Tag Archives: criminal defense lawyers

Judge Throws out “Coerced” Confession in Murder Case in Los Angeles

Can the statement that you gave police be used against you in court?   Most likely yes.  But it does need to pass some requirements.

First, your statement must be voluntary, as in not “coerced.”  This means that law enforcement can not physically harm you to get a statment.  Furthermore, detectives  cannot give you false promises of leniency.   Detectives can and usually do lie to people about the evidence they have against them.  Unfortunately, this is not against the law and by itself will not make a statement coerced.

Your age and the circumstances of your detention will also play into whether your statement is considered coerced.  Young age and mental competence will be considered voluntary or coerced.  For example, if you were detained for a long time and not allowed any water or bathroom visits during the interrogation, this may be a factor to show  involuntariness.  

The final factor if you are in custody when you make your statement is if you were given your miranda advisements prior to agreeing to talk to the police. 



Los Angeles judge finds confession was coerced, frees murder defendant

The jurist says ‘it wasn’t even a close call’ whether LAPD detectives coerced the man, 19 at the time, into changing his story, his lawyer reports. The teen had denied involvement dozens of times.

A man on trial for murder was set free this week after a judge found that Los Angeles police had coerced him into confessing.

Edward Arch, who was 19 at the time of his 2007 arrest and spent more than three years in jail awaiting trial, would probably have been sentenced to life in prison had the jury in the case convicted him.

However, before jurors were to begin deliberations, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Harvey Giss took the rare step of granting a request by Arch’s attorney Wednesday to dismiss the case because of a lack of evidence.

“I’ve been a criminal defense attorney for over 35 years and handled well over a hundred murder cases, and I’ve never had a judge grant a motion like this,” said Arch’s attorney, James Goldstein. “I don’t believe it was the officers’ intent to extract a false confession, but the tactics they used greatly increased the risk of that occurring.”


A spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office refused to comment on the case, saying a co-defendant is still to stand trial in the case. Two of the detectives who interrogated Arch, Gene Parshall and Efren Gutierrez, did not respond to calls seeking comment. A third detective, John Macchiarella, declined to discuss the details of the case, saying only that he “disagreed with the judge’s decision.”

The trial stemmed from a shooting in May 2007 after a group of men in a North Hills neighborhood got into a verbal dispute with another man as he drove by. At least two men in the group allegedly gave chase and, when they tracked the man down, one of them shot him multiple times at close range.

Three weeks after the killing, detectives interrogated Arch at the LAPD‘s Mission Station. Arch, who had no serious criminal history, had allegedly been identified by residents in the neighborhood as one of the men in the group during the initial confrontation.

From the start of the roughly 90-minute interrogation, the detectives told Arch they had eyewitness accounts of him being in the car that chased down the victim. Two other suspects had also implicated him, the detectives told him.

“It’s not the question of whether you were in that car or not,” Parshall said, according to a transcript of the interview reviewed by The Times. “The question is, what led up to this guy getting shot?”

“I wasn’t in no Nissan,” Arch responded, calling the witnesses “liars.”

The teenager acknowledged that he knew the two other men whom police suspected of being involved in the killing. Despite intense questioning by the detectives, Arch said dozens of times that he had had nothing to do with the killing and hadn’t been in the car. He remained insistent that he had been in his aunt’s house playing video games when the men drove off. He offered to take a lie detector test.

There are no legal or ethical rules prohibiting detectives from lying to suspects or exaggerating the evidence they have in an effort to extract a confession. They cannot, however, entice a suspect by promising he’ll receive leniency or will be let go if he admits his involvement in a crime. Detectives must also be careful not to lead a suspect along by telling him what they believe occurred, since the suspect might then simply repeat the story he was told in a false confession.

The detectives apparently crossed both these lines in the eyes of the judge, who commented in court that “it wasn’t even a close call” whether Arch had been coerced, according to Goldstein.

Parshall, for example, laid out in detail for Arch how he believed the chase and the shooting occurred as he tried to get the teen to admit he had been in the car.

And later, Gutierrez told Arch that he wouldn’t get a “free pass” if he admitted to being in the car but that he was “gambling with [his] freedom” if he continued to insist on his innocence.

“You’re either a witness or you’re a defendant,” Gutierrez told Arch. “You were either in the car when you saw the murder go down and you didn’t know anything about it or you were part of it. And if you were part of it … we’re all going to be able to prove premeditated murder.”

Goldstein said the detectives had gone too far.

“Basically, they were telling him he could walk out that door if he admitted he was involved,” Goldstein said.

As soon as Gutierrez gave Arch the choice of being a “witness” or a “defendant,” Arch changed his story dramatically, saying he had, in fact, been in the car with Michael Brown, one of the other suspects.

He said he had gotten into the car because he wanted a ride to the store to buy cigarettes. As they chased the victim, Arch said, he asked several times to return home but Brown refused. He said he hadn’t seen the gun until Brown, who is awaiting trial, got out of the car and shot the man.

After the shooting, Arch said, Brown handed him the gun and he tossed it out of the car’s window.

The detectives asked why he had lied earlier.

“I knew, like, if I was in the car with him when something happened, I’m going to get in trouble,” he said.

Arch’s whereabouts are unknown, and he could not be reached for comment.



Copyright © 2011, Los Angeles Times

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Rats! Say No to Drug Detectives!

If you’ve been arrested for Drug Sales or Transportation, there’s a chance that a detective will sit down with you and make promises he will never be able to deliver. Help him bust other sellers and he’ll make sure your case gets dropped or reduced. Say “NO Thank you.” Here’s why.

The Drug Detective has no power to get rid of your case!

No detective has the authority to sweep an arrest under the rug or tell the DA what to file. Detectives gather information on arrested individuals and have to pass it along to the D.A.’s office. They don’t have discretion to make decisions on your case. Only the DA can decide whether they will file or reject a case. So from your first conversation, the detective is already lying to you. He wants you to think that he has that power and get you to do whatever is necessary. Don’t fall for it.

It is a quick way to make deadly enemies.

Robert Deniro’s famous line to Ray Liotta in “Good fellas” is to remember these two rules, “always keep your mouth shut, and never rat on your friends” Being a confidential informant is basically setting your self up for a beatdown or worse. The people that you have to “turn on” or help bust are usually armed and on drugs. How do you think they will feel knowing you cost them their freedom and income?

The Drug Detective couldn’t care less about you.

I’ve seen many cases, where confidential informants have provided leads, helped make arrests and then find out that after they are all used up, the detective took the case over to the DA for a filing. So guess where you are now? You have a bunch of drug dealers/users waiting to get their hands on you and now youre facing county jail or prison time. And guess who is also in county jail? that’s right, the same guy you helped bust.

An Attorney must advise his client of all the possible consequences of his choices in court.

When you are facing Criminal Charges in Los Angeles, it is important to hire an experienced Criminal Defense Attorney who knows how to protect your rights and advise you of the consequences of what happens in court. I’ve represented clients in Los Angeles Criminal Courts for over a decade and firmly believe that every client needs to fully aware of their options and legal consequences before making decisions that may change their life. This recent U.S. Supreme Court decision further echoes my beliefs. If you are looking for a an experienced and aggressive Criminal Defense Lawyer in Los Angeles, please contact us for a free consultation.
Defense attorneys have a fundamental obligation to tell their immigrant clients they face possible deportation when pleading guilty to certain crimes, the Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.

The 7-2 ruling was closely watched by the Justice Department and a number of immigrant rights groups.

“The severity of deportation — the equivalent of banishment or exile — only underscores how critical it is for counsel to inform her noncitizen client that he faces a risk of deportation,” said Justice John Paul Stevens, who wrote the opinion for the court.

“It is our responsibility under the Constitution to ensure that no criminal defendant — whether a citizen or not — is left to the ‘mercies of incompetent counsel.’ To satisfy this responsibility, we now hold that counsel must inform her client whether his plea carries a risk of deportation,” he wrote.

The high court’s conclusions affirm that constitutional guarantees of “effective assistance of counsel” extend to legal advice for noncitizens.

The appeal involves Jose Padilla, a Vietnam-era veteran living in Kentucky but originally from Honduras. He had been a resident of the United States for more than 40 years, but never applied for citizenship. He was arrested in his tractor-trailer and charged with transporting and trafficking marijuana, an “aggravated felony” under federal law.

He pleaded guilty in 2001, and said his lawyer assured him he “did not have to worry about immigration status since he had been in the country so long,” according to court records.

But the fact that the crime was an aggravated felony meant he would automatically be sent back to Honduras after serving his jail sentence. A state court said he could not withdraw his guilty plea, and that lawyers have no obligation to inform defendants on immigration.

Padilla is not related to a convicted terrorist conspirator and “enemy combatant” with the same name, who was arrested after the 9/11 attacks. That defendant is now in a federal prison serving a life term.

Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia already mandate that immigrant defendants be given the right extended by the high court. Stevens noted previous plea deals are not likely to be affected by the Supreme Court ruling.

Justice Samuel Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts agreed in this case that Padilla’s lawyer misled her client on the consequences of a guilty plea. But they said that, in general, defense attorneys cannot be forced to have a “mastery of immigration law” in service to their clients.

“A criminal defense attorney should not be required to provide advice on immigration law, a complex specialty that generally lies outside the scope of a criminal defense attorney’s expertise,” Alito wrote.

Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas disagreed entirely with the majority, saying the Constitution does not guarantee “accurate advice” to criminal defendants, immigrants or citizens alike.

Immigrant rights groups hailed the ruling as one of fundamental fairness.

“Even though most immigrants’ primary concern is their ability to stay in the U.S., they often plead guilty unaware that the result would be permanent exile from their families and communities,” said Michelle Fei, co-director of the Immigrant Defense Project. “We’re thrilled that the Supreme Court has recognized that deportation is an extreme penalty and that noncitizens have a constitutional right to legal advice about the consequences of pleading guilty.”

The case is Padilla v. Kentucky (08-651).

New Laws for 2010 for those arrested for DUI


California continues to crack down on those arrested for DUI by ratcheting up penalties.

2 new laws that will go into effect in 2010 deal with those convicted of Drunk Driving/DUI in Los Angeles County.  One of the laws is a pilot program that seeks to have those convicted of first offense DUI be forced to install an ignition interlock device in each car that they have access to.

The ignition interlock devices (IID) are to be purchased by those convicted of DUI and each time the driver starts the car, he needs to blow into the device to show there is no alcohol in his system.  Details of the pilot program have not been released yet, but it is clear that avoiding a DUI conviction is now more important than ever.  Hiring an experienced DUI lawyer can help improve the chances of reducing or removing any penalties for your DUI arrest.

The second law that will go into effect has to do with 2nd or 3rd time offender and their ability to get a restricted license.   This also deals with the (IID) device and will be monitored through the DMV.

If you have questions about your recent DUI arrest, feel free to contact me at anthonyarzili@gmail.com or our office at 562-907-4448 for a free consultation.

Best of Luck and Happy New Year,

Anthony A. Arzili

LA DUI Attorney

How to choose a criminal defense lawyer.

Today, i met with some potential clients who brought up a good question that i feel many people grapple with when they or a loved one is arrested and facing criminal charges.  To many people, this is their first contact with the criminal justice system and the local courts.  Unlike Tony Soprano, most people don’t have a criminal defense attorney on retainer “just in case” something comes up.  So when they have to find a criminal defense lawyer, they feel totally clueless.

To add to the problem, most people don’t have a lot of time to research and find a criminal defense attorney.  Your loved one is arrested and is due in court in 2 days.  If its the weekend, the odds of you speaking to an attorney dwindle even more.  For these reasons, some poor souls get stuck with their family law attorney or some attorney that did a Will for their uncle representing them in criminal court.  (well-meaning attorneys who know nothing about the specialized field of criminal defense). 

 So what do you do?  What do you look for? That’s what the family of my client asked me.  They felt comfortable enough with me to tell me that they had met with 2 other attorneys and had phone consultations with 2 more attorneys in a 2 day span.  The four attorneys they met ran the spectrum. 

They met a criminal attorney downtown who had a beautiful office and had apparently been practicing for many years.  The attorney was late to their appointment and spent about 10 minutes with them, most of which he spent talking “at them” not with them.   They liked the guy’s experience and he looked successful but didn’t feel any connection with the attorney.

 The next criminal attorney was someone they spoke to over the phone.  The attorney claimed to be a “senior partner” at a large criminal defense firm.  The family said they were impressed with what the man had to say.  He spoke smoothly and confidently about being able to help their son.  The family told me they were eager to meet with the man and hire him, but that’s when everything fell apart.  The defense firm had advertised that they had a local office close by where they can meet clients.  When they asked to meet the man at that office, he told them that they don’t really have an office in that city.  They then found out that smooth talking attorney was not going to be the one meeting with them or even representing their son in court.  They were going to meet an attorney who they had not talked to and who was a young associate at the firm.  That was the end of that.

Their third contact with an attorney was someone who had mailed them a flyer to their house.   They later found out its called “Jail mail.”  The attorney had included a $500 off coupon in their pamphlet.  They never got a chance to talk to the “attorney” and spent 15 minutes talking to a paralegal. 

 The second attorney they met was a local attorney and seemed very nice.  Aside from having to reschedule their appointment once because the attorney was running late, the office seemed very professsional.  The problem came up when the attorney was unsure if they were there for a child custody case (family law) or a criminal case.  The attorney apparently mistook them for some other clients.  They felt comfortable with the attorney but they didn’t get the feeling that he knew alot about what was going to happen to their son in criminal court.

 Overall, it was fascinating to me what this family had to say about their experience in this stressful period.  They shed light on my profession as a criminal defense attorney and how it serves the community.  They also gave me a glimpse on how we can improve.  Choosing someone to represent a loved one in court is almost as important finding a surgeon.   In my discussion with the family, I came to understand 3 major things that guided their choice.  

1) Comfort Level with the Attorney.  Meeting with the attorney and speaking with him/her is key.  Don’t be sucked in by speaking to a “senior partner” or an other attorney that may send a young associate to handle your case.  The one on one connection with the person handling the case is key.  

2) Exclusively Criminal.   You wouldn’t trust your heart surgery to a doctor who spends half his time doing cosmetic surgery and liposuction.  Don’t trust your freedom to an attorney who handles family law, immigration, pet law and criminal law.  Criminal defense is a highly specialized and ever changing field and no attorney who tries to dabble in everything will do one anything really well.

3)Choose Local.  Don’t bring someone from the westside or downtown to Norwalk  or Whittier to handle your case.  They don’t come here regularly and don’t know the court, the judges and the prosecutors.  They will feel like a fish out of water and you are going to be the one that pays the price.

 Best of Luck.

Hiring a criminal defense attorney at the earliest stage is key.

The easiest thing anyone facing criminal charges can do to help themselves is to get expert help from an experienced criminal defense lawyer and most importantly, get it as soon as possible.

Being arrested and charged with a crime is a process and it takes time for the process to play out.  The one thing you want to do is to have an advocate at the earliest part of that process.  Waiting “to see what happens” is by far one of the costliest things people do.  Once you are arrested and now are facing a court date, an experienced criminal defense attorney can contact the District Attorney’s Office and talk to them about the pending charges.  The prosecutors are the ones that make decisions on what charges to file, felony or misdemeanor or whether to file charges at all.

In my experience, a client has been arrested and is given a court date.  The district attorney then goes to work to figure out what charges to file.  If you don’t have an attorney at this stage, no one will be your advocate during this critical “Pre-filing” period.  if a case is somewhat weak, any information we can give the D.A. that he or she may not have could push it into a possible “DA reject” as opposed to formal charges being filed.

 The other huge mistake some people make is to go to the first court appearance by themsleves and see what happens.  What will happen 10 times out of 10 is a worse result than if you would have had a local attorney who knows that court come with you. Sometimes, irreversible damage happens when clients show up and attempt to “talk their way out of the charges.”  First of all, the D.A. will not talk to you about the facts of the case.  So save your breath on trying to explain your way out of things.  secondly, the District Attorney might make you a plead guilty offer.  You are not an attorney and hence cannot negotiate that offer.  Take it or leave it.  Worse part about all this is that most times the DA will then write down than bad offer on her files and we are stuck with that offer even if you later try to get an attorney to come in and fix things.

So, its important to hire a good criminal defense attorney but also to hire them early.  It’s like trying to do an engine overhaul on your car and realizing you need a mechanic when the engine is on the garage floor in a 100 pieces.