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Torrance, Two Construction Workers Fight, Plea to 415

Our client, age 53 and with a prior record for four other misdemeanors, two involving fights, allegedly tried to swing his long key chain (with dozens of keys on the end) and kick a general contractor in Torrance. 

The incident was precipitated when the general contractor threatened to not pay our client, a welder, unless he removed certain lateral support bolts that, if removed, would certainly render the building very unsafe, if not cause it to collapse immediately.  Our client properly refused to engage in such an unsafe act, but then was told he would not be paid.
In a Nutshell:  Our client, a welder, allegedly fights with the general contractor at a Torrance construction site after the general contractor says he won’t pay our client.  Our client has a moderate prior criminal history.  Case resolved for misdemeanor disturbing the peace (PC § 415) with two years of informal probation and just $220 in court fines (no anger management classes or community service).
Our client, understandably, became quite upset, as he had purchased over $1,000 of materials (including gasoline for his generator on his truck), welded certain material in place and even paid for a helper for several days.  Our client had also spent several days of his own time on the project.  Our client was an experienced welder with over thirty years in the industry and had won many awards for his projects.

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Construction Site in the Area

Our client suggested that the general contractor bring an engineer to the sight to look at the building and evaluate if it would be safe and prudent to remove the bolts.  The general contractor refused.

Voices were raised and our client, mindful of his prior record, restrained himself, although he really wanted to deck the general contractor if he was not going to be paid.  The general contractor became convinced that his ultimatum was not going to work, so he backed off and paid our client.

But the general contractor was embarrassed and his pride had been wounded, so he called the Torrance Police Department and fabricated a claim that our client had punched and kicked him.   However, there were several witnesses who our client knew were there and who would testify that this never took place at all (however, the general contractor was also shorting their paychecks, so they were considered biased witnesses with an ulterior motive).

After talking to the police, the general contractor also called our client twice, telling him “I hope you have a prior record.”  The Torrance Police Department took one look at our client’s prior record, disregarded everything our client said, and recommended charges be filed, which the Torrance City Prosecutor did.

Our client was charged with one count of battery (Penal Code § 242), one count of misdemeanor criminal threats (Penal Code § 422) and one count of misdemeanor assault (Penal Code § 240).  The initial offer to our client was three years of summary probation, 15 days of county jail, significant fines and 52 weeks of anger management classes, as well as the Torrance Police Department Booking Fee.

Greg wrote an extensive Defense Position Letter to the Torrance City Prosecutor, explaining what had happened in fact and showing the building at issue.  Greg took pictures of the bolts in the stairs area and described how what the general contractor ordered was a recipe for disaster.  Greg also gave the prosecutor the names and addresses of the three witnesses who heard the general contractor’s demand and saw that our client never hit the general contractor.

Greg summed up the case as the general contractor’s ulterior purpose to black ball our client, when in fact it was the general contractor whose incompetence and ego were the issue.

Greg suggested that the case be simply dismissed, but the Torrance City Prosecutor responded that she would amend the complaint to alleged disturbing the peace as a misdemeanor only, dismiss all other charges, and allow our client to plea to disturbing the peace with two years of informal probation only and $220 in court fines and fees total, with no anger management classes or community service, to which our client happily agreed.

For more information about the issues in this case summary, click on the following articles:
  1. What Is Disturbing the Peace (Penal Code § 415)?
  2. What Is Assault (Penal Code § 240)?
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"Thank you so much for putting so much effort in this case. We really appreciate it and we are happy that all turned out well." S.A., Torrance
"Greg Hill did an outstanding job on every level. He was efficient, thorough, knowledgeable, courteous, responsive & brilliant. He welcomed my input and my concerns. . . from the first conversation to the last - I always felt 'it mattered' to him." S.C., Rolling Hills Estates
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