Attorney Peter M. Liss has over 35 years of 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.
Landscaping Company Accused of Insurance Fraud
The owners of an Escondido landscaping company have been accused of underreporting payroll to reduce their workers’ compensation insurance premiums. The California Department of Insurance has alleged that the company performed this crime multiple times between 2014 and 2021. The owners have both been charged with five counts of insurance fraud and could be sentenced to up to 9 years in prison if found guilty. Peter Liss is representing one of the owners, while his friend and fellow attorney, Joni Eisenstien, represents another.
This story is ongoing but has already been covered in The San Diego Union-Tribune.
Father Charged with DUI-Related Vehicular Homicide
When a father 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 convinced 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 had 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 of 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, secured 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 that 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 on probation. She was also ordered to pay back the money at a rate of $250 per month and attend credit counseling classes.
Mentally-Disturbed Man Arrested After Attempting to Rob Gas Station
When a man wearing a ski mask pulled out a 10-inch knife and attempted to rob a gas station before abandoning the attempt altogether and driving home, his family hired Peter Liss to represent their son. Mr. Liss underscored the young man’s severe mental health needs in his defense of the client, pointing out that he needed nearly daily treatment for his condition. “It seems pretty clear that this is really the outgrowth of a mental health issue,’’ said Mr. Liss.
After he convinced his client to plead guilty, Mr. Liss’ mental-health-related defense was effective, and the client was given probation with no jail time.
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 had happened, he immediately exited the car and tried 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 Peter Liss’s help, the driver pleaded 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.
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 riding 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 how 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 Resulting in the 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 Marine husband 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 deal allowed the defendant to serve on a firefighting crew while in prison.
Man Wrapped Up in Massive Foreclosure Scam
In 2008, Peter Liss 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 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 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 scam’s ringleader. “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.
Financial Planner Accused of Scamming Elderly Couple
Handling high-profile cases is nothing new for Mr. Liss, who, back in 1991, represented a financial planner charged with embezzling $200,000 from an elderly couple. While the Deputy District Attorney was pushing to have the defendant sentenced to four years in prison, Mr. Liss was able to secure a plea bargain that resulted in his client only serving two years. On top of this, the judge wanted the defendant to pay $200,000 in restitution, but Mr. Liss reminded him of a law that only allowed those in prison to pay $10,000 in fines —so the judge opted to waive any fines and ordered the restitution to be handled in civil court instead.
The Los Angeles Times covered this case.
If you have been charged with a crime, whether or not it would be deemed newsworthy, you want the best defense available. Peter M. Liss guarantees 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.