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When Americans go to the polls, they have to believe that their vote counts and that all votes will be counted honestly and appropriately for fair and free elections to take place. However, when the established rules are not followed and the system is abused, anyone involved in such actions can be charged with voter fraud. In California, voter fraud is a crime, just as it is in every state across the nation. There are four categories in which acts of California voter fraud can fall within the scope of the law. These are the four violation categories:

  • Voter registration
  • Petition initiative 
  • Election day and voting
  • Nomination and election campaign

California Voter Fraud Violations Explained

Below details a breakdown of California voter fraud violations.

  • Voter Registration Fraud – When ineligible voters are registered to vote, that will fall under voter registration fraud. Examples of ineligible parties would be animals, deceased persons, fictitious people, or anyone under the law who does not have the right to vote. If you are charged with California voter registration fraud, how you are charged will be based on the details of your crimes. As a wobbler crime, a prosecutor can decide to charge you with either a felony or misdemeanor. Misdemeanor charges come with as much as a year to be served in county jail while felonies can come with up to three years of jail time. Fines may also be assessed.
  • Election-day Fraud – When there is an exchange of money for votes, aggression or threats for votes, voting multiple times in the same election, voting when you are not lawfully allowed to vote, falsely taking on another person’s identity to vote these acts are considered election-day fraud. These actions will result in California felony charges and the punishment can be jail time up to three years and fines as high as $10,000.

Being arrested and charged with voter fraud violations in California is serious and there are many consequences for such actions. Other illegal acts related to the voting system include:

  • Trying to intimidate or influence a vote within 100 feet from the polling location
  • Having a gun at a polling place
  • Meddling with a voting machine
  • Fraudulently voting with mail-in ballots

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On Thursday, September 8, a 22-year-old man was arrested in connection with charges of stalking. The man allegedly was stalking a San Carlos woman who is attending UC San Diego. According to the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office, Jonathan Derasacosta was arrested for stalking the UC San Diego female student. The Sheriff’s offices also said that this was not the first time that Derasacosta was arrested for stalking the same woman. In 2019, Derasacosta was arrested two times on suspicion of stalking this UC San Diego student.

According to reports, the female student built a relationship with Derasacosta before she traveled to Southern California for school. When the COVID-19 crisis took place government officials decided that some people in jail should be released to reduce the risk of contracting the virus. Derasacosta was one of these individuals who was released in early 2020.

The report of Derasacosta’s actions includes that he went to the victim’s home in San Carlos. While she was taking online classes, she saw Derasacosta use a substance that was red in color, and may have potentially been blood, use it to write her name on a wall. The female victim did not know that Derasacosta moved to San Diego when she started college at UC San Diego.  

The actions Derasacosta took resulted in an arrest for suspicion of stalking, committing a felony while on bail, and disobeying a court order. The authorities are asking the public for any information that they can supply. 

What is Stalking in California?

California’s penal code 646.9 PC says that the crime of stalking includes following, harassing, and threatening other people so much so that the person you are attacking is concerned for their safety. Stalking in California is considered a wobbler charge, which means that it can be either charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. Time served for a conviction of a California stalking charge can mean you will spend as much as five years in jail or prison.

Some examples of legitimate stalking include:

  • Making excessive calls to another party when they have not asked to be called or have asked you to stop. Also, making threatening statements while on the phone.
  • Sending unwanted gifts regularly that have threatening notes.
  • Disputes with neighbors where you are making threatening statements on a daily or weekly basis about the dispute and your dissatisfaction with their actions or inactions.

To combat charges or stalking some strategies include:

  • Downplaying the threat and showing that it was not believable.
  • Saying that the plaintiff was making up stories and that the crimes you are being accused of have never happened.
  • No intent to cause terror or fear in the plaintiff ever existed.
  • You were engaging in behavior that was protected under the constitution.

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While driving on her scooter, a 36-year old woman was hit by a car on October 3 in Mission Bay Park. The driver reportedly fled the scene after hitting the woman. The incident took place at approximately 1:00 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, when the woman was riding her scooter south on Ingraham Street. As she approached the Sunset Cliffs offramp, the San Diego Police Department says that a car attempted to pass her on the left. In doing so, the car hit her which caused her to lose control of her scooter.

According to Officer Robert Heims, the woman was ultimately ejected from her scooter after the collision. Authorities arrived on the scene and an ambulance was able to transport the woman to a local hospital. She was treated for non-life-threatening injuries and her injuries included a pelvic fracture, one broken tooth, and abrasions all over her body. Investigators were unable to secure any witness to the incident but did say that the driver was in a maroon sedan. Police are asking the public to call the San Diego Crime Stoppers with any information.

What is the Frequency of Hit-and-Run Incidents?

In 2016, the state of California had the most fatal hit-and-run incidents than any other state in the nation. That year, there were 337 hit-and-run accidents. Other states with high reports of hit-and-run crashes in 2016 included Texas at 233 and Florida at 206. Across the nation, there were just a bit over 2,000 deaths from hit-and-run incidents in 2016.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 5,977 pedestrians who lost their lives in traffic crashes in 2017. What this means is that in 2017, one pedestrian died in a traffic accident every 88 minutes. In addition to these deaths, 137,000 pedestrians received emergency treatment for their injuries related to traffic crashes in 2017. 

Pedestrians are extremely vulnerable to serious injuries and death when they are involved in traffic accidents and are hit by vehicles. The CDC indicates that a pedestrian who is hit is 1.5 times more likely to die from their injuries than a car occupant would be when they are in a crash. When a driver crashes into a piece of property or another person, and they do not stop, provide their identification, and offer assistance when there are injuries as a result of the collision, then this is a hit-and-run accident.

California hit-and-run accidents can be charged as either felonies or misdemeanors, depending on the details of how the accident took place. Misdemeanor charges can either come with up to six months serving time in county jail and up to $1,000 of fines or up to one year in jail and at least $1,000 in fines or up to as high as $10,000 in fines. Felony charges are much more severe with up to four years served in state prison and a fine that is at minimum $1,000, but can also be upward of $10,000. All of these crimes have the potential to also require community service and/or probation after jail or prison sentences have been completed. Continue reading

On June 25 San Diego police received a call at just before 10:30 p.m. regarding an assault incident that took place. When the authorities arrived at the scene, located at the Charles Lewis III Park in the 4300 block of Home Avenue, they spotted a man with stab wounds. The man was identified as 31-year-old Leah Capaal Worley. He was alive when deputies arrived at the Ridgeview-Webster neighborhood. 

According to the SDPD, Worley had multiple stab wounds in the upper parts of his body. Paramedics were also on the scene and they were able to transport Worley to the local hospital. At the hospital, Worley succumbed to his wounds and was pronounced dead. Now, the SDPD is appealing to the public for any information on the person who stabbed and killed Leah Capaal Worley.

Despite being found on the 4300 block of Home Avenue, investigators suggested that they believe Worley was actually stabbed on the 4600 block of Home Avenue. Investigators said that after he was stabbed, he drove himself to the location where the authorities found him.

Are There Many Fatal Stabbing Victims in the United States?

When examining the Federal Bureau of Investigations statistics, the numbers show that blunt objects such as a hammer or a club are responsible for more deaths every year in the United States than deaths from rifles. In 2017, the statistics indicate that over 460 people died as a result of trauma from a blunt object while that same year, just a bit above 400 deaths resulted from gunshot wounds from rifles. 

In 2017, knives and other sharp cutting tools were behind over 1,500 people. What this means is that stabbing deaths happen frequently, much more so than deaths from being shot by a rifle. In 2017, a death from a violent act was four times more likely to occur from an assailant with a knife than an assailant with a rifle.

From January 2020 through July 2020, the City of San Diego Police saw 1,888 reported violent assaults. During this timeframe, there were also 30 murders. The neighborhoods of Southcrest and Mountain View in the greater San Diego region had the most murders during this time, with three each. In the first half of 2019, local law enforcement agencies reported receiving over 5,500 violent crime incidents resulting in an average of 31 violent crime incidents taking place per day in the San Diego area. Continue reading

A 63-year-old man was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries after an altercation in which he was shot. The incident took place in the Jamacha-Lomita neighborhood in San Diego at approximately 4:00 p.m. Police were called to the 7900 block of Gribble Street on Friday afternoon. The police said that the victim was in an active argument with the shooter and the altercation ended with the victim being shot three times. 

The police were able to secure the victim and have him safely transported to the local hospital for treatment. The victim is expected to survive his injuries. According to the San Diego Police Department, the incident appears to be gang-related, and the detectives are conducting the investigation. The only identifying information that the police have to offer is that the suspect is a black male who had on a red t-shirt.

The Most Helpful Tips for De-Escalating an Argument

Not every argument ends in gunfire, but when tensions are high, people can be unpredictable. Depending on what the argument is about and the character or temper of the parties involved, the outcome of a verbal disagreement could be violence. To avoid this perilous situation when you are in a heated argument, consider trying the following tips:

  • Take a moment and step back to inhale deeply. This time of pause will allow you to better calm yourself and reassess the situation and your response. By internally counting to 3, you can figure out why you are having the disagreement and the best way to let the other party know you heard them, even if you do not agree with them.
  • Use facts and reason when you provide your response, Never allow your emotions to take over just because doing so may feel good at the time. An outburst will not likely do anything to help; it will likely raise the tension.
  • When you are arguing your side, it is better to make a clear explanation of your position rather than trying to compete to win over another party. You can clearly explain how you feel and why without trying to win, and this approach can lower the intensity of the confrontation.
  • Not every disagreement has to be an argument. Sometimes people fight over the most insignificant things. Pick your battles and save your energy and time for only those conflicts that really warrant the effort.
  • Keep an open mind and consider that people do not always think the same way. If, potentially, you can look at the situation from the other party’s point of view, you may not agree but you may have a better understanding of what they are saying.
  • When no resolution is in sight, it is ok to “agree to disagree,” and then move on.

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In Imperial Beach, the sheriff’s department has been told to reduce using force on suspects through the recommendations of a task force of Imperial Beach city leaders. In addition to limiting the use of force, the task force has also recommended that agencies outside of the sheriff’s department be utilized when non-emergency calls are made. 

After Imperial Beach leaders declared that the city supported and backed Black Lives Matter in June, the task force was put together. One of the stances that the BLM movement takes is to defund the police. Many cities across the country have looked into varying ways that they can restructure their funds and the responsibilities of their police forces in response. The task force, who investigated the San Diego Sheriff’s Department operations as they relate to Imperial Beach, published a report of their findings. In the report, the committee cited data from the sheriff’s department regarding incidents that take place in the city was insufficient.

Heading the task force was Mayor Pro Tempore, Paloma Aguirre, and Councilmember Ed Spriggs. The group worked with the sheriff’s department as well as with the community to collect information. The group concluded that community service officers should be used instead of police in non-emergency situations. They also recommended that deputies in the city should receive additional training on the following topics:

  • Diversity
  • Social justice
  • Unconscious bias

Has the Sheriff’s Department in the City of Imperial Beach Implemented the Recommendations?

Since the report’s completion, no actions were taken. However, members of the team that worked on the report believe that together, the city and the sheriff’s department will be successful in making the changes necessary to improve the quality of law enforcement as well as the safety of the community. While the task force has now been dissolved, the report will be reviewed and its findings considered by the city’s Mayor, Serge Dedina. Mayor Dedina urged the community to have patience as any changes that develop will be done so slowly and with time.

According to data released from the FBI, there were a total of 431 reported crime incidents in the city in 2018. Approximately 79 of these incidents were violent crimes of rape, robbery, and assault. There were no murders reported in the city that year. The rest of the 352 crimes reported that year were all property crimes of burglary, theft, and vehicle theft. Crime in Imperial Beach is lower than the national average by 39%  and violent crimes are 25% lower. Imperial Beach is showing a trend of decreasing crime rates. The FBI information shows that the city’s crime decreased by 13% in 2018 and the city is safer than 46% of all other cities across the country. Continue reading

Mario Chavez, 22, was arrested in connection with the robbery of a smoke shop. According to San Diego Police, Chavez went into the Cherokee Point smoke shop located and used a knife to rob the store. The SDPD got the call about the robbery after 11:30 p.m., and Officer Robert Heims responded to the crime scene.

Chavez reportedly walked into the shop and requested many items from the display. After he made his selections, he took his knife out and approached the clerk. He then demanded a lighter. While Chavez was still in the store and standing at the counter, the clerk alerted authorities. When the SDPD arrived, Chavez was still in the smoke shop and the police arrested him. The SDPD took Chavez to the San Diego Central Jail at approximately 3:40 a.m. where he was booked on suspicion of robbery.

Robbery in California

Under California Penal Code 211 PC, when you are charged with robbery you have taken property that belonged to another party against the other party’s will and by means of force or fear. Robbery is considered a felony in California and convicted individuals could be looking at as much as nine years in state prison.

You will need an effective legal defense strategy to combat your robbery charges. Some of the most common defenses against a robbery charge are:

  • You were not trying to do anything mischievous by taking the property because you believed you had the right to do so. For example, a friend says they are going to give you an item they no longer need. You agree to accept it and then you go to their home to pick it up but they are not home. You go to take the item, but their roommate is home and tries to stop you from taking it. A struggle over the property ensues, and you use force to pull the object away from the roommate. The roommate does not know that you were told you could have the object, which is why there is a struggle.
  • You are innocent of the crime because it was not you that committed the crime. You were mistakenly identified as the criminal.
  • You did not use force or fear to steal property. An example would be if you sat by another party, and when the other party set down their purse, you picked it up without them seeing and walked away. Yes you were near the other party and you stole, but you did not use force or intimidation to do so.
  • You were falsely accused of stealing property.   

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Over 20 people lived on a property in rural southern California in the town of Aguanga, and were involved in an illegal marijuana operation. The residents of the property lived in makeshift dwellings and had a nursery. According to Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco, marijuana was processed into a very strong concentrate on the property. A shootout there over the Labor Day holiday ended with seven people dead.

 

The Riverside County sheriff’s deputies received a call about an assault with a deadly weapon in an Aguanga home. When the authorities arrived on the scene, they found six dead bodies and one woman whom they transported to the hospital where she later died. Every one of the victims was identified as being a Laotian. Sheriff Bianco said that the operation was not small, and it could have been linked to organized crime. 

 

The town of Aguanga, located north of San Diego, is very small with only about 2,000 residents. Despite the state of California legalizing recreational marijuana in 2018, consumers have a desire to pinch pennies and avoid the pricey taxes associated with legal marijuana. In doing so, they still turn to the illegal market. However, this shooting incident and the massive amount of dead bodies that it left behind is evidence that there is violence in California in relation to the illegal manufacturing of marijuana.

 

Authorities seized over 1,000 pounds of marijuana along with hundreds of marijuana plants. No suspects were named and no arrests were made. The Aguanga sheriff’s department told residents that it was an isolated incident and not a threat to the community. Ronald McKay, the owner of the property, said that he was unaware that there was any shooting event that took place at his rentals, mobile home, and house. According to McKay, he attempted to check the well on the property on Monday but a deputy would not let him enter or tell him what happened. He also said he never heard the word of the incident from authorities even though he gave them his phone number. McKay said that the property is managed by an employee so he did not know the individuals who lived there, but he never knew of any incidents to date.

 

Aguanga’s vast open land has vineyards and horse ranches scattered about. Some southern California residents enjoy weekend getaways to the small town. However, the area is rife with illegal marijuana processing operations. In February there were close to 10,000 plants seized and 411 pounds of marijuana along with firearms taken from the town by deputies. Four arrests were made. One local real estate broker says that some of his clients are pot growers and they live in his gated community.

 

Because the area is so isolated, it is a prime spot for illegal marijuana activities. Adam Spiker, who is the executive director of the Southern California Coalition says the illegal market for marijuana manufacturing is not well checked.

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A man was strangled at a park in Emerald Hills by another man who was allegedly yelling “I’m going to kill you” to the victim. On July 11, a man who was described as approximately 40 years of age with a thin mustache and goatee, who was about 6’ in height and around 170 pounds. He had a look that could indicate he had jaundice or other condition that caused the whites of his eyes to be yellow in color. The suspect attacked a 23-year-old man at Emerald Hills Park on Bethune Court. The San Diego County Crime Stoppers used the information to release a composite sketch for the community of the suspect. If found, the suspect will be charged with attempted homicide.

The incident took place in the middle of the day at 1:50 p.m. According to the victim, the suspect tried to grab for the victim’s cell phone which was on a table in the park. When the victim witnessed this the two men got into a physical altercation. The suspect revealed a box cutter and began threatening the victim that he was going to kill him. The suspect used the box cutter to stab the victim in his arm, and then he proceeded to strangle the young man. After the San Diego Police arrived on the scene they were able to get the victim medical care. The victim received 18 staples to the laceration on his arm.

The last report of the suspect placed him walking into a canyon near Kelton Road and state Route 94. The SDPD is hopeful that the sketch will result in more leads from the public. The suspect was said to be wearing a bright orange, flat brim hat that had a white “C” on the front, a very large navy sweatshirt with a hood, dark-colored sweatpants, and a gray backpack that had zebra stripes at the time of the attack. The investigation is active and ongoing. 

Can Composite Sketches Lead to Arrests?

When a suspect connected to a crime is at large, the police take many actions to locate and find the individual. One of the ways that they look for information is to reach out to the community and see what details and facts they can gather to help them find the suspect. They will also release composite sketches if they have a victim or witnesses that can provide a description. The sketch can help get the public more involved in helping and potentially lead to an identification. 

There are many factors that go into how accurate the drawing will be including the recollection of a witness and the skill of the artist. While there may not be firm statistics on how effective composite sketches are at finding suspects, it is known that there are cases where a sketch was pivotal in finding a suspect and making an arrest. Continue reading

On August 28 at 12:30 a.m., Chula Vista police were called about a body in the street. When they arrived at the scene, 33-year-old Laura Rodriguez was found dead. Her body was located near Shasta and 2nd street, 10 miles south of San Diego. According to Chula Vista Police Department Lt. Dan Peak, Rodriguez was found naked with head trauma. Lt. Peak said that her death was suspicious. 

 

Rodriguez is survived by two daughters aged 12 and 14. A GoFundMe page has been established to raise money for her funeral expenses. The page has accumulated close to $18,000, surpassing its goal of $16,000. According to the GoFundMe page, Rodriguez enjoyed hiking and biking and was a dedicated mother. She was a person who cared about others and was always there to help those in need.

 

Investigators indicated that they did not find any evidence that Rodriguez was the victim of a hit-and-run accident. Her body was also void of gunshot wounds or stabbing injuries. Officers who arrived at the scene did attempt life-saving measures to save the young woman but to no avail. She was pronounced dead at the scene. 

 

Rodriguez’s brother, Daniel, identified his sister as the victim during an interview with Fox San Diego. He asked anyone with information to please contact the police. A local resident has said that he heard the noise of an engine revving prior to Rodriguez’s body being discovered. A tow truck took a gray Chevy from the crime scene.

 

San Diego Violent Crime Rate

 

In 2018, the San Diego general crime rate was 1.3 times lower than the national average. That year, San Diego’s violent crime rate was 211.3 while the national average was 207.3 making it notably higher than much of the country. This is a significant increase from 2017, when the city’s violent crime rate was 8.6 times smaller than the national average’s violent crime rate. San Diego’s crime rate was 70.4% higher than in other cities in the country. For the past five years, the city of San Diego’s violent crime rate has been trending up while property crimes have been decreasing.

 

Violent crime includes homicide, rape, aggravated assault, and robbery. In just the first half of 2019, San Diego law enforcement reported on average 31 violent crimes every day.

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