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Criminal Lawyers: Maria Gonzalez
by Jerry Guarino

Maria Gonzalez had grown up in the gang world of Los Angeles. She was smart enough to stay out of trouble, but her friends were all criminals. So, she went to law school, to become a criminal defense attorney, hoping to save some of the wayward sisters and brothers of her youth. Fresh out of law school, she would surely make a difference.

The lettering had barely dried on her door when her first client came in.

“Ms. Gonzalez, my name is Isabella Lopez. Are you a criminal lawyer?”

“Come in Isabella. I’m a criminal defense lawyer. How can I help you?”

“My brother Diego has been arrested for selling drugs. I’m worried that someone my kill him in prison before the trial.”

“Why is that?”

“Well, he made a lot of enemies, poaching drug business from other gangs. He’s in the county jail and you know the sort of men they have there.”

“Yes, unfortunately. I grew up there and escaped the gang life.”

“Good, then you understand my concern.”

“Of course, but why didn’t he get his court-appointed attorney? You would have to hire me.”

“He didn’t want to trust an ordinary lawyer. I have money.”

Maria looked over Isabella, noting a well-dressed woman with proper makeup. I wonder where she got this money.

“This could take months. I would need a $5000 retainer and ongoing payments.”

Isabella refrained from showing any nervousness but didn’t want to seem overly confident of her ability to pay.

“Can I give you cash?”

Maria was more skeptical but tried not to show it.

“Of course.”

Isabella took $5000 in hundred-dollar bills out of her purse and handed it to the attorney.

“May I ask what you do?”

Isabella paused a moment.

“I work in a restaurant.”

“So, you’re not mixed up in any of Diego’s crimes then?”

Isabella paused again.

“Not unless being his sister is against the law.”

Maria smiled.

“No, thank goodness. But there are too many Latina women in prison because of their family or boyfriends.”

“Yes, so you’ll take his case?”

“I will arrange to see him in county today.”


The correction officers brought Diego out.

“I’m Maria Gonzalez. Your sister hired me to represent you.”

“Oh, thank God, ma’am. You have to get me out of here. It won’t be long before the other inmates find out who I am.”

“So, your only crime is selling drugs? No gang violence or weapons?”

“No. One of the rival drug dealers turned me in to the cops.”

“I’ll be with you during the arraignment. Hopefully, we can post bail. But you need to be contrite before the judge. Tell him you made a mistake and would never do it again.”

“Yes ma’am. I can do that.”

At the arraignment, Diego did just that. The judge did show mercy and offered bail, in the amount of $100,000 if he promised to stay at home confinement until the trial. Apparently, he did feel that Diego’s life was in danger.

But wearing an ankle monitor did not stop Diego from working his drug business. He used his sister to make drug deals while he set them up on the phone. Isabella wasn’t so innocent after all.

In the months before the trial, Diego and Isabella had amassed nearly $500,000 in sales. When Maria realized that Diego and his sister were still dealing drugs, she decided to milk them for legal fees in excess of her actual work. Isabella continued to pay Maria $5000 each week.

The trial was starting soon.

Maria was ready to defend Diego, and hopefully, keep him out of prison.

“Your honor, my client made a mistake, a first offense. And he has promised to never do it again. Can we dismiss the charge and let him rehabilitate his conduct?”

The judge asked the prosecutor for his comments.

“Your honor, I have a witness that states Diego and his sister have continued selling drugs these last months. The defendant never stopped his criminal behaviors, even after you showed him leniency and gave him home confinement until the trial. In fact, I have evidence that Mr. Lopez shot one of the other gang members, who is in the hospital.”

Maria was visibly upset.

“Your honor, I had no idea.”

“Regardless, I’m revoking the bail for Mr. Lopez and ordering him back to county jail to await the trial.”

“But your honor, his life may be in danger there.”

“Well, he should have thought of that before lying to me and this court. Officers, take Mr. Lopez into custody arrest Isabella Lopez too.”

Isabella cried out. “No, I’m innocent.”

Then Maria Gonzalez spoke up.

“Your honor, these two have deceived me. I would like to withdraw my representation of Mr. Lopez since I had unwittingly become part of their scheme.”

“Ms. Gonzalez, you do realize the canon of ethics demands that you continue to represent Mr. Lopez, but you are not obligated to defend Ms. Lopez.”

“I do, your honor. She will have to get another council.”

So, Isabella hired another attorney and Maria continued her defense of Diego, although begrudgingly. She met with Diego that afternoon.

“Mr. Lopez, I trusted you. Now I find out you shot someone. You and your sister have put me in a very difficult position. How can I defend you without putting her in prison?”

“It was all her idea, Ms. Gonzalez. I swear that I was ready to go straight.”

“Well, let’s hope that the jury will buy that.”

But what Maria didn’t know is that her attorney planned to blame Maria for setting up this whole scheme. She made a deal with the prosecutor to lay it all on her for the plot, in exchange for leniency in sentencing.

Isabella’s court-appointed attorney was apparently as unscrupulous as his clients. Maria Gonzalez was stripped of her law license and ordered to stand trial for drug distribution.

Criminal Lawyers: Maria Gonzalez by Jerry Guarino
Copyright April, 2023 – All Rights Reserved