Articles Posted in Criminal Defense

One of the most shocking revelations when a person is arrested for a crime and is being booked in jail is that they do not have a right to make that one phone call. It seems wrong on many levels because for years you may have seen and heard on television shows and movies that a person can make a call from jail to a family member or friend.

The reality is that there is no constitutional right to use a phone when you are booked into jail. Police departments that permit telephone calls do so as a courtesy. Most if not all of the police departments that permit calls record them.

Nothing is Private

Jails or detention facilities that permit telephone calls record the inmates’ calls. In fact, before an inmate is connected to whomever he or she may be calling, a preliminary recorded message informs both ends of the conversation that the telephone call will be recorded. Despite the clear warning, many inmates still talk about criminal acts, actions, knowledge, or involvement.  

Who is Listening?

Everyone involved in your criminal prosecution has access to and can listen to all of your jailhouse conversations. Whatever information collected that can help the prosecutor convict you will be used against you and shared with the presiding judge in your case. This affects culpability and sentencing. Many times, your attorney, the only person in the equation interested in defending you, will be the last to know you made an incriminating statement to someone else complicating your defense and ability to mitigate any penalties.

Individuals charged with domestic violence, for example, often speak to family members or the complaining partner or spouse, in violation of the no contact order of protection in an effort to pressure the partner or spouse to drop the charges or not appear in court. These activities, if recorded, are most certainly used against the charged individual in the existing case and to support charges of witness tampering or violation of a protective order.

If you are able to make a call from jail, do not discuss your case with anyone but your lawyer.

Hire a San Diego Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you have been charged with a crime in California, you can face misdemeanor or felony charges along with heavy fines and years of imprisonment. Contact a qualified and experienced  San Diego criminal defense lawyer who can help you mitigate potential penalties and put a difficult chapter of your life behind you. Continue reading

Prostitution is illegal in the majority of states in America, including California. Often referred to as the “world’s oldest profession,” at its most simple definition, prostitution is the exchange of sex for money. People are divided as to whether prostitution is a victimless crime, as sex workers often endure serious physical, financial, drug, and sexual abuse. Others, especially in states that permit prostitution, like Nevada, argue that it is a job like any other.

California’s Prostitution Laws

Prostitution is the exchange of sex for money or other form of payment. California laws define prostitution as a lewd act requiring physical contact of a sexual nature, sexual conduct, or sexual intercourse between two people. The sex worker is often the person charged with prostitution crimes.

California’s Solicitation Laws

Solicitation is an offer to pay money for sex. The john or client is often the person charged with solicitation crimes.

California’s Pandering Laws

Pandering is the act of arranging a sex act between a sex worker and client for a fee or cut of the amount charged. The panderer is called a pimp or madame and is often charged with pandering crimes.

Defenses to Prostitution Charges

Law enforcement agencies throughout the country set up sting operations to round up prostitutes and their clients. Every couple of months numerous arrests for prostitution and solicitation charges make the media, with over a dozen people arrested in a sting. Individuals charged with prostitution often rely on the defense of entrapment by an undercover police officer if their arrests were part of a sting operation by law enforcement officials.

Minors can no longer be charged with prostitution crimes with the passage of SB 1322, which decriminalized prostitution for individuals under 18. These individuals are instead referred to child welfare services.

Charged With a Prostitution Crime in California?

Prostitution and solicitation crimes are considered nuisance crimes, that lower the standards of a community. They make a big splash because prominent people often get arrested for solicitation. While jail sentences tend to be short, many times the sex workers themselves are repeat offenders, and their penalties increase with each arrest. Pandering charges tend to be felonies and carry long jail terms. If you face prostitution, solicitation, or pandering charges in California, consult a qualified San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney who can help mitigate the penalties. Continue reading

For the third year in a row, the rate of hate crimes increased in California. According to a report released by the California Attorney General’s office, there were 1,093 reported hate crimes in California in 2017, a 17.4% increase. This statistic follows an uptick in hate crimes since 2014: The amount of reported incidents jumped 44% in that three-year span.

What is a Hate Crime?

Hate crimes target people based on their race, sexual orientation, religion, or other protected class. More than half of the hate crimes reported in California last year involved racial basis, Black people, in particular, represented 27% of such reported incidents.

Hate Speech or Hate Crime?

Hate Speech is behavior motivated by hate but legally protected by the First Amendment right to freedom of expression. Examples include name-calling, insults, distributing hate material in public places, and displaying hate material on a person’s own property. Hate speech is permitted by the U.S. Constitution so long as it does not interfere with the civil rights of others.

A hate crime is a crime against a person, group, or property motivated by the victim’s real or perceived protected social group.

California Hate Crime Laws

Intent or motive to commit a crime is at the heart of most criminal offenses. Under the law, if one of the motivators for committing the crime is hate, the accused person will be subject to enhanced penalties, like a longer prison sentence or steeper fines.

California considers a person’s disability, gender, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation protected characteristics. If a person is harmed, threatened, or harassed because of the person’s protected characteristics, then the law imposes severe additional punishment for the criminal offender.

How to Spot a Hate Crime

A hate crime occurs when a victim or property is targeted because they belong to a protected group, like race or religion. During the commission of the crime, the perpetrator often makes verbal comments showing prejudice.

Have You Been Charged With a Hate Crime in California?

Committing a violent crime against an individual from a protected class California is a serious offense. If you have been charged with a hate crime in California, you can face heavy fines and years of imprisonment. Consult a qualified San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney who can help mitigate your penalties. Continue reading

Many employers conduct criminal background checks when individuals apply for a job. If you have been arrested or convicted of a crime, getting a job can become a stressful undertaking because some employers do not hire individuals with arrest or conviction records. Depending on the job, some classes of convicted people may be prohibited by law from getting hired.

Problems with Criminal Background Check Reports

It is not uncommon for an applicant to have incorrect or missing information in their criminal background check report. Reports can be mismatched, contain inaccurate information, include someone else’s information, or misclassify the criminal offense.

Expunging or Sealing Criminal Conviction Records

People who committed crimes when they were minors or people who have old criminal convictions can seek that their arrest and criminal conviction records be expunged, meaning they are hidden or sealed from public disclosure. This helps individuals put past behavior away and keep it from affecting their future employment or housing prospects.

Federal Laws that Protect Individuals with Arrest and Conviction Records

There are two main laws, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and Title VII that protect individuals from discrimination in employment because of prior arrest and conviction records. Under the FCRA, background checks that look into an individual’s criminal records, may not include arrest records that are more than seven years old, unless the position pays more than $75,000 a year. Conviction records however, have no such time limit. Title VII prohibits discrimination including in job screening and hiring practices in employment and frowns upon employment practices that issue blanket prohibitions against employment people with prior arrests or convictions.

Charged with a Misdemeanor Crime in California?

It is important that a person accused of a crime talk with his or her criminal defense attorney to understand the impact of a criminal conviction on his or her employment options. Current jobs may be lost after a person pleads guilty to a crime and future job opportunities may be curtailed because of an arrest or criminal conviction.

For example, if you are employed in commercial driving and you are arrested for driving while intoxicated, you may lose your commercial drivers’ license immediately. No drivers’ license means you can not work while your case is pending.

If you have been charged with a crime in California, you can face either a misdemeanor or felony charge along with heavy fines and years of imprisonment. Contact a qualified San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney who can help mitigate penalties today and explain your legal rights and responsibilities. Continue reading

For a long time, hot weather has been associated with crime, particularly in cities throughout the U.S. Temperatures have been on the rise in American cities and around the world, with the last two years registering some of the warmest temperatures on record. For example, for decades the trend has been that in colder months fewer people are murdered.

The weather does not cause crime. Crime is caused by people’s actions. The rising temperature affects people differently. Hot weather either sends people out to cool down or in to cool off. Minor inconveniences can quickly escalate to an argument and then to violence because heat tends to make people physically uncomfortable. Feelings of irritability and anger are higher when the temperature is higher.

2017 Crime Rates in the United States

Every year, the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) releases statistics of crime rates in America. The violent crime rate seems to have peaked in 2016. 1,250,162 violent crimes were reported in 2016. In 2017, the number decreased to 1,247,321 violent crimes. Violent crimes are against people and include murder and manslaughter, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault.

San Diego Violent Crime Rates are Down

San Diego is a city with approximately 1.42 million inhabitants and ranks as one of the top 10 most populous cities in the country. Of all the most populous cities in America, San Diego ranks as one of the safest cities when it comes to violent crime. In 2017, according to the FBI, the police investigated 5,221 violent crimes. Ahead of San Diego are San Jose, New York, San Antonio, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Dallas, Philadelphia, Houston, and Chicago. The most violent crimes occurred in the cities of Chicago, Houston, and Philadelphia.With respect to property crimes, San Diego had the second lowest rate with 18.4 crimes reported per 1,000 residents.

Have You Been Charged with a Felony Crime in California?

Felony crimes are the most serious criminal offenses in California. The penalties include long prison terms, and repeat offenders may face life imprisonment for future crimes. If you have been charged with a felony crime in California, consult a qualified San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney who can help mitigate penalties and prison sentences. Continue reading

Criminal behavior in California is defined by law and contained in the state’s statutes. If a person engages in actions the state has determined are criminal, he or she will be prosecuted in criminal court and possibly be convicted of the crime.

People today are well-informed and aware of the criminal justice system through what they see on TV and in movies, although they may not have much personal experience with it. True crime stories are highly publicized and have armchair jurors making judgments about the guilt or innocence of accused people. So, let us go over the basic of criminal charges in California.

There are four main types of crime:

  • Crimes against the person: Personal crimes are considered crimes against the person. They result in physical or mental harm to another person. Examples of personal crimes are assault, battery, false imprisonment, kidnapping, homicide, and rape.
  • Crimes against property: Property crimes are considered crimes against property. Things, rather than people, are harmed or another person’s right to use or enjoy property is taken away. These include larceny, robbery, burglary, arson, embezzlement, forgery, false pretenses, and receipt of stolen goods.
  • Inchoate crimes: Incomplete crimes are called inchoate crimes. These offenses were started by the perpetrator, but were not completed. The word attempt is often added to the underlying offense, like attempted homicide or attempted rape. In addition to attempt, these crimes also include solicitation and conspiracy.
  • Statutory crimes: Certain behavior by itself is not illegal, but state laws make it illegal. A good example of this is alcohol-related crimes, like driving under the influence of alcohol. Drinking by itself is not a crime. It only becomes a crime when the person tries to drive while under the influence. This type of behavior is called a statutory crime.

Have You Been Charged with a Crime in California?

Penalties for criminal convictions depend on the seriousness of the crime. The more serious crimes, like kidnapping and robbery, carry a year or more in prison. Misdemeanors are less serious and carry less than a year in jail. Both also carry monetary fines. If you face criminal charges in California, consult a qualified San Diego criminal defense attorney who can help mitigate your penalties. Continue reading

Changes to California’s felony murder rule with respect to accomplices has been the subject of the last posts. For background information on accomplice liability in California, click here. Access our last post for the background on SB-1437 and how it applies to new cases. The following post will examine the application of SB-1437 to past cases.

I am Already Serving a Life Sentence for Felony Murder as an Accomplice, is There Anything I can do to Get out of Jail Sooner?

SB-1437 contains a provision for defendants that have already been convicted of felony murder and were an accomplice in the original charge. Keep in mind that as an accomplice you are liable for the underlying felony. Any time allotted to the underlying felony must be served. The sentence that is reduced or eliminated has to do with the murder. The practical effect of the new law is less time in prison for individuals charged with felony murder as an accomplice after September 30, 2018.

Individuals serving time for felony murder as an accomplice before September 30, 2018, are now able to petition the court for a reduced sentence if they did not kill or intend to kill the victim in the felony murder charge.

SB-1437 provide a means of vacating the conviction and resentencing a defendant when a complaint, information, or indictment was filed against the defendant that allowed the prosecution to proceed under a theory of first degree felony murder or murder under the natural and probable consequences doctrine, the defendant was sentenced for first degree or second degree murder or accepted a plea offer in lieu of a trial at which the defendant could be convicted for first degree or second degree murder, and the defendant could not be charged with murder after the enactment of this bill.

Serving Time for Felony Murder as an Accomplice?

SB-1437 requires the participation of district attorneys and public defenders in the resentencing process. The individual appears in court again to be resentenced. Your attorney will address the mitigating circumstances and facts that demonstrate that you acted as an accomplice in the underlying felony but did not commit the homicide or intend to commit the homicide. It is critical that you contact the San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney if your loved one is incarcerated to discuss the possibility of a resentence for a felony murder conviction as an accomplice. Continue reading

The California legislature has been working furiously to pass many laws that affect all aspects of California life. Many changes were implemented that affect the criminal law and criminal justice system. One key change that has occurred affects accomplice liability or California’s aider and abettor laws with respect to felony murder. Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill that limits who can be prosecuted for felony murder to those who commit or intend to commit a killing.

For a brief overview of California’s accomplice liability laws, click here.

California’s Felony Murder Rule

Previously, California’s felony murder rule allowed accomplices to be convicted of first-degree murder if a victim died during the commission of a felony even if the accomplice did not intend to kill, or did not know a homicide took place.

The underlying felonies are arson, rape and other sexual crimes, carjacking, robbery, burglary, mayhem, kidnapping, train wrecking, and homicide committed by intentionally firing a gun from a motor vehicle at a person outside of the motor vehicle with the intention to cause death.

Returning to our prior example, if Mateo had shot and killed a clerk in the jewelry store while robbing it, Logan and Nathan would also have been charged with felony murder under the old felony murder rule.

What is SB-1437?

SB-1437 prohibits a participant in the perpetration or attempted perpetration of one of the specified first degree murder felonies in which a death occurs from being liable for murder, unless the person was the actual killer or the person was not the actual killer but, with the intent to kill, aided, abetted, counseled, commanded, induced, solicited, requested, or assisted the actual killer, or the person was a major participant in the underlying felony and acted with reckless indifference to human life, unless the victim was a peace officer who was killed in the course of performing his or her duties, and the defendant knew or should reasonably have known the victim was a peace officer engaged in the performance of his or her duties.

How Does SB-1437 Affect My Case?

Anyone charged with felony murder after September 30, 2018 who was also an accomplice that did not actually kill the victim or intended to kill the victim could potentially mean less time in prison if convicted after a jury trial or plea.

If the jewelry heist occurred after September 30, 2018, Logan and Nathan would not be convicted of felony murder because they did not kill the victim nor knew that Mateo was going to kill the victim. Logan and Nathan are still guilty of robbery because they were active participants in the heist.

Check back next week to find out how SB-147 affects individuals already convicted and serving time for felony murder as an accomplice.

Charged Under California’s Felony Murder Statute?

Under California law, if you aid and abet a person who actually committed a crime, you could face the same exact penalties, meaning prison sentence. Aiding and abetting is not a crime in itself, instead it imposes criminal liability on the action of helpers. If you help someone commit a crime you will be charged with the same crime as the person who actually committed the crime. Contact the San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney to discuss your defense and mitigating circumstances. Continue reading

Anyone who encourages, facilitates, or aids in the commission of a crime can be arrested, charged, convicted, and sentenced with the same crime as the person who actually committed it. Known as aiding and abetting or accomplice liability, this California charge catches all crimes, whether felony or misdemeanor, and any participation, whether the person committed the act constituting the offense or just aided and abetted in the commission of a crime. Aiding and abetting is not a separate crime.

For example, Nathan, Mateo, and Logan plan to rob a jewelry store. Each plays a different role. Nathan draws a diagram of the display case and safes. He gives the drawing to Mateo. Logan drives Mateo to the jewelry store and waits out front in the getaway car. Mateo actually goes inside the store, takes the jewelry, runs out of the store, and jumps in Logan’s car. The two of them drive off.

While only Mateo stole the jewels, all three could be charged with armed robbery because Mateo as the direct perpetrator entered the jewelry store and committed an armed robbery. Nathan and Logan are liable as aiders and abettors even if they did not know Mateo had the gun with him when he robbed the store.

Nathan can not put forth a defense that he was not present during the armed robbery because by drawing the diagram of the display cases and safes, he had more than knowledge of the planned robbery – he was involved in planning it and did nothing to stop it.

A new California law will redefine accomplice liability in felony murder cases. Check back next week for an in-depth look at Senate Bill 1437.

Charged Under California’s Aiding and Abetting Laws?

Under California law, if you aid and abet a person who actually committed a crime, you could face the same exact penalties, meaning a prison sentence. Aiding and abetting is not a crime in itself, instead it imposes criminal liability on the action of helpers. If you help someone commit a crime, you will be charged with the same crime as the person who actually committed the crime. Contact a San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney to discuss your defense and mitigating circumstances. Continue reading

Without a doubt, California has the toughest gun laws in the United States. Earlier this week, Governor Jerry Brown signed several gun control bills into law, making the state’s gun laws even tougher. Effective January 1, 2019, what follows is a summary of the new legislation.

  • Age to buy shotgun or rifle increased to 21: Bill SB100 increased the age for buying a shotgun or rifle in California from 18 to 21. Exceptions are carved out for hunters, police officers, and members of the military.
  • Domestic violence offender lifetime gun ownership ban: Bill AB3129 permanently bans anyone convicted of certain domestic violence misdemeanors from owning a firearm for life.
  • Prior mental illness confinement lifetime gun ownership ban: Bill AB1968 permanently bans anyone who has been hospitalized more than once in a year for mental health issues and found to be dangerous to self or other from owning a firearm for life.
  • Mandatory training: Bill AB2103 requires anyone applying for a concealed gun permit to attend an eight-hour gun safety and handling training course or class. The applicant must pass a test that includes fining a gun at a target.
  • Police initiated restraining orders: Police seeking a gun violence restraining order will be permitted to apply for order verbally when there is no time to make written request.
  • Maintenance of lost firearm database: All California law enforcement agencies will be required to input information on lost or stolen guns into a state database within a week of the agency finding out the firearm was missing.
  • “Bump stock” ban: Bill SB1346 bans “bump stocks” which convert semiautomatic rifles to rapid fire machine guns.
  • Ban on possession of ammunition and gun magazines if guns taken away: Bill SB1200, permits judges to order that mentally unstable people whose guns are taken away also be barred from possessing ammunition and gun magazines.

Charged With a Gun Crime in California?

Illegally carrying a firearm in California is a serious offense. If you have been charged with a gun crime in California, you can face either a misdemeanor or felony charge along with heavy fines and years of imprisonment. If you face gun charges in California, consult a qualified San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney who can help mitigate penalties. Continue reading