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Home Articles California Death Penalty

The Death Penalty and California's Justice System

For decades now, the death penalty has been one of the most controversial elements of the criminal justice system. Not just here in California, but across the country. There have been numerous court cases questioning its constitutionality, and it has been on and off the books more than once. As it stands, no one has been executed in this state since 2006.

California's Death Penalty System

Right now the issue is back in the courts, after a federal court found California's death penalty system unconstitutional. Judge Cormac J. Carney, cited the long terms inmates serve on death row and the fact that out of more than 900 people sentenced to death since 1976, only 13 have been executed. The state is currently appealing the ruling and the matter could eventually be decided by the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, the state appeals court recently upheld the death sentence for a man convicted of killing a woman during a robbery in San Pedro. You've probably also heard about the murder charges filed against Robert Durst in Los Angeles. Durst could face the death penalty because the charges include the special circumstances of using a gun and lying in wait. What these cases have in common is that they involve special circumstances that mean the death penalty could be imposed if they are convicted.

Murder Under Multiple Special Circumstances

California's legal code allows for the death penalty for the crimes of treason, train-wrecking that causes a death, and murder under multiple special circumstances: lying in wait, murdering a police officer, killing for financial gain, belonging to a gang, etc. Now this could change if a higher court upholds Judge Carney's ruling, but for the time being there are still defendants facing the possibility of being put on death row.

No matter what your personal view of the death penalty is, everyone can agree that someone who has been accused of a serious crime like murder needs to have legal representation in court. I've worked as an OC criminal defense attorney in courthouses all over Southern California since 1999. In that time, I've taken on all kinds of criminal cases, from misdemeanor theft to capital murder. No matter how hopeless a case might seem, I will always fight to ensure that my clients' rights are protected.

Accused of a Crime in Orange County?

I know how hard it is to be accused of a crime. There's a social stigma attached to it, and a lot of people are of the opinion that if someone was arrested or went to court then they must have done something wrong. But the truth of the matter is that the burden of proof falls on the prosecution. In my time practicing law, I've helped hundreds of clients to have the charges against them reduced or dismissed. I've worked on cases in cities like Westminster, Long Beach, Huntington Beach, Laguna Hills, and Anaheim Hills, and I've never given up on a client.

In addition to the beautiful weather and scenery, one of the best parts of working in Orange County is being so close to people from all over the world. You can drive down Westminster Avenue and see billboards in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese, and Korean. At my firm, we are proud to offer foreign language assistance to our clients as needed.

Whether you're facing a felony or a misdemeanor, don't risk a conviction. Act quickly to redeem your reputation and protect your record by consulting with our Orange County criminal defense lawyer. Call today to schedule your free consultation.

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“It was strongly recommended that I call federal defense attorney Michael L. Guisti. He had several investigators look at records and such, and my federal case was dismissed. Michael Guisti does what few attorneys can do, beat the federal government, and that is why if you’re in trouble with the government you need to call Michael Guisti right away!”

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“I had everything to lose, my future, my education. Basically I did something that got me a misdemeanor, and the judge wanted to give a guilty plea. But Michael Guisti would not back down. Instead he fought for me, and now my record is clean.”

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“Back in 2003 I was facing attempted murder. My family hired Michael Guisti to represent me. He is a very good attorney. He always answered my calls, addressed my questions and concerns, and kept me updated about my case. Thank you Michael Guisti for winning my case. I highly recommend anyone facing a criminal charge to see Michael Guisti.”

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sex crimes

Case Dropped

Young man charged and arrested for sexual battery.


Case Dropped

Man charged with assault with a deadly weapon for hitting someone in the face with a heavy metal dust pan.

drug crimes

Served Less Than 30 Days in Jail

Young man charged with selling 1000 tabs of ecstasy to undercover officer.

Attempted Murder

Reduced to Assault With Deadly Weapon

Young man knocks the eye out his victim with a metal pipe. Charged with attempted murder and aggravated mayhem. Both cases carried life sentences.

Assault & Battery

Serves 80 Days on Work Furlough

Woman arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon using scissors on a co-worker.

Vehicular Assault

Serves 80 Days on Work Furlough

Man charged with three felony counts of vehicular assault with a deadly weapon.


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