Our client, age 23, and two of his friends were high on marijuana and drunk. They had been at a bar and drove home, parking their car in the large parking lot of the apartment complex where they each lived.
As they were walking from their car to their apartments, through the parking lot, there was a woman in her car, talking on her cell phone. She noticed the trio looking into parked cars.
Without All the Details, What Happened?: Gardena, client one of three defendants charged with tampering with a vehicle (Vehicle Code § 10852), case reduced to an infraction for disturbing the peace (Penal Code § 415(2)) with a $300 fine, payment of the City of Gardena booking fee and performance of ten days of community service.
The woman then allegedly saw our client open a car door and take something. She saw him do it to three different cars. She also allegedly saw the other two young men open other cars and try to open other car doors, too.
She called the police, who coincidentally were entering the parking lot for an unrelated report of loud music. When police spotted our client and his two friends, the trio ran through the apartment complex and back to the apartment of one of the three. Police eventually found our client about thirty minutes later as he was walking back to his own apartment, incorrectly believing the police had left.
The owners of the cars reported cash, sunglasses, CD-ROMs and cologne missing from the cars. Some of the items were found scattered throughout the apartment complex along the route that our client fled, so the car owners were apparently telling the truth.
Our client was booked and cited for violations of petty theft (Penal Code § 484), aiding and abetting (Penal Code § 659) and tampering with a vehicle (Vehicle Code § 10852).
Lucky for our client, two of his friends had prior criminal histories and they confessed while in the police car, while our client remained silent. A recording device in the police car recorded their conversation in full. Our client, however, remained silent during the car ride.
The client came to our office worried that a conviction for a theft offense would cause him to lose his job at a local restaurant and render his degree from El Camino College a waste of time.
Greg listened to the story from the client and his concerns.
The criminal case was filed in Torrance Superior Court. The Gardena City Prosecutor quickly made it known that our client was not the “target defendant,” but wanted to know why she should resolve the case for our client with leniency. After all, our client did have a prior conviction for possession of marijuana (before Prop 64 was passed).
Greg prepared a Defense Position Letter, outlining all areas of the police report that were ambiguous or simply wrong insofar as they concerned our client and why the female witness’ account was rebuttable. Included with the letter was a “Good Guy Packet,” which is a presentation of our client showing him as a “Good Guy,” with his high school diploma, class schedule from El Camino college, and why the theft allegations were damaging to his future.
In response, the Gardena City Prosecutor agreed to offer our client a deal wherein if he performed ten days of community service, paid a $300 fine (no penalties and assessments added) and the City of Gardena booking fee, she would reduce the charges to an infraction for violating Penal Code § 415(2). The client agreed to this disposition, which was the best deal of the three defendants.
The client then completed the terms of the plea bargain and, one year later, the charges were reduced to a mere infraction for disturbing the peace. The client was happy with this result.
For more information about the issues in this theft offense case summary, click on the following articles:
- What Is Tampering with a Vehicle (Vehicle Code § 10852)?
- What Is the Difference Between an Infraction and a Misdemeanor?
- What Is Disturbing the Peace (Penal Code § 415)?
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