On an early summer night, our clients were enjoying an evening out to dinner, with drinks, at American Junkie bar on the Hermosa Beach Pier Plaza. Our one client, age 29, was with his girlfriend, and his brother, age 25. Both clients were half-African-American. They each had no criminal record.
A pair of guys sat down at the table next to our clients and began making fun of our one client’s girlfriend, who was African American.
Our clients ignored the harassment, but the two guys were relentless. They made funny expressions and asked how much she weighed, as well as other insulting questions. Our clients finally decided to head home, as it was just too much. Besides, it was past 11:00 p.m. and they all needed to go to work the following day.
Our one client, age 25, said he would use the restroom before they left and so he got up and headed to the restroom. The older client remained, with his girlfriend and the harassment intensified. Suddenly, he was punched in the side of his face and knocked from his chair to the ground.
Before he could get up, he was grabbed around the shoulders and pulled away from the other two guys. He was bear-hugged to prevent him from fighting back and walked away from the American Junkie restaurant towards Hennessey’s and the foot of Hermosa Pier.
Our client’s girlfriend screamed and left on her own.
Our client was confused and angry. His younger brother then met up with him and was also held back from continuing the fight.
Police arrived almost instantly and the two guys who were hassling our older client approached our two clients with the police nearby, allegedly to shake hands and apologize. Our clients refused to shake hands and in fact, broke free of the folks who were holding them back and assumed a fighting stance to start the fight and finish it.
Police intervened and arrested our two clients, who protested they did nothing at all. Both were taken to the Hermosa Beach Police Station, angry that the true perpetrators went unpunished.
Once released the following morning, the two clients called Greg Hill & Associates and described what had happened to them the night before. They reported that their tickets cited them for disturbing the peace by fighting in public, Penal Code § 415(1), a misdemeanor. Greg was curious as to why they were not cited for battery, given that certainly some witness would lie to assist the perpetrators by claiming they acted in self-defense or something else fabricated.
Greg explained how the case would be handled and that the Redondo Beach City Prosecutor’s Office would handle the prosecution for the City of Hermosa Beach. Greg also explained how he expected the plea bargaining to proceed and commented that if the police report was truthful, there was a chance that the judge would grant judicial diversion because it appeared as it the other parties were not injured.
Greg also had the clients sign a consent to multiple-party representation to waive any potential conflict of interest that could or did arise in the course of one attorney representing two accused of the same crime.
Greg then appeared in the Torrance Superior Court for the arraignment and read the police report, which was surprisingly accurate and focused mostly on the crime of both our clients challenging the other parties to a fight, which was disturbing the peace.
The Redondo Beach City Prosecutor and Greg then discussed the facts and Greg explained the context of the overall situation at American Junkie before the clients were pulled away from the restaurant. The Redondo Beach City Prosecutor listened respectfully and without making any sarcastic comments. She then offered a plea bargain wherein our clients would each plead no contest to a violation of Penal Code § 415(1) as a misdemeanor and be place on two years of summary probation on the condition that they perform 20 hours of community service, pay the $358 booking fee and stay away from the Pier Plaza area.
Such an offer would have been extremely kind before the implementation of the judicial diversion program in Los Angeles County for misdemeanors when the defendant has no convictions in the last ten years, is not a registered sex offender and has not availed himself of diversion in the last ten years. But since judicial diversion became available, codified at Penal Code §§ 1001.94 to 1001.98, such an offer was not the best offer available. Judicial diversion, it should be noted, it not available for DUI matters, violent crimes, domestic violence cases, or certain sex offenses charged as misdemeanors.
Greg therefore asked the Torrance judge to impose judicial diversion for the two clients, as neither inflicted injuries upon the other two men. The judge granted this request, ordering each to perform 20 hours of community service, pay the booking fee and stay away from the Pier Plaza area. After six months, if they did these things, they could withdraw their pleas and have the case against each dismissed.
Both clients were happy with the result, as they would be able to preserve their record clear of any conviction.
For more information about assault and battery issues, please click on the following articles:
- What Is Disturbing the Peace (Penal Code § 415)?
- AB 2124 – The New Pilot Program for Diversion of First-Time, Low Level Offenders in Los Angeles County Only
- May I Be a Sheriff with a Conviction for Battery (PC § 242)?