Michael Beltran recently won a dismissal of all charges against his client in a felony criminal case related to an alleged violation of a business practices statute applicable to the towing industry.
After another attorney had advised the client to plead guilty in exchange for no jail time, the client came to Mr. Beltran for a second opinion. Mr. Beltran determined that the case could be successfully litigated and proceeded to depose several key witnesses in the case. Two of the purported “victims,” in the case, it turned out, did not consider themselves to be victims at all. Furthermore, it turned out that the Detective in the matter had miscalculated key deadlines in a technical statute and had glossed over important statutory provisions that supposedly gave rise to criminal liability on the part of Mr. Beltran’s client. The Detective’s deposition ended with the following exchange:
Q· · Okay.· So you don’t dispute that the charges for recovery, towing, or storage services remained unpaid.· Correct?
A· · Correct.
Q· · And so Mr. Dayani was entitled to sell the vehicle after 35 days.· Correct?
A· · Yes, sir.
Q· · And he didn’t sell it before 35 days, did he?
A· · No.
Q· · Okay.· So is there any basis that Mr. Dayani violated the towing statute?
A· · I suppose not.
. . .
Q· · Okay.· Is there any basis that [Mr. Beltran’s client] committed a grand theft?
A· · If the grand theft is predicated on the violation of the records statute, then I would say no.
Q· · You’re the detective.· Right?
A· · Yes.
Q· · This was your — you put the case together. Correct?
A· · I did.
Q· · Okay.· And so I assume that you predicated the grand theft on the violation of the towing statute. Correct?
A· · Yes, sir.
. . .
Q· · Okay.· So in your opinion should the case be dismissed?
A· · Yeah.· The eight business days that I cited appears to be an error.
· · ·
BELTRAN:· Back on.· Okay.· Based on the State Attorney’s representation that they will be dismissing this entire case, we’re going to terminate the depositions.· Is that correct, [Prosecutor]?
[PROSECUTOR]:· Yes.· That’s correct.
Later that day, as promised, the prosecutor filed a nolle prosse (dismissal) of all charges.
Although a plea deal from a prosecutor may seem too good to pass up, even relatively minor criminal charges can prevent you from practicing your profession, obtaining necessary licensure, obtaining employment, possessing a firearm, and even voting. If you are uncomfortable resolving your matter on the terms offered by your adversary after full discussion of the facts and law applicable to your case, then you should consider getting a second opinion.
A fresh approach with an aggressive and creative mindset may reveal a unique way to improve your bargaining position, or as in this case, may result in an outright dismissal.