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Former LAPD Detective on Trial for Murder Shows Why Suspects Should NEVER Talk to Cops

Former LAPD Detective Stephanie Lazarus is currently on trial for the 1986 homicide of her former boyfriend’s wife.  The story of how the cold case was cracked is a case-study in police investigation and interrogation.  The lesson to be learned, especially from the interrogation of Lazarus, is that interrogating officers often know answers to questions they pose to suspects and often have enough evidence for an arrest even before the questioning starts.  If this is the case, their goal becomes to secure a confession, not determine the truth and they will “lie, cheat, and steal” to get it … all of which is perfectly legal.

Watch an ABC News story on the case here.

More on “Strikes” in California

The law in California on “Strikes” can be very confusing, mainly because there are different types of “Strikes” and, depending on what type of “Strike” you have been charged with, the difference determines what percentage of your sentence you will actually serve.  In California, “Strikes” are categorized as either “Serious Felonies” or “Violent Felonies”.

“Serious Felonies” are defined by California Penal Code section 1192.7.  Depending on your prior criminal history, if you are convicted of a “Serious Felony,” you will have a “Strike” on your record, but you will serve only half of whatever sentence is imposed (commonly referred to as “half time”).

On the other hand, “Violent Felonies” are defined by California Penal Code section 667.5.  Convictions for “Violent Felonies” will also result in a “Strike” on your record, but also carry the added consequence of having to serve 85% of any sentence imposed.

If you have been charged with an offense that you believe may result in a “Strike” on your record, or if you have questions about prior convictions and whether or not you have a “Strike” prior, call us today for your free initial consultation.

Penal Code Section 245

One of the most common Penal Codes to be charged with is Penal Code section 245. As you can see below, it is extremely complex, depending on the specific subsection that one is charged with based upon the allegations in the police report. In general, section 245 can encompass everything from swinging a fist at someone (without actually striking them) to actually firing at someone (and even striking them) with a firearm. Making section 245 even more complex is the fact that under certain circumstances, convictions for violations of this section amount to "Strikes." Knowing what factors lead to "Strikes" and which ones do not requires the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney. All too often, Defendants enter pleas to violations of section 245 under the mistaken belief that they are avoiding a "Strike" when in actuality, because they have relied upon poor legal advice or their own misunderstanding of the law, they have been left with a "Strike" on their record for the rest of their lives.


California Penal Code Section 245

(a) (1) Any person who commits an assault upon the person of another with a deadly weapon or instrument other than a firearm or by any means of force likely to produce great bodily injury shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or four years, or in a county jail for not exceeding one year, or by a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or by both the fine and imprisonment.

(2) Any person who commits an assault upon the person of another with a firearm shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or four years, or in a county jail for not less than six months and not exceeding one year, or by both a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000) and imprisonment.

(3) Any person who commits an assault upon the person of another with a machine gun, as defined in Section 12200, or an assault weapon, as defined in Section 12276 or 12276.1, or a .50 BMG rifle, as defined in Section 12278, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for 4, 8, or 12 years.

(b) Any person who commits an assault upon the person of another with a semiautomatic firearm shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for three, six, or nine years.

(c) Any person who commits an assault with a deadly weapon or instrument, other than a firearm, or by any means likely to produce great bodily injury upon the person of a peace officer or firefighter, and who knows or reasonably should know that the victim is a peace officer or firefighter engaged in the performance of his or her duties, when the peace officer or firefighter is engaged in the performance of his or her duties, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for three, four, or five years.

(d) (1) Any person who commits an assault with a firearm upon the person of a peace officer or firefighter, and who knows or reasonably should know that the victim is a peace officer or firefighter engaged in the performance of his or her duties, when the peace officer or firefighter is engaged in the performance of his or her duties, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for four, six, or eight years.

(2) Any person who commits an assault upon the person of a peace officer or firefighter with a semiautomatic firearm and who knows or reasonably should know that the victim is a peace officer or firefighter engaged in the performance of his or her duties, when the peace officer or firefighter is engaged in the performance of his or her duties, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for five, seven, or nine years.

(3) Any person who commits an assault with a machine gun, as defined in Section 12200, or an assault weapon, as defined in Section 12276 or 12276.1, or a .50 BMG rifle, as defined in Section 12278, upon the person of a peace officer or firefighter, and who knows or reasonably should know that the victim is a peace officer or firefighter engaged in the performance of his or her duties, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for 6, 9, or 12 years.

(e) When a person is convicted of a violation of this section in a case involving use of a deadly weapon or instrument or firearm, and the weapon or instrument or firearm is owned by that person, the court shall order that the weapon or instrument or firearm be deemed a nuisance, and it shall be confiscated and disposed of in the manner provided by Section 12028.

(f) As used in this section, “peace officer” refers to any person designated as a peace officer in Chapter 4.5 (commencing with Section 830) of Title 3 of Part 2.

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