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Michael M. Levin & Liv Donnadieu, Top L.A. Criminal Defense Lawyers

Michael M. Levin is an experienced attorney who has been in private practice as a criminal defense lawyer for over 25 years. He has conducted numerous jury trials in cases ranging from DUI to capital murder. In addition to his time in the courtroom, Mr. Levin spends countless hours reviewing evidence, performing legal research, and meeting with clients and witnesses. He has a reputation for integrity and candor — he tells clients the truth instead of telling them just what they want to hear.
Over the years, Mr. Levin has developed an extensive network of colleagues in criminal defense and other related fields. These relationships ensure that when a client needs their attorney to go that extra mile, Mr. Levin can usually make that happen. Mr. Levin knows from years of professional experience that criminal defense is all about knowledge, relationships, and insight. Whether providing pure criminal defense representation, dealing with appellate issues, or dealing with quasi-criminal litigation matters such as restraining orders and professional licenses, Michael Levin brings experience, dedication, and integrity to the table.

• American University, Magna Cum Laude
• Southwestern University School of Law, J.D.
• Avvo Client’s Choice
• Avvo Top Contributor in Criminal Defense
• Voted one of the Top 100 Criminal Defense Lawyers in California by the National Trial Lawyers

Notable Cases
People v. Jose S. (Not Guilty Verdict) in Long Beach
Jose S., a late thirties father of two young daughters, was charged with two counts of sexual battery against a ten-year-old (alleged) victim. He had no prior criminal history. Jose S. was roommates with the father of the alleged victim. One night, Jose S. came home with a friend after bar-hopping and made a lot of noise. The roommate burst out of his room and beat up Jose S.
After he threw Jose S. and his friend out of the apartment, the roommate called the police and accused Jose S. of having had inappropriate contact with his daughter.Despite Jose S. being badly bruised, the police (who immediately believed the story the rommate told) overlooked the fact he had been beaten and treated him like a deviant and a criminal. Likewise, the prosecutor’s response to the question “why don’t you prosecute [the roommate] for beating up Jose S.?” was “because he deserved it for what he did.”

Despite a psycho-sexual evaluation in which it was clear that Jose S. had no interest in little girls, the prosecutor was adamant that the only possible settlement of the case would result in life-time registration as a sex offender. It would have been bad enough to suffer a conviction for a crime he didn’t commit, but Jose S. was determined not to become subject to being a registered sex offender.
The case went to trial in Long Beach, a very conservative venue. Notwithstanding the prosecutions best efforts to paint Jose S. as some sort of a deviant, attorney Michael Levin was able to convince the jury that the roommates accusation was merely a means of taking the spotlight off himself for beating up Jose S. The jury returned a verdict of NOT GUILTY on all counts after just two and one half hours of deliberation. Jose S. was able to get back to his life as a law abiding citizen.
People v. Sandra H. (Not Guilty Verdict) in Glendale
Sandra H., barely 21, was the designated driver for an outing with two of her closest girlfriends, whom she had known since elementary school.  Driving home on the Northbound 5 freeway in Glendale, late at night, her car went into a skid from the number one lane all the way across the freeway to the embankment, where the car stopped when it hit a tree.  All three people in the car were knocked unconscious.  When assistance arrived, they had to use the “jaws of life” to peel back the metal to extract the occupants.  As is normal, the person with the most minor injuries (and who is presumed will have the best chance of survival) is removed first and the person least likely to survive is removed last.  Sandra H. was removed last.

All three young women were hospitalized.  Sandra H. remained in a coma for quite some time.  When she came out of the coma, she found out that one of her closest friends, Jeanette M., had suddenly died as the result of brain swelling resulting from the accident.  Sandra H. was understandably distraught.  Then the district attorney’s office decided to charge Sandra H. with vehicular manslaughter, under the theory that Sandra H.’s driving must have been (somehow) responsible for the accident that led to Jeanette M.’s death.

Over a year of back-and-forth negotiations with the district attorney’s office ultimately was unable to satisfactorily resolve the matter.  Finally, the matter went to trial in Glendale, with Michael Levin as trial attorney.  The trial lasted over a week, with the prosecution contending that their “experts” had ascertained that:

• Sandra H. was speeding, based on the skid marks;
• Sandra H. was intoxicated, based on conjecture; and
• Their experts had ruled out a mechanical failure of the steering or braking systems as a cause of the crash.

Michael Levin was able to show the jury that the prosecution’s “expert” on the skid mark had not performed the necessary calculations correctly, and therefore couldn’t prove that the car was speeding.  He was able to prove that Sandra H. had not consumed any drugs or alcohol.  Mr. Levin was also able to completely discredit the prosecution’s claim that they had ruled out mechanical failure when he got the expert to admit that he had only checked for hydraulic leaks (and nothing else) before concluding the steering and brakes were functional.

Following a brief deliberation, the jury not only returned a unanimous verdict of NOT GUILTY, several of the jurors made a point of telling Sandra H. that it could have happened to any one of them and that she should not hold herself responsible for her friend’s tragedy.
People v. Randy J. (Not Guilty) in Burbank

Randy J., a 48 year old ex-convict, was accused of various sex acts with high school girls, as well as contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The prosecutor described Randy J. as a “sexual predator” and highlighted Randy J.’s extensive criminal history (including two terms in state prison) as proof that he was a deviant and the jury should find him guilty. The case was set in Burbank, a conservative venue. The prosecutor would settle for nothing less than life-time registration as a sex offender and jail. Despite all efforts to settle the case, no accommodation could be reached and the case went to trial.

The prosecution called a number of high-school students as witnesses. Their testimony conclusively proved that Randy J. associated with the group of high-schoolers, that he had on at least one occasion purchased alcoholic beverages at their request for a party, and that he was both present at and highly intoxicated at that party. But was he involved in inappropriate sexual conduct with the minors, or was his lack of judgment limited to purchasing their alcohol and attending?

After a bitterly contested trial, the only count on which Randy J. was convicted was for furnishing the alcoholic beverages. The jury acquitted Randy J. on the contributing to the delinquency of a minor charge and deadlocked on the sex charges (which the court then dismissed). He was not required to register as a sex offender and was not subject to the humiliation of such a conviction.

People v. Adrian S. (Not Guilty Verdict) at Los Angeles Criminal Courts Building

Adrian was charged with a robbery in the mid-Wilshire area of Los Angeles. At the time of the robbery, he lived in North Hollywood. He was at home, alone, recovering from a broken leg at the time of the robbery and was on crutches.

Two witnesses gave a license plate number of the white pickup truck they saw the robber escape in. The license plate matched Adrian’s white pickup truck. When they were shown a photo lineup, the first witness selected a different person but commented that it “might be” Adrian as well. Several days later, the second witness was shown a completely different photo lineup (the only common picture was that of Adrian’s). The witness picked out Adrian as the robber.

During the trial, the witnesses were asked whether the robber had any difficulty walking (and whether he was on crutches). Both witnesses answered “no”. We presented evidence that Adrian’s front license plate had been stolen, that Adrian was incapacitated at the time of the robbery and despite the seemingly compelling weight of the license plate and the solid eyewitness identification, the jury found Adrian Not Guilty.

Liv Donnadieu, grew up in Paris and was educated at the Sorbonne University. For five years, she intensively studied capital market law while interning in that field before receiving a scholarship from UCLA Law School to continue her studies. Liv’s knowledge of corporate and capital market law has informed her ability to defend clients facing charges for white-collar crimes at both the state and federal level. Upon graduation from UCLA law school, Liv passed the New York State bar exam, then passed the California bar exam one year later.

Prior to working with Wegman & Levin, Liv worked as a law clerk for several criminal defense attorneys within the Los Angeles County area. This experience kindled her interest in criminal defense. Ultimately, she made the decision to leave the corporate world and joined Wegman & Levin as a full-time criminal defense attorney. Since then, Liv has conducted numerous hearings, researched and argued complex legal issues, and co-chaired an eight-week trial. She remains committed to criminal justice reforms, strongly advocates for the mentally ill, and strives to achieve justice for all people.

Notable Cases

People v. Robert M. (Plea Agreement) in San Fernando
Robert had two cases pending in San Fernando, one which was a vehicle theft case and the other, much more serious case, which included charges of kidnapping, criminal threats, dissuading a witness, and conspiracy to commit a home invasion robbery.

To further complicate things, we were retained after a previous lawyer had the case for nearly a year and had negotiated his best outcome for Robert- 11 years in state prison at 85%. Just before we replaced the prior lawyer, that offer was withdrawn and replaced with an 18 year-offer. His previous lawyer strongly pressured Robert to accept the proposed deal. That’s when Robert decided to hire us.
We substituted in and immediately filed a motion to dismiss most of the charges based upon the evidence presented at the preliminary hearing. The San Fernando District Attorney’s office, well known for being extremely inflexible, immediately began negotiations with us and we ultimately achieved a plea agreement resolving both cases where Robert served under 2 years.

People v. Jesse H. (Probation in kidnapping case) in Van Nuys

Jesse was charged in the Van Nuys Courthouse with charges of kidnapping of a vulnerable person in violation of PC 207(a), and elder abuse in violation of Penal Code 368(b)(1). To complicate the case, Jesse was a registered sex offender previously arrested on multiple charges of kidnapping and battery with intent to commit sexual assault.

Jesse who was facing over 10 years in the state prison at 85%, had also confessed to the offense after a pointed and exhaustive interrogation. Upon reviewing the recordings of the interrogation, I immediately filed a motion to exclude the confession on grounds that the confession was coerced and obtained in violation of Miranda.

Upon receiving the motion, the Van Nuys District Attorney’s Office rapidly opened the negotiations, ultimately agreeing to a probationary sentence (with the dismissal of the kidnapping charge). At the sentencing hearing, the judge informed Jesse in open court of the outstanding reduced disposition he received.

People v. Daniel F. (Murder charge dismissed at preliminary hearing) in Los Angeles
Daniel, a 29-year old client was charged in the Downtown Criminal Courts Building with DUI 2nd Degree Murder (“Watson Murder”) after colliding into and killing a bicyclist on his way back from a college football game. Daniel had been drinking prior to the incident, and a witness claimed he was evading a prior hit and run causing damage to her car when he struck the bicyclist.
Watson murder is most often charged against defendants who have prior DUI convictions. The reason for this is that it is easier for the prosecution to prove that the driver knew that his or her intoxicated driving was dangerous to human life. Here, because Daniel had no prior DUI conviction, the Downtown District Attorney’s Office argued that Daniel knew that his driving could cause the death of another person because he had already been involved in a hit and run minutes before the fatal collision.
At the preliminary hearing, the judge however dismissed the Watson murder charge after we presented evidence that the damage to the witness’s vehicle, which the witness claimed was caused at the time of the hit and run, existed 6 months prior to the incident. With the Watson murder charged dismissed, we were able to negotiate a probationary sentence for Daniel.

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