Our client, age 30, had a younger sister, age 18, who he was especially close with because he had watched her grow up from a newborn and almost considered himself her father. He cared deeply about her making good choices in life and taking her education seriously.
As she navigated the adolescent years, he tried to tell her not to hang out with certain people and to not use drugs.
Unfortunately, his younger sister passed away from a fentanyl overdose from marijuana she was given by one of her friends. Our client was devastated and angry at the friend. The friend did not seem to care about the death, which made our client furious at him. He was even more angry when the police did not want to pursue the killer and hold him accountable.
This rage overflowed one day about three months after her death. On that day, as he was driving down the street in Long Beach, about mid-day, our client saw his sister’s killer.
Our client calmly parked his car and opened his trunk. He reached in and grabbed a tire iron. He then walked over to his sister’s killer, who saw him walking toward him holding the tire iron. The killer tried to run, but our client caught him and delivered five to ten hits before a bystander rushed over and pulled our client away. Our client reached down and grabbed the killer’s iPad.
Our client then got in his car and drove away. Three witnesses called the police, who responded quickly. The police found our client about three blocks away and took him to the Long Beach Police Station, where he was booked and released after posting a $100,000 bond for being arrested for assault with a deadly weapon (Penal Code § 245(a)(1)) and robbery (Penal Code § 211).
The client called Greg Hill & Associates and discussed the facts with Greg. He did not know how badly his sister’s killer was injured and police only told him that the man had been taken to the hospital.
Our client then met with Greg and explained how he and his girlfriend were planning to get married. She was married with a baby boy on the way. Our client worked for a temporary employment agency and was always employed, although he would shift from location to location, often working in warehouses as a forklift driver.
The client also explained he had four prior convictions for being under the influence of controlled substances, possession and possession for sales, but had been off probation for three or four years. He also had a prior juvenile record for drugs.
Greg explained that the facts of the case suggested a prison sentence, not probation, but that with COVID-19 still affecting the county jails and state prisons, a probationary sentence might be possible. The client mentioned his extreme depression from his sister’s death and Greg described how mental health diversion may be an option if the client could consult with a psychiatrist about his depression.
At the arraignment date, Greg and the client appeared together at the Long Beach Superior Court. The initial offer from the prosecution was two years of state prison, or low term on the Penal Code § 245(a)(1) count. The client faced a maximum of four years in state prison on this count, plus one-third the mid-term sentence of three years, or one year more for the Penal Code § 211 charge. Both charges were “strikes,” meaning our client would serve a minimum of 85% of the sentence in state prison (not state prison in county jail, either).
Greg and the client also read the police report, wherein it was stated that the killer only suffered minor cuts and refused treatment at the emergency room. It was later learned that the killer had three felonies, each related to controlled substances, as well as misdemeanor battery conviction and a joyriding conviction (Vehicle Code § 10851).
Greg and the client then put together a mitigation packet with the sister’s death certificate, the text messages immediately after the death wherein the drug dealer advised that he was present with her when she over-dosed, our client’s paystubs and documentation of his son’s birth. The client also began attending anger management classes and presented a progress report showing this.
Greg then negotiated with the Long Beach District Attorney assigned to the case, eventually reaching a plea bargain wherein our client pled to an amended count three of Penal Code § 245(a)(4) (assault by means likely to cause great bodily injury), which is not a strike and is a wobbler. The client was placed on two years of formal probation (Assembly Bill 1950 included § 245(a)(4)) with an obligation to attend fifty-two anger management classes and perform 30 days of community service.
The client was extremely happy with this resolution.
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