LAPD Officers Charged With Falsifying Gang Records Could Disrupt Over 750 Criminal Cases

by Ambrosio Rodriguez | Aug 12, 2020 | False Accusations

According to reports by CBS Los Angeles, allegations of officers falsifying gang records could impact more than 750 criminal cases. Hundreds of cases are currently under review by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office. The outcomes in cases involving the three police officers are not subject to review.

Police Officers Accused of Criminal Conduct

Three officers with the LAPD’s Metropolitan Division were arrested in July. The charges include numerous counts of preparing false documentary evidence and filing false police reports. They also face one charge each of conspiracy to obstruct justice.

The officers were identified as Nicolas Martinez, Michael Coblentz, and Braxton Shaw. Allegedly, the police officers misidentified individuals as gang members and included false information on field interview cards.

The information on the cards was used to incorrectly enter individuals into California’s gang database, according to prosecutors. Prosecutors use information regarding gang associations to seek harsher sentences.

One of the officers was relieved from duty and is awaiting an administrative tribunal. The other two officers are assigned to home duty.

Officer Shaw faces the most time in prison if convicted. He could serve up to 31 years and eight months if convicted on all counts. He faces 52 counts in all.

Coblentz faces 13 counts and could spend up to seven years and eight months in prison if convicted. Martinez is charged with five counts and faces up to four years and four months in prison.

Hundreds of Convictions Could Be Subject to Review

When a police officer is convicted of falsifying information, any case that the officer worked on could be subject to review. The L.A. Times found during a review of the cases handled by the three officers that there were numerous felony cases, including homicides, that dated back as far as 2002.

District Attorney Jackie Lacey confirmed that her office had sent letters to more than 750 defendants that could be impacted. She has also requested that prosecutors attempt to corroborate any information contained in the field interview cards with other evidence.

The problem could be worse. The LAPD confirmed that 21 other police officers are under investigation related to field interview cards. If that is the case, thousands of convictions could be subject to being overturned.

What Should People Do if They Receive a Letter From the District Attorney?

If you receive a letter from the district attorney regarding your conviction, contact a criminal defense lawyer immediately. Depending on the outcome of your case, it may be worth filing a petition with the court to have your conviction overturned. Some defendants may still be serving prison sentences, while other defendants could be on probation.

Even if you served your time, you might be able to have the conviction removed if it is overturned. Clearing your criminal record could result in having your legal rights reinstated. Without a criminal record, you could be free to pursue other job opportunities.

Hiring a Criminal Defense Lawyer to Handle Your Case

Police officers are not perfect. They make errors and commit wrongdoing. In some cases, their acts are intentional because they want to obtain an arrest.

Falsifying evidence and documentation can lead to a wrongful conviction. Whether you are facing allegations of sex crimes, drug crimes, theft crimes, or a violent crime, you can benefit from talking to a criminal defense attorney.

All criminal charges are serious. Los Angeles prosecutors seek the maximum penalties for criminal convictions. A conviction for a criminal charge could result in a variety of punishments, including:

  • Fines
  • Incarceration
  • Probation
  • Home detention
  • Alcohol or drug treatment
  • Restitution
  • Registered sex offender
  • Loss of driving privileges
  • Ignition interlock system
  • Community service

In addition, you could lose some of your rights for a felony conviction, such as your gun rights and voting rights.

Whether you are under investigation for a white collar crime or you are charged with theft, talking to the police is a mistake. You have the right to legal counsel. Do not give up your right.

Police officers gather evidence and information. The more you talk to a police officer, the more evidence you give the officer that can be used against you. Do not give in to the need to explain yourself to “get out of an arrest” because it will always backfire.

Instead, exercise your right to remain silent except for asking for an attorney. Your lawyer is trained and skilled in handling the police and prosecutors. Having someone on your side fighting for your rights gives you the best chance of avoiding a conviction or the most severe penalties for the charges you face.

To learn more, call our Los Angeles criminal defense law firm at 213-995-6767 or visit our contact us page to send us an email.