Monday, November 24, 2014

People v. Aleksanyan (Cal. App. Div. (LA) - Nov. 5, 2014)

Were I ever sentenced to probation, a lot of time, I think and take my lumps and just let it go.  Even if I thought the conviction was dubious in some way.

Because, yeah, I could appeal.  Because who wants a conviction on one's record?

But the downside of filing an appeal is that (1) you might lose, and (2) the appellate court might publish the opinion.  Thereby disseminating to everyone what you've (allegedly) done.

Admittedly, if I'd done a fairly routine thing, and/or had a common name like "John Smith," I might give it a shot anyway.  Good job figuring out which "John Smith" is the defendant.

But say, for example, that I've got a name like "Vahe Aleksanyan" and I'm in Los Angeles.  Now, it turns out that -- who knew -- there are a lot of Vahe Aleksanyan's.  In Armenia (and on Facebook), anyway.

But in the United States, apparently, there are only two.  So you're risking a lot if the thing gets published.

That said, maybe you're not embarrassed about the facts of the case.  You're happy to have it out there!  You're innocent, for goodness sakes!  That's why your appeal maintains that the evidence is insufficient to support your conviction.  Truth's on your side.

The only problem with that theory is that the Court of Appeal is going to recite the facts of the case.  Which will read something like this:

"Los Angeles Police Officer Tara Munjekovich testified that on January 10, 2013, she was working undercover posing as a street-walking prostitute. She wore a tank top, a jacket, shorts, leggings, and boots, and walked back and forth from one corner of Sepulveda Boulevard and Haynes Street to the other. At approximately 8:55 p.m., as Munjekovich stood at the northwest corner in front of a motel, defendant drove his car south on Sepulveda, slowed, and made eye contact with her. Defendant turned right on Haynes heading west, then right again going north on a frontage road parallel to Sepulveda. He stopped in the middle of the road, about 10 feet north of the intersection and five or six feet from where Munjekovich was standing. Defendant rolled down his driver‟s window, and Munjekovich walked up to the car.

Munjekovich said “Hi,” and defendant said “Hi” and asked if she was a “cop.” Munjekovich told him she was not, and defendant asked if she had “a place.” Munjekovich responded she had a room “right here,” pointing to the motel. Defendant asked if she wanted to get in his car; she told him again her room was “right there”; and he said, “Well, let‟s talk out of the street.” Munjekovich directed defendant to park in the motel parking lot, and he drove into the lot, got out of his car, and waited for her by the trunk of his car.

Munjekovich walked up to defendant, asked him “what are you looking for,” and he asked, “What are you good at.” She told him she was good at “everything,” and he told her he was “looking for everything.” Munjekovich responded, “We can do everything. However, I don‟t do anal,” referring to anal intercourse. Defendant said “No?” and she said, “No, I'll fuck you and I'll blow you . . . . But I don‟t do that.” Defendant said, “Okay, how about a facial,” a street term for a man ejaculating onto someone‟s face. Munjekovich told him he could do that to her, and he asked, “How much?” She told him “for something like that it was going to be a little bit more,” and they went back and forth a couple of times regarding how much money defendant had. He asked her to give him a price, and she responded, “For that, it‟s gonna [sic] be around $80.” Defendant said, “Okay, $80. How long can I go for $80?” Munjekovich testified defendant explained “he may be really fast the first time and want to go again, so how long could he get for the 80.” Munjekovich responded she would give him an hour, and defendant asked whether he “could record it on his phone.” Munjekovich told him he could record, he said “Okay,” she told him “Let‟s go into my room,” and he said “Okay.” Munjekovich and defendant then started walking toward a row of motel rooms; at that point, she gave a signal, and uniformed officers drove up and took defendant into custody."

Yikes.  Not something I'd want my mother to read about me.  Or my brother.  Or uncle.  Or pretty much anyone, quite frankly.

Plus, wholly beyond the facts of the offense, it doesn't make me look brilliant either.  First there's the "Are you a cop?" part.  Does anyone think that's actually a defense?  Does anyone think the vice cop is actually going to say "Yes?"  Seriously?

Then there's the fact that you're trying to do all this stuff for $80 bucks.  Multiple times, full service, recording it on the cell phone, etc.

There's an old saying:  If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  Doesn't just work at retail stores.  Ditto for prostitutes.

But at least Mr. Munjekovich has a choice.  I feel even worse for Officer Munjekovich.  She's got a very specific name as well.  Only one person in the entire U.S. with that name.  And you can find out so much.  Not just how she spends her time on vice, and what she wears on the job on Sepulveda, but also where she trains, how many sit-ups she can do, how fast she runs, her salary, her book, and so much more that I won't post.  All in less than a minute of looking.

I know it's part of the job.  More power to her, even.

Well done on the bust, Tara.  (Ditto for the promotion and being in such good shape.)