"I Didn't Do It!"
In August 1993, on the first day of my new law practice in Napa, I started trial in a Felony Assault case. I wasn't new to trial work; I had tried cases before, and I knew my way around the Courtroom. I was new to Criminal Law though; I had never handled a Criminal case before that 1st one. I treated the case the same as all others - my goal was to be supremely prepared, to know and amplify all of the case's strengths, to know and be prepared to defend or minimize each of its weaknesses, and to present a reasonable, consistent and reliable case which did not require the jury to have to make a leap of faith in order to side with my client.
I had met with my client before that day; I had reviewed the preliminary hearing transcript in detail (the client had been previously represented in the case), I developed a full chronologic history of the events of the day in question, I researched the applicable law in detail, and I knew the case inside and out. My client was accused of Assault with a Deadly Weapon (Feet and Fists). The victim claimed that he had been beaten in his own home by my client and another assailant. The other assailant had already pled and had been sentenced to 3 years in State Prison.
My client said he never touched the victim.
I had gone through his story with him a dozen times. I explored every possible explanation for the victim's version, I found reasons my client might have struck the victim, why he might have wanted to strike the victim, how he had the opportunity to strike the victim, things he had said that might lead the victim to believe he had been struck by my client; I had examined every conceivable aspect of a basis for a possible conviction of my client in minute detail. I had looked for inconsistency in every aspect of my client's story.
I couldn't find anything that led me to conclude my client had touched the victim at all, let alone assaulted the victim in any fashion. My client's story added up.
I believed him. He didn't do it.
The jury agreed. At the end of the trial, he was acquitted. We won.
The reason for telling that story is to illustrate the fact that innocent men are accused and put on trial for crimes they didn't commit. Prosecutors and investigating officers will interpret facts in a way that tends to incriminate, and will take cases to trial on that basis.
Case in point: The victim, after having been struck in the face by the other assailant, had dropped to the floor and covered his head with his arms. He could not identify who struck the remaining blows during the assault. However, the investigating officer in that case saw two red marks on the victim's back, one about the size of half a shoe, and one smaller and darker red in roughly the middle of the larger one. The officer had examined my client's shoes, and interpreted the marks as having come from my client's shoe - the larger one from the sole, and smaller one from a round, dime-sized indentation in the sole of the shoe. He concluded that my client had stomped on the victim's back while the victim was on the floor, and that the red marks were from my client's assault of the victim.
During trial, I asked the investigating officer whether the two marks were consistent with the victim being punched in the back by a fist wearing a ring with a rounded stone set in it. The officer, after a long pause, reluctantly agreed that what he observed was consistent with what I described.
My client's unrebutted testimony to the jury described the ring worn by the other assailant as having a raised, rounded stone set in it. The prosecution's "shoe story" didn't hold water. My client's "ring story" did.
During trial, the Prosecutor offered a plea bargain for misdemeanor assault, which would have had a County Jail sentence, or possible probation with little or no jail time. Accepting that plea would have kept my client out of State Prison, and kept a Felony conviction off his record. My client asked me what to do. I told him "Let's find out what the Jury says."
I had a deep and abiding belief in my client's story. Everything he told me was consistent, and the evidence against him was readily and convincingly explained in a way that pointed to his complete innocence. I was able to present his case to the jury in a way that was consistent, credible and made complete sense. There's a saying that says "Truth rings like a bell." I listen for that ring.
My Criminal Practice is specialized, not general. I don't take every case that walks in the door, and I might not take yours. But if you're looking for an experienced Criminal Trial Attorney who is not going to cave in and roll over at the first chance at a plea, if you're looking for a Criminal Trial Attorney who will work to the end to keep an innocent man free, then you should call (707) 251-3979. After we meet, if both of us share the same strong and abiding determination that the particular criminal prosecution is unjust and unwarranted, we can proceed.
For additional information, or to schedule a confidential consultation, contact us, or call us at 707-251-3979. Our office is open Monday through Friday, from 8 am until 5 pm, and we are available by appointment in the evenings and on weekends. Our 1st Floor office at the corner of Coombs and Pearl is ramped and handicapped accessible. We are across the street from free public parking, and on the diagonal from Kohl's Department Store in downtown Napa.