In a case that garnered massive nation media attention, my client was charged in ten counts of Conspiracy to Commit Murder.  The prosecution relied on a rarely used statute to charge my client with Murder Conspiracies involving multiple alleged gang shootings in South East San Diego that occurred in 2014.

The Situation: The prosecution charged my client in ten counts of Conspiracy to Commit Murder for crimes that, even the prosecution admits, he did not participate in or even know about.

The District Attorney filed charges against 14 known gang members and associates alleging Conspiracy to Commit Murder under a rarely charged statute, California Penal Code § 182.5.  This statute is known as Gang Conspiracy.  Under this statute, the prosecution alleged that gang members can be held responsible for the crimes of other gang members because the gang benefits from gang crimes in general.  The prosecution argued that when a gang member commits a crime, all the other gang members benefit in the form of improving their reputation and respect from other gang members.

On this theory, my client was charged with 10 counts of Conspiracy to Commit Murder on the theory that he benefited from a series of gang shootings that occurred in 2013.  There was no dispute that the prosecution had no evidence that my client was involved in or even knew about these shootings.

The Result: The court was not having it and dismissed all counts.

After a lengthy preliminary examination (over two weeks) and a bind over order from the judge, I filed a Motion to Dismiss under Penal Code § 995.  Under Penal Code § 995, when a judge binds over a case on insufficient evidence another judge can overrule that order and dismiss the case.  That is what happened here.

When the first judge bound the case over for trial, I swiftly filed a motion to dismiss under Penal Code § 995.  The reviewing judge heard our arguments that this interpretation of Conspiracy law was unconstitutional for violation of freedom of speech, equal protection, due process and various other constitutional concerns.  The reviewing judge agreed and dismissed all of these counts.

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