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I am going to interrupt my series of blogs regarding Driving Under the Influence to go over a case study regarding lookout or accomplice liability.  This is based upon a case that is already closed.  All cases are different and should be thorougly reviewed by an Attorney.  As a former probation officer, deputy district attorney and a criminal defense attorney for 14 years, I know the ins and outs of the system, and can properly discuss a complex case. 

The case I will be discussing is a Gang Case that I handled some years ago.  Many kids that  I have represented (this kid was 16) do not understand the complexities of the law. Many have been through the Juvenile Justice system where cases are handles much differently and many times more lenient. 



My client was a minor with four other minors that were members of the same gang.  My client was not armed, and in fact had no history regarding violence and had only been arrested once on a minor charge that was handled informally through the Juvenile Court system. 

He and several friends were walking around one of the minors was armed.  They came across a jewelry store that was open.  One of the minor decided to rob the store.  There was not any evidence of any of the minors making any detailed plans to rob the store and there was only one witness from outside the store.

The armed minor went in and proceeded to attempt to rob the store.  The owner of the store was armed and after some struggle the owner of the store was robbed and shot.

The minors did not get away with any money or property and my client did not enter the store. The minors were later caught and admitted to there respective involvement in the robbery.

Unfortunately before the parents of my minor hired me they had recieved bad legal advice that my clients liability was limited and he should not take any deals from the District Attorney.  I will explain below.

Under the 10-20-Life statute a felon that commits a crime while armed and causing great bodily injury can be sentenced to life in prison.

The person must personally be armed and personally inflict great bodily injury. 

However, the only exception to this rule is if the person is a gang member acting with specific intent to promote further or assist in criminal conduct by gang members.

If the prosecution proves that the person was a acting with that intent even as a lookout all persons involved are subject to the statute and could be sentenced to life for the great bodily injury.

back to our situation my client admitted that he was probably acting as a lookout during police questioning.  that means he was acting with specific intent to promote further or assist in criminal conduct by gang members, this makes him subject to the sentencing guidelines.  Therefore, he was given bad legal advice by an Attorney that did not understand the complexities of gang statutes that they were dealing with. An inexperienced Attorney that did not have the know how to properly advise the cilent.  The offer from the prosecution was generous considering his exposure.  These are the types of problems that can arise in gang cases and accomplice liability cases.  Many times they are more complex than they look on there face. 

Many times a gang detective will be called at both preliminary hearing and trial.  Unfortunately, these gang detectives are given much leeway as to there testimony and often are used by the prosecution to fill in the blanks so to speak in an otherwise weak case.

Next blog post I will discuss reducing felony cases to misdemeanors per 17b and the difference between that and reducing per prop 47. If you have any questions please call 5594411418.  

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Gerald Schwab, Jr.


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Law Office of Gerald Schwab, Jr.
Fresno Criminal Defense Attorney
5588 N Palm Ave,
Fresno, CA 93704
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Phone: 559.441.1418