People v. J.M. (August 2022; Criminal Courts Building (C.C.B.)/Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center)
Misdemeanor Plea, No Jail Time, Informal Probation
The alleged victim/accuser was a delivery guy who made a pizza delivery to the Client's residence. The accuser alleged that when he arrived there, the co-defendant snatched the pizza box from his disabled arm. The Client then allegedly hurled two 20-dollar bills at him, which turned out to be fake.
The complainant asserted that the Client displayed then clutched a gun holstered in his waistband while giving him a menacing glare. Then the co-defendant purportedly banged the door in the accuser's face. The accuser then went back to his workplace and made a call to the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD).
When police showed up to carry out an investigation, the Client unfortunately admitted to having a firearm inside his car trunk.
(You should never admit to anything when questioned by police aside from your name – otherwise, tell them you respectfully assert your Constitutional rights to speak with your attorney before providing any statements. Only in extremely rare circumstances will your statement to police help your defense.)
However, the Client denied possessing or displaying the gun as purported. Notwithstanding, however, the Client thereafter authorized a warrantless search of his car by the police, which led to the discovery of a loaded firearm and a box of hollow-point ammunition in the vehicle's center console.
See also Use of Armor-Piercing Ammunition (California Penal Code section 12022.2)
Soon thereafter, and certainly not surprisingly, both the co-defendant and the Client were taken into custody.
- Robbery in the Second Degree (under Penal Code § 211);
See also Judicial Council of California’s Criminal Jury Instructions (“CALCRIM”) “Robbery -- Pen. Code § 211”: CALCRIM Number 1600.
- Strike Offense (California Penal Code section 667(a) & (b) and California Penal Code section 1192.7(c). Both of these offenses are considered "Serious Felonies"; and
- Possessing a Loaded Weapon on Your Person or Inside a Motor Vehicle. This offense is a misdemeanor under (California Penal Code section 25850(a)).
The Client was facing one year in jail for a misdemeanor charge and a five-year state prison sentence for robbery.
Ninaz Saffari persuaded the prosecution – the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office (DA’s Office) -- that the accuser's allegations were exceedingly weak beause he had altered his narrative four to five times, including changing the description of the perpetrator, who allegedly possessed a handgun.
Ms. Saffari further stressed that the Client was not acquainted with California's stricter firearm laws because he had just recently relocated from the Florida, where having a gun in your vehicle's trunk is legal.
The judge dismissed the Strike and Robbery charges on the initial day of trial. The Client entered a plea deal for one misdemeanor that included no jail sentence, summary probation for a year, and a mandatory class on gun safety.
People v. E.V.S. (February 2022; Compton Courthouse)
The Client faced a 4.5-year prison sentence for Assault with a Deadly Weapon (ADW) (California Penal Code section 245(a)(1))
Case Dismissed after the Preliminary Hearing
Client, a prominent retired actor with nearly two dozen titles to his record, including huge roles across several big Hollywood films, brought his car to a mechanic's garage to be repaired. After a month, the mechanic eventually informed him that he was done working on the car. The Client proceeded to the mechanic's shop using a friend's vehicle.
The mechanic informed the Client that although he had resolved the original issues, he had also replaced many outdated parts. As a result, the Client would need to pay the mechanic five times what they had initially agreed. The Client, as expected, was enraged and told the repairman that he did not authorize the repairs. The repairman relented, and they were able to negotiate a significantly lesser amount.
However, things quickly went downhill from there. When the Client got inside his ostensibly repaired car, he realized it would not start! He then exited the vehicle and confronted the mechanic.
The Client then dropped his friend’s car keys by accident. The mechanic picked them up and would not give them back, thereby committing the crime of False Imprisonment under California Penal Code section 236.
The mechanic then pushed the Client backward, thereby committing misdemeanor Simple Battery, a.k.a. Battery Upon Another (California Penal Code section 242). Next, the Client went back and ordered the mechanic to return the car keys.
At that point, the mechanic attacked the Client by hitting him over the head with a large metal object or instrument (perhaps a pipe or a wrench). The Client tried to fight back and hit him with the hammer he had in his hand, but even then, the mechanic injured him worse.
Deputies from the nearby Compton Sheriff’s Station arrived minutes later. The mechanic denied hitting the Client, denied using the metal object, and alleged that the Client had assaulted him with the hammer. The Client was therefore apprehended and accused of felony ADW per California's Penal Code § 245(a)(i).
4.5-year prison sentence.
Ninaz Saffari called the deputy sheriff who had made the arrest to testify during the preliminary hearing. He acknowledged that the repairman had declined to give the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department (LASD) access to surveillance recordings from his numerous CCTV cameras, which would presumably have shown what had transpired that day.
He also acknowledged that the mechanic had behaved suspiciously during questioning, repeatedly backing away and acting defensively and uncooperatively.
Then, Ms. Saffari revealed that the mechanic refused to return to the Client the car keys to his friend's car.
Eventually, even the sheriff's deputy felt the mechanic had been lying about the attack since Client came forth with blood gushing from his mouth and head when LASD first arrived.
Dismissal of the ADW charge after the preliminary hearing.
People v. J.C. (February 2021; Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center)
Reduced to an Assault with a Firearm (California Penal Code section 245(a)(2) Conviction, No Jail Term
The Client was charged with Willful and Pre-Planned Attempted Murder (also known as Attempted First-Degree Murder) pursuant to Penal Code section 664 and Penal Code section 187(a).
In addition, he was charged with multiple sentencing enhancements, including Personally Discharging a Weapon During the Perpetration of a Felony, under Personal Discharge of a Firearm During the Commission of a Serious Felony (California Penal Code section 12022.53(c)) (20 years).
Ninaz Saffari, the founder of the Los Angeles Defense Attorney Law Firm (LADALF), fought the matter like she always has, fiercely pushing it forward to trial and having the prosecution constantly on the verge of defeat. She submitted numerous motions, including but not limited to the following:
Motion to Dismiss (California Penal Code section 995);
Motion to Suppress Evidence (California Penal Code section 1538.5); and
Pitchess Motion (California Evidence Code section 1043).
Ninaz pushed the prosecution to acknowledge the flaws in the case at every turn. Eventually, the Client agreed to a plea bargain when the Deputy District Attorney saw the court was leaning toward dismissing the whole case.
The outcome was a reduced charge of Assault Using a Firearm under California P.C. § 245(a)(i).
See also “Assault with Deadly Weapon or Force Likely to Produce Great Bodily Injury -- Pen. Code §§ 240, 245(a)(1)-(4), (b)”: CALCRIM Number 875.
The deal included two years of formal probation and an early release (after serving nine months in the Los Angeles County Men’s Central Jail while waiting for trial).
People v. Ryan X. (October 2020; Compton Courthouse)
The Client was accused of Assault with a Deadly Weapon, with a maximum sentence of four years in prison
Misdemeanor Plea and No Jail Time
The Client was only driving when he unintentionally came dangerously near a cyclist. The cyclist was upset and rammed his bicycle into the car's hood. In an instantaneous response, the Client slammed his automobile into the bike, sending him onto the ground but, luckily, without harming him.
- The Client was apprehended and accused of assault using a lethal weapon under California P.C. § 245(a)(i), which carries a maximum of four years in prison;
- Additionally, he got a Strike charge under California P.C. §§ 667(a) and (b).
See also Strike Sentencing Enhancement (California Penal Code section 1170.12).
- "Violent Felonies" under California Penal Code section 667.5(c); and
- "Serious Felonies," under Penal Code section 1192.7, subdivision (c).
Therefore, if the Client convicted and given a 48-month sentence, he would still be required to serve a 41-month sentence even with good behavior credit because of the Strike.
The Client retained Ninaz Saffari as his defense attorney. She successfully persuaded the prosecution to reduce the charges from a felony Assault with a Deadly Weapon to a Simple Battery (California Penal Code section 242) charge, a misdemeanor. This carries a potential sentence of one year in jail once convicted.
See also “Simple Battery -- Pen. Code § 242”: CALCRIM Number 960.
Thankfully, Ninaz managed to secure him a misdemeanor conviction with zero jail time, misdemeanor probation, community service, and the possibility of dismissal following the successful conclusion of the probation term. However, he wasn't required to perform community service due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
People v. O.G. (August 2020; Inglewood Courthouse)
Convicted Felon Found with a Firearm on his Person (Previous Strike Conviction, Maximum Sentence of 8 years)
See Felon in Possession of a Firearm (California Penal Code section 29800).
Charges Dismissed at Preliminary Hearing
The Client was in his legally parked Nissan sedan when Inglewood Police Department officers approached him because they thought he had unlawfully tinted his car windows. When he approached, "Officer Mendoza" alleged that he could smell burnt cannabis and also noticed an open beer can in the vehicle. He, therefore, cuffed the Client after he was removed from the car.
Given the smell of cannabis and the open beer can, Officer Mendoza reasoned that there was a sufficient cause to search the vehicle, which he did.
The first thing he discovered inside the vehicle’s center console was an already-smoked marijuana joint. Then he discovered a cooler that contained five empty cans of beer in the rear seat. Afterward, he discovered a 9mm semi-automatic weapon with a loaded clip and two 9mm bullets inside the glove compartment.
The Client risked facing a three-year county jail sentence and a five-year prison sentence based on the following facts:
- He had previously been convicted of Residential Burglary in the First Degree (California Penal Code section 460(a); California Penal Code section 459); and
- He had a previous Strike conviction under (California Penal Code section 667(a) & (b); “Violent Felonies”: California Penal Code section 667.5(c); “Serious Felonies”: California Penal Code section 1192.7(c)).
Ninaz submitted a request to disallow the evidence (California Penal Code section 1538.5). She then argued that the ﬁrst "stop" was unlawful since the California Vehicle Code only made it illegal to have unlawfully tinted windows (in other words, windows with less than 70 percent transparency) if the vehicle was being driven at the time.
Then, she contended that because marijuana was legal in the state, the same California Vehicle Code now only made illegal marijuana consumption and having open alcohol containers (both charged as infractions) only when the consumer or owner was operating the vehicle.
She maintained that Officer Mendoza lacked probable cause to look for "additional contraband evidence" since no violations of any kind had occurred or were ongoing (as he had put it). The judge concurred with Ninaz following her scathing cross-examination at the prelim.
The case was dismissed.
People v. G.S. (April 2014; LA Superior Courthouse - Downtown Criminal Courts Building)
ADW (Maximum Sentence of 27 Years)
Found Not Guilty Following a Jury Trial
The Client was accused of using a semi-automatic firearm in two felony ADW counts under Penal Code section 245(a)(i). Ms. Saffari brought the matter to a jury trial because the Client insisted on his innocence.
The Client therefore risked getting a Strike (under Penal Code sections 667(a) and (b)) and a 27-year sentence in prison if convicted by the jury.
During the trial, Ninaz Saffari showed that the prosecution witnesses had lied by impeaching them with earlier conflicting statements and calling reliable defense witnesses to counter those witnesses. Additionally, she directly examined her fingerprint examiner/expert witness, who asserted that there was no fingerprint match on the firearm, much one incriminating the Client.
The charges were dismissed after the jury rendered a not guilty verdict.
People v. S.B. (January 2010; Governor George Deukmejian Courthouse, Long Beach)
Client Facing a 27-year prison sentence for Assault with a Deadly Weapon and other Related Felonies, along with a Second-Strike Offense
Client out of prison in over three years with good conduct
Client, a tattooed, white biker with a long criminal background, was apprehended in jail after allegedly hurling racial slurs at his Black neighbor while brandishing an assault rifle. The police discovered several weapons in a safe inside the Client’s house.
The prosecution brought the following charges against him in light of the acts mentioned above:
- ADW under Penal Code section 245(a)(i);
- Making a Criminal Threat (California Penal Code section 422);
- Brandishing a Firearm or Another Lethal Weapon, which is charged as a felony under California Penal Code section 417(a)(1) & (2);
- Possession of Ammunition by a Felon (California Penal Code section 29800); and
- Felon Possessing a Firearm (Penal Code section 29800).
See also See also “Criminal Threat -- Pen. Code § 422”: CALCRIM Number 1300;
“Brandishing Firearm or Deadly Weapon: Misdemeanor -- Pen. Code § 417(a)(1) & (2)”: CALCRIM Number 983;
“Possession of Firearm by Person Prohibited Due to Conviction - No Stipulation to Conviction -- Pen. Code §§ 29800, 29805, 29820, 29900”: CALCRIM Number 2510; and
“Possession of Ammunition by Person Prohibited from Possessing Firearm Due to Conviction or Mental Illness -- Pen. Code § 30305(a)”: CALCRIM Number 2591.
They also added the following sentence enhancements to his charges:
- Strike Offense (Penal Code sections 667(a) and (b));
- “Serious Felonies” -- Penal Code § 1192.7(c);
- Hate Crime Enhancement (California Penal Code section 422.55; California Penal Code section 422.75(a)-(c));
- "Violent Felonies" -- Penal Code section 667.5(c); and
- Gang Enhancement (California Penal Code 186.22) (due to the allegation that he was a supporter or belonged to a prison gang of white supremacists, an allegation Ninaz was capable of quickly refuting and getting dismissed).
See also “Personally Armed with Firearm: Unlawfully Armed When Arrested -- Pen. Code § 1203.06(a)(3)”: CALCRIM Number 3132;
“Personally Used Deadly Weapon -- Pen. Code §§ 667.61(e)(3), 1192.7(c)(23), 12022(b)(1) & (2), 12022.3”: CALCRIM Number 3145; and
“Carrying Firearm: Active Participant in Criminal Street Gang -- Pen. Code §§ 25400(c)(3), 25850(c)(3)”: CALCRIM Number 2542.
He risked facing a 27-year prison term for the Strike offense.
Ms. Saffari was successful in negotiating an exceptional plea bargain, which resulted in one felony conviction with no Strike for Assault Using a Firearm (California Penal Code section 245(a)(2).
Even though he consented to a seven-year sentence, Client would be released within three years if he behaved and completed his sentence while waiting for trial.