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Orange County, CA, Burglary Suspect Freed After Diligent Pre-Trial Preparation

Defendant was charged with residential burglary. The young man was Hispanic and was known to associate with gang members. He denied being a gang member himself but the police were constantly stopping him and conducting interviews in “consensual encounters”. He wasn’t consenting to being stopped by the police but unless he walked away that’s how the law looks at it.

When the burglary happened in his neighborhood, the police immediately suspected him even though they didn’t have any reasonable basis for their “hunch”. When the burglary occurred, the homeowner was home and frightened the burglar away. The police showed the homeowner two photos of the Defendant one at a time even though after each she could not say he was the one who had committed the burglary. A short time later the police returned with a photo line-up of six photos, only one of which had been shown to the homeowner before. Of course that would be the Defendant’s photo, and lo and behold, she identified him as the perpetrator.

Defendant was arrested three weeks after the burglary and questioned. He gave three different possibilities about where he was the night of the burglary changing his story each time.

Investigation by my office established that at the time of the burglary the Defendant was most probably at the 24 Hour Fitness near his house with a friend. Further work in his defense confirmed that not only would his friend testify on his behalf but the friend’s mother would testify that she picked him up from the gym. While driving the boys home they noticed the police cars in the neighborhood.

I demanded the stolen items, which had been recovered and preserved for DNA analysis, be examined and tested against my client’s DNA. While the test was inconclusive since there wasn’t enough DNA to test, the DA’s Office was still intending to prosecute my client. Even a judge found that there was enough evidence to go to trial after a Preliminary Hearing.

Finally, on the eve of trial, the DA assigned to the case realized the strength of the evidence in my client’s favor as well as the fact that we were determined to prove his innocence and would not take any plea bargain, and decided to dismiss the case in the “interests of justice”.

Without the diligent preparation and investigation required to defend a serious felony,(residential burglary is a “strike”), the Defendant may very well have been convicted. Preparation, diligence, belief in your client, and having a lawyer with an excellent reputation as a trial lawyer is what made the difference for this young man.

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