Articles Posted in Criminal Defense

Taking the neighbor’s bike, lifting a shirt from a friend’s house because you love it, maybe even grabbing a couple of candy bars and a drink from the corner store without paying for them seems fairly innocent. There are many people who think that these actions are not that big of a deal. Taking something here and there without permission or without paying, in reality, is not the most heinous of crimes. Despite this, it still is illegal. In the state of California, if you are arrested for stealing property that is valued at $950 and less, you have committed petty theft. Petty theft is a misdemeanor offense and the maximum jail time you will serve is six months if convicted.

The penalties will increase considerably for some people who are charged with petty theft. Anyone who has been convicted of certain crimes will face a sentence enhancement for their unlawful actions. A person who has a criminal record with qualifying crimes should not take petty theft charges lightly. If you were arrested and charged with petty larceny with a prior in San Diego, you are not out of options when it comes to defending yourself, however. David M. Boertje is a San Diego criminal defense attorney who can discuss your case with you and determine what defense strategy is best suited to protect your interests.

What Happens When You are Charged With Petty Theft With a Prior in California?

Individuals who are arrested for alleged crimes can be held in prison until their trial date, even though being arrested does not prove a crime was committed or that the person who was arrested is guilty of any wrongdoing. When this happens, the “innocent until proven guilty” idea does not seem to really apply. The amount of time that a person must sit in jail while they await the official filing of charges and setting of a court date can take months. Defendants who are arrested are extremely lucky to be able to see their day in court in a few weeks, but most of the time, a person awaiting a court hearing will at least spend a couple of months behind bars. The most severe felony criminal charges can keep a person awaiting court for years.

The reason why it can take so long to get a court date is that there are a lot of procedural actions that have to be taken when a person is arrested, including:

  • The prosecution will review a case and determine if charges should be filed.

The criminal justice system is set up to make the truth known, and in doing so, prosecute those who have violated the law while keeping innocent individuals safe from harm. Even though the system works for most cases, it is not perfect. Sometimes an innocent person is convicted of a crime they did not commit. Jailing an innocent person is an incredible tragedy and deplorable misfortune.

The importance of having effective and experienced legal representation is crucial to defending your rights and freedoms when you are charged with a crime. David M. Boertje is a San Diego criminal defense attorney who has a proven track record of successfully helping defendants see their best possible outcome in court. Whether it be negotiating the most beneficial plea deal, having charges reduced, or having charges completely dropped, David M. Boertje has handled thousands of criminal cases and knows how to best serve individuals facing criminal charges. The Law Offices of David M. Boertje is committed to helping you fight your charges and overcome them so you can move on with the rest of your life.

How Often are Innocent People Convicted of Crimes?

It is possible to be released after an arrest in California without having to spend time waiting in jail until your official court date. Under the law, if you are booked by the authorities for a crime, you would have to sit in jail until your court date. Given that it could take months from the time you were arrested to get your day in court, you might be looking at a long time behind bars before you are even given the opportunity to argue your innocence. Bail is a way that defendants can avoid having to spend this time in jail waiting for their trial and instead, be released with the promise that they will return when their court date arrives.

If you have the funds to pay for your bail, you will be “granted bail.” This means that the court will take your money and you will be allowed to leave. A defendant’s ability to get a bail set in California largely relies on a judge’s discretion. A judge can decide if a defendant deserves bail and how high the amount should be. While a judge will refer to the California bail schedule to start their calculations, they will then assess a defendant’s situation to raise or lower the amount.  Some details that the judge will examine are:

  • The type of crime committed
  • The seriousness of the crime
  • The defendant’s ability to post bail
  • The defendant’s criminal background

How Can You Get Your Bail Reduced in California

Even though a judge will likely assess your ability to pay bail, that does not necessarily mean that the amount they assign to you will be low or affordable based on your means. Regardless, it may simply be an impossibility to pay almost any bail amount if your current financial situation is not in good shape. When you are given bail and it is inconceivable that you will be able to pay, you can apply for a reduction. 

When a request for a reduction in bail is made, the courts are required by law to look at specific factors to determine if a new bail amount is warranted. These include:

  • How serious the crime was and if the defendant is believed to pose a threat to the public.
  • The criminal history of the defendant.
  • If it is believed that the defendant will show up for their court date.
  • The amount of harm that was inflicted on the victim.
  • If there was a firearm or deadly weapon used in the crime.
  • The presence of a controlled substance in relation to the crime.

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The Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment protects people who are not competent from being unfairly prosecuted during a criminal trial. In some situations, it is beneficial for a defendant to be declared incompetent to stand trial because they lack the ability to understand their charges or they are mentally unfit to be involved in their own case. Often, incompetence gets confused with an insanity declaration. In fact, the two are different.

If you have been arrested for a crime, David M. Boertje is a San Diego criminal defense attorney who can help you fight your charges and secure the best possible outcome. David M. Boertje’s goal is always to have your charges dropped and your case dismissed. When that is not possible, finding ways to get your charges reduced and keeping you out of jail is the next approach. Potentially, your case may benefit from asking a judge to declare you incompetent to stand trial or you may be able to go to trial and use the insanity defense.

What is the Difference Between an Insanity Plea and Being Declared Incompetent to Stand Trial?

Maybe you used another person’s credit card because you believed that you had permission to do so. The problem is that when a credit card or debit card is used without permission, the purchases are considered a form of theft by the California court system. This is unlawful activity, and if you are charged with using another person’s credit card to make purchases, you could be charged with credit card fraud in California.

A California credit card fraud charge can be prosecuted at both the state and federal level depending on the details of the case. As a white-collar crime, there are stiff penalties associated with credit card fraud. If you are facing penalties, it is vital to protecting your freedom and your future that you have the very best San Diego criminal defense attorney representing you. A first-rate attorney will know how to examine your San Diego fraud case at every angle to devise an effective strategy that will make it difficult for the prosecution to prove their case against you.

What Type of Defense Strategies Can be Used in a San Diego Credit Card Fraud Case?

Detainment by the police is not an ideal situation; it can come with excessive distress and angst. The important thing for anyone who is pulled over by a California law enforcement officer is to know that cooperation is key to preserving your legal rights, civil liberties, and freedoms. Regardless of your connection with a crime, becoming aggressive and uncooperative with law enforcement will almost always result in an unfavorable legal outcome for you. 

There are several reasons why working with a San Diego criminal defense attorney is beneficial for defendants. A skilled and tactical California criminal defense attorney is immensely helpful for defendants when they are detained by ensuring police do not unfairly question them and bully them into self-incrimination. The advantages of working with an attorney do not end there. Your legal counsel will know how to comprehensively evaluate your criminal situation and extract any incidents where there was misconduct on the part of authorities. If there is evidence of inappropriate or unlawful behavior by law enforcement, you can have the evidence they collected against you either be thrown out or you could potentially have your charges completely dropped. 

David M. Boertje has dedicated his life to protecting the rights and liberties of individuals arrested for crimes in Los Angeles. He has a thorough knowledge of California criminal laws and keeps up to date on all changes that transpire. He knows about the programs and alternative options that individuals arrested for crimes have available to avoid prison time and to beat their charges.

When Can a California Police Officer Engage in Stop-And-Frisk Actions?

It is legal for a California police officer to pat you down. An officer can pull you over or stop you if they have some amount of suspicion that you were involved in a crime. If they have a valid court-ordered warrant, they can come to your home and make an arrest. If you are only detained for a short amount of time and not patted down, then this is known as a Terry Stop. However, if the police think that you have weapons on your person, they can then elevate a Terry Stop to a stop-and-frisk where they can physically inspect your body to feel for potential weapons. 

You have rights too, though. The 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution protects you from being victimized by unreasonable search and seizure actions against you by the authorities. If you were illegally stopped and frisked by law enforcement in California, this is a breach of your civil rights. When this type of behavior happens, the information collected, or evidence against you will be invalid with respect to supporting your criminal charges. Continue reading

America’s veterans can run into problems with drugs and alcohol or struggle with mental afflictions which can cause them to make errors and misjudgments. When these individuals make bad choices that have criminal implications in the state of California, they will be put through the criminal justice system and have to deal with the consequences. One glimmer of hope for veterans who are struggling with life issues that have caused them to engage in criminal activity is the California Veterans Court. If a veteran obtains approval to be seen in the Veteran’s Court in California, they will have access to rehabilitative programs that will help them turn their lives around and get a second chance. 

Why is the California Veteran’s Court so Helpful?

Veterans who have been exposed to or experienced a distressing event or action can develop serious mental health conditions. The trauma they sustained can have a major impact on their life and may lead to legal issues. Simple relationships with loved ones, emotional issues, and an inability to blend into society can leave a veteran hopeless and even homeless. They may engage in alcohol abuse or drug use, which compounds their harrowing situation.

When a veteran is arrested for a crime, depending on what the crime was, a Veterans Administration liaison will examine their case. If the individual never had a criminal history and their crime was not one that put others at risk of being harmed, they may be able to go through the Veterans’ Court system to address their mental health and/or substance abuse issues. Each person is looked at individually and their unique circumstances inspected in order to get a recommendation for the court system alternative. Not every veteran will be eligible or approved, but for those who are, the tremendous opportunity for rehabilitation and help is available.

There are several advantages that veterans have when they qualify to be switched out of the civilian criminal justice system in California and into the veteran’s system. Not only are the sources of their trauma diagnosed and addressed, but there is also an increased ability for full rehabilitation. All of these services are offered to the vet at no charge and the success rate of reintegrating into society to live a fulfilling life after completing the program has been shown to be high. 

Not only does the Veterans’ Court in California provide a way to avoid serving time in jail, but once a program has been completed, the veteran has the ability to have their record expunged of their arrest and charges. This alone can make a huge difference in the vet’s life because they will have many more opportunities made available to them than if they had a criminal record. Continue reading

COVID-19 has changed all of our lives and the way we conduct daily activities. Limitations on store capacity, curfews, and fears of contracting the virus have led more people to do their shopping online. You can go down any street these days and see multiple homes with packages on their front step or porch. Because there has been a marked increase in online ordering, everything from home goods to groceries, there has been a corresponding rise in these packages being stolen.

“Porch piracy” is the term used to label the act of stealing a package off of someone’s porch or the entrance to their home. The theft of packages has gotten the attention of Senator Brian W. Jones who, in response to the issue, put forth Senate Bill 358. This bill would make the penalties for porch piracy much tougher so that individuals tempted to engage in the crime would be dissuaded from doing so.

What are the Current Porch Pirate Laws in California?

According to Senator Jones, current laws are too soft on criminals who steal from others. SB 358 would fix the lenient punishments by replacing them with harsher ones. Right now theft of one’s package from their home is considered a misdemeanor. This classification does not change even in situations in which the offender continues to commit the crime. Under the provisions of SB 358, a first offense will result in a misdemeanor. However, if an individual is arrested in three or more instances for porch piracy over a three year period of time, the charges will be elevated to a felony level.

Going from a misdemeanor to a felony means that the amount of time spent behind bars will be increased. Not only are there more packages being sent to homes, but the law in California treats porch pirates differently than they treat a person who breaks into a home and robs it. This is another reason why there are more offenders who are guilty of committing the crime on a regular basis. Individuals convicted of porch piracy do not fear the California criminal justice system because the penalties are too weak. So, there is no real deterrent for these individuals.

SB 358 has not yet been passed. Currently, the legislation is waiting to be assigned a hearing date.  Continue reading

District Attorneys in Sacramento, Fresno, Kern, and San Diego counties have voiced their displeasure with Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon’s actions on criminal justice reform. Directives that DA Gascon has put forth include getting rid of cash bail and banning sentencing enhancements and re-sentencing for individuals who are facing extended time in prison. Lisa Smittcamp, the Fresno District Attorney, wrote a scathing letter to DA Gascon on January 19 regarding her disagreement with the Los Angeles Attorney General’s measures. There has yet to be a comment from the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office about the letter.

Enhancements happen quite often for gang members. When a gang member commits a crime, prosecutors use their association with a gang to increase the time that is added to their sentence. Smittcamp said that eliminating enhancements can lead to more gang violence that will not just affect the city of Los Angeles but also spread across the state. Smittcamp along with the DAs in Sacramento and San Diego have indicated that they will not allow LA County to have any influence over crimes that include their counties.

How District Attorneys Across California are Tackling Criminal Justice Reform

Despite the pushback against the actions that DA Gascon has taken, there are many supporters of his efforts. Backers say that the changes that DA Gascon has made are important and necessary to reverse the trend of substantial incarceration of the population. Additionally, advocates of the changes also indicate that the bail system is unfair and low-income individuals are the hardest hit.

Even though there are several California DAs opposed to the reforms that DA Gascon has taken, that does not mean that they have not also made improvements to address the issues. Smittcamp in Fresno created a Mental Health Court, Drug Court, Veteran’s Court, and Restorative Justice program, along with other systems that are aimed at preventing youth from getting involved in gangs. She said that DAs and prosecutors are putting great emphasis on keeping individuals of color, those who are living in poverty, those who have mental conditions, and others who have drug problems the ability to access support programs. Helping these individuals overcome their personal battles could prevent them from getting tangled up with the California criminal justice system. Continue reading

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