Firm Files Petition with United States Supreme Court on Noteworthy Case

Posted on Thursday, December 12th, 2019 at 8:00 am    

Spolin Law has filed a petition in the United States Supreme Court, in Washington D.C., on a noteworthy case that implicates major Constitutional issues.

The October 2019 filing, termed a petition for writ of certiorari, seeks to have the court accept the case and overturn the conviction of the firm’s client, whose rights were violated in the course of his trial. If the court rules on the side of client, the decision will affect criminal defendants throughout the United States in both state and federal courts.

United States Supreme Court

Spolin Law’s petition to the United States Supreme Court discusses the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments to the US Constitution. Interior photo of the court is courtesy of uscourts.gov

The primary issue presented to the United States Supreme Court was whether an attorney for a criminal defendant may subsequently represent a witness against his former client. The issue relates to the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution. The Sixth Amendment, as interpreted by prior case law, guarantees criminal defendants the right to the “effective” assistance of a lawyer. An attorney whose representation falls below the standards articulated by the courts will be considered ineffective, thus violating the client’s Constitutional rights.

In the present case, a lawyer represented a criminal defendant while simultaneously representing a witness who was slated to testify against the defendant. Once the lawyer realized that he was representing both parties, he withdrew from representation of the defendant but continued to represent the witness. By that time the attorney had received hundreds of pages of discovery and had numerous confidential conversations with the defendant, including material that the witness could have used to conform his testimony to other evidence in order to make it more believable. The witness—a convict himself—had agreed to testify against the defendant in exchange for the prosecution’s dismissal of a separate attempted murder charge against the witness.

Aaron Spolin, who is admitted to practice in front of the United States Supreme Court, submitted the petition and is the primary attorney on the case.

To contact the firm about a criminal appeals or post-conviction matter, call us at (310) 424-5816.


Spolin Law’s Firm Manager, Dionne A. Parker, Wins the 2019 Client Service Award

Posted on Thursday, December 5th, 2019 at 5:00 pm    

Dionne A. Parker, Spolin Law P.C.’s law firm manager, has won the firm’s 2019 Client Service Award. The award, which comes with a $300 cash prize, was created to recognize members of the Spolin Law team who go above and beyond in their efforts to serve clients.

Dionne A. Parker

Numerous clients and other firm members have specifically singled out Ms. Parker for praise over the course of the past year. While she has a difficult workload—operating the administrative nerve center of the firm—she strives to make sure that each client knows how important his or her case is to the firm. This includes returning phone calls promptly, providing relevant case documents, communicating with court clerks and other agencies, and carrying out whatever other steps are necessary to assist the lawyers assigned to the case.

While Ms. Parker serves solely in a non-legal capacity at Spolin Law, she also happens to be a licensed attorney admitted to the Maryland, Washington, D.C., and United States Supreme Court bars.

Prior to joining Spolin Law, Ms. Parker served as an attorney at a prominent Washington D.C. law firm. She was also the Associate General Counsel for the National Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists, an international nonprofit organization.

If you would like to nominate a firm member for the 2020 Client Service Award, please contact us via phone or email.

To learn more about the firm and the type of work we do, feel free to contact one of the firm’s attorneys at (310) 424-5816 or contact@spolinlaw.com.


Using New Evidence on Appeal

Posted on Sunday, November 24th, 2019 at 5:50 am    

Pursuing an appeal to overturn a criminal conviction in California can be based on various legal arguments. But, unfortunately, it usually can’t depend on the presentation of new evidence.

Appeals are not a “do-over.” Your legal counsel won’t be allowed to re-litigate the matter by bringing new witnesses or other new evidence. Instead, the Appeals Court will determine if any legal errors were made that would necessitate setting aside the conviction and sending it back to the trial court for reconsideration.

The experienced criminal appeals attorneys at Spolin Law, P.C. can pursue all your legal options at a state level and in federal court to protect your constitutional rights. To learn how to best appeal your case, contact our Los Angeles attorneys for a free consultation by calling (310) 424-5816 today.

Legal Arguments on Appeal

Although an appeal can’t be won on “new evidence,” what you can do is find legal arguments to make a valid appeal. The more arguments that indicate rules and procedures weren’t followed, or judge misinterpreted the law , the better chance the appeals court will find an error and send it back to the trial court.

Depending on how significant the errors are, the trial court could be required to conduct a new trial. At that point, additional new evidence and witnesses could be brought.

Some arguments on appeal that deal with evidentiary issues are:

  • Failure to disclose exculpatory evidence – Criminal procedure rules and the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution requires prosecutors to disclose any exculpatory evidence (anything that could show the defendant is not guilty) to the defense before trial. In other words, this is evidence that might be “new” to the defense. Failure to turn over such evidence is a serious violation of your rights, and if this occurred, your case for overturning your conviction is strong.
  • Improper exclusion of a witness – If the trial judge wrongly excludes a witness that your trial attorney wanted for your defense, you may have a right to go back to the trial court to get their testimony into the record.
  • Actual Innocence – The appeals court won’t accept new evidence, but if you can show evidence in the court record of actual innocence was ignored, or the weight of the evidence was against conviction, you might have a successful appeal. Also, if new evidence of actual innocence is found after the time limit to appeal expires, you may be entitled to pursue a “writ of habeas corpus.”

Pursuing a Writ of Habeas Corpus

Depending on your circumstances, you may find pursuing a writ of habeas corpus necessary. Unlike the rules for appeals, the writ process usually allows for arguments on issues outside the court record. In other words, mistakes stemming from your arrest, pre-trial, and trial that are in the court record can be brought up on appeal. But the pursuit of a writ allows for evidence outside the record.

A writ of habeas corpus, which in Latin means “produce the body,” is used to challenge your incarceration. The writ requires the state to show lawful grounds for your detention. It often alleges a violation of constitutional or statutory rights.

New evidence can be presented in a writ action.

Let Us Help with Your Appeal

Our appellant law firm has a record of success finding errors that benefit our clients. While we can’t use new evidence on appeal, we can find and make all the legal arguments that could win you a chance at a new trial where such evidence can be presented. Our attorneys, led by firm founder and former prosecutor Aaron Spolin, have achieved positive outcomes on a wide variety of criminal and appellate cases.

Contact us today at (310) 424-5816 for a free case consultation.


What’s the Timeframe for Criminal Appeals in California

Posted on Saturday, November 9th, 2019 at 5:49 am    

Under most state and federal laws, a criminal conviction isn’t necessarily the end of the road. You still have options, and if you believe you were wrongly convicted, a criminal appeal should be pursued. But it’s essential to understand the process, including how long an appeal can take.

To protect your legal rights and for the best possible outcome, you need an experienced appeals attorney. The Southern California criminal appeals law firm, Spolin Law, P.C., understands the process and how to effectively argue on your behalf.

To discuss all your appeal options, contact us today at (310) 424-5816 for a free consultation. Our offices are conveniently located in Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco.

Timeline for Appeals

The criminal justice system is not only controlled by laws, but also by rules and procedures. The rules of criminal procedure set forth how criminal trials are conducted, so they are fair and protect your rights.

If there is a conviction, there are also rules that apply to appeals. These rules establish deadlines by which certain actions must be taken.

For example, after a criminal conviction in the Superior Court of Orange County, you must file:

  • Notice of Appeal within 30 days of the date of the judgment or order if a misdemeanor.
  • Notice of Appeal — Felony (Defendant)” within 60 days of the date of the judgment or order if a felony.

There are some appeal options with longer deadlines, and a court might be willing to accept a late notice of appeal depending on extenuating circumstances.
Failure to file your notice of appeal by the appropriate deadlines could mean that no matter how strong your case is to overturn your conviction, you may not be allowed to proceed. That’s why it is vital to seek legal help with one of our appeals attorneys.

Such quick deadlines to file a notice of appeal might suggest the appeals process won’t take long. But that is likely not the case. Once a notice to appeal is filed, a lawyer can request more time from the court to thoroughly review your case so that we can make all the arguments we find to win your appeal.

After Filing Your Notice of Appeal

After we file your Notice of Appeal, we can file motions for bail or release. If you meet certain criteria, the law gives you the opportunity to be released with or without bail pending appeal of your conviction.

Winning your release pending appeal is important because appeals cases can take one to two years to resolve. By being free during that time, you may be able to resume working and caring for your personal matters while your legal issues are resolved.

While your appeal is ongoing, we will be working on the legal arguments that could result in a successful result. We do this by scouring the record, including the transcripts of your criminal trial. As part of the appeals process, the Superior Court must compile and turn over transcripts of the court reporter and clerk. All documents and exhibits from those proceedings also must be given to your appeals counsel.

After a review of the record where we will find your grounds for overturning your conviction, we will file an “Opening Brief” to explain to the court the reason for your appeal. This is a lengthy procedure, and it’s important you stay in contact at every step in the process.

The prosecution is then allowed to respond. After that, we may have an additional filing, called a “Reply Brief,” which must be filed within so many days of the prosecution’s response.

Once the briefing of your case is completed, we may have an oral argument before the court, and then the court will decide the case. If we aren’t satisfied with the resulting decision, there are additional options, and all of these have deadlines as well.

Don’t Delay if You Need Help with an Appeal

Appealing your criminal conviction is a complex matter that requires experienced attorneys. If you fail to meet certain deadlines, you may not have a chance to appeal and be stuck with the consequences of your conviction. Those consequences could include incarceration, fines, and a permeant criminal record.

To understand your options for appeal and how long it could take, contact Spolin Law, P.C. by calling (310) 424-5816 for a free consultation.


What Does Ineffective Assistance of Counsel Mean?

Posted on Thursday, October 31st, 2019 at 10:53 am    

If your criminal defense lawyer is in over their head or incompetent, you could be convicted where an acquittal or dismissal was possible or even likely. That’s why courts in the United States allow criminal defendants to claim ineffective assistance of counsel–either during or after their trial. When an appeal is made based on the ineffective assistance of counsel, you may be eligible for a retrial. When you make a motion for ineffective assistance of counsel during a trial, the court may allow you to hire a new attorney.

At Spolin Law, P.C., we can help undo the damage done by a subpar criminal defense lawyer. Our California criminal appeals lawyers will review what happened at your trial and determine if an ineffective assistance of counsel claim is possible.

For more information about appealing a criminal conviction for ineffective assistance of counsel, call us today at (310) 424-5816 for a consultation.

The Sixth Amendment Guarantees Your Right to Effective Counsel

The right to legal counsel originates in the sixth amendment to the United States Constitution. The constitution only says you have the right to a lawyer, but the United States Supreme Court has ruled that the right to a lawyer during a trial would be useless if that lawyer were ineffective. In other words, having an incompetent lawyer is a deprivation of your right to due process comparable to having no lawyer at all.

But lawyers–even the best ones–sometimes make mistakes. And since many of these mistakes are harmless, it wouldn’t make sense for a court to grant a new trial every time a defendant’s lawyer made a bad call. For this reason, the Supreme Court has developed a test for determining if a defendant has been the victim of ineffective assistance of counsel. Specifically, the test requires two elements.

First, the defendant must show that their lawyer’s representation fell below an objective standard of reasonableness. If your lawyer commits an obvious lack of discretion or performs an act or omission that they cannot adequately explain, then they may have fallen beneath this standard. But if your lawyer can reasonably explain that what they did was part of their strategy, then the court will generally not second guess them–even if their strategy was flawed.

Second, you need to show that your attorney’s failures caused significant prejudice to you. This requirement is met only when the court finds that there is a reasonable probability that, if your lawyer hadn’t made the mistake, the case outcome would have been different. This means that you need to show that your lawyer’s incompetence was the primary reason why you were convicted–as opposed to the strength of the prosecution’s evidence against you.

You Need to Show That Your Lawyer’s Mistakes Caused a Bad Outcome

There could be several instances where your lawyer might have made a mistake, but it still wouldn’t count as ineffective assistance of counsel. For you claim to succeed, you need to demonstrate that your lawyer did something that no reasonable lawyer would do, such as:

  • Failing to challenge unlawfully obtained evidence
  • Failing to object to inadmissible evidence or testimony
  • Missing deadlines for motions
  • Failing to motion for the dismissal of a proceeding when the prosecution is clearly lacking enough evidence to convict you

You can make a motion for ineffective assistance of counsel during your trial if you feel that your lawyer is not performing their duties. Alternatively, after your trial and conviction, you can file an appeal on this basis. Usually, you only have 30 days to appeal a misdemeanor conviction and 60 days to appeal a felony. But there are other appeal options with longer deadlines, and if you had ineffective counsel at trial, a court might be willing to accept a late notice of appeal. For instance, if your trial lawyer did not tell you about the possibility of appealing, or told you they were appealing but then didn’t follow through, the appeals court may be willing to accept a late notice of appeal.

If the court grants your ineffective counsel motion during the trial, the court may appoint–or you may choose–a new lawyer, who may then request a new trial depending on how much damage to your case was done. If the court of appeals grants an appeal based on ineffective assistance of counsel, the court may vacate your conviction and grant a new trial. If the ineffective assistance of counsel occurred during sentencing, they may grant a new sentencing hearing.

A Los Angeles Criminal Appeals Lawyer Can Help

Many defendants fail to take advantage of the many rights afforded by the criminal justice process. If you feel that your lawyer has been falling short of their duties, or that for any other reason your trial did not unfold fairly, you may have a basis for filing an appeal. Even if you are no longer in a position to file an appeal, you may be able to take alternative post-conviction action such as filing a writ of habeas corpus.

To learn more about your options for overturning a California criminal conviction, call Spolin Law, P.C. today at (310) 424-5816.


Jury Instruction Errors & When to Appeal

Posted on Friday, October 25th, 2019 at 10:51 am    

Jury deliberations are meant to be private, but if the jurors are given improper instructions, they won’t be able to reach a fair verdict. If the judge tells the jury the wrong legal standards to apply or to consider inappropriate evidence, they may find someone guilty when they should have reached the opposite conclusion. As a result, jury instruction errors are a common reason for appealing criminal convictions.

A criminal conviction is not necessarily final. You can appeal a conviction, but the clock starts ticking as soon as your sentence is issued. In most cases, you have only 30 to 60 days to file an appeal, but as we’ll discuss, there are some exceptions. If you or a loved one has recently been convicted of a crime, an appeal may be the only way to avoid devastating criminal penalties.

For a consultation with a Los Angeles criminal appeals lawyer, call Spolin Law, P.C. at (310) 424-5816 today.

Bad Jury Instructions Can Ruin Your Chance at a Fair Trial

When a jury decides criminal cases, the judge’s role is essentially to control what happens in the courtroom. This means ensuring that the jury understands the legal standards, hears only admissible evidence, and prevent improper arguments from the prosecution or defense. When a judge fails in this role, you may file an appeal if you can show that the judge’s failures negatively affected the outcome of your case.

The most common reasons for appealing a criminal conviction are

  • improper introduction of evidence or testimony,
  • insufficient evidence to support a conviction,
  • and improper jury instructions.

The judge issues their jury instructions at the end of a trial, once the prosecution and defense have presented all of their evidence and arguments. The judge instructs the jury about the factual elements of each offense, what evidence they should consider for each issue, and how much evidence is needed to prove the elements.

If the jury receives improper instructions, it’s likely they will not reach the correct verdict. In this case, you can and should appeal. If you get convicted of a felony, you have 60 days to appeal. If the conviction was for a misdemeanor, you have only 30 days. But if you miss these deadlines, you may still be able to appeal if you can show that the trial attorney failed to perform their duties relating to the appeal, or that you constructively filed your appeal within the time limits.

California Makes Some Exceptions to the Appeal Deadline

California Penal Code section 1240.1 requires your defense lawyer to give you “advice as to whether arguably meritorious grounds exist for reversal or modification of the judgment on appeal.” This means that if your lawyer failed to tell you about the possibility of an appeal, you may still be able to file after the deadline. What‘s important is that you file as soon as possible after learning about your right to appeal.

Similarly, if you ask your lawyer to file an appeal, and they fail to do so in time, your right to file an appeal is generally preserved. Finally, in felony cases and contested probation revocation hearings, the judge is required by Rule 4.470 of the California Rules of Court to notify the defendant of the possibility of filing an appeal. The bottom line is that if you were never informed of your right to appeal, an appeals court will probably let you file late.

Another way to file an appeal after the deadline is to show a constructive filing. This usually happens if you try to file an appeal from prison by mail, and your appeal doesn’t make it to the court on time. But as long as you can show that you asked the jail or prison to mail your notice of appeal before the deadline, the court will consider that you constructively filed on time–even if your notice arrives late.

You may also benefit from the doctrine of constructive filing if you are representing yourself. The court will generally be more lenient in such cases. For example, if you send a notice of appeal on time, but to the wrong court, you may get extra time to send it to the correct court. Also, if a court officer or administrator gives you misleading information about your right to appeal and how to file, the court will take this into account and could grant you an extension.

If You Miss the Deadline, There May Be Appeal Alternatives

The appeals process is not the only way to overturn a criminal conviction. If you miss the appeals deadline, you can look into filing a writ of habeas corpus, which is a formal challenge to illegal detention. If successful, this legal action will have a similar effect to an appeal. But the difference is that there is a different and vague time limit on filing, and you can present new evidence when prosecuting your writ of habeas corpus.

Contact Spolin Law P.C.

Remember that your fight is not over when the judge hands down your sentence. At Spolin Law P.C., we will review the trial judge’s jury instructions for errors and be by your side at every step of the appeals process. Alternatively, if new evidence comes to light regarding your case, we may be able to file a habeas corpus writ on your behalf.

Call Spolin Law, P.C. today at (310) 424-5816 for more information about your options for overturning a California criminal conviction.


The Essentials of the Appellant’s Brief

Posted on Friday, October 18th, 2019 at 6:34 am    

After a criminal conviction, you don’t have to give up. You have the right to appeal the judgment, and if successful, you may get your conviction overturned. But, keep in mind that the appeals process is difficult, and many who attempt it on their own fail–or miss critical deadlines. An appeal is not a new trial. You don’t present new evidence, the judges don’t hear testimony, and they don’t retry the case. Instead, the judges are there only to decide if some legal error occurred and if that legal error resulted in your unjust conviction or sentence.

For these reasons, you should seek the assistance of an experienced appellate lawyer. Reviewing trial transcripts, searching for potential errors, researching legal technicalities, and writing a convincing brief are skills best gained through consistent appeals experience. At Spolin Law P.C., our track record of success in the appeals process speaks for itself.

Call us today at (310) 424-5816 to schedule your consultation.

An Appellant’s Brief Must Show Harm by Error

At your trial, you were the defendant. But when you appeal your case, you become the appellant. The state becomes the respondent.

As the appellant, you are responsible for showing that your conviction or sentencing was negatively affected by a legal error, either during or before your trial. Your appeals lawyer will write a brief on your behalf to convince the appeals court that your trial was unfair.

The appellant’s brief must be thoroughly researched, clearly written, and meticulously presented. It should give the appellate court an overview of the case, single out the issues that harmed you, and provide reasons why these issues amounted to legal error.

Common grounds for appealing a criminal conviction include:

  • The judge allowed the jury to hear evidence that it should not have
  • The judge wrongly denied a pretrial motion to suppress evidence or to dismiss the charges
  • The judge did not follow the sentencing guidelines or abused their discretion
  • The jury considered factors other than those presented in reaching their verdict
  • The jury convicted you even though the prosecution did not meet its burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the crime
  • The jury engaged in misconduct during the trial or its deliberations
  • The defense lawyer provided ineffective counsel
  • The prosecutor acted unethically, such as hiding exculpatory evidence from the defense

If one of these errors applies to your case, but you can’t prove that it was prejudicial to you, the court will consider it a harmless error and deny your appeal. For example, you can’t get your conviction overturned just because the judge wrongly allowed one small piece of evidence into the case. You would need to show that this evidence was crucial to the jury’s decision to find you guilty.

The state, or respondent, will file their own brief to attack the arguments your lawyer raised in the appellant brief. Your lawyer has the option of filing a reply brief to address the respondent’s arguments. After an oral argument, where your lawyer and a lawyer for the state will answer questions from the appeals judges, the court will hand down a decision.

If the court grants your appeal, they may reverse the conviction, order a new trial, or schedule a new sentencing hearing. If the appeals court decides against you, you may still appeal to the California Supreme Court. But only cases that present novel or significant issues of law generally make it onto the Supreme Court’s docket.

A Southern California Appeals Lawyer Can Help

If you or a loved one have been unfairly convicted of a crime, it is time to consult with an appeals lawyer. But time is of the essence because you generally cannot file an appeal more than 60 days after the judgment.

At Spolin Law P.C., we will swiftly review your case file to determine if your conviction should be appealed. To schedule your consultation, call us today at (310) 424-5816.


Steps to Filing an Appeal on Someone’s Behalf

Posted on Tuesday, October 8th, 2019 at 6:32 am    

When someone is convicted of a crime, it’s not necessarily the end of the road. You can file an appeal on their behalf. This is essentially asking a higher court to review the trial to ensure that no legal errors occurred. Although the process can take a long time–up to two years in some cases–you only have a short window to file a notice of appeal. For this reason, you should consult an appeals lawyer immediately after the trial court’s judgment is handed down.

At Spolin Law, P.C., we have helped many Californians challenge court rulings that would have resulted in lengthy prison sentences and crippling fines. Our experienced appeal lawyers know how to write effective appellate briefs and what it takes to advocate for the desired case outcome. If you or a loved one has been unfairly convicted of a crime, consider filing an appeal before it’s too late.

Call our California appeals attorneys today at (310) 424-5816 for a consultation.

How to Succeed in the Appeals Process

The hard truth is that few people succeed in having convictions or sentences overturned through the appeals process. Those who do succeed put every factor in their favor by hiring an experienced legal team and starting the process on time.

You will need a skilled attorney on your side to ensure that you properly navigate all of the following:

  • Filing a notice of appeal–For misdemeanors, the appeal must be filed with the Appellate Division of the Superior Court no more than 30 days after the final judgment is entered–which is the sentencing hearing in a criminal case. For felonies, you have up to 60 days to file a notice of appeal with the California Court of Appeal. If you are appealing a federal conviction, you have 14 days to file the notice with the United States Court of Appeal for the Ninth Circuit.
  • Request release on bail–Since the appeals process is so long; most appellants try to get released on bail while awaiting the end of the process. The court may decide to release you on your own recognizance or make you pay a bond. In either case, your ability to travel will be limited while out on bail. If the court considers you to be a threat to public safety, or if they think you might run away, they will not allow your release on bail.
  • Get the trial record–A strong appeal argument doesn’t present new evidence or a new angle on the case. It’s about showing that a legal error committed during the trial resulted in an unjust outcome. Your appeals lawyer must make all of their arguments based on the trial record, which includes all transcripts and motions from the trial proceedings. It’s also helpful to meet with the lawyer who represented the defendant at trial because they will have insight into the proceedings.
  • Isolate and research the appealable issues–Based on the review of the case record and discussions with the trial defense team, your appeals lawyer will determine which issues to raise on appeal. Once the issues are isolated, they will need to conduct thorough legal research to get the strongest authority behind their argument. They will also need to anticipate what arguments the state will make and figure out ways to counter them.
  • Write the appellate brief–Writing a strong appellate brief is as much a skill as it is an art. It must be clear and concise yet thorough enough to make a compelling and airtight argument. It should also anticipate and discredit the arguments the state might make in their brief. In addition to these substantial issues, the appellate brief must follow strict formatting requirements that cover everything from paper color to font size. After the state files the respondent brief, the appellate side has the option of filing a reply brief to rebut the state’s arguments.
  • Prepare for and attend the oral argument–Most judges make up their mind on the case when they read the briefs. So by the time the oral argument comes around, they already know how they are going to vote. But the appellant must use this opportunity to convince any potentially undecided judges to vote in their favor. The things that may sway a jury at trial do not work at oral argument, where the advocate must carefully present and answer questions from the judges about legal theory.

After the oral arguments, the judges will write an opinion that contains their ruling on the appeal and the reasoning behind it. If the appeal is granted, they may vacate your conviction, or order a new trial or sentencing hearing. If they decide against you, you can still file another appeal to a higher court of review–either the California or United States Supreme Court–but these courts only take on cases that present new or significant problems of law.

Get Help with the Appeals Process Today

For many people, filing an appeal is their last chance to avoid years or even life behind bars. At Spolin law, P.C., we don’t take this responsibility lightly. We do everything in our power to successfully lead our cases through the appeals process. If you or a loved one has been convicted of a crime, time is running out to file an appeal.

Call us today at (310) 424-5816 for your consultation.


Spolin Law Client Saved from Life Sentence; Staff Buys Client New Suit

Posted on Friday, September 27th, 2019 at 1:05 pm    

On Friday of last week a Spolin Law client won his right to freedom after months of advocacy by the firm.

The client had been in prison on a life sentence and would have most likely spent the rest of his life in prison. However, after Spolin Law filed, argued, and won a petition under new law SB 1437, Superior Court Judge Curtis B. Rappe removed the life sentence, resulting in the client’s impending release.

Because of the client’s unique circumstances, members of the Spolin Law team decided to pitch in and pay for a new suit so that the client finds it easier to land a steady job after release from prison. The client had been incarcerated for approximately 26 years before he hired Spolin Law to fight for his release, and during that time he did not have access to computers and other modern technology that has become common in the modern workplace. Various members of the Spolin Law team had interacted with the client and his fiancé over the course of the representation. The idea of assisting the client came from a strong desire to help him be successful in this new phase of his life; release from prison is not the “end” of his story.

Firm members who contributed to the $250 Men’s Warehouse gift card include: Dionne A. Parker (firm manager), Marti Wise (case manager), Aaron Spolin (attorney), Matthew Barhoma (attorney), Alison Case (firm assistant manager), and Dan DeMaria (head of legal research).

Aaron Spolin and Matthew Barhoma were the primary attorneys involved in the representation of the client, which included multiple written submissions, extensive argument, and a half-day hearing in which the judge heard testimony. The central issues where whether (1) the new law allowing for dismissal of the client’s primary charge was constitutional, and (2) whether the individual client showed “reckless indifference to human life” such as to disqualify him from relief. The prosecutor argued against the client at every step of the way and sought to keep him in prison with the life sentence. Mr. Spolin and Mr. Barhoma won on both issues (constitutional and individual) and successfully obtained the dismissal of the life sentence. To read one of the court filings that Mr. Spolin had drafted, click here: Court Filing – Spolin Law PC – Reply Brief and Memorandum – 8-15-2019 – Redacted.

The client, who was present at last Friday’s hearing, was emotional upon hearing Judge Rappe’s ruling. After the sentence was read, he turned to the multiple family members and friends in the audience, who appeared equally ecstatic that he will now have his life back.

For further questions or to contact the firm about your own legal matter, please call (310) 424-5816.


What Makes Evidence Inadmissible?

Posted on Wednesday, August 21st, 2019 at 6:29 am    

In the United States, strict rules govern what evidence can be used in a trial. These restrictions apply equally to prosecutors and to the defense, and much of their time is spent fighting over what constitutes inadmissible evidence or admissible evidence. The judge decides what evidence may be admitted. Suffice it to say, criminal cases are often won and lost based on these evidentiary issues. So it’s essential that you have a criminal defense lawyer who is knowledgeable about the law of evidence, and will be able to use these rules in your favor.

At Spolin Law P.C., one of the most successful defense strategies we employ is the suppression of the prosecutor’s evidence. After essential evidence has been removed from the case, the prosecutor may not be in a position to prove your guilt. In some cases, the judge will even agree to dismiss the charges before your trial even starts. If you’ve been charged with a crime, you should retain a lawyer as soon as possible.

To schedule a free consultation of your case, contact us today at (310) 424-5816.

A Prosecutor Cannot Use Evidence That Was Obtained in Violation of Your Rights

In a criminal proceeding, the admission of evidence is governed by the rules of evidence, just like in a civil trial. For example, hearsay, or out-of-court statements used to prove the truth of the matter asserted, is not admissible unless it meets one of the limited exceptions to this rule. But in a criminal proceeding, the most important rules on the admission of evidence come from the United States Constitution. A criminal defense attorney can ask the judge to suppress any evidence that was obtained in violation of your constitutional rights.

Your lawyer can make a motion to suppress the evidence in the following scenarios:

You were subjected to an unreasonable search.

The police need your consent or a warrant if they want to enter your home and search for evidence. The warrant requirement has exceptions under limited emergency circumstances, such as when the police believe someone is in danger inside your home, they have reason to believe evidence is being destroyed, or they are in hot pursuit of a suspect. If the police searched your home without your consent, a warrant, or an emergency justifying their warrantless entry, your lawyer could likely suppress any evidence they obtained during the search.

The police violated the plain sight rule.

When the police have a warrant for your arrest, they may enter your home by force and apprehend you. But this warrant does not necessarily allow them to search for evidence. When the warrant only authorizes an arrest, the police can only seize evidence that is in plain sight. They cannot open your closet or drawers to look for drugs or weapons, for example. But if drugs or weapons are clearly visible, this evidence may be seized and used against you.

The police pulled you over for no reason.

When you’re driving a car, the police cannot pull you over just because they have a hunch that you might be doing something illegal. They actually have to see you breaking the law. Or you, your car, or your license plate must match the description of someone they have reason to believe has broken the law. Under cross-examination, police officers are often unable to convincingly articulate the facts that gave them a good reason for pulling you over. In this case, the judge may order the suppression of all evidence obtained as a result of this unlawful traffic stop.

The police lacked probable cause to arrest you.

In order to lawfully arrest you, the police need to have probable cause to believe that you are guilty of a crime. Sometimes, the arresting officer is unable to convincingly or coherently explain to the court why they decided to arrest you. Or your lawyer can show that the officer’s reasons did not meet the normal threshold of probable cause. In this case, the judge may order the suppression of any evidence obtained as a result of your arrest.

Your confession was coerced.

When the police arrest you, or place you in a position in which a reasonable person would assume they are under arrest, they must inform you of your right to remain silent and your right to a lawyer. United States law prohibits the police from obtaining coerced confessions and statements from criminal suspects, and the Supreme Court has ruled that any confession you make without being aware of your rights is by nature coercive. So if the police question you without informing you of your rights, or threaten physical violence against you in order to obtain your confession, this evidence may be suppressed.

Contact Spolin Law, P.C. for Help Today

The sooner your criminal defense lawyer begins working on your case, the better. It’s important for you to have an experienced attorney by your side to object to the prosecution’s evidence early in the case, because if the motion to suppress is successful, you may be able to have the charges dismissed without going through the expense and hassle of a trial. And even if the court rules against you on the motion to suppress, the issue will be preserved for a possible appeal later on.

If you are facing criminal charges, call Spolin Law P.C. today at (310) 424-5816, or reach out online to schedule a free and confidential case evaluation.