Hermosa Beach, Mad Client Tells Vet He Will Return with Gun

Our client was upset when a local veterinarian burned his dog’s ear off while performing surgery on the dog’s knee.   After all, the knee was not even located close to the ear.
In a Nutshell:  Hermosa Beach, client utters threats and promises to use gun, felony criminal threats reduced to misdemeanor after client attended 26 anger management classes. 
Our client, subsequently at the vet’s office, asked the vet how his dog’s ear was burned off.  The vet responded callously, “you want me to sew it back on or something?”

Our client, with no prior criminal record, became upset with the vet’s sarcastic remark and told him so.  The vet, fearing a malpractice action, then claimed our client threatened him with a gun and called 911.  In reporting the incident to the police, the vet complained that our client threatened to beat him up and only after perhaps five minutes of questioning, added “and he threatened to shoot me with a gun.”  Had this truly happened, the vet most likely would have alleged this first.

The vet further elaborated that our client promised to leave, get a gun, and return to the vet’s office.  In other words, the vet embellished the claim to bolster a police reaction.

Our client did not even own a gun or know anyone who owned a gun.

The Hermosa Beach Police took the incident seriously, at least on paper, as a gun was involved, the vet was a wealthy taxpayer and a high profile community activist.  Our client was charged with felony criminal threats (Penal Code § 422).

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Our client first went with the public defender, but quickly became disenchanted with the public defender’s lack of zeal.   He said the public defender did not want to listen to him or even take a close look at the police report’s inaccuracies.  The client then called our office after the Preliminary Hearing.

Our office thoroughly reviewed the police report with the client and assembled a “Good Guy” packet, consisting of letters of recommendation, certificates of commendation, diplomas and letters of support.   The client had graduated from a prestigious southern university, where he had played varsity football at the Division I level all four years.  In other words, he was a hard worker and goal driven.

Our office then put together a Motion to Reduce Charges to a Misdemeanor under Penal Code § 17(b), arguing that the client’s otherwise clean history and the overblown nature of the case supported reduction of the charges to a misdemeanor.

The court denied the motion, citing to the seriousness of a gun being involved, but brought the prosecutor and Greg Hill to his chambers, where he suggested a disposition.  The deal proposed was that the case be reduced to a misdemeanor after a year if our client completed 26 weeks of anger management classes and complete thirty days of community service –and not “pick up” any new charges over the next year. 

Our client accepted the deal.  Had our client rejected the deal and proceeded to trial, he faced a maximum term of three years in state prison, as well as a strike on his record, as criminal threats is a strike offense.

For more information about the issues in this case summary, click on the following articles:
  1. What Are Criminal Threats and the Defenses to This Charge? 
  2. What Is the Difference Between a Felony and a Misdemeanor?
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