The Law Office of John D. Forsyth - A Criminal Defense Practice
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RECENT CLIENT CASES

Contra Costa County Superior Court
Client is a 22 year old high school volleyball coach. He became romantically involved with a 17 year old young woman from another high school. After a year of dating with the knowledge of both parents, the relationship was reported to school officials who contacted the police. A female officer from the City of Lafayette Police Department interviewed the 17 year old for over 1 1/2 hours. During that interview the 17 year old initially would not state she had sex with the client during the relationship. After undue coercion by the officer (who called her a liar 31 times and threatened her with arrest and jail for lying to the police and perjury), the young woman admitted that she and the client had performed mutual masturbation with each other. The young woman was re-interviewed after the client's arrest by the same officer who ridiculed and berated her for not remembering exactly where and when the sexual contact had taken place. The District Attorney initially declined to file charges and had the young woman re-interviewed at a forensic interview center. Two months later the client was charged with 10 felony counts of sexual penetration of a person under 18 years of age. He faced jail time and sex registration for life. The defense focused on the investigating officer's coercive interviews of the young woman. The defense demanded discovery of the officer's training in regard to interviewing minor victims of sexual assault and the policies and procedures used by her agency regarding such interviews. The defense also demanded any records from the officer's personnel file for citizen complaints regarding coercive interrogations and interviews. On the day of the court hearing on the defense motions the case was settled for a misdemeanor charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and 100 hours of community service. NO FELONY SEX CRIME CONVICTION. NO SEX REGISTRATION. NO JAIL.

 

San Francisco Superior Court
Client was arrested for felony domestic violence causing bodily injury which is a strike. Client was also charged with felony domestic violence from a similar incident that had occurred the year before with the same woman. The previous incident had been charged the year before as misdemeanors and dropped by the district attorney when the woman refused to cooperate. California law allows domestic violence charges to be re-filed within 6 months of dismissal. The district attorney illegally re-filed the former charges as felonies because the 6 month time limit for dismissed charges had run as had the one year statute of limitations for misdemeanors. The case proceeded to preliminary exam where the charges from the previous incident were dismissed. Cross examination of the victim revealed that she had drank 6 shots of whiskey in a 45 minute period before starting a fight with the defendant. The victim also testified that the client had threatened to kill her while he strangled her. This was a fact she did not report on the night of the incident. Further cross examination revealed that the victim had filed for a civil restraining order and had stated under perjury that she had suffered injury and bruising to her neck that required medical attention for days after the incident. The victim had posted photos of herself on Facebook at a party days after the event. The photo showed her drink in hand with a low cut dress that revealed no bruising to her neck. Investigation of the victim revealed she had two prior DUI convictions and the night of the incident she went straight to a bar with the defendant after attending her drinker driver class. Investigation also uncovered the fact that the victim had provided false information to her attorney regarding her alcohol consumption for one of her DUI arrests. All of this information was made available to the district attorney prior to trial. As a result, the district attorney dropped all felony charges and settled the case for a single misdemeanor with no jail. FELONY STRIKES DISMISSED. NO JAIL.

 

Alameda County Superior Court
Client was arrested and charged with 2 counts of misdemeanor child molest. Client was facing sex registration for life. The incident occurred on a Southwest Airlines jet awaiting take off at the Oakland Airport. The client allegedly touched 2 children who were unaccompanied on the jet. The flight attendant pulled his hand away from one of the children and told him not to touch the children. An argument ensued and she called the Alameda County Sheriff at the airport. The sheriffs escorted him and the children from the jet and interviewed them. The sheriffs then called the children's father back to the airport and had him execute an illegal citizen's arrest. The defense moved to dismiss the case due the illegal citizen's arrest. California law empowers a citizen and a peace office to make arrests for misdemeanors that occur only in their presence. The motion was denied and the case proceeded to trial on a time not waived basis. The facts revealed that the defendant's acts consisted of merely patting the girl on the leg and tickling the boy under his chin. There was no evidence of a sexual motive or intent as required by law. On the first day of trial the district attorney settled the case for a misdemeanor battery, no jail time and probation. SEX CHARGES DISMISSED. NO SEX REGISTRATION. NO JAIL.

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San Francisco Superior Court
Client was arrested after traffic stop with 7 lbs of marijuana. Both he and his girlfriend were in possession of current medicinal cannabis cards. However, the law limits the amount of medicinal marijuana a person can possess or grow. The client was also part of a collective of designated caregivers and qualified patients. That allowed the client to transport and/or possess more marijuana as it was for purposes of use by the entire collective. This evidence was presented to the district attorney immediately. The district attorney declined to file any criminal charges. CHARGES NOT FILED. CASE DISMISSED.

 

San Francisco Superior Court
Client was arrested after a traffic stop with 1 lb. of marijuana. He did not have a current medicinal cannabis card. Client was a designated caregiver to an AIDs patient who did have a current card. The law now requires that designated caregivers have a greater role in the qualified patient's life beyond just supplying medicinal marijuana. Evidence of the relationship between the client and the patient was immediately presented to the district attorney. CHARGES WITHDRAWN. CASE DISMISSED. The Office of John D. Forsyth is assisting the client in the development of a medicinal marijuana collective that will be in compliance with the Compassionate Use Act.

 

Superior Court of San Francisco
Client was charged with felony assault and allegations of causing great bodily injury. This is a strike offense in California. Client is a high profile civil attorney from Chicago who was in San Francisco for vacation with his wife and daughter. After watching the USC/Stanford game at a local sports bar with the USC Alumni Association, the family tried to catch a cab back to their hotel. The client stepped into Shang Hai Kelly's saloon to use the restroom. He was immediately confronted by a drunk patron and his friends who began to verbally abuse and profanely ridicule him. This was all because he was wearing USC regalia. As he was leaving the bar the drunk patron and one of his friends confronted the client again and threatened to "kick his ass." The client grabbed a beer glass and smashed it into the face of one of the drunks and punched the other sending him to the floor. As he tried to leave the area, both he and his family were followed by the drunk and 4 of his friends. They assaulted the client in the street punching and kicking him in the head. The drunk suffered over 100 stitches to his face from the beer glass. The client suffered brain injury and cracked ribs. San Francisco Police reviewed the surveillance video from the bar and determined that the client had delivered the first blow. He was arrested and charged with strike felonies. The drunk retained a civil lawyer who threatened suit. The case proceeded to preliminary exam where an aggressive posture of self-defense was presented. The client's wife and daughter described how he was savagely beaten by 5 men in the street. The drunk patron denied doing any assault to the client and claimed he only said "Boo USC" at the bar. At the close of the preliminary exam the court found that this was a case of mutual combat and that the client had a right to defend himself. CASE DISMISSED.

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Superior Court of San Francisco
Client was charged with possession for sale of Oxycontin and being a felon in possession of a firearm. Client had 4 prior convictions that resulted in prison terms. Client faced certain time in state prison. The defense focused on the fact that the client had a legitimate prescription for 120 Oxycontin per month as he was confined to a wheelchair after being shot 6 times. The defense also focused on the search warrant that was served on the client's home in Marin County where a firearm, photos of the client using a firearm at a pistol range and over $13,000.00 in cash were seized. At the preliminary exam the investigating police officers contradicted each other in their testimony regarding an alleged "controlled buy" of one pill by an informant from the defendant. One officer testified that the informant was under observation from the time he met with the defendant until he met with the officers. The other officer testified that he could not say if the informant was kept under surveillance the entire time. Both officers again contradicted each other as to how a storage locker in the garage of defendant's home in Marin County was searched during service of the warrant. The defense filed a motion to dismiss the charges based upon a lack of jurisdiction over the firearm as no evidence was produced that linked the firearm with any criminal activity in San Francisco. In addition, a motion to suppress all of the evidence seized at the client's home due to lack of probable cause for the warrant and that the search of the storage locker had exceeded the scope of the warrant was filed. After review of the defense motions the district attorney dismissed all charges. CASE DISMISSED.

 

Superior Court of San Francisco
Client was charged with 2 counts of indecent exposure and one count of child endangerment after he was arrested near a high school while urinating in public. Client had a prior arrest and conviction involving indecent exposure 10 years before. The district attorney planned to introduce that evidence at trial. The client faced jail time and lifetime sex registration if convicted of indecent exposure. The defense focused on the 15 year old girl who called 911 and the investigation by the police of the incident. The district attorney refused to turn over training records from the officers regarding their training and experience interviewing child witnesses. The court ordered the production of the records and granted a defense motion for sanctions for failure to produce the records. The case proceeded to trial on a time not waived basis. On the first day of trial the district attorney dropped all sex charges against the client. The client pleaded to a misdemeanor with probation and no jail. SEX CHARGES DISMISSED. NO LIFETIME SEX REGISTRATION.

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Siskiyou County Superior Court
The People v. Suzanne Dorene Little
 

 

Superior Court of San Francisco
Client is a prominent Bay Area physician and was arrested for felony domestic violence and felony child endangerment. A conviction for any of these charges jeopardized his license to practice medicine. Client and his former girlfriend have a 5 y/o child that they share informal custody and care of. The girlfriend picked up the Client and the child from the Oakland Airport smelling of alcohol. When the Client insisted that he drive the car an argument ensued. The girlfriend struck the Client in the face. The Client did not report this to the police. 5 days later the boyfriend of the child's mother told police that the Client had physically abused the child and her mother. The mother confirmed this false allegation. The police arrested the Client and served him with a protective order that prevented him having contact with his child. The Office of John D. Forsyth immediately got to work and advised the district attorney of several facts including that the incident occurred in Alameda County and that the woman actually committed physical violence. The district attorney contacted the woman and confirmed this. The district attorney declined to file criminal charges as a result. CASE DISMISSED.

 

Superior Court of San Francisco
Client is a single mother of a 3 year old child. She was arrested and charged with misdemeanor domestic violence and child endangerment after she assaulted the father of the child. The criminal court issued a "stay away" order which prevented the client from contacting her child. The case proceeded on a time not waived basis directly to trial. The facts revealed that the father of the child had instigated an argument with the client. She refused and called 911 ordering him from her apartment. He then used a key he had to her apartment and entered. He took the 3 year old child from the apartment without permission. She assaulted him in her efforts to stop him. The father of the child told the police 3 different stories claiming the child ran out of the apartment into his arms. The defense investigation revealed he had assaulted the client on a previous occasion when she refused to argue with him. His statements to the police avoided all responsibility for his actions and blamed the client for her bad parenting skills. The 911 recording revealed she had ordered him from the apartment and demanded her key back. On the day of trial the district attorney dismissed the case. CASE DISMISSED. The client picked up her son that very day.

 

San Francisco Superior Court
Client is a 64 year old Viet Namese father and grandfather living in the Bay View District of San Francisco with his family. Police officers were conducting surveillance of a local parolee who was seen leaving the client's home. The parolee was searched and found to be in possession of 1 1/2 ounces of marijuana. The police then forcibly entered the client's home and conducted a warrantless search which turned up over 18 lbs. of marijuana, a shot gun, ammunition, a silencer and $42,000.00 in cash. Police then coerced the client and his 32 year old son to sign a consent form to allow the illegal search. The police took no regard that the neither the client nor his son could read English. While in custody the client falsely confessed to the marijuana being his. He did this in order to save his son from possible deportation from the U.S. The case proceeded on a time not waived basis. The Law Office of John D. Forsyth filed a motion to suppress all evidence and statements by the client due to the illegal warrantless search. On the day of the preliminary hearing, the court demanded the district attorney bring the Narcotics Division supervisor to an in chambers conference. The case was settled for a misdemeanor conviction for possession of marijuana for the client and his son's case was dismissed thereby avoiding an possible immigration consequences. FELONY CHARGES DISMISSED. NO JAIL.

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Superior Court of San Francisco
Client was charged with felony domestic violence, assault with force likely to cause injury with an enhancement alleging serious bodily injury. The client had a prior conviction for domestic violence. Client was facing a felony strike conviction and a likely jail sentence. The complaining witness, his wife, went to a local hospital and was treated for a broken arm that she reported to the emergency physician had been caused when the client struck her with a suitcase. Client was interviewed by the police and admitted that he had a fight with his wife and was forced to defend himself after she scratched his face. He admitted to grabbing her arms in that effort. He also admitted that the wife had engaged in a tug of war with him with a suitcase. He told the police his mother-in-law had treated him for the cuts to his face caused by the wife. The wife prevented the police from speaking with the mother-in-law and recanted her story. As the case proceeded to preliminary exam, the prosecution relented and settled the matter for a misdemeanor and no jail. NO FELONY STRIKE CONVICTION. NO JAIL.

 

Superior Court of San Francisco
Client owned and operated a local day spa. Three separate women claimed they were touched inappropriately on their breasts and genitalia during massages by the client. He was charged with three felony counts of sexual battery. After the arrest more women came forward claiming similar assaults. Client faced multiple sex charges, the possibility of consecutive state prison terms and sex registration for life. The trial strategy involved expert witnesses who could demonstrate that the techniques used by the client were appropriate and acceptable within the industry. Long time women clients were prepared to testify he had never touched them inappropriately during massages. All offers by the district attorney were rejected and the case proceeded to trial. On the second day of trial the case settled for a single misdemeanor charge of battery and probation. NO FELONY SEX CHARGE CONVICTION. NO SEX REGISTRATION. NO JAIL.

 

Solano County Superior Court
Client was charged in 2006 with attempted 1st degree murder and faced a sentence of 25 years to life. Client had attended a party with 3 other young men. The client and his companions were forcibly ejected from the party by two adults. One of the adults was shot at point blank range with a handgun. Initially neither the victim nor his family cooperated with police. The client was not identified during any of the photo line ups shown to witnesses in the weeks following the shooting although one of his companions was. The young woman who threw the party and her friends conducted an investigation on their own and later made identifications of the client almost 2 months after the shooting. The victim identified client at the preliminary exam as the one who shot him. In June of 2008 the Law Office of John D. Forsyth took over the case. The time waiver was withdrawn and the case was set for trial within 60 days. The investigation revealed that one of the two uncles involved with ejecting the client and his friends from the party knew that the client was not the shooter and had said as much to other witnesses. The uncle refused to cooperate with the police and the defense investigation. It was revealed that the young woman who threw the party lied to police about knowing one of the client’s companions that night. The defense theorized that this other young man was the actual shooter and both the victim and his family knew it. They had falsely accused the client in an effort to force him to give up his friend as the shooter because they feared retaliation. All offers from the court and district attorney were rejected and the case proceeded to trial. The victim and his family were subpoenaed by the defense. On the eve of trial the victim stated he was unsure who the actual shooter was. CASE DISMISSED.

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San Francisco Superior Court
Client was charged with misdemeanor assault on two police officers and resisting arrest. Client was with a group of people who had chartered a party bus to go to nightclubs in San Francisco as part of a birthday celebration. Outside of a club several drunken men tried to get on the bus and began assaulting two of the women in the party. Client and his friend attempted to help the women and were grabbed from behind by the cops beaten with batons. The police reports stated that the client had attacked and assaulted a police officer in the street and the other officers came in to assist subduing him. The defense investigative team immediately began interviewing witnesses who stated that 4 to 5 police officers beat the defendant so hard with their batons that you could hear the blows to his head from 40 feet away. Witnesses also stated that the client suffered a severe blow to his scalp, which was bleeding so profusely that blood had to be wiped from his eyes and face. Witnesses described how the client was “hog tied” by police and left bleeding on the sidewalk while a police officer rested his knee in the client’s back and smoked a cigarette. All of this was presented to the judge and prosecution. Client was granted diversion with CHARGES DISMISSED. The Law Office of John D. Forsyth, in conjunction with the Law Office of Paul J. Smoot, is currently pursuing a civil lawsuit against the San Francisco Police Department and the City of San Francisco.

 

San Francisco County Superior Court
Client was a Yurok tribal member from Humboldt County. He and two friends were arrested in San Francisco in possession of 6 pounds of marijuana. The client admitted that 3 pounds of the marijuana were his. He was charged with felony possession for sale and felony transportation of marijuana. Client is a legitimate medical marijuana user. Our office filed a motion challenging the recent changes to the medical marijuana law that only allows possession of ½ pound (8 oz) of marijuana by medical users. The basis for the motion is that the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 (Proposition 215) was put into law by the voters of California. Our state constitution does not allow the legislature to make changes to laws that are enacted by popular vote unless the law specifically allows for such. The case proceeded to preliminary exam where the court would have to rule on our motion. The district attorney reduced the charges to misdemeanor possession and a $100.00 fine. No restrictions were placed on the client’s ability to continue to use medical marijuana. FELONY CHARGES REDUCED TO MISDEMEANOR. NO JAIL. Special thanks to the office of William Panzer for his gracious help and support in this case.

Note: Exactly one week after this case was settled the California Court of Appeals ruled that the legislative changes to the Compassionate Use Act that limited medical marijuana users to only possessing 8 oz. of marijuana were unconstitutional.

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