Our client, age 24, allegedly entered a condominium in Rancho Palos Verdes without the owner’s permission and stole the owner’s laptop computer. On the day of the alleged theft, there were a team of painters allowed into the otherwise locked condominium complex, near the San Pedro border.
The condominium owner was on his day off, but he arose in the morning at his usual time. He left his condo at the usual time. However, he did not go to work at all. He went grocery shopping and returned about an hour later to find, much to his surprise, a naked man taking a shower in his bathroom.
The owner confronted the naked man, who ran out to the third-floor condominium’s balcony and slip down to the second-floor balcony below. On the particular second-floor balcony our client allegedly swung down to, there was an older Japanese woman watering her plants on the balcony. She screamed and went inside her condominium.
Our client then jumped from the second-floor balcony to the ground below and ran off. Police were unable to find the naked man.
However, about three weeks later, police received a phone call from a woman who spotted two men in her alley unloading their car in front of a garage that was owned by someone else. The woman said it looked suspicious. Police arrived and put out client and his friend under arrest.
They then searched our client’s rental car and found the laptop computer, a loaded handgun not registered to our client or the passenger, brass knuckles, burglary tools, two wallets belonging to other people and a small amount of marijuana. Our client was then arrested.
He was taken into custody on charges of residential burglary (Penal Code § 459, a felony with a six year maximum sentence), having a loaded firearm that was not his own (Penal Code § 25850, a felony with three years maximum sentence), possession of brass knuckles (Penal Code § 21810, a felony with three years maximum sentence), receiving stolen property (Penal Code § 496(a) as a misdemeanor with 364 days maximum sentence), possession of burglary tools (Penal Code § 466 as a misdemeanor with 364 days maximum sentence) and two counts of identity theft (Penal Code § 530.5(C)(1), a misdemeanor with 364 days maximum sentence on each).
The client’s parents were floored by this turn of events. They always regarded their son as a perfect young man, although he did have a pending case for illegal possession of methamphetamine and a prior arrest (case not filed) for residential burglary.
The parents called Greg Hill & Associates and retained this firm immediately. Their son, who they bailed out, then explained to Greg that his acquaintance sold him the laptop and was the one who was in the RPV condominium, not him.
Greg immediately went to the Lomita Sheriff’s station and provided the handling detective with the name of the individual who our client believed had entered the condominium and taken the laptop. The detective, however, did not accept Greg’s invitation to discuss the case further.
Greg then appeared in the Torrance Superior Court for the arraignment with the client. At first, there was no offer, as the district attorney assigned to Department 4, preferred to see what the probation department recommended in a probation officer’s report.
In the meantime, Greg appeared on the client’s also pending misdemeanor possession of methamphetamine case (now a misdemeanor due to Prop 47) in Torrance and had it dismissed upon the client’s proof of attending a one-month residential drug treatment program.
Four weeks later, in felony court, the probation department report (also called a Pre-Plea report) was issued and it recommended mid-term of four years (for residential burglary) in state prison for our client.
Greg then filed a motion for appointment of a DNA expert to examine the DNA on the clothing left behind in the condominium, as our client was confident the DNA would show the pants were not his own. However, the judge in Torrance denied the motion, saying our client was financially capable of paying the expert’s fees himself.
Our client, in fact, was not capable of this. With more negotiating, Greg reduced the offer on the case from four years to low term (two years) and our client accepted this offer. While two years in state prison seemed like a bitter pill to swallow, it was a calculated, practical decision to avoid going to trial and facing eight years and eight months in state prison if convicted on all charges.