A fatal hit-and-run occurred last month when Gloria Williams, 62, was riding in her motorized wheelchair along the street of Euclid Avenue. She was hit from behind by a dark-colored SUV at approximately 3:45 p.m., the San Diego Police Department reports. A video of the SUV that hit Williams was obtained from street light cameras near the scene of the accident. The SUV was also recorded at a nearby gas station. The video evidence showed that the driver of the SUV was a black male with very short hair. He was using a cane to walk and was wearing baggy plaid pants with a “#here we go! Steelers” sweatshirt. The San Diego Police are asking the public to call the county Crime Stoppers at 888-580-8411 or go to their website at sdcrimestoppers.org with information. Anyone who has a tip will remain anonymous and be able to obtain a reward for any information that leads to an arrest.

Hit-and-Run Laws in California

In the state of California, anyone who is involved in an accident must stop and provide aid to those injured as well as exchange information. Under Vehicle Code Section 20002 failure to do so when property damage is involved will result in a misdemeanor charge. Under Vehicle Code Section 20001, a hit-and-run accident becomes a felony when there are physical injuries to a victim. If fatal injuries are sustained in one of these accidents, it is required that the California Highway Patrol or the local authorities are notified.

Legal Representation for California Residents Facing Hit-and-Run Charges

If you are facing criminal charges for leaving the scene of an accident, it is highly advisable that you do not speak with anyone about your case because you could jeopardize it. You have rights that deserve to be protected, and if you are under investigation, make sure that you have a qualified San Diego hit-and-run defense lawyer by your side during any questioning. You are not required to answer questions without legal representation looking out for your best interests.

The success of your case and your ability to stay out of jail are determined by your defense. The effective and aggressive California criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of David M. Boertje have a proven track record of success defending those who are facing serious charges like hit-and-run. There are a number of strategies that can be used in your defense to lessen or eliminate your charges. The results of a hit-and-run conviction include steep fines, time in jail, and a permanent criminal record. You cannot take any chances that the rest of your life will be negatively impacted because of one mistake. Continue reading

According to reports, Adrian Vergara, 26, pleaded guilty to assaulting a 16-year-old Syrian refugee while using charged racial slurs during the attack. The incident took place on October 15th on board a San Diego trolley at approximately 3:00 p.m. in the afternoon. The Syrian refugee was said to be on his way home from school and while he was talking on his phone in Arabic. Vergara pulled an earbud out of the victim’s ear and said, “What trash are you speaking?” The victim told him that he was speaking in the Arabic language and then Vergara verbally attacked him with Islamophobic slurs. He then physically assaulted the 16-year-old, violently striking him up to six times. After the attack, Vergara exited the trolley on 62nd Street in Encanto.

The police confirmed that the victim endured minor facial injuries as a result of the attack. San Diego Police Department Lt. Shawn Takeuchi indicated that through using video footage detectives were able to obtain visual information on Vergara’s appearance. About a week later, the Port of San Diego harbor police arrested Vergara for a misdemeanor narcotics violation. When the authorities had Vergara in custody, he was recognized as the individual who was connected to the San Diego Police Department’s investigation into the hate crime on the young Syrian refugee.

Vergara was charged with and pleaded guilty to assault and a hate crime for which he was sentenced to five years in state prison. Nine days before the assault took place on the trolley in San Diego, there was another hate crime arrest in Little Italy. A man, identified as Kyle Allen, 50, was shoving Muslim women who were wearing hijabs. He was also yelling at them to “go back to (their) country.” Allen is currently facing charges of battery as well as hate crimes. 

What is Assault and Battery in California?

Assault and battery charges are commonly referred to as in conjunction with each other but they are not treated the same under the law in California. They are actually two different classifications under the state’s law. California assault law, Penal Code 240 PC, defines assault and battery.

  • Assault is when there is an attempted act of using violence or force against another
  • Battery is defined as the actual action where force or violence is used against another 

Under California law, when a person attacks another and it is classified as a simple battery, it is considered a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $2 thousand alone or in combination with a maximum of six months in county jail.

However, the penalties are much higher when a battery inflicts significant injuries and it then becomes known as “aggravated battery.” A person convicted of an aggravated battery may either be facing a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances. Misdemeanors come with a maximum sentence in the county jail of up to one year while felonies can come with a four-year prison sentence. Continue reading

White collar crimes happen each day among professionals – doctors, accountants, research analysts, human resources representatives, government employees and other business people who have jobs in office or administrative settings. Boertje & Associates are called on to defend individuals who face white collar crime charges. The following will discuss some of the common white collar crimes in San Diego.

What is White Collar Crime?

White collar crimes are illegal but non-violent acts involving lying, cheating, concealing, or stealing. White collar crimes are usually financial in nature and are motivated by financial gain.

The punishments for white collar crimes include jail time, fines, and the requirement to pay the stolen money back. Often times, those who are accused of white collar crimes are good, law-abiding citizens who simply made a mistake.

Common White Collar Crimes

  • Fraud. An act of fraud occurs when someone harms someone else to gain an unfair advantage. This includes tricking or deceiving someone, as well. California recognizes different types of fraud such as insurance fraud, real estate fraud, financial fraud, and identity theft.
  • Embezzlement. California law defines embezzlement as misappropriation of funds or property that belongs to another. When an employee uses funds in a way that was unauthorized, and the funds were entrusted to that employee, the employee is guilty of embezzlement.
  • Money Laundering. Money laundering is hiding the sources of money that was illegally obtained. This is a white collar crime that can be difficult for the prosecution to prove. Many money laundering cases fail based on lack of intent.
  • Perjury. Perjury is intentionally providing false information or misrepresenting yourself while under oath. More information can be found under California Penal Code 127.

Defending Against White Collar Criminal Charges

There are several strategies that an experienced criminal defense attorney will use to fight white collar accusations. These strategies include:

  • Working with experts such as forensic accounting specialists
  • Collecting records and following the paper trail
  • Proving lack of intent
  • Showing lack of sufficient evidence on the part of the prosecution
  • Contending mistaken identity
  • False accusations

A knowledgeable criminal defense attorney knows the ins and outs of white collar crimes and how to defend against these charges. The attorney should work creatively and as quickly as possible in the cases. With an attorney by your side, you will be able to move forward with your life and clear your name. Continue reading

When a person is convicted of a crime in San Diego, the court or judge can grant probation rather than sending the person to jail. Often times, this is the case in California. Probation is a term that we always hear in the criminal law matters, but sometimes we really do not know what it means to be on probation. Today, we will discuss probation and probation violation basics.

What is Probation?

Probation is a period of time in which a person who is convicted of a crime undergoes court-ordered supervision. The supervision period takes the place of jail time, according to California Penal Code Section 1203.1.

When probation is complete, the person can have the conviction vacated in order to wipe out the conviction as if it never happened.

Two Types of Probation in California

California has two types of probation — formal and informal. The two types of probation in California has differences as such:

  • Formal Probation. Requires one to report and be supervised by a probation officer once a month at the least.
  • Informal Probation. Also known as summary probation. Does not require supervision by a probation officer. The requirement is to simply stay out of trouble and not violate the probation.

Regardless of the type of probation, activities such as counseling, drug testing and community service may be a requirement of completing probation. If a person does not follow the rules of probation, it can be revoked and the person can be sent to jail or prison to complete the rest of the sentencing time. This is called probation violation.

Ways to Violate Probation in California

When a person does not adhere to the terms of probation, this is known as probation violation. One can face violation for any of the following:

  • Using firearms
  • Committing a new crime during the probation
  • Getting arrested
  • Failure to complete community service
  • Failure to complete counseling or treatment
  • Not meeting with the probation officer

When you are accused of breaking any of the probation rules, you should seek legal advice from a qualified San Diego probation violation lawyer. The lawyer will work to get rid of or reduce the consequences that come along with the probation.

Consequences of Violating Probation

Probation violation comes with strict consequences including:

  • Imprisonment
  • Rehab or counseling program
  • Extension of probation with additional terms and conditions

The consequences for probation violation are essentially left up to the judge. Determining factors depend on the specific reasons for violation. Continue reading

Every year during the holidays, tons of San Diegans will be receiving packages of goods that they have ordered online. Meanwhile, porch pirates will be following Amazon, UPS, FedEx and the U.S. Postal Service to steal these goods from the homes of others. San Diego legislators are working to combat porch pirates at the state level. While porch pirating is a low level theft crime under Proposition 47, stealing packages off porches is still a crime.  

What is a Porch Pirate?

A porch pirate is someone who takes packages and goods that are left on the doorsteps or porches of homes. Essentially, a porch pirate is a thief.

California Ranks #3 for Porch Pirating

With the growth of online shopping comes a common problem in San Diego, California, and throughout the United States – porch pirating.

A survey as indicated by The Mercury News report, reveals that the Golden State made the top 10 list of states with the highest rates of porch pirating.

The City of San Diego ranks number 9 on the list for the top cities in California with porch pirating issues.

What is Proposition 47?

The enactment of California Proposition 47 reduced the penalties for crimes such as theft of property under $950. This includes porch pirating. The penalties for theft were reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor.  

According to an article in the San Diego Union-Tribune, this proposition encourages people to steal because if they are caught, the penalties are slim to none. As a result, there has been an increase of theft in the San Diego area.   

Why do People Commit Porch Piracy?

People often steal from the porches of others because of financial woes. They may not be able to afford the goods themselves. Some do it for the rush of stealing and getting away with it. Others may commit porch piracy because of drug abuse and mental illness issues.

How to Prevent Porch Piracy

Below are some tips to prevent porch piracy:

  • Install door cameras or porch surveillance cameras
  • Request signature be required for delivery
  • Deliver to another address such as a UPS store, FedEx Kinkos, or Walgreens
  • Schedule the package to arrive when you know you will be home for the day

Common Defenses to Porch Pirating

Although porch pirating is a misdemeanor, it is still an offense in the State of California. There are several defenses that may apply if you are charged with this crime. The most common defenses include:

  • Mistaken identity
  • False accusation
  • Insufficient evidence
  • Believing that the property belonged to the person being accused

Continue reading

Getting arrested is never in anyone’s plans. When a person is arrested and charged with a criminal offense, the criminal process begins. One of the key steps in the criminal process is the preliminary hearing. This hearing comes after the arraignment, or the first court appearance and the readiness conference, where your criminal defense lawyer negotiates to get the best deal for the client.

What is the Preliminary Hearing?

The preliminary hearing usually takes place within 10 days of the arraignment. If not, the defendant should be released according to California Penal Code 859b(b).  This hearing is where the judge decides whether there is enough evidence to support the charge against you. Essentially, the judge must decide two things:

  • Whether probable cause exists to believe the crime was committed
  • The defendant is the person who committed the crime

The preliminary hearing is where a successful San Diego criminal defense attorney move for dismissal of charges. Although the lawyer could present your case, this is not always the best plan of action to take. The criminal defense lawyer should work to dismiss the charges by using the following strategies:

  • Cross-examining key witnesses speaking against you
  • Narrowing down details of witness testimonies
  • Locate inconsistencies in the case against you

The preliminary hearing will include the same court staff as a normal trial. The judge, prosecutor, your defense attorney, and court reporter will all be in attendance. It is important to note that the preliminary hearing is not a trial. It is a brief appearance that determines whether the case should go to trial. It should not be used for discovery purposes, according to California Penal Code 866.

Defendant Rights Before and During Preliminary Hearing

The defendant has several rights prior to and during the preliminary hearing. All defendants should exercise their rights. Some of the rights include:

  • The right to legal representation
  • The right to cross-examine prosecution witnesses
  • The right to introduce defense witnesses
  • The right to discovery

Possibilities After the Preliminary Hearing

At the end of the hearing, your case may either be dismissed or your charges can be reduced to misdemeanors. Additionally, your case can go to trial. As a result, there will be another arraignment and future court dates will be scheduled.

Then, a pre-trial conference is held where your attorney will continue negotiating to reach a solution to your case. If a favorable solution is not reached, the trial will take place. Here is where your criminal defense attorney will present your case. Continue reading

We are in the full swing of the holiday season. It always seems as if there is a rise in petty theft and shoplifting crimes during this time of year. Sometimes people are arrested on a case of mistaken identity, while others intentionally and knowingly take from others. If you have been accused of shoplifting, reach out to a skilled San Diego criminal defense attorney today. 

What is Petty Theft and Shoplifting?

Petty theft and shoplifting is basically the act of taking something that does not belong to you, without paying for it or having the authority to take it.

Petty theft is known as larceny where someone takes possession of another’s items or goods without their permission and with the intent to deprive the person of the items or goods.

Petty theft and shoplifting was considered the same thing until November 2014 when shoplifting became a separate crime.

California Penal Code 459.5 goes into detail about shoplifting. Shoplifting is similar to petty theft, but with the following key differences:

  • Shoplifting refers to performing the act of stealing from a business or establishment during normal business hours, with the intention of stealing
  • Petty theft refers to stealing goods or even money, whether from a store or an individual, without permission

Businesses and establishments include movie theaters, hotels, stores, restaurants, gyms, libraries, medical facilities, and even schools.  

Why do People Shoplift and Commit Petty Theft?

Shoplifting happens for various reasons. Some reasons are financial, such as lack of money and the inability to afford gifts during the holiday season. Sometimes people lose their jobs during the holidays and they still need to make ends meet.

What are Some Examples of Shoplifting and Petty Theft?

Shoplifting and petty theft are similar; we would like to show you what shoplifting and petty theft looks like. If you are doing the following, you are participating in shoplifting and petty theft:

  • Carjacking
  • Changing price tags on items in stores
  • Pick pocketing
  • Taking someone’s purse

Common Defenses to Petty Theft and Shoplifting

Petty theft and shoplifting charges are serious in the State of California. But there are several defenses that may apply. The most common defenses include:

  • Consent
  •  Lack of intent
  • False accusation
  • Mistaken identity
  • Not enough evidence
  • Believing that the property belonged to the person being accused

The penalties for both petty theft and shoplifting may include no more than six months in jail and a fine of $1,000 maximum. With a qualified criminal defense lawyer, the accused may be able to get charges reduced or completely dismissed because of the negotiations that can take place. Continue reading

The holidays can be stressful for your loved ones sitting behind bars. This is a time when they feel like they have been forgotten because they cannot physically be with you and other family members. Cheer them up with a criminal jail visit. With these strategies, you can make your jail visitations go smoothly for all parties involved.

Take Time to Plan the Visit

The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department’s website has plenty of information regarding visitation, how to book the reservations, the types of visits available, required identification needed for the visit, and visiting hours.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) estimates insurance fraud to add up to more than $40 billion per year. Because fraud accounts for 10% of the money that insurance companies pay out each year, insurance premiums are higher for everyone. In the event you are accused of insurance fraud, seek legal representation from an experienced insurance fraud lawyer due to impact the accusation will have on your life.

What is Insurance Fraud?

Insurance fraud is when someone intentionally gives wrong or dishonest information for financial gain. Insurance fraud comes in several forms and include the following:

  • Auto insurance fraud
  • Unemployment insurance fraud
  • Medical or health insurance fraud
  • Committing arson or setting property on fire to collect insurance money
  • Homeowner’s insurance fraud
  • Life insurance fraud

Insurance fraud involves any act of making a false statement relating to an insurance claim. A prime example of insurance fraud is contacting the insurance company with a false accident claim on a vehicle in order to recover funds.

Insurance fraud is a serious offense and the State of California takes it as such. California laws evoke strict punishments for offenders of fraud such as fines and imprisonment.

Fraud Accusations

If you are intentionally making false statements in order to gain something that you would not have otherwise had, you are committing insurance fraud.

Sometimes when a person loses money, they will point the finger at someone else and accuse them of insurance fraud. An investigation will be launched. Then, investigating authorities and law enforcement will gather evidence such as audio recordings, cameras, cell phones, and interviewers’ others.

Law enforcement authorities will use tactics during interrogation to get you to admit that you committed insurance fraud by telling you that they have evidence against you. For these reasons, you should have a skilled insurance fraud lawyer by your side. Your lawyer will be able to fight the accusations with one word – intent.

Intent is the primary defense in insurance fraud. For you to be convicted of insurance fraud, intent must be proven. You must have intended to defraud. You must also be aware or knowledgeable of the fact that you are defrauding the insurance company. Your lawyer will work to dispute the allegation and prove your innocence by using the intent defense as well as any other defenses and strategies that apply to your unique accusation.

I am Facing Charges for Insurance Fraud. What do I do?

Get legal advice immediately. Do not try to handle insurance fraud alone. Contact an experienced insurance fraud defense attorney now. Remember, law enforcement will use anything you say can be used against you in court. Continue reading

According to The Sentencing Project, private prisons nationwide held 128,063 people in 2016. This number represents 8.5% of the federal prison population. Since the beginning of this decade, the private prison population increased 47%. On September 11, 2019, a new law made California the first state to end its use of for-profit, private prisons and detention facilities. This ban on private prisons will change the issue of mass incarceration and influence the criminal justice system and the criminal process overall.

Assembly Bill 32 (AB 32) Bans Private Prisons

Assembly Bill 32 was passed on September 11, 2019, by the California State Legislature and signed by Governor Newsom on October 11, 2019. It has been added to the California Penal Code, and bans the use of private, for-profit prisons and detention facilities.

The law prohibits the Department of Corrections from entering into contracts, on or after January 1, 2020, with private facilities in state or out of state. The same law applies for the renewal of existing contracts. 

By January 2028, all contracts will be phased out and the State of California can no longer hold inmates in any private prison or detention facility.

The Impact of the AB 32

An article in CBS News reveals that AB 32 impacts over 1,400 inmates and 4,000 detainees that are currently housed in private prisons and detention facilities.

The Law Does Not Apply to Certain Facilities

It is important to note that the new law comes with exceptions mentioned in Section 9502. The law does not apply to any of the following facilities:

  • Rehab, counseling, mental health, educational facilities
  • Residential care facilities
  • Evaluation or treatment facilities
  • Vocational or medical facilities
  • School facilities used for disciplinary detention
  • Facilities used for quarantine or isolation for public health reasons
  • Temporary detention facilities

Additionally, the law does not apply to private facilities operating with a valid contract with a governmental entity that was in effect prior to January 1, 2020.

For a list of additional exceptions and to read the bill in its entirety, you are invited to review Assembly Bill 32 on the California Legislature website.

California and its Criminal Justice Reform Measures

NBC San Diego reports that the State of California’s inmate population has been declining due to measures to ease criminal sentences. According to the report, the inmate private prison population consists of less than 1% of the 125,000 inmate population. Continue reading