Hermosa Beach, Possession of Gun by Felon, 6 Months Jail

Our client was arrested in a Hermosa Beach bank parking lot after bank patrons called to report he and his wife were arguing in a loud manner.  Police arrived and asked our client if he was on probation, which he at first denied, but then admitted he was (for a possession conviction two years earlier).  

Police then searched the rental car and located an unloaded automatic handgun under his driver’s seat.  They also found drug paraphernalia, which our client’s wife admitted to ownership of to the police.

Before advising him that they had found the weapon, they asked him there was a gun in the car.  Our client responded that he did not think there was one in the car, but if there was one, it would be in the backseat in a center console and it would be a revolver.  He stated this because he had loaned the rental car to his cousin the prior night and he knew his cousin often carried a revolver with him at all times.

Police then showed him the weapon they found and asked him if he recognized it.  Our client said he did not and stated that it must have been left by his cousin’s friends.

Our client was instantly arrested for violation of Penal Code § 12021(a)(1), illegal possession of a handgun by a felon.

The case was filed in Torrance and our client initially opted for a public defender.  The public defender grimly reported that the best possible deal was three years.  Our client was unhappy with the public defender’s interest (or lack thereof) in the case, so he came to us.

Greg Hill appeared and quickly negotiated the deal down to two years, but he thought the merits of the case suggested an even lower sentence, or even dismissal.  Mr. Hill was unsatisfied with the handling District Attorney’s attention to the case, so he went to the Torrance Supervising Attorney to see if a better deal could be reached.  The Supervising Attorney declined to undercut the handling District Attorney, so Greg Hill asked the handling judge for an indicated ruling should he plead in the open for our client.

The judge indicated that he did not think two years was appropriate, so our office continued negotiating with the District Attorney.  While our client was awaiting resolution of his case, he was picked up by local police for an unrelated charge, held without bail and Greg Hill prepared a bail reduction motion, which was granted with our client being released on his own recognizance without any need to post bail.  The two cases were then consolidated.

After a preliminary hearing, wherein the matter was held over for arraignment in superior court over our motion to dismiss, our client plead in the open to the judge assigned to the case after the preliminary hearing.  

The handling judge then asked for a sentencing brief, which Greg Hill prepared, again arguing that the knowledge element required for possession of a handgun by a felon was lacking since our client never knew the weapon was in the rental car.  The client was then arrested a second time in Las Vegas and detained there for almost a month before being released.

At the sentencing in Torrance, the District Attorney read our brief and stipulated to a sentence of six months.  It was a victory of sorts from the initial three year offer.  The judge sentenced our client to six months in county jail.

For more information about the issues in this case summary, click on the following articles:
  1. What Happens at a Probation Violation Hearing?
  2. What Punishment Do I Face for a Probation Violation?
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