The following is a sampling of cases handled by our firm. These are actual case results and are verifiable to the California State Bar Association. These particular cases were chosen to demonstrate the wide spectrum of strategies and skills that we employ, as well as the variety of cases that we handle. When you’re facing criminal prosecution and your liberty is at stake it’s important to have a skilled, experienced Orange County criminal defense lawyer by your side.
People v. Danny E. (First-offense DUI)
Result: Dismissed on suppression motion
A partygoer called 911 and reported that Danny was starting fights at the party. The caller provided police with Danny’s license plate number and a description of his car and person.
As the police entered the housing area they saw Danny’s vehicle waiting at the light to leave. The officer pulled behind Danny’s car and shined his spotlight into Danny’s window. The officer walked to Danny’s open window and, as he spoke with Danny, smelled alcohol on his breath. After a DUI investigation, Danny was arrested for DUI. His blood-alcohol level was above a 0.20%.
Mr. Stopyro filed a suppression motion, challenging the legality of the stop. He argued that the “fights” that were reported by the caller may have simply been political arguments about the recent election. In that case the fights would be legal and protected conduct. Therefore, there was no reasonable suspicion to believe that a crime occurred. Although the officer never actually turned on his red and blue lights, Mr. Stopyro found case law holding that when a police officer shines his spotlight into a car it becomes a “detention”, which requires reasonable suspicion. The judge granted Mr. Stopyro’s motion and dismissed the entire case.
(Department H-6, Judge Hatchimonji presiding)
People v. Sunny A. (Third-offense DUI/Refusal)
Result: Dismissed after a hung jury
Sunny was driving on the 55 freeway when two CHP officers saw her speeding and following too close. They pulled her over and she admitted to drinking and to “being intoxicated”. She refused to perform any field sobriety tests and refused to take a blood or breath test.
Mr. Stopyro convinced the jury that although Sunny had been drinking, she was not legally impaired at the time of driving. He pointed out that after the police officers turned on their red lights, Sunny was able to skillfully maneuver her car through a very busy freeway interchange that was under construction–moving across several lanes, exiting the freeway and parking perfectly. Moreover, at the roadside, she didn’t stumble or fall or have any balance problems. He also argued that the officer did not effectively advise his client of her requirement to submit to a test. The jury voted 11 to one in favor of “not guilty” and the judge dismissed the case. (Trial in Department W- 8 of the West Justice Center, Judge Ronald Owen presiding.)
People v. Frankie D. (Criminal Threats)
Result: Case dismissed (January 2014)
Frankie and his brother Victor had an argument in Las Vegas. Frankie drove home to Westminster and Victor showed up the next morning to get his car. When Victor showed up at Frankie’s house, Frankie was outside getting his paper. Frankie told Victor that he would “shoot him in the head”. Victor immediately called the police. The police surrounded Frankie’s house and arrested him for criminal threats. (Formerly terrorist threats) They searched his house and retrieved a handgun.
Mr. Stopyro explained to the DA that Frankie had actually been assaulted by Victor the night before in Las Vegas and was in fear that Victor would assault him again. The DA refused to drop the case. Mr. Stopyro subpoenaed the 911 call that Frankie made in Las Vegas and the police report of that incident. He also subpoenaed a witness who drove Victor to Frankie’s house on the morning of the incident. This witness would testify that Victor was agitated and angry as they got to Frankie’s house; that Frankie appeared to be peaceful and calm, and that Victor approached Frankie at the house.
On the day set for trial, Mr. Stopyro and Frankie answered ready for trial. At that point the DA offered to reduce the charge if he would plead guilty. Mr. Stopyro advised Frankie not to take the deal and to go to trial. Frankie agreed. Rather than proceed to trial the DA dismissed the case entirely. (West Justice Center, Department W-12)
People v. Kaylen H. (First-offense DUI)
Result: Reduced to wet reckless
Kaylen was driving through Huntington Beach when he ran into a car ahead of him at a traffic light. Kaylen and the other motorist pulled into a parking lot to assess the damage. Although the other motorist was upset, there was no damage to either vehicle. The police saw the two men in the parking lot and saw that one was angry. They came to investigate. Kaylen explained that there was no damage and attempted to walk away. But the officer asked both men for ID. The officer smelled alcohol coming from Kaylen and said his eyes were bloodshot. Kaylen took field sobriety tests and was ultimately arrested for DUI. He blew a 0.08% on the breath test several times.
Being a licensed professional, Kaylen’s professional license was in jeopardy if he were to be convicted of a DUI. An unsympathetic DA refused to reduce the charge to a wet reckless. Mr. Stopyro filed a motion to suppress all evidence in Kaylen’s case, arguing that the initial detention of Kaylen was illegal for lack of reasonable suspicion. In exchange for withdrawing the motion the DA agreed to drop the charge to a wet reckless. (West Justice Center, Department W-12)
People v. Ivan I. (Domestic violence)
Ivan and his girlfriend were out drinking when they got into an argument. Ivan drove home and sent some text messages to his girlfriend saying that he wanted to harm himself. When his girlfriend came over, Ivan took some kind of pills. Concerned for Ivan’s welfare, his girlfriend attempted to call 911 on Ivan’s cell phone. Ivan tried to grab the phone from his girlfriend and a struggle ensued. His girlfriend told police that Ivan pushed her, bit her and briefly strangled her. Ivan was arrested for domestic battery and admitted to pushing his girlfriend and possibly biting her. He faced penalties including up to a year in jail.
During pretrial negotiations EJ cited California law establishing that Ivan had the legal right to retrieve HIS cell phone from his girlfriend and this right necessarily includes the right to use reasonable force. When the victim REFUSED to relinquish the cell phone to Ivan, EJ argued, the “victim” was in fact committing a crime and Ivan was legally justified to use force to get it. Mr. Stopyro told the prosecuting attorney that his client was prepared to go to trial if the prosecutor wouldn’t dismiss the charge. CASE DISMISSESD. (Department N-9 North Justice Center)
People v. Deborah C. (First-offense DUI)
Result: Reduced to Reckless Driving
While driving on the 405 freeway Deborah was pulled over by the CHP. The officer said he paced her on his speedometer exceeding the speed limit by a few miles per hour. The officer reported the usual signs of intoxication; a strong odor of alcohol coming from Deborah, red eyes, slurred speech, and poor balance. Deborah failed her field sobriety tests and had a blood-alcohol of 0.15 percent. (About twice the legal limit.)
Mr. Stopyro contested the legality of the initial stop. He filed a suppression motion requesting that all the evidence be thrown out. In exchange for withdrawing the suppression motion the District Attorney agreed to reduce the charge against Deborah to a wet reckless. (Department H-13 of the Harbor Justice Center)
People v. Donald C. (Trespassing and Resisting, Delaying or Obstructing a Peace Officer)
Result: Two cases dismissed, one reduced, one year of informal probation only
Result: Two cases dismissed, one reduced, one year of informal probation only
Don left his home after a domestic dispute. He began to sleep in his car at a retail establishment in Orange County. The manager of this establishment called the police. When the police arrived, Don ignored their orders to exit his car or to leave the property. Eventually, when Don exited the car, he was arrested. This pattern repeated itself three times and Don was facing three separate cases of trespassing and Obstructing a Police Officer.
In the felony court at Harbor Justice Center, Mr. Stopyro pointed out technical deficiencies in the Complaint: it did not list the specific act of resistance, obstruction, or delaying and it did not list the duty that the officer was lawfully engaged in. Moreover, Mr. Stopyro showed that Don may not have been in violation of the precise language of the trespassing statute since the land in two cases was not posted and was otherwise, arguably, open to the public. Thus, there were several issues that could favor Don at trial.
Rather than proceed to trial, the DA agreed to entirely dismiss two of the three cases against Don, including all charges of obstructing a police officer. In exchange, Don pled guilty to a single count of misdemeanor trespassing with no jail, no community service and not even a fine. Don would simply be on informal probation for one year with no other penalty. (Harbor Justice Center, Dept. H-2)
People v. Son A. (Third-offense DUI)
Result: Jury verdict of NOT GUILTY
When leaving a bar in Orange, Son pulled out in front of a semi truck, causing the truck to brake and narrowly miss her. The police pulled her over and she failed the field sobriety tests. She blew a .08% on the breath test.
At trial Mr. Stopyro showed that the officer did not conduct the breath-test properly. Mr. Stopyro also proved that the officer did not follow proper procedure at the scene and that although the client had been drinking, the alcohol had not yet reached her bloodstream at the time of driving and she was not legally impaired for driving purposes. The jury returned a verdict of NOT GUILTY. (Trial in Department C-51 of the Central Justice Center, Judge John Adams presiding.)
People v. Mike M. (Marijuana Cultivation and Sales)
Result: Case dismissed after suppression motion granted
The police received an anonymous tip that Mike had a large-scale marijuana growing operation in his home. The police went to Mike’s house and found his door open. Inside, they saw marijuana growing equipment and lighting. The police asked Mike for his written consent to search his house, which Mike gave. Inside Mike’s house they found more than 150 marijuana plants, seven pounds of dried marijuana buds, and several firearms.
Mr. Stopyro performed extensive legal research and found several cases supporting his argument that, even though Mike consented to the search, it still violated Mike’s Constitutional right to be free from an unreasonable search. Mr. Stopyro filed a “suppression motion” claiming the search was illegal. A judge heard the motion and agreed with Mr. Stopyro’s interpretation of the law. The judge suppressed all evidence against Mike and the entire case was dismissed. (Department S-103 of the Riverside Southwest Justice Center, Judge Garrett Olney presiding)
People v. Manuel T. (First-offense DUI)
Result: Jury verdict of NOT GUILTY
After arguing with a customer at a local store, the client drove home. The customer immediately called the police with the client’s license plate number and reported that Manuel was driving drunk. The police arrived at Manuel’s house several minutes after he got home and conducted a DUI investigation. Manuel failed his field sobriety tests and the police arrested him for DUI. His blood-alcohol was .13%.
At trial, Mr. Stopyro established the time gap between between Manuel’s return home and the arrival of the police. He then exposed the strong possibility that the client may have consumed some alcohol at home in the few short minutes before the police arrived. The jury returned a verdict of NOT GUILTY. (Trial in Department W-7 of the West Justice Center, Judge Glenda Sanders presiding.)
People v. Chris H. (HIt & Run)
Result: Case dismissed
Chris accidently struck three parked cars in a residential neighborhood, causing major damages to two vehicles. Chris panicked and drove home without leaving his information or attempting to contact the owners. Witnesses gave police Chris’s license number and description. The police went to Chris’s residence and Chris confessed. He was arrested for hit and run (California Vehicle Code Section 20002)
During pretrial proceedings, Mr. Stopyro made it clear that he would bring a motion to challenge the confession and would take the case to trial. Mr. Stopyro suggested a “civil compromise” whereby Chris would pay for any damage not covered by insurance if the DA would dismiss all charges against Chris. The DA agreed, all damage was covered by insurance, and the entire case against Chris was dismissed. (Department H-2 of the Harbor Justice Center)
People v. Jane R. (First-offense DUI—drugs)
Result: Charge reduced to a wet reckless
A citizen saw Jane’s car weaving from lane to lane, occasionally “riding the reflectors” and almost strike the curb. The citizen called 911 and a police officer came and followed Jane. The officer saw Jane weaving across lanes and almost it the center divider several times. The officer stopped Jane and she badly failed all of her field sobriety tests. She admitted to taking Valium and was arrested for DUI Drugs. The blood test by the crime lab showed levels of drug well beyond the therapeutic range and into the toxic levels. This result was confirmed by our own expert in an independent analysis of Jane’s blood sample.
Jane’s biggest concern, aside from being convicted of a DUI, was the driver’s license suspension. As a driver, her employment was contingent upon having a valid driver’s license and avoiding a suspension from the DMV.
Mr. Stopyro met with the special drug DUI prosecutor assigned to Jane’s case. Mr. Stopyro appealed to the prosecutor to show leniency in Jane’s case since she had no prior record of any criminal convictions, worked full-time and needed a driver’s license to keep working. Mr. Stopyro provided the DA with letters of recommendation from friends and co-workers. He also showed that Jane initially started using Valium to beat an alcohol addiction. In addition, Mr. Stopyro pointed out that Jane had the flu at the time of driving, which could have caused the bad driving. The prosecutor agreed to reduce the charge to a wet reckless provided Jane attend self-help meetings. As a result, Jane avoided a DUI conviction and avoided any driver’s license suspension. (West Justice Center, Department W-12)
People v. Bill S. (Possession of a deadly weapon)
Result: Dismissed after suppression motion filed
Bill was stopped for an equipment violation. During the stop, the officer asked Bill if he could search his car. Bill consented to the search and the officer found some illegal brass knuckles and a metal collapsible baton (also illegal). Bill was charged with two misdemeanor counts of possessing a deadly weapon.
Mr. Stopyro obtained the radio and dispatch logs from the police agency involved as well as the video recording. Using this material EJ established a time line to show how long Bill had been detained during this traffic stop for an equipment violation. Mr. Stopyro then consulted several legal treatises and did an extensive case search. He discovered legal precedent supporting his argument that the detention was too long and thus violated Bill’s constitutional rights. Mr. Stopyro filed a Suppression Motion stating his argument and citing the legal authority.
On the day of the motion, the District Attorney agreed to dismiss the case entirely if we agreed to withdraw the suppression motion and if Bill would give a DNA sample to compare against the unsolved crime database. Bill gave the DNA swab and the case was dismissed.
People V. Shahin N. (First-offense DUI)
Result: Case Dismissed
A CHP officer came upon a car parked in the center divider of the 73 Toll Road. The officer approached the car and found Shahin stretched out on the back seat fast asleep. After many attempts to awaken him by banging on the window, Shahin finally woke up. The officer reported a strong smell of alcohol, slurred speech, and red, watery eyes. Shahin failed some of the field sobriety tests and was unable to perform the rest. His blood alcohol was a 0.19%.
Mr. Stopyro got statements from Shahin’s wife as well as from two friends establishing that Shahin was not driving that night. Rather, Shahin’s wife had driven and when the car broke down, Shahin decided to stay with it and his two friends came and picked his wife up. Unfortunately, Shahin didn’t tell the officer that he had not driven of explain that his wife had driven. Mr. Stopyro argued that Shahin was simply too intoxicated to understand what was happening during his arrest and too intoxicated to explain his innocence. Mr. Stopyro’s argument was supported by the high blood-alcohol and Shahin’s performance on the field sobriety tests.
Rather than go to trial the District Attorney agreed to drop all charges against Shahin. (Department H-2 of the Harbor Justice Center)
People v. Brian B. (Drug Transportation, Drug Possession and DUI)
Result: DUI dismissed, no jail time, drug treatment only.
After being stopped for traffic violations, Brian consented to a search of his car. The police found 13 separate balloons of heroine in Brian’s car as well as a pipe. Brian was charged with felony drug trafficking, felony drug possession, and DUI. Brian was facing four years in the state prison. Brian also faced additional jail time because he was on probation at the time.
During pretrial negotiations, Mr. Stopyro indicated that even though Brian consented to the search, the search still may have violated Brian’s 4th Amendment rights. In exchange for not litigating the search issue, the prosecutor agreed to immediately dismiss the DUI and to dismiss all the other charges against Brian once he successfully completed drug diversion. Brian also had to do 30 days of community service. (Department H-1 of the Harbor Justice Center)
Matter of Rod F. (DMV hearing after a DUI arrest)
Result: Suspension set-aside
The police stopped Rod after they clocked him on radar doing nearly 15 miles over the speed limit. Rod was arrested for DUI and a blood test showed his blood-alcohol was 0.12%. However, the officer incorrectly completed the DMV forms. At the DMV hearing Mr. Stopyro cited case law supporting his argument that the police report was not reliable evidence. The suspension against Rod was rescinded. (Irvine Driver Safety Office)
People v. Ricardo D. (Second-offense DUI)
Result: 60 days home confinement
Ricardo was driving on the 91 freeway around midnight after a night of drinking. A CHP unit was following Ricardo in the number 4 lane (slow lane). Ricardo drifted three to four feet onto the shoulder of the 91 and then returned to his lane. He then drifted back onto the shoulder. The CHP stopped him and Ricardo failed all of his field sobriety tests. His two breath test results were both 0.14%. Ricardo has a prior DUI within the past ten years.
Ricardo’s drinking pattern (what he drank and ate and when he consumed it) was NOT conducive to a rising defense. Moreover, no other defenses were available in Ricardo’s case. The Orange County District Attorney offered to settle the case for standard DUI fines and programs PLUS 60 days in the Orange County jail. (a fairly standard offer for a second-offense DUI in Orange County) Mr. Stopyro met with the Judge in chambers and explained that Ricardo had a full-time job, had a young son to provide for, and was completely cooperative with and respectful toward the CHP. Moreover, EJ explained to the judge that Ricardo would lose his job if he was forced to do jail time.
The judge granted Mr. Stopyro’s request to allow Ricardo to do his sixty days in home confinement in lieu of jail time. During home confinement Ricardo was allowed to leave his home on work days to go to work. (Department N-9 North Justice Center)
People v. Julie B. (Commercial Burglary/Shoplifting
Result: Case dismissed after completion of class
Julie went into a JC Penney department store. Using a closed-circuit video system, security officers watched and recorded her remove the price tags from five pieces of jewelry and put the jewelry inside her bag. Several minutes later they again watched and recorded her remove two shirts from hangers and conceal the shirts inside a bag she was carrying. When Julie left JC Penney she was detained and the items were recovered from her possession. She was charged with burglary and petty theft. She faced up to a year in the Orange County jail.
During negotiations with the Orange County District Attorney’s office Mr. Stopyro explained how Julie was having financial troubles, had a clean record except for this offense, was needed by her family, and, was not likely to reoffend. The DA agreed to dismiss the case in its entirety provided that Julie complete a 12-week class, pay a fine of $375.00, and provide a DNA sample to compare against unsolved crimes. Under this deal, entry of judgment was “deferred” which means that no conviction will ever appear in any record. (Department H-13 Harbor Justice Center)
People v. Steven H. (First-offense DUI)
Result: Charge reduced to Reckless Driving
Steven was pulled over by the Orange County Sheriff’s for expired tags. Steven failed all his field sobriety tests and his blood test result was a 0.15%. (Nearly twice the legal limit.) Mr. Stopyro brought a suppression motion based on lack of choice between a blood or breath test. At the hearing Mr. Stopyro’s cross-examination of the arresting deputy showed that the deputy lacked credibility. Rather than go to trial the DA agreed to reduce the charge to reckless driving. (Department S-3 of the South Justice Center, Judge Louis Rodriguez presiding)
People v. John M. (Felony drug possession)
Result: Case Dismissed
John was sitting in his car in the parking lot of an Irvine park after the park had closed. He became argumentative with police when they questioned him and he wouldn’t follow their commands`. The police “patted him down” and found a small mint container with some Vicodin pills inside. The client was charged with felony drug possession.
Mr. Stopyro found and presented case law supporting his position that the evidence had been illegally seized since the police didn’t have the right to put their hands on his client in the first place. Case dismissed. (Department H-2 of the Harbor Justice Center)
People v. Robert G. (Second-offense DUI)
Result: Dismissed on Appeal
Robert crashed his car into a building in a downtown area at night. When the police arrived two witnesses pointed at Robert, who was standing near his car on his cell phone. His car was stuck up on a planter box. Robert exhibited a strong odor of alcohol, red, watery eyes, and trouble maintaining his balance. Robert refused to give a blood or breath sample or to take field sobriety tests. Robert resisted the officers and tried to leave the scene. Robert was convicted and sentenced to 90-days in the Orange County Jail.
Mr. Stopyro kept Robert out of jail while he filed an appeal on grounds of insufficient evidence and improper admission of evidence. The appeal was granted. The conviction was reversed and the entire case against Robert was dismissed without Robert ever serving a day of the 90-day jail sentence. (Appellate Divisioin, Central Justice Center)
People v. Ricky B. (Domestic Violence, violating a restraining order, criminal threat )
Result: Misdemeanor criminal threat; private jail
Ricky was on probation for a prior domestic violence charge committed against his live-in girlfriend of many years. Ricky also had a criminal protective order against him preventing any contact except peaceful contact. However, during an argument, Ricky grabbed and bruised his girlfriend and then attempted to choke her. Then, later that same day, while his girlfriend was in a local park, Ricky pulled up, walked up to her and threw a small plastic bottle at her head. Then he ripped a necklace that he had given her from around her neck. The police went to Ricky’s home and arrested him for domestic violence (corporal injury) and violating a domestic violence restraining order. Two witnesses were present when the victim was assaulted in the park and gave statements.
Ricky posted bail in that case a couple weeks later, before his next court date, the victim called the police AGAIN and reported that Ricky had just assaulted her AGAIN and then choked her until she started to go unconscious. She said that Ricky threatened to kill her if she called the police. The police went and picked Ricky up for charges of domestic violence (corporal injury), violating a domestic violence protective order, and criminal threats. These additional charges were filed against Ricky. Furthermore, Ricky was in jeopardy of having the DA amend the complaint to add a charge of Robbery (a strike offense) for tearing the jewelry from the victim.
Ricky was facing some serious time for these charges. The evidence against him, including the physical evidence of injury, the witness’ statements, and the many previous domestic violence emergency calls appeared strong. Ricky hoped that Mr. Stopyro would be able to keep him out of state prison.
Mr. Stopyro conducted a background check of the victim as well as the witnesses. Mr. Stopyro uncovered information that the victim had a history of mental illness and use of psychotropic and other illegal drugs. Moreover, he discovered that at least one of the witnesses had an extensive criminal background and the other had a motive to lie in order to convict Ricky. EJ was able to negotiate a deal whereby both counts of domestic violence as well as both counts of violating a restraining order would be DISMISSED and Ricky would plead guilty to a single misdemeanor count of making a threat and serve 45 days in a private jail where he would be released for 12 hours a day to go to work. Ricky also agreed to do 8 hours of community service and to HAVE NO FURTHER CONTACT with the victim.
People v. Edward G. (Second-offense DUI)
Result: Dismissal of charges in return for plea to Drunk in Public
Police found Edward asleep at the wheel at the side of the road. The engine was running, Edward’s seatbelt was on, the lights were on, the car was in gear, and Edward’s foot was on the brake. Police turned off Edward’s car and woke him up. Edward failed his field sobriety tests, admitted to being intoxicated, admitted to driving on a suspended license, and had a blood-alcohol level of .15%.
Edward was charged with DUI, driving on a suspended license, and driving without a license. In court, the prosecutor offered him a lengthy jail stay in the Orange County jail, a huge fine, and five years of probation.
Mr. Stopyro filed two pretrial motioins to exclude all evidence based on a violation of Edward’s 4th Amendment rights. Before the motions could be heard, the prosecutor agreed to dismiss all charges against Edward if, in return, he pled guilty to being drunk in public and paid a small fine with no jail. (Department N-5, North Justice Center)
People v. Greg M. (Felony drug possession)
Result: Case Dismissed
The client was at a bookstore when a Garden Grove police officer asked him for his consent to search his truck. Greg agreed and gave the officer consent. The officer found a container of methamphetamine under the floor mat. The client was charged with felony drug possession.
Mr. Stopyro filed a suppression motion, challenging the validity of the search on constitutional grounds. Mr. Stopyro argued that although consent appeared to be voluntarily given, the circumstances were such that an ordinary person wouldn’t really feel free to decline the officer’s “request”. The judge agreed with Mr. Stopyro’s argument and ordered the evidence suppressed. Without the evidence, the DA was forced to drop all charges against the client. (Department W-8 of the West Justice Center, Judge Ronald Owen presiding)
People v. Steven H. (First-offense DUI)
Result: DUI charge reduced to “reckless driving” with no jail time.
Steven was stopped for swerving out of his lane and other traffic violations. After failing all his field sobriety tests he was arrested for DUI. His blood-alcohol was .13%. We filed a motion to suppress the blood test result because Steve was not given the choice of a blood or breath test. The district attorney agreed to dismiss the DUI charge if Steven pled to a reckless driving charge and paid a $250.00 fine. (South Justice Center, Judge Louis Rodriguez presiding)
People v. Gabe H. (Hit and Run)
Result: (Case dismissed after Deferred Entry of Judgment)
While maneuvering his vehicle through the crowded streets near his home in Laguna Beach, Gabe struck another vehicle that was unloading passengers at the beach. Gabe drove away from the scene and parked his vehicle several blocks away. The other driver got his license number and called the police. Gabe was arrested and charged with hit and run in violation of Vehicle Code Section 20002.
Mr. Stopyro met with the DA on behalf of Gabe. He pointed out that Gabe had no criminal record, worked full-time, had a family to support, and the offense was very minor. Moreover, Mr. Stopyro explained to the DA that they may have a hard time proving a case of hit and run against Gabe since Section 20002 of the Vehicle Code allows a driver to leave the scene if there is no place to safely park his car. Here, the street was indisputably crowded with people and cars. Also, by the time Gabe returned to the scene on foot, the victim was on the beach and nowhere to be found. Thus, Gabe could reasonably believe that the victim didn’t want his information.
Instead of going to trial, the DA agreed to dismiss the case if Gabe attended and completed a 12-hour class on personal responsibility and gave a saliva sample (DNA). Gabe completed the class and the charge of hit and run was dismissed with no conviction ever being entered on Gabe’s record. (Harbor Justice Center, Dept. H-7)
People v. Linda E. (Third-offense DUI)
Result: Hung jury, plea to Reckless Driving with no jail time.
Linda was driving home while her license was suspended for another DUI when she struck a parked car. She left the scene and continued home. A witness followed her and called the police. Officers arrived at Linda’s home several minutes later, finding her extremely intoxicated. She admitted to driving drunk and to leaving the accident scent. Her blood-alcohol was .23%.
At trial Mr. Stopyro presented evidence that the client actually drank after she returned home from the accident. He argued that her confession was unreliable because she was extremely drunk when she made it. The jury was deadlocked—roughly half voting not guilty and the other half voting guilty. The judge declared a mistrial and in order to avoid retrying the case the DA accepted the client’s plea to reckless driving with a fine and NO JAIL TIME. (Trial in Department W-17 of the West Justice Center, Judge Nho Nguyen presiding.)
People v. Jon H. (Felony assault with a firearm)
Result: Hung jury, plea to lesser offense
After a night of drinking, Jon had an argument with his girlfriend. When his girlfriend called for someone to come and pick her up, Jon pointed a loaded handgun at the person who had come to his girlfriend’s aid. The “victim” was unarmed. The client was charged with felony assault with a firearm. Although Jon had a clean record, the DA offered the mandatory minimum of five years in state prison.
At trial, Mr. Stopyro argued that the client was actually trying to protect his girlfriend and had reason to believe that she might be in danger. The jury could not reach a verdict, half voting guilty and half voting not guilty. In order to avoid retrying the case the DA allowed the client to plead to a less serious assault charge with NO JAIL TIME. As part of the deal the client was allowed to withdraw his guilty plea after two years and have the case dismissed. (Trial in Department C-40 of the Central Justice Center, Judge William Froeberg presiding.)
People v. Jose S. (Third-offense DUI)
Result: DUI Program, no jail time
In 2011 Jose was stopped for numerous traffic violations, including speeding and swerving in and out of his lane. HIs speech was heavily slurred, he smelled strongly of alcohol and he failed all of the field sobriety tests he could complete. Both blood and breath tests revealed a blood-alcohol level of .22%. (Nearly three times the legal limit) Jose had two prior DUI convictions in 2004 and 2007 and was on probation for the 2007 DUI.
The District Attorney offered Jose one year in the Orange County jail. In chambers, Mr Stopyro convinced the judge that Jose was an otherwise upstanding citizen but had an addiction to alcohol. Mr. Stopyro lobbied to have his client admitted to an alcohol program instead of jail and, upon successful completion, Jose would serve no jail time. The judge agreed and Jose was admitted to a DUI court program instead of jail. Jose agreed to attend counseling, test regularly for alcohol, do some community service and serve some time on “house arrest” instead of going to jail for a year.
People v. Omar B. (Felony evading police)
Result: Plea to misdemeanor reckless driving with a fine only
Omar was parked illegally in a rural area at night. When a police officer approached to write him a ticket, he drove away with his lights off. The officer got in his car and pursued the client with his emergency lights and siren on for over a mile. Omar drove through several stop signs in an attempt to get away. When the client pulled over, the officer found marijuana in his car.
Mr. Stopyro presented evidence to the DA, including aerial and ground photographs, showing that it was possible that the client didn’t see the pursuing officer during the pursuit. Mr. Stopyro answered ready for trial and as the jury was entering the courtroom to start the trial, the DA offered to drop the charges if the client pled guilty to misdemeanor reckless driving, served NO JAIL TIME, and paid a fine of about $800 dollars. (Trial in San Diego Superior Court, East County)
People v. Masuro N. (Third-offense DUI)
Result: Home Confinement 8 months
With two prior DUI’s under his belt, Masuro was clocked speeding—going 70 in a 45 zone. He was too intoxicated to complete the field sobriety tests and two breath tests resulted in a reading of 0.18%. He was facing a year in the county jail plus an additional mandatory 60-day jail enhancement for the excessive speed.
Mr. Stopyro convinced the judge that it would be more beneficial to society to allow his client to serve 240 days of home confinement where his client could only leave his home to go to work, school, an alcohol program and for the necessities of life. (Department W-3 of the West Justice Center)
People v. Alex M. (Felony sales of marijuana)
Result: Plea to misdemeanor possession
The police saw a baggie of marijuana in plain view on the client’s front car seat. After a search of the car the police found more marijuana, a scale, and a large amount of money. After being read his rights Alex made a full confession to selling marijuana.
Mr. Stopyro was able to structure a deal with the DA whereby the client pled guilty to simple misdemeanor possession of marijuana. (Case settled at the South Justice Center)
People v. Roberto C. (First-offense DUI)
Result: DUI charge reduced to reckless driving
Roberto was stopped by the CHP for driving in excess of 90 miles per hour while passing other cars. He failed his field sobriety tests and submitted to a breath test with a result of a .08% and later to a blood test with a result of a .09% blood-alcohol content. In negotiations with the prosecutor, Mr. Stopyro explained that the two different results indicated that Roberto’s blood alcohol was rising at the time of the two tests. (rising defense) Therefore, Roberto’s blood-alcohol may actually have been bleow the legal limit at the time of driving. Mr. Stopyro said he would proceed to trial on this defense.
Rather than go to trial, the prosecutor agreed to dismiss the DUI charge. In exchange Roberto plead guilty to reckless driving and paid a $250.00 fine.
People v. Darcy S. (Felony drug possession)
Darcy was stopped for a traffic violation. She agreed to allow a deputy to look through her car. The deputy found a bottle containing hydrocodone in her center console.
During negotiations with the prosecutor, Mr. Stopyro took the position that even though Darcy agreed to the search of her car, it still was improper. He indicated he would be bringing a motion to suppress the evidence on Constitutional grounds. Mr. Stopyro further asserted that even if he lost the motion he would produce witnesses at trial that Darcy didn’t know the drugs were in her car. The prosecutor agreed to dismiss the case completely. (Department S-3, South Justice Center)
People v. Jeff L. (DUI drugs; Being under the influence of drugs)
Result: Second charge dismissed, no mandatory jail time.
A civilian witness called the police to report a possible drunk driver. Responding to the call, police followed Jeff and observed him swerve in and out of his lane and make some poor turns. Jeff failed all of the field sobriety tests and admitted to being under the influence of methamphetamine. Jeff was arrested and a blood test confirmed the presence of methamphetamine.
Jeff was charged with Driving Under the Influence of Drugs and for Being Under the Influence of Drugs. The second charge exposed Brandon to a mandatory 90-day jail sentence. The DA offered Jeff 90 days of jail time. Since DUI drug cases are generally harder to prove than alcohol cases, Mr. Stopyro suggested that Jeff proceed to trial. However, at the last minute, the DA agreed to dismiss the second charge and made a no-jail offer for the first-offense DUI . (North Justice Center)
People v. Jerry C. (Impersonating a police officer and drug possession)
Result: Drug treatment and 20 days of Caltrans.
Jerry used a police badge to pull over several motorists and admonish them about their driving. Jerry told the drivers that he was an undercover police officer. The police searched Jerry’s car and found several illegal weapons, police parapharnelia including badges and radios, and illegal prescription drugs. Jerry was facing a lengthy jail sentence but Mr. Stopyro negotiated a plea whereby Jerry would serve no jail but rather would complete drug treatment and do 20 days of Caltrans labor. (Department H-1 of the Harbor Justice Center)
People v. Shayne S. (First-offense DUI)
Result: Charge reduced to reckless driving.
The police noticed Shayne weaving while driving on surface streets. They followed him onto the freeway where he continued to weave. They paced him driving at 78 miles-per-hour. Shayne failed all of his field sobriety tests and had a blood-alcohol of 0.10%.
During a pretrial conference, when Mr. Stopyro met with the District Attorney (“DA”) handling the case, Mr. Stopyro pointed out that Shayne was stopped only minutes after finishing his last drink. The alcohol test, however, was taken long after he was pulled over. Therefore, there was a chance that Shayne could raise the rising defense at trial. Mr. Stopyro suggested that the DA reduce the charge to reckless driving and avoid trial. The DA agreed and Shayne pled to reckless driving. (Department W-3 of the West Justice Center)
People v. Ralph B. (First-offense DUI)
Result: Charge reduced to reckless driving
Ralph was involved in a fender-bender. When sheriff’s deputies came, they smelled alcohol on Ralph and noticed he had poor balance and slurred speech. Ralph failed his field sobriety tests and was arrested for DUI. A blood test showed his blood-alcohol was 0.12%
Mr. Stopyro filed a motion to suppress the blood-test result on the grounds that the arresting deputy failed to give Ralph a choice between breath and blood. Rather than litigate the motion, the DA agreed to reduce the charge to reckless driving. (Department H-2 of the Harbor Justice Center)
People v. Chad P. (Hit & Run, DUI)
Result: Dismissal of Hit & Run, no jail for DUI.
Chad was driving home when he struck the rear of a parked car, causing substantial damage. Chad left the scene without leaving his information. Several witnesses gave police Chad’s license plate number as well as a description of Chad.
Police went to Chad’s apartment and saw Chad outside. When they commanded him to stop he ran around back. He climbed up to his back balcony and hid in his apartment. The police broke the front door down and arrested Chad inside. His blood-alcohol was 0.16%.
During pretrial negotiations Mr. Stopyro pointed out that the collision occurred close to Chad’s home and contended that Chad did intend to return in the morning and exchange information. Mr. Stopyro also relied on Chad’s otherwise clean record and his status as a full-time worker to convince the DA to dismiss the Hit & Run, not charge Chad with resisting arrest, and make a no-jail, probation-only offer for the DUI. (Department H-2 of the Harbor Justice Center)
People v. Renee L. (First-offense DUI)
Result: Case Dismissed
Police were called to check on a motorist who was slumped over the steering wheel of a parked car. When they arrived the police noticed that the car was parked at an angle to the curb so the back end stuck out. They found Renee asleep in the driver’s seat of her car, which was parked near her home. The police woke her up and found her to be disoriented and to smell strongly of alcohol. Her speech was heavily slurred and she said she was “going home”. Renee refused to take a blood or breath test. Renee was charged with DUI and Refusal.
Renee contended that she drank at home and went to sit in her car over an hour before the police arrived. Mr. Stopyro conducted a thorough investigation of the scene and eventually discovered an independent witness corroborating that Renee had been sitting in her car for more than an hour before the police arrived. When Mr. Stopyro presented the witness the DA dismissed all charges against Renee. (Department H-2 of the Harbor Justice Center)