Our client, when age 32, and a friend, age 56, were experienced base jumpers who had each completed hundreds of “BASE jumps” using a parachute to land following a jump off buildings, antennas, spans (i.e., a bridge) or earth (cliffs). BASE is an acronym for buildings, antennas, spans or earth.
Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, our client was unable to travel to some of the locations where he otherwise would like to travel to engage in this recreational sport, so he considered locations nearby. The Vincent Thomas Bridge certainly earned his attention.
He and his friend carefully evaluated the safety of doing this for light poles, static wires and any other objects that might prevent a safe landing after deploying a parachute. Our client and his friend also surveyed the weather, mostly the winds, but also the humidity because they would need to climb to the top of the West Tower of the bridge before jumping and a wet metal surface may cause slipping. Lastly, the two considered any regular helicopter and small plane activity in the area.
The two then set a July 2020 date at 2:00 a.m. and readied their rectangular parachutes to be safe. They secured a driver who then drove them part way across the Vincent Thomas bridge before momentarily stopping, allowing our client and his friend to quickly exit the van and begin climbing up the walkway that allows maintenance workers access to the West and East Towers of the bridge. Our client and his friend then hiked up to the top of the West Tower, before catching their breath and double-checking that the area below was obstacle-free.
The two then jumped westward, about 20 seconds apart, deploying their parachutes after only a second or two of free fall. Our client and his friend each then steered himself into the San Pedro-side Catalina Express parking lot near Berth 95. Both landed uneventfully.
As each was gathering up his parachute, a security guard who had seen one land called 911 and the Los Angeles Police Department was notified of a person having parachuted off the Vincent Thomas Bridge. The security guard detained our client and his friend until police arrived.
Our client and his friend remained silent, but the “pick up” driver who was waiting for our client and his friend was noticed parking nearby. Police then spoke to him, who explained the whole plan and confirmed that our client and his friend had indeed BASE jumped off the Vincent Thomas Bridge.
Neither our client nor his friend was arrested, but they were given a ticket with a date to appear in the Long Beach Superior Court. They were then released, although just issuing the ticket to them took close to two hours because the police were confused what to do.
The client then called Greg Hill & Associates and spoke with Greg Hill. He had interviewed several other attorneys, but chose Greg. The client explained what had happened and how having the case dismissed was extremely important to him due to the nature of his work.
Greg explained how there was a new law allowing judicial diversion (provided for at Penal Code §§ 1001.95 to 1001.97) for most all misdemeanor offenses and that our client, with no prior criminal history, would seem to be an ideal candidate for this.
Greg and the client then appeared together in the Long Beach Courthouse for the client’s arraignment, which was scheduled for the same day as that for our client’s BASE-jumping partner. They were both charged with violating Los Angeles Municipal Code § 63.44B(9), which states, “No person shall engage in any voluntary parachute jump.”
The Los Angeles City Attorney assigned to the case proposed formal diversion for our client, but Greg was able to negotiate informal diversion so our client would not need to enter even a not guilty plea that might trigger a closer look by his employer. Our client was placed on one year of informal diversion, wherein he had to pay a court fine of $150, plus penalties and assessments (total was $865) and agree to stay away from the Vincent Thomas Bridge as a pedestrian, otherwise obey all laws, agree to waive a jury if the case were to proceed to trial and agree to a Fourth Amendment search and seizure waiver during the one year of informal diversion.
The client was happy with the resolution, as it allowed him to have the case dismissed in a year and was done in a way that he did not even enter a not guilty plea.
When the case is dismissed in a year under Penal Code § 1385, “in the interest of justice,” the client will then be eligible to have the police report and the court file sealed under Penal Code § 851.91, erasing the DOJ entry of the case even having been filed against him.
For more information about diversion, trespassing and sealing a record, please click on the following articles: