A Griffin Law Office client was re-entering the country at the U.S./Mexico border when he was pulled into the secondary search checkpoint. Unknown to the client, there was a felony warrant for his arrest. The case involved a string of burglaries that had occurred at various San Diego Marshall’s and TJ Maxx department stores.
The client was arrested for allegedly violating:
- Penal Code § 487(a) – Grand theft of personal property over $950 (Felony)
- Penal Code § 459 – Burglary (Felony)
- Penal Code § 459.5 – Shoplifting (Misdemeanor)
The client came to the Griffin Law Office and immediately expressed his innocence. The client was distraught, confused, and had no idea why law enforcement suspected him. On the dates charged, he was at work three hours away from the burglaries and had timesheets to prove it. The client had no prior criminal history.
The client went on to explain that after being arrested and bailing out, he received a Facebook message from one of the co-defendant’s girlfriends. The client was one of four co-defendants in this case. The client’s only connection to the offense was that he went to high school (10+ years ago) with one of the co-defendants, and the two were friends on Facebook. The co-defendant’s girlfriend knew our client wasn’t involved and was willing to help us prove his innocence.
After reviewing the discovery and video surveillance, it was overwhelmingly clear that the client was misidentified and 100% innocent. Law enforcement identified the client by comparing his Facebook profile photos with a fuzzy surveillance video. At the first court appearance, the law office immediately informed the prosecutor of the client’s innocence and encouraged them to take a closer look at the evidence, specifically the surveillance video. The prosecutor was not convinced, and the Firm set the case for Prelim.
The office began the investigation with a thorough timeline of the client’s work history at or near the time of the alleged offense dates. They sent out subpoenas for the client’s time records from every employer for that year. Based on conversations with the client, they knew these time records would support his alibi.
After this, they interviewed witnesses. First, the office conducted an interview with the co-defendant’s girlfriend, who initially contacted the client via Facebook. She informed the office that her boyfriend recently got out of custody from this case. She helped put them in contact with him. Next, they interviewed her boyfriend, the client’s co-defendant, who told them that he had no idea how law enforcement got the client’s name. He suspected it was a different co-defendant who committed the string of burglaries and was currently awaiting sentencing.
The co-defendant told them it was only three men who participated in the thefts, and there was never a fourth (the client was the alleged fourth suspect). The co-defendant said he hadn’t had any contact with the client since high school, and he felt terrible that he was implicated in this case.
The co-defendant and his girlfriend provided the Griffin Law Office with statements explaining their involvement in the thefts and that the client was never present. The office turned over the statements to the prosecution. This led the prosecution to investigate further and re-interview several witnesses present on the day of the thefts. Upon re-interviewing, all witnesses said that they never saw the client during the alleged incidents.
Shortly after, the prosecutor dismissed the case against the client who was overjoyed that the evidence presented was enough to dismiss the case before the preliminary examination.