Lawyer Peter M. Liss has been practicing law for over 35 years. Over that long career, he has defended clients in high-profile cases featured by many top media outlets. He has also been contacted by the media as a source for numerous news stories when reporters need the expert opinion of a leading attorney in Vista. Here are a few news stories where he has been consulted and quoted as an expert on the justice system in California:
Man Seeks Answers About Random $250,000 Payment From Google
When a man from Omaha discovered that Google inexplicably deposited a quarter of a million dollars into his bank, Newsweek reported on the process he undertook to notify the web giant and return the money. The publication referenced a blog post from Mr. Liss’ website regarding bank errors, explaining, “It is illegal to knowingly keep money that was accidentally deposited into your account. Spending that money is considered a form of theft.”
How Much Does a DUI Cost?
DUIs are notoriously expensive and will change your life dramatically in many ways. When reporter Geoff Williams wanted to know just how much the crime could end up costing offenders, he contacted many attorneys around the country, including Peter Liss, to get an idea of the cost of drunk driving charges across the US.
Mr. Liss informed him that the basic fine for a DUI in San Diego is $2,133, but “some defendants have to install an ignition interlock device in their car,” which will cost an additional $100-$150 to install, plus another $75 to maintain. Felony offenders may also be required to wear a SCRAM alcohol ankle monitor for anywhere from 6 months to 3 years, which can cost another $500 per month.
These costs are a good reminder of how valuable a skilled DUI lawyer can be when fighting these serious charges.
County Grand Jury Issues Report on Vista Jail Conditions
In 2019, the San Diego County Grand Jury released a report stating that conditions at the Vista jail are subpar and that inmates should not be incarcerated in the facility for more than a year. While the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department defended the jail, stating the facilities more than met inmates’ basic needs, Peter Liss disagreed.
With an office right across the street from the jail and the courthouse, Mr. Liss was a logical choice for someone with a unique insight into the jail’s effects on inmates. But he went beyond just condemning the jail’s condition and argued that the conditions at the Vista jail are only a small part of broader problems with the state’s justice system.
“There are two issues. We incarcerate too many people, and we’re unwilling to pay for the costs of incarceration that constitutionally requires to treat inmates in a safe and humane manner,” said Mr. Liss. “The grand jury report is really a Band-Aid that doesn’t really address the real issue, which is that the United States incarcerates more people than any western democracy. Having a jail with more open space and air really doesn’t fundamentally change the problem.”
“If you’re going to incarcerate the number of people that you do, you have to be willing to spend the money,” he said. “Everyone knows it’s expensive to incarcerate somebody. And then you add to it that the Grand Jury says that one-third of the prisoners have mental health problems, which then requires medical professionals, and so now you have all these people who are incarcerated on top of the costs of having medical and psychological care.”
San Diego county is finally starting to acknowledge these problems, which is why they are increasingly turning to diversion programs, probation, and alternate sentencing such as community service and ankle monitors to keep more people out of jail and prison.
District Attorney Taking More Cash and Assets from Suspects
Civil asset forfeiture is a legal practice that allows the police to seize the property of someone accused of a crime if they believe the items may be associated with the crime, meaning it either was used for the purposes of doing the crime or is suspected to be purchased with illicit funds earned through the committing of crimes. When the San Diego Union Tribune wrote about the District Attorney’s office using the process to seize property seven times as much in 2017 as they did just five years before that, they contacted Peter Liss as he was representing a client who had over $40,000 taken by the government.
“I can’t read their minds, or speak to why they are doing it,” he said. “Part of it is they really see these defendants as having ill-gotten gains.” The paper added that while Mr. Liss was able to get the money back after providing the court with a declaration from the Pauma Band of Mission Indians stating that it was part of the woman’s tribal distribution, the government still kept the 2009 Mercedes Benz the woman was pulled over in.
“Just because somebody is accused of a crime doesn’t mean they should lose their property that’s unrelated to their crime,” said Mr. Liss.
Arrestees in Murrieta Protest Fight ‘Lynching’ Charges
California’s “lynching laws” (since renamed “taking a person from police custody”) were originally written to protect those in police custody from being captured by a mob wishing to exert their own justice on the suspect. Unfortunately, hot the law was written has allowed them to be used against protesters trying to condemn government injustices.
In 2014, protesters fighting the deportation of Central Americans detained trying to enter Texas were arrested and charged with lynching, a felony crime. While he was not involved in the case, The Desert Sun contacted Peter M. Liss, who commented that while he was familiar with the definition of the law, “I’ve never even seen a lynching case. It’s unheard of.” He went on to state that usually, protesters are only charged with misdemeanors such as unlawful assembly or rioting.
From Deputy to Undercover Teen Druggie
When the Union Tribune wrote of an adult police deputy posing as a high school student to investigate drug sales in 2013, they contacted Peter Liss to learn how a defense attorney might see the situation. Mr. Liss explained that these types of sting operations are troubling as it is “like shooting fish in a barrel. You are dealing with an age group that’s responsive to peer pressure; they’re naive, vulnerable.” He continued, “If you act like their friend, which these undercover cops do, over time, I think you can persuade nearly any kid to provide you with a small amount of drugs.”
The Danielle van Dam Trial: Trial Winding Down; Closing Statements Maybe This Week
Defense attorneys in 2003’s famous Danielle van Dam trial tried to claim that child pornography on defendant David Westerfield’s computer was actually downloaded by his son, Neal. When Neal testified that the materials were his father’s, the Union Tribune questioned Peter Liss about the testimony. Liss saw the situation the way most residents did, noting, “This is a young man who clearly cares about his dad and has a good relationship with him, so he has no reason to say anything bad. He was just truthful.”
While this article is no longer live on the Union Tribune’s website, a copy of the article can be found on this page.
State Marks 25th Anniversary of ‘Key’ in Victims’ Rights
Peter Liss has been a valuable source to the media for over 20 years. In 2001, California celebrated the 25th anniversary of the decision to allow courts to use “Victim-Impact Statements” when determining how to sentence a convicted individual. While crime victim rights advocates were happy to celebrate the anniversary, lawyers quickly pointed out that the law resulted in some people receiving a much more severe sentence than was warranted.
The Union Tribune contacted Peter Liss to hear what someone on the defendant’s rights side of the debate believed. He explained, “I think what’s happened is the pendulum has swung. It used to be the court didn’t take into account enough the victim’s loss and what the victim suffered. I think the problem now is the pendulum has swung back the other way, and unfortunately, in court, all we hear about is the victims’ rights. The defendant’s constitutional rights get short shrift in the process now.”
If you have been charged with a crime, remember that your choice of lawyer can dramatically impact your case. Peter M. Liss is a respected legal authority with the reputation and experience necessary to help defendants facing all nature of charges. When you are arrested, please call (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024 as soon as possible to schedule a free initial consultation.