing to have happen because when you’re charged with robbery, you’re looking at prison, you’re looking at a strike, you’re looking at serving 85% of time, you’re looking at having a violent felony on your record.
So, it was a great result and it was done through hard work, listening to my client, believing in my client and also spotting the weaknesses in the prosecution’s case and being able to capitalize on an unprepared prosecutor.
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: Theft Crimes