Attorney Peter M. Liss has over 35 years experience, an excellent reputation with others in the legal industry, high client satisfaction rankings, and is even a reputable source of legal knowledge for local reporters, which is why it’s no surprise that he has happened to land quite a few high-profile cases throughout his career. Many of these cases have ended up in the local newspapers and are a testimony to his skills, dedication, and the impressive results he gets for his clients.
Father Charged with DUI-Related Vehicular Homicide
When a father who was driving under the influence of alcohol killed his adult son in a car crash, the prosecutor filed DUI-related vehicular homicide charges and sought a 10 year prison sentence -the maximum possible penalty for the crime. The driver had a blood alcohol level of 0.20% and tested positive for marijuana use as well. Workers at the casino where the defendant and his son drove from urged the driver not to take the wheel, but he ignored them.
Despite the prosecution’s attempts to send the driver to prison for a full decade, Mr. Liss was able to convince the judge that the grieving father, who had no previous criminal record, was already sufficiently remorseful after losing his son. By the time of the sentencing, the defendant already spent months in substance abuse programs. The judge sentenced the driver to one year of jail and five years of probation -a far cry from the 10 years of hard time sought by prosecutors.
This case was covered by the San Diego Union Tribune.
Woman Murdered at Pala Indian Reservation Shot 10 Times
In 2017, Mr. Liss defended a client accused of shooting a woman a total of 10 times in a parking lot on the Pala Indian Reservation. His client already had a strike on his record and he was accused off first-degree murder, which means he could have easily been sentenced to life imprisonment. Given the circumstances, it was impressive that Peter Liss and his co-counsel Chris Whelton were able to secure a plea bargain for their client that left him serving 27 years, with the possibility of parole after 21 years, for voluntary manslaughter with a gun.
This case was covered by NBC 7 San Diego.
Youth Sports Treasurer Guilty of Embezzling $114,000
A middle school math teacher volunteered to handle the books for a local Pop Warner league. At some point, she started writing checks to herself to pay off her personal debt, intending to pay the money back, but eventually ended up taking so much she found herself unable to reimburse the league. “Ms. Owens was so overburdened with her own economic crisis that she did not think through what she was doing,” Mr. Liss said. “She lost everything she had as a result.”
With the help of Peter Liss, she ended up pleading guilty to five felony charges, including embezzlement, identity theft and grand theft -meaning she easily could have spent more than a decade in prison. She ended up serving one year in jail and five years in probation. She was also ordered to pay back the money at a rate of $250 per month and attend credit counseling classes.
This case was covered by the San Diego Union Tribune and Baltimore Sun, both of which quoted Mr. Liss extensively.
Driver Charged With Fatally Hitting A Toddler
In 2014, Peter Liss was hired in a very high profile case involving a man accused of hitting and killing a three year-old boy with his car. The driver was exiting a driveway and hit and killed the boy. Once the driver realized what happened, he immediately exited the car and began trying to help.
While police initially arrested the driver on suspicion of drunk driving, a preliminary alcohol screening (the only test performed in this case) showed the defendant had a BAC of .02%, far below the legal limit of .08%.
He was still charged with vehicular manslaughter, driving without a valid license and providing officers with false identification. The charges could have carried a two and a half year jail sentence. With the help of Peter Liss, the driver plead guilty to misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter and was only sentenced to serve one year in jail -less than half of the sentence he could have potentially served.
This case was covered twice by Fox 5 San Diego, as well as KUSI, The Chicago Tribune, and The Hartford Courant.
Man Arrested After Filming Border Patrol Violence
One of Mr. Liss’ clients, was on probation through an alternative sentencing program when a vehicle he was in was pulled over by the Border Patrol. Two undocumented workers were in the car and while one escaped, the other was violently arrested. He filmed the officers (which is legal under state law) and later sent the footage to ABC 10 News.
Only hours after the footage aired on the news, Border Patrol agents came to his house and demanded his cell phone, which he handed over immediately. Agents then insisted he help them find the undocumented worker that got away, but he refused. Soon after, he was arrested.
Originally, the arresting officer, claimed Mr. Liss’ client was under arrest for failing to cooperate with a police investigation. But the office later changed his story, claiming the arrest was related to the defendant’s failure to check in with his case worker after interacting with the Border Patrol -a requirement of the probation program. Peter Liss argued the officer changed his story because Guzman did not violate any laws by refusing to turn over the second undocumented worker, explaining “you have no obligation, whether you’re on probation or not, to basically help law enforcement do its job.”
The Deputy District Attorney claimed the defendant should be put back on probation to prevent a public safety issue. But both the ACLU and Peter Liss argued that the arrest was retaliation for releasing the video to the press. On top of that, phone records showed that he did try to contact his caseworker multiple times, although he admitted that he waited a little longer than he should have to make the calls.
In the end, the judge sided with Mr. Liss, explaining that not only did the defendant contact his case worker, but that he was required to be presented with a written notice detailing the reasons he was in violation of the program rules and his appellate rights. The program workers failed to give the defendant these documents and thus violated the law.
This story was featured on The Press Enterprise.
DUI Hit and Run Accident Resulting in Severe Injury of a Marine
In 2011, an intoxicated woman involved in an accident with a US Marine fled the scene before authorities arrived. The woman, who had a BAC of .37, was scared, confused and left the scene not because she was avoiding responsibly, but because she wanted to tell her husband, also a Marine, what happened before he left for work.
While the defendant faced up to nine years in prison Peter Liss helped her secure a plea bargain for half of that sentence. Additionally, the bargain allowed the defendant to serve on a firefighting crew while in prison.
The story was covered by multiple outlets, including The Daily Press, Union Tribune and in multiple stories by CBS.
Massive Foreclosure Scam
Handling high profile cases is nothing new for Mr. Liss, who all the way back in 2008, was hired to defend a man accused of participating in a major foreclosure scam. His client was a real estate agent, who helped enroll people who were likely to face home foreclosure in a “land grant” program that required them to sign the deed over to a private company and then continue to rent their own homes. The program was actually a scam that led over 400 desperate homeowners to pay consulting fees for a non-existent service that did nothing to help them keep their homes.
Mr. Liss argued that his client actually believed in the program he was promoting and was conned by the ringleader of the scam. “He had a very unsophisticated understanding of the program,” Liss said of his client, “I don’t think that he intended on scamming anyone.”
As a result of Mr. Liss’ defense strategy, the client ended up pleading guilty and serving two years behind bars, when he could have been sentenced to decades in prison. To put things in perspective, the ringleader of the scam, who had a different attorney, was sentenced to 46 years of prison.
This story was covered twice by the San Diego Union Tribune as well as by the Voice of San Diego.
If you have been charged with a crime, whether or not it is something that would be deemed newsworthy, you want the best defense available. Peter M. Liss guarantees all of his clients top quality representation at affordable rates and the benefit of his more than 35 years of experience. If you have been accused of any crime, please call (760) 643-4050.