Articles Tagged with California criminal defense attorney

On December 28 Ernie Buchanan, a 44-year-old father of six, lost his life after he was shot near the Alpha Project homeless shelter located on 17th Street and Imperial Avenue in San Diego. Homicide detectives found and arrested Floyd Garrett, 47, and Johnny Lee Hill, 40, for the murder of the security guard. Garrett was found and arrested in Phoenix while Hill was arrested in San Diego, according to San Diego police’s acting homicide Captain Martha Sainz.

Sainz reported that Buchanan was employed as a security guard at the Alpha Project, but it is not believed that his murder was connected with his job at the nonprofit located in the downtown’s East Village neighborhood. The president and CEO of the Alpha Project Bob McElroy explained that Buchanan was on break prior to the attack. Friends of Buchannan describe him as friendly and a mentor for children. McElroy indicated that Buchanan was a good person and employee.

Both Hill and Garrett were identified using footage from smart street lights that are positioned around the city and record both video and other data. With the help of the Phoenix Police Department, Garrett was found and taken into custody. In San Diego the police credit the street light technology as critical in assisting them with solving crimes. However, privacy advocates have voiced their concerns over the technology and the police department’s use of it.

The streetlights cost the city $30 million and were praised for their ability to reduce energy expenditures. The sensors on these lights collect data on a variety of activities in the city such as parking, vehicle count, pedestrian count, temperature, humidity, and air pressure. One year after they were implemented the police added them to their arsenal of tools to help fight crime. According to authorities, these lights helped with over 160 investigations from August 2018 through September 2019. The police use of the light’s technology was not a topic discussed during the planning stages and public meetings and the city did not approve the police’s use of the technology.

Have You Been Charged With Murder in San Diego and Need Legal Representation?

You will need the assistance of a San Diego murder and homicide defense lawyer when you are facing serious murder and homicide charges. David M. Boertje is an effective and aggressive California criminal defense attorney who will examine your case and provide you options for a compelling defense that will protect your best interests. Depending on the details of your case, it could be possible to negotiate a favorable plea bargain on your behalf. Continue reading

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

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

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

In California and throughout the nation, the collection of DNA is a huge undertaking. All 50 states are required to collect DNA evidence from suspects, with some occurring at the arrest, prior to getting a conviction. Several types of DNA evidence exist in society today. DNA swabbing is one of the most common. DNA swabbing is a type of DNA used to collect evidence from the suspect of a sexual offense, such as rape. For purposes of this article, we will focus on DNA swabbing, the techniques of swabbing, and problems that exist in San Diego County.

What is DNA Swabbing?

A DNA swab, or what is technically known as a buccal swab, is the process by which cells are collected from the cheek of the mouth using a cotton-tipped applicator. Many people refer to DNA swab as a cheek swab.

According to Puritan Medical Products, there are three techniques of DNA swabbing:

  • Touch DNA swabbing
  • Double touch DNA swabbing
  • Blood and fluid swabbing

Puritan Medical Products also lays out the steps of DNA swabbing:

  • Preparation
  • Swabbing for cells
  • Preservation of cells for transport

After learning about the techniques of DNA swabbing and the steps it takes to complete DNA swabbing, you may be surprised to hear that San Diego County is facing its own problems when it comes to DNA swabbing and testing of rape kits.

San Diego Faces Problems With Rape Kit Policies

San Diego County is currently facing a problem with the incomplete testing of DNA rape kits. The San Diego Police Department (SDPD) admits to not having the capacity to test all untested rape kits in their possession while handling daily duties, according to an article in the Voice of San Diego.  

SDPD was testing only a single swab from untested rape kits. This was the procedure specifically reserved for circumstances where the DA declined to prosecute, according to a report by 10 News San Diego.

Although San Diego is making plans to resolve these problems, this just reiterates the fact that DNA swabbing is not always effective. Ineffective DNA swabbing is what lands an innocent person in jail.

DNA Swabbing is Not Always Effective

Regardless of the steps taken to preserve the evidence, DNA swabbing is not always effective in crime investigations.  DNA swabbing can be faulty and a technician’s error in handling the evidence happens often.

Because of the ineffectiveness of DNA evidence, this is where a knowledgeable San Diego criminal defense attorney can create a cloud of reasonable doubt surrounding the evidence. Continue reading

When a person flees the scene of an accident he or she was involved in, the person is participating in criminal activity known as a hit and run. Most people only think of hit and runs as an accident involving vehicles, but hit and runs also involve motorcyclists, bicyclists, pedestrians, and e-scooter riders. Hit and runs also involve property such as land, signs and traffic signals and even pets. If you find yourself in a hit and run accident, you should seek legal assistance from a highly experienced San Diego hit and run attorney.

California Recognizes Two Types of Charges for Hit and Runs

Depending upon the hit and run situation, a person can face two types of charges – a felony charge and a misdemeanor charge. Today, Boertje & Associates will describe the differences in hit and run charges and how the charges apply to certain situations.

A person may face a felony charge for a hit and run if the accident results in an injury to another person, or even death. California Vehicle Code Section 2001 is the authority on the felony charge surrounding hit and runs and the penalties that follow. In order to avoid this charge, the person must have stopped the vehicle and exchanged information such as name, address, and vehicle information.

The person must also render aid in transporting the accident victim to a physician, surgeon, or hospital for treatment.

When property damage stems from a hit and run accident, a person may face a misdemeanor charge. To avoid this charge, under California Vehicle Code Section 2002, the person must have stopped the vehicle immediately at the nearest location. The location must not interfere with traffic or put the safety of other drivers at risk.

Common Defenses to Hit and Runs

A hit and run is a serious crime in San Diego that comes with strict penalties including jail time, prison time, thousands of dollars in fines, and driver’s license suspension or revocation. However, a San Diego hit and run attorney can help dismiss the case or at least reduce the charges and penalties with these defenses:

  • There is no property damage or injury to others
  • No knowledge of accident, property damage or injury
  • Car stolen or borrowed (meaning, the vehicle owner was not driving)
  • Did not willfully leave the scene (could not stop due to traffic)

Continue reading

 

When you are under arrest by the police, your first thought might be, “Will I go to jail?” If you do go to jail, then your first thought might be, “How can I get out of here?” One way you can get out of jail is to post bail with the law enforcement agency that has you in custody. Your experienced criminal defense attorney can provide bail assistance by working to get the bail reduced.

Three Ways to Get Released from Jail

There are three ways for defendants to get released from jail – bail, cash bail, and on their own recognizance (OR). Although this article’s primary focus is the bail option, you should be aware of the other two options. These options are:

  • Cash bail – paying the full amount of bail in cash
  •  O.R. – your own recognizance

How Does Bail Work in San Diego?

Depending upon the severity of the crime you are accused of, the bail amount will be a high amount or low amount. When a person is put in jail, the bail is set at a monetary value. For instance, the bail for a DUI causing injury, according to the San Diego County Court Bail Schedule, is $20,000. For murder, there is no bail. 

Hearing the bail amounts can be confusing to people. Some family members are unable to pay the bail amount, which leaves their loved ones sitting in jail, for even a simple misdemeanor.

The way bail works is that the bail will be set at a certain amount, but through the use of a bail bondsman or bail company, only 10% of the bail is necessary to get out of jail.

Example of How Bail Works

The way bail works is serious business. Imagine that your bail is set at $2,000. When you hire a bail company, the company will cover the entire $2,000, in exchange for a $200 fee. When you show up to all of your court hearings, the company will get their $2,000 back, and still keep your $200. This is how the bail company makes a profit.

If you fail to appear at your court hearings and skip out on the bail that was paid for you, a bounty hunter may be sent to locate you and take you back to jail so they can recover their funds. Continue reading