Across the United States, prisons and jails are brimming with people who suffer from mental health issues. It is true: more than half of the prison population and more than two-thirds of those in jails suffer from mental health problems. If you or a loved one has such issues and is arrested, you know that jail is simply not the best place to wind up. Are there other options in California? 

The Cycle Continues

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) people behind bars who suffer from mental health issues often have previous convictions and tend to serve longer sentences than the average offender. Any health issues — and mental health conditions in particular — tend to get worse without treatment, which can result in further problems with the criminal justice system. It is a vicious cycle that needs solutions. 

Crisis Intervention Teams

Since police are usually the first on the scene of an altercation involving someone who suffers from mental health issues, states across the country are developing Crisis Intervention Teams (CIT’s) to assist with evaluation and de-escalation in crisis situations. The result is fewer arrests, access to diversion programs and services, and fewer injuries to offenders, police and others.  Police and CIT members work together to impact communities by reducing severe outcomes involving the mentally ill. With teams of mental health workers, better trained police know how to interview, negotiate, and identify the effects of drugs, which means criminally involved or suicidal individuals get lifesaving help instead of simply being arrested.

Diversion Opportunities

In addition to pre-arrest interventions, many states direct arrestees to diversion courts instead of incarceration, giving people the chance to take responsibility for their actions, get the help they need, and have their records cleared in time. Studies show this can result in shorter sentences and fewer re-arrests.

Hope in California

The future looks bright for mental health intervention in California. Crisis Intervention Teams are embedded in police departments across the state, providing training for officers and redirecting offenders to support programs that can help instead of simply punish. The state has budgeted tens of millions of dollars to address the increasing challenges associated with the homeless population, substance use disorders, and mental illness, all of which may interact and lead to criminal activities. The state is committed to improving outreach and mental health diversion programs, while minimizing involvement with the criminal justice system. Another thing California is doing to improve outcomes for those with mental health issues is suspending Medicaid coverage during incarceration, rather than canceling it altogether. This can be important for those looking for treatment options and can reduce the chances of re-arrest. Continue reading

About one out of every three fatal police shootings involve individuals who were trying to evade an arrest. These numbers tell the story: it is never a good idea to try to flee from the police.  Surely, an arrest would be a better outcome than a shot in the back. 

When is the Use of Deadly Force Justified?

Without question, deadly force  is sometimes necessary. Certainly, the lives of officers have  value, and when those lives are in peril because there is an immediate threat of serious bodily harm to that officer or to another person, deadly force is understandable. Even in situations when a suspect is fleeing, if that suspect is believed to have been involved in dangerous felony activity that caused serious injuries, deadly force is justified under the law. But we continue to hear cases of non-threatening people being killed by police when they are running away. How is that justifiable? 

State of Mind

The Supreme Court has given more leeway to officers who are involved in fatal shootings over the years, saying that an officer’s state of mind and level of fear during a particular incident must be weighed in determining whether or not the use of force was justified. That means if an officer believes a suspect was reaching for a weapon, it can justify the use of lethal force. Even when a weapon is not discovered after a police killing, the event may be ruled as justified. That is right—an unarmed suspect may be killed even though there was absolutely no real threat.

Shocking Consequences

633 individuals were killed by law enforcement officers in the first half of 2022; 202 of them were in the act of fleeing when they met their deaths. Prior to 2022, one person was killed in police encounters every single day.  Some of those include:

  • A pregnant woman who was shot in the passenger seat of a car that was fleeing police;
  • An unarmed man who was fleeing police in Ohio when he was shot down;
  • A man who ran from an unmarked police vehicle and was fired at by a California officer;
  • A man who was being stopped for riding a bicycle at night without a light and was shot in the back of his head after a struggle;
  • A man who was shot dead while sleeping in his car.

Who are the Victims?

The startling fact is that Black people who are on foot make up as many as half of all fatalities involving victims who are killed while on the run, even though Black people comprise just 13% of the population in this country.  Continue reading

Hundreds of years ago all convicted criminals were housed together, regardless of gender, age, or mental illness. Prisons were filled with a mix of them all, until somebody recognized that there was a problem with the system in 1825. That is when New York House of Refuge was established with the goal of educating and rehabilitating juvenile offenders. It was not until 1899, however, that the first juvenile court was established meant to deal just with those under the age of 18. But there was unequal treatment of juveniles, and after much ado, Congress ultimately passed legislation—the Juvenile and Delinquency Prevention Act—in the mid-1970s to try to level things out. Nowadays we often hear that many juveniles should be tried as adults. Quite often those cries are heard, and now over 10,000 prisoners under the age of 18 are serving time in adult prisons across the country. What are the justifications for and against such a move? 

Arguments Against Trying Juveniles as Adults

Opponents of such a move have several strong arguments to explain their position:

  • Parents do not have to take any responsibility: When kids commit serious crimes, parents should be held accountable to some degree, such as by being ordered to find proper counseling, care, and rehabilitation opportunities.  
  • There is no benefit: Nobody wins when children, who should be getting education and rehabilitation, are simply locked up. Furthermore, it does not meet family court’s standard of acting in the child’s best interest.
  • Criminal activity is more likely again: When juveniles are treated like adults, they are less likely to get the help they need to change their lives, and a life of crime becomes more likely.
  • Punishment options are limited: The juvenile court system can order things like curfews and counseling, but the range of options in adult court is not geared toward young offenders.
  • Suicide risk increases: Juveniles in adult prisons are usually put in solitary confinement until they are old enough to join the general population, which makes them 40 times more likely to commit suicide.
  • A jury of peers is not possible: Every jury will consist of adults, even though the defendant may be just 9 or 10 years old. 
  • Sealing records is harder: It is much more difficult to seal an adult criminal record, making it more difficult to make a fresh start.
  • Young brains are underdeveloped: Juveniles’ brains have not developed completely, meaning their decision-making abilities are inadequate. Based on neurobiology alone, it is unfair and unfitting to hold them to the same standards we hold adults.

Arguments in Favor of Trying Juveniles as Adults

Proponents of treating kids as adults in the justice system are equally passionate in their arguments:

  • It teaches accountability: Some families just do not teach accountability, and it is left to society to pick up the slack. Serious crimes deserve serious penalties.
  • Juvenile courts are too lax with serious criminals: When juveniles are given the toughest sentence possible in a juvenile court, they could be out in their neighborhoods again by the time they are 18 (or 21 or 25 in some states). About 300 people are killed by children every year. Neighborhoods and communities deserve protection from all violent predators, regardless of their age.
  • Actions should have consequences: If a serious crime is committed, the age of the offender should not matter. Society demands justice, and there is no way around it..
  • They will have access to more programs: Adult prisons offer vocational and mental health programs that are bigger and better than what the juvenile system offers, along with programming for mental health, addiction, and learning disabilities.

Continue reading

When you are up against criminal charges, you need an attorney by your side who is both ethical and willing to fight for the best possible outcomes for you. At The Law Office of David M. Boertje, our clients know we will go to bat for them, with several key principles guiding our decisions: 

  • We treat every single defendant with respect and dignity, and we speak frankly and honestly;
  • We work to ensure that legal procedures are adhered to and defendant’s rights are protected;
  • We fight for access to diversion programs in lieu of jail time whenever it is an option;
  • We fight to ensure that minor defendants are treated like children, not thrust into the adult criminal justice system;
  • We endorse restorative justice, not purely criminal consequences;We insist that forensic evidence is dealt with properly (and call it out when it is not) and that expert testimony is challenged for biases and/or misinterpretations;
  • We shoot for treatment programs, not punishment, when mental illness or addiction is a factor;
  • We fight aggressively against signs of racial and gender disparities;
  • We strive to hold law enforcement accountable for their actions and mistakes.
  • We enter any plea bargain negotiations with the goals of  fairness and just outcomes, and agree only with client consent.

Protecting Your Rights 

The Constitution and the Bill of Rights guarantee every criminal defendant the right to just treatment. No matter the alleged crime, every defendant is entitled to the following:

  • Fifth Amendment Protections: Anyone who has watched cop shows on television knows that the Fifth Amendment gives you the right to remain silent—but there is lots more to it. The Fifth also ensures that serious felony cases cannot be prosecuted unless, after a preliminary hearing, a judge determines that there is enough evidence to hold a trial or after a grand jury has issued an indictment. Defendants are also protected from double jeopardy, which means after you are found not guilty in a trial, you cannot be charged again by the state for the same crime. Finally, the Fifth Amendment provides for economic liberty, which is important in property issues like eminent domain.
  • Sixth Amendment Protections: Defendants are entitled to a speedy, public trial in front of a jury of impartial peers. The idea is that that indefinite detentions will not occur.  Defendants are also guaranteed the right to an attorney. 
  • Eighth Amendment Protections: Defendants are protected from extreme outrageous bail requirements and/or fines, and are shielded from cruel and unusual punishments.

Continue reading

An arrest can be a scary thing, whether it is your first or your hundredth. That is because, as an arrestee, you feel like you have no control at all. But nothing could be further from the truth!  The central thing you need to remember is that you have the right to remain silent. That gives you all the control you need. 

Miranda Laws

When police are doing their jobs correctly, they must inform you of your Miranda rights: 

  • The right to remain silent;
  • The fact that your comments can be used against you in court;
  • Your right to an attorney;
  • The responsibility of the court to appoint an attorney if you cannot pay for one yourself.

Nonetheless, there will be tremendous pressure to talk about the crime in question, and even to confess. Don’t. Ask to speak to your attorney and say nothing more. Be aware that your interrogation is not just a simple question and answer session; police have been trained to extract information, and they use several extremely powerful psychological strategies to get what they want. One of these strategies is deception.

Limits to Lying 

Law enforcement is allowed to misrepresent what they know about a crime and can make assertions that seem to make you look guilty, even if they are not true. They cannot lie specifically about your legal rights, but they can twist, and even invent “facts.” For instance, they could falsely claim that an accomplice has already given you up. Perhaps they will say they found your fingerprints at the crime scene. There is one line they cannot cross: any statements you make must be voluntary. In other words, legally, they cannot threaten you, physically intimidate you, or otherwise force you to speak to them without the presence of your attorney. If the “totality of the circumstances” in a confession so much as hints that it was not voluntary, it may be inadmissible in court. 

What to Watch Out For

Whenever you are questioned by the police, assume you are a suspect. Even what seems to be casual chatting and questioning gives them an opportunity to collect information that could later be used against you. Always ask if you are free to leave, and if you are not, give only your name until your attorney is there.

The Reid Technique

There are three key parts to a coercive strategy called the Reid Technique, which police often use to get a confession (whether or not the suspect is guilty):  

  • Isolation:  The suspect is confined in a small interrogation room in order to create a sense of isolation and panic.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop–Maximization:  This one’s just like what you’ve seen on tv! The first officer comes in with the bad news that a conviction is inevitable based on the (often false) facts they have. The cop will seem confident that they have an air-tight case against you. 
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop—Minimization:  Now that they’ve got you feeling rattled, the good cop makes an entrance to let you know that your crime was understandable, and a confession will lead to lesser charges—maybe even the opportunity to go home. Ah—the perfect opportunity to fess up—to someone who really understands you! Don’t fall for it!

Continue reading

Seeing the flashing lights and hearing the sirens near you, approaching you, and signaling you to pull over can be scary. Whether or not you know why an officer is trailing you trying to get you to stop your vehicle, what you do next matters. To best protect yourself and to make the stop go as smoothly as possible, there are some things to know about how to interact with the officer and what your rights are during a traffic stop.

When a Police Officer Pulls You Over

There are actions you can take and behaviors you can engage in that can minimize the potential negative outcomes that can take place when a California highway patrol officer pulls you over on the road. Here are some useful tips to be aware of:

  • Do what you can to show the officer you are interested in their safety. So pull over and stop your car, and keep your hands on the wheel. 
  • Be courteous when speaking to the officer.
  • If you see a police car near you or behind you, double-check that you are driving responsibly and lawfully so you do not give the officer a reason to pull you over in the first place.
  • Look for a safe location away from oncoming traffic to stop, but if there is not one available fairly quickly, use your turn signal and find an area off of the road to stop your vehicle.
  • If you are pulled over at night, put on your car’s interior lights so that the officer has a more clear view of who is inside of your car.
  • If the officer wants to search your vehicle, unless they have a warrant, they typically will have to get your consent to do so. You do not have to agree to a search of your car. If the officer searches your car without your permission or a warrant, there must be a valid reason to do it and the officer will have to justify their actions in court.
  • When an officer pulls you over, remain calm and collected. Speak clearly to the officer and use a tone of respect.

While there is no way to take the stress out of a traffic stop, taking certain steps and behaving in specific ways can reduce the potential that it becomes a disastrous or even deadly event. If you are arrested or if you believe that you were treated unlawfully by the officer, you can take action after the situation is over. Calling a San Diego criminal defense lawyer is recommended to have your case evaluated and to learn about your legal options. Continue reading

If you were arrested and it is likely that criminal charges will be filed against you, then the actions you take next are critical to protecting your rights and freedoms. It is best in these situations not to delay in looking for quality legal counsel to defend your interests and protect you from harsh criminal penalties. Having an attorney with you through each step of the process can make navigating the complicated criminal justice system much more manageable and improves your chances of getting the best possible results in your case.

Residents in California can count on the trusted and effective legal counsel of San Diego criminal defense attorney David M. Boertje. Attorney Boterje has many years of experience helping individuals fight their charges and secure optimal results.

Why Hiring an Attorney Early is Important

There are several benefits to having legal counsel with you from the start including:

  • Avoiding Excessive Charges: State prosecutors are aggressive and there is a good possibility that during pre-filing, they will be inclined to over-charge you for much more serious offenses than necessary. It happens more often than people think. Having a lawyer before charges are filed against you can minimize the chances of this happening to you. Plus, if your attorney has established relationships with local prosecutors, then this too, puts you in a much better position for negotiations to take place.
  • Running Interference with Law Enforcement: Instead of having to sit through an intense questioning session alone where what you say can be used against you, your lawyer can manage communications for you. In this way, you can avoid the pitfall of self-incrimination.
  • Assessing How Law Enforcement Gathered Evidence: Your lawyer will know how to assess the actions of the police to determine if they unlawfully obtained evidence against you. When this happens your lawyer can file a motion to have the evidence be excluded from your case or depending on the situation, there could be the potential to file a motion to dismiss your case completely.
  • Obtaining Reduced Charges or Dropped Charges: Your lawyer is going to investigate your case for any and all information and evidence that can help you overcome your charges. There may be evidence your attorney collects for you to present to the prosecutor which will prompt them to reduce your charges. You may even have evidence that shows you are not guilty and your charges could be dropped.
  • Preserving Evidence: When your lawyer does their investigation it is critical that they get started early to help build the strongest defense for you. When you delay in connecting with an attorney you also are putting off their ability to investigate and get all of the crucial evidence that could exist which may be invaluable to helping you avoid a conviction, having your case dropped, or having your charges reduced.

Continue reading

There are two types of Americans — those who cherish their rights to keep and bear arms, and those that want nothing to do with firearms. After a criminal conviction, your right to own a firearm could be eliminated. According to data from the Giffords Law Center, California has the strictest gun laws in the country. Therefore, a criminal arrest and conviction here may have even harsher implications on your ability to own a firearm.

Regardless of the crime with which you have been charged, the best chance you have at securing the most favorable outcome will be to work with a resourceful and seasoned attorney in your state. In California, residents that are arrested and charged with crimes, from misdemeanor offenses to serious felonies, can count on the legal counsel of the trusted and aggressive San Diego misdemeanor defense attorney David M. Boertje.

How Can a Misdemeanor Conviction in California Affect Your Rights? 

A felony conviction in the state of California means you will be unable to be near guns or legally own them, but a misdemeanor conviction is different. Misdemeanor offenses are considered less serious criminal acts than felonies. Then there are wobbler crimes. These crimes are not necessarily a misdemeanor or a felony. A prosecutor has discretion when considering what charges to bring, and they can decide if the details of your case warrant a misdemeanor or felony charge.

A conviction for a misdemeanor may not come with a restriction on your right to bear arms forever, but it could come with a restriction for a limited amount of time. Some convictions that come with a 10-year ban on owning a gun in California include the following:

  • Assault and battery
  • Sexual battery
  • Threatening public officials
  • Intimidating or threatening witnesses and victims
  • Discharging a gun in a grossly negligent way
  • Violation of a domestic protection order
  • Domestic violence
  • Unlawfully bringing a weapon into a courtroom
  • Threatening to cause physical bodily harm to another party

Criminal penalties alone can be hard enough to endure, but when your rights are restricted, this can be an incredible setback and make an already distressful situation even more challenging. 

When you face criminal charges, you may be able to defend yourself against them and secure the most favorable outcome of having your case dismissed or your charges dropped. To help you achieve your goals, working with a legal professional who knows the criminal justice system in California and how to get results is critical. Continue reading

No criminal conviction looks good on your record or reflects well on you in the eyes of others. Some convictions carry a serious stigma that affects the way others perceive you. As a result, when you are done serving your sentence, you may have a difficult time doing all of the things that others with a clean record can do. Certain charges can make life after prison extremely difficult. Domestic violence charges are one example of this. 

Just the accusation of domestic abuse can impact your reputation. When you are convicted on criminal domestic abuse charges, it can be devastating to your future. If you have been arrested for domestic abuse in California, trust the experienced and resourceful legal counsel of the San Diego domestic violence defense attorney David M. Boertje. We are standing by to help. 

Prosecution Strategies Against Domestic Violence Offenders in California

The prosecution will look at every aspect of your case to mount a strategy against you that secures a conviction. The tactics they use are stealthy, so it is best to understand what you could potentially encounter. The following tactics are commonly used by aggressive prosecutors:

  • A prosecutor may advocate for a plaintiff to secure a protective order even when both the defendant and the plaintiff are on track to work things out cooperatively and safely. With a protective order in place, there can be no communication between these parties, which inhibits the amicable resolution of important issues.
  • When domestic abuse accusations are made, the “always believe the victim” mentality kicks in. As the alleged perpetrator, it is your credibility that the prosecutor will scrutinize and aim to tarnish.
  • If you even try to speak to potential witnesses or if you try to connect with the party who has brought the abuse charges against you, a prosecutor will frame this as you trying to intimidate these individuals.
  • Recordings of phone calls you make while incarcerated may be used against you. Think carefully about what you say and to whom you reach out.
  • Your entire life will be put on the line as evidence that you are capable of domestic abuse. So, even if you have made a mistake in the past that is completely unrelated to your current situation, if it can benefit the prosecution’s argument, they are going to use it as a means to harm you and persuade a judge and jury that you should be found guilty.

Continue reading

If you have been arrested and charged with a crime, the type of charge you are facing will impact how harsh your punishments will be. Also, the level at which you are charged can have far-reaching implications for your life long after you serve your time and pay your fines. For example, a misdemeanor charge may be considered a lesser crime in the eyes of others, and it will come with milder punishments than a felony. Felony offenses can come with steep fines and hefty jail sentences, not to mention being considered a “felon” can be a black mark on your reputation for the rest of your life.

After being arrested and charged with a crime, your best possibility of securing the most advantageous outcomes is to work with an experienced attorney. When you choose your lawyer, do your research because not all attorneys are the same; just because you can secure one for a lesser expense does not mean you will be getting quality legal counsel. In many cases, including with your legal representation, what you get is what you pay for. When you want a qualified and seasoned attorney with a proven track record of success in California representing your best interests, you can count on the San Diego criminal defense attorney at The Law Offices of David M. Boertje.

Why You Want Your Charges Reduced

It may seem like a small thing to have a California felony charge reduced to a misdemeanor since all criminal charges come with penalties. But, this is not true. There are several reasons why you should do whatever you can to find a way to get your charges reduced if it is not possible to have them dropped. Having an attorney by your side who knows how to do this is essential. 

Consider the following implications that can impact the rest of your life even after you serve the time that will come with a felony conviction:

  • When you apply for a job, your background check will show your criminal record, but if your application asks if you have ever been charged with a felony, you can honestly answer the question with a solid no. 
  • Convicted felons have a much harder time obtaining a bank loan.
  • A felony conviction may come with probation time after your release from prison. This means you are not completely free, even on the outside. Just one slip up could send you back to prison.
  • You will lose the ability to legally own a firearm.
  • Inability to obtain an active professional license.
  • Building relationships with new people can be challenging because your felony conviction may scare people off from wanting to get to know you.

Continue reading

Contact Information