Tag Archives: DUI Attorney

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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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

DUI Tests, To take or not take?

Handling DUI cases for over a decade, you will hear all sorts of bad advice that has led well-meaning people into trouble.

This article is designed to shed some light on some common myths and misconceptions of the law associated with a DUI arrest and DUI Tests.

Most people realize that if you are licensed to drive in california, you must submit to a chemical test if the officer suspects you are DUI.  If you do not, your license is suspended for at least 1 year.  

What most people don’t realize is which tests are actually the mandatory tests and which ones can they politely decline to take.   As simply as can be said, the only DUI test that you are mandated to take is a blood or breath test (at the station).   You do not have to take a breath test at the scene (commonly called a Preliminary Alcohol Screening Device).    So the basic rule is, blood at clinic or breath at station is the only mandated test you have to take.

What if the officer wants me to do a “walk the line” test or “raise one leg and count to 30” ?

I can count on one hand how many police reports i have read where the officer found someone’s field sobriety tests to be “satisfactory.”  Maybe, thats because by the time a report gets to me someone is arrested.  But the truth of the matter is most of the tests are pretty hard to do, even when someone is sober and in their own living room, let alone after a drink and on the side of a the freeway at 2 in the morning.

Therefore, any physical tests at the scene of your DUI stop are not only discretionary but also pretty subjective.    If you feel that you physically cannot do any of the tests, you should politely decline without giving a reason.   If you give a reason, it will be highlighted and displayed on the reports and for goodness sake please don’t say: “I couldnt do these tests even if i was sober”

The one other tests that you should always refuse is the PAS test.  This is the small device that is usually used at the scene as a breathalyzer.  Do not confuse this with the chemical test at the station which is mandatory.  The small PAS device is considered an investigatory tool and is not mandated by any california law.  If you feel that you may be over the limit, pass on this test and take the chemical test at the station.

The other question I am asked is whether someone should take the blood or breath test.  There is no clear answer here, but some factors make the breath test a better option.   A breathalizer machine needs to be calibrated and tested regularly.  It also needs to be used in a certain fashion to produce accurate results.  With that being said, the breathalizer allows your DUI attorney to attack not only how the test was done, but the machine itself.   The blood test can be retested but is generally perceived as a more infallible test.

If you do refuse the mandatory tests, the punishment is harsh.  1 year suspension and no chance of any restricted driving (to and from work). 

The harsh penalties are even more reason to make sure you have an experience DUI and DMV attorney that has handled hundreds of DUI hearings.

If you have any questions regarding your DUI arrest, feel free to contact us at 562 907-4448 or at LABestDefense@gmail.com

Best Regards,

Anthony A. Arzili

Los Angeles DUI Attorney

Why the DUI charge often defies all predictions and assumptions.

It never fails.  About once a month, i hear the same thing.  Somebody’s cousin/uncle/mechanic told them that they should just show up to court/DMV and throw them selves at their mercy and tell them just how badly they need their license and how they would lose their job/school and how no one could drive little joey/grandma to school/doctor’s appointments.  It makes me laugh everytime because I know just how judges or dmv officers love to hear the same thing over and over. 

Truth is, if judges/dmv officers were to spare the license of every person who would lose their job or face a hardship if their license was taken away, no one would be punished for picking up the DUI.  Judges and DMV officers are nice people (for the most part) but they could care less whether you are going to lose your job or can’t go to school.   When it comes to DUI cases, you might as well scream your mercy request to an empty forrest.  

DUI cases are all about the technicalities and nothing else.  This is what makes them different than any other type of criminal case.  For example, if you are facing a theft charge and there happens to be 3 independent witnesses that saw you take that item from the store, place it in your car, the police chase you through the freeways and once your car crashes find the item in your hands, then they have an oral, written and videotaped confession, even your cousin “Slow Joe” can tell you that you are gonna eat that theft charge.

 When it comes to DUI’s its a totally different story.  The last DUI license i saved belonged to a man who had been convicted of a DUI 7 years prior, was speeding, crashed his car into a big rig and failed all Field Sobriety Tests.  When i first met him, he was resigned to losing his license but after a full hearing with the DMV, I was able to find some issues with the police’s investigation of the DUI.  The problems were glaring enough that the hearing officer dismissed the 18 month suspension that the DUI carried.   That’s the strange thing about DUI’s.  They operate on a totally technical standard and sometimes our common sense cannot predict how they are going to turn out.

 In another DUI case that I had, my client had been coming from a bar, had admitted to drinking, and crashing his car to a center median.  When he was found, he was intoxicated and unable to stand.   He failed every Field Sobriety Test and was arrested and booked.  At the hearing, I cross examined the police officer and exposed two minor issues that threw off the DUI charges completely.   The final result was a victory for us.  

My point is that your Cousin Slow Joe may tell you that your DUI sounds horrible and don’t waste your money on an attorney.  Truth is, DUI cases don’t work on Joe’s standard of common sense.  They may sound horrible but you’ll never know if yours can be beat or reduced unless you have a good attorney.

Best Regards,