Articles Tagged with California criminal defense attorney

The story of Stephon Clark has been heard around the world. Unarmed and on his grandmother’s property, Clark was shot eight times and killed one night in Sacramento. The police mistook the glow on his cell phone for the muzzle flash of a gun. In March the County District Attorney and the State Attorney General declined to prosecute the officers, causing massive protest demonstrations for days. 

California’s History of Use of Deadly Force 

For 147 years, California use of deadly force statutes have allowed police officers to use deadly force when arresting persons charged with felonies and who are fleeing from justice or resisting arrest. In 1989, the statute was replaced by a U.S. Supreme Court decision that held that lethal use of force is justified against a suspect if a “reasonable” police officer would have acted the same way in a similar situation. The change, however, was not codified.

Under a Bill before the State Assembly, that threshold would rise. A police officer would be justified in using lethal force only if it were determined to be “necessary” to defend against imminent death or severe harm. Unsurprisingly, California law enforcement organizations are campaigning to codify the 1989 standard, stressing that suspects should cooperate, then complain.

For the past year, criminal justice reforms in California have entered into effect at whiplash speeds. From eliminating cash bail to suspending the death penalty, the reforms have been first in the nation and an attempt to look at who gets most impacted by the enforcement of the state’s laws, the poor, and minorities.

Increasingly, law enforcement’s stance on the issue is losing credibility. With the advent of police cameras, street cameras, and even bystander cameras, many questionably deadly shootings have been dissected to the point that even when suspects cooperate and do not complain, they lose their lives.

The bill is not cheap. To support the aims, training specifically on how to de-escalate a police incident would need to be provided to California’s approximately 500 law enforcement agencies with thousands of personnel statewide.

Community policing will continue to be under scrutiny when the same individuals get targeted for apprehension on minor infractions and end up dead at the end of the encounter. To become law, the Bill has to be passed by the state Senate and signed by the Governor. Continue reading

Last year, San Diego had the lowest violent crime rates in four decades. According to a study conducted by the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), however, homicides were up. This violent crime remained steady from 2017 to 2018 and is on-trend with the rest of the country.

In San Diego County alone, there were 87 homicides in 2018, seven more than in 2017. With the rate of homicide remaining steady in San Diego, there are many reasons or motives as to why homicides are happening. Today, we will explore those reasons, but first we need to see what California law says about homicide.

Homicide Defined in California

The California Penal Code Chapter 1 discusses homicide. CA Penal Code 187 defines murder as the unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought. A homicide includes murder – the most aggravated type of homicide. Malice aforethought means the act of killing was intentional.

Motive Matters in Homicide Cases

While the act of killing must be intentional for homicide, motive typically explains why homicide was committed. Motive is not the same as intent but it matters in homicide cases such as in the example below:

An article in the Morning Call reports that a hearing in San Diego cop-killing death penalty case is set to start on Monday, June 24, 2019. The case involves a man being charged with murder with a special-circumstance allegation of killing a peace officer, attempted murder, and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

The prosecutor will begin presenting evidence that the man performed the act of shooting. The defense is expected to argue that the evidence falls short of proving the man pulled the trigger that night. The man could face the death penalty if he is convicted of murdering a police officer.

Sometimes it can be difficult to prove motive and intent. This is why in violent crime cases, the parties’ arguments include reasons why the crime was committed (motive) and also seek to prove whether the crime was meant to be committed (intent). 

Common Homicide Motives Revealed

SANDAG reports that in 2018, motive could be determined for 64 of 87 of the homicides by the time of publishing their May 2019 report. Below are common motives for homicide, according to SANDAG’s report:

  • Argument (45%)
  • Domestic Violence (16%)
  • Gang-Related (13%)
  • Robbery (6%)
  • Drugs (6%)

The other 14% included one each related to child abuse, financial gain, alcohol, and four that were not specified. 

Do You Need a Criminal Defense Lawyer?

If you or someone you know in the San Diego or Southern California area is facing homicide and murder charges, contact David Boertje, a San Diego Criminal Defense Lawyer. Mr. Boertje is an experienced murder and criminal defense attorney and has been practicing criminal defense in San Diego County since 2003. He has successfully handled hundreds of criminal cases. Continue reading

According to the California Department of Insurance, insurance fraud occurs when someone knowingly lies to obtain a benefit or advantage to which they are not otherwise entitled. Insurance Fraud also occurs when an insurance company knowingly denies a benefit that is due and to which someone is entitled. 

Other than tax evasion, the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) identifies insurance fraud as the second most costly crime in the country. You may ask yourself, “Why would anyone want to commit insurance fraud?” The answer is simple – for financial gain. Two examples of insurance fraud include:  

  •   report of a San Diego dentist facing 75 felony counts of insurance fraud after allegedly collecting false claims for root canals she never performed.
  • An article about a Yorba Linda man being charged after using stolen identities to receive unemployment insurance benefits.

There are different laws that apply to insurance fraud in California. These laws state:

  • Anyone who willfully injures, destroys, abandons, or disposes of any insured property with intent to defraud the insurer can face jail time up to five years and fines of up to $50,000. 
  • Anyone who solicits, accepts, or refers business with the intention of defrauding an insurance company can face up to three years in jail.
  • Anyone who commits any of the following act can be found guilty of either a misdemeanor or felony crime and face up to five years in prison:
    • Makes or aids in making a false insurance claim;
    • Makes several claims for the same injury or loss;
    • Knowingly cause an auto accident with the intent to collect insurance money;
    • Knowingly file a false or fraudulent medical insurance claim with the purpose of collecting money; and
    • Submit information to support a false or fraudulent insurance claim.

As you can see, there are several categories of insurance fraud — auto, medical, and property. Today, we will focus on auto insurance fraud, which is the most common type of fraud in California. 

Auto Insurance Fraud and California Law

Auto insurance fraud is defined as any criminal fraud that involves auto insurance. If you are intentionally performing the four acts below for personal and financial gain, you are committing auto insurance fraud in California.

 

  • Abandoning or Damaging Your Car: When you leave your car somewhere or use other methods to dispose of your vehicle, you are committing auto insurance fraud.  The same goes if you are burning your car, dumping it in the river, or developing other ways to damage your property. 
  • Providing Insurance Agency with False Information: If you’re giving the insurance company the wrong registration information, you are committing auto insurance fraud. Insurance companies base the price of premiums on location, and if you are scheming to avoid paying higher premiums for your own personal financial gain, you are defrauding your insurance company. In the end, you are cheating yourself and other members of the general public.
  • Filing Multiple Claims for the Same Car Accident: You are committing auto insurance fraud by making more than one claim to the same insurance agency or filing claims with different agencies with hopes of recovering financially.  
  • Filing False Auto Insurance Claims: If you are faking auto accidents or even exaggerating an incident so you can file a false auto claim, you are defrauding an insurance company. As a result, you are committing auto insurance fraud and could face charges.

Continue reading

Job searches are a challenge for everyone. Between completing applications, submitting resumes, and having many interviews, the job hunt is not an easy task. Having a criminal history while searching for a job creates a unique set of barriers that can prevent people from gaining employment after re-entering society.

California has taken an active approach to the barrier in adopting the “Ban the Box” law. This law places limits on an employer’s inquiries into an applicant’s criminal history.

If you are facing issues while searching for a job with a criminal history, we have gathered some information to help guide you on your journey.

Request a Copy of Your Own Record

Although access to criminal records are usually restricted to law enforcement and other authorized agencies, the State of California Department of Justice will allow you to request a copy of your own record for purposes of accuracy and completeness.

Take some time to review your own criminal record and become familiar with what it contains. You do not want surprises because of what may appear on your record during your job search.

Be Aware of Your Rights

The Fair Chance Act (AB 1008), also known as “Ban the Box”, went into effect on January 1, 2018 in California. The Act prohibits employers with five or more employees from asking about your conviction history.  Under this law, an employer may not request or consider an applicant’s criminal history until after making a conditional offer of employment.

Because of the Fair Chance Act, employers are prohibited from asking about your conviction history when making an employment decision. Even if the job application itself asks whether you have been convicted of a crime, the potential employer is breaking the law.

This Act is important for you to know because it ensures that you are fairly considered for jobs. While California is providing strong protections for job seekers with a criminal history, some applicants are still facing problems because of their criminal records. According to a Mercury News article, some employers are not heeding the protections that are in place.

Clear Your Record

Imagine telling a potential employer that you do not have a conviction. With a record expungement, this is definitely a possibility. An expungement is a request from an individual, to the court, to destroy or seal a criminal conviction from state or federal data storages.  

An expungement will allow you to leave your criminal history behind. It will also provide you with peace of mind and confidence during your job search. If you want to clear your record, a knowledgeable expungement attorney can assist you with the record expungement process. Continue reading

There are restrictions issued to law enforcement officers on when and how they can execute a California search warrant. Nonetheless, mistakes and errors can and do occur during the execution of warrants. Unless a search is authorized by you, incident to a lawful arrest, or some other exception provided by law, a valid search warrant must be obtained before the search is conducted. Any violation of these rules may result in a reduction in your criminal charges, dismissal of the evidence unlawfully obtained, and even dismissal of your criminal charges.

A search warrant allows the police to search you, your home, your car, and your place of business. The police can even search an area suspected of containing evidence of illegal activity so long as it is specified in the search warrant.

Storming into homes with guns, protective armor, lights, dogs, and law enforcement personnel, usually during the early dawn hours, catches everyone in the home off guard and leads to avoidable deaths, unnecessary injuries, and costly legal settlements with survivors.

In a December no-knock drug raid in Houston, two suspects were shot and killed and five police officers were injured. Even the family pet was shot in the crossfire. The pet survived, but both of his owners died. The results of the raid were so bad that the Houston Police Department no longer conducts no-knock raids during low-level criminal investigations of a nonviolent nature.  

No-Knock Warrants

A no-knock warrant is issued by a judge and gives police permission to enter a property by force without prior notification to its occupants or requesting their permission. These types of warrants are often precipitated by a tip from an informant. The informant is the person who cooperates with the police and provides information about the people or companies under criminal investigation. The use of informants is common in criminal investigations, especially those involving illegal drug sales and distribution. So long as the informant’s information is reliable, it will satisfy a low threshold to support a finding of probable cause to issue the search warrant. The judge may inquire about the identity of the informant, examine past instances when the informant assisted law enforcement and the results of such cooperation. The police will also be called in to testify and corroborate the informant’s testimony.   Continue reading

Three teenage friends, two girls and one boy, regularly shared videos by group text message to each other on their mobile devices. Through the bond of their friendship, there was an unspoken assumption that whatever was shared among them would remain private. There was an element to their video sharing practice of trying to outdo each other with each video posted and shared. This assumption was put to the test when one sensitive video did not stay among them.

The 16-year-old maker and sender of the video made a sexually explicit video of herself and sent it to the other teens on the group chat chain. The male teen, 17 at the time, shared a copy of the video with his school resource officer from the county sheriff’s office. The other female teen, who was 16 at the time, shared the video with other students. Before long, the video was widely distributed throughout the school. The maker of the video remained home from school for 30 days unwilling to return to school because of the backlash she was experiencing from the other students.

The only person charged with a crime for this incident, in juvenile court, was the 16-year-old maker and sender of the video. Possession and distribution of child pornography is a crime in the teen’s jurisdiction, the State of Maryland. It is also a crime in California.

Self-produced child pornography is a touchy subject. While on the one hand, the teen in this case was immature and an argument can be made that she did not appreciate the consequences of making a sexually explicit video of herself, she consented to sharing the video with her friends because she made the post herself and released it to them. She did not, however, consent to its release to the entire student body. On the other hand, child pornography is the trade of videos and photographs which depict children engaging in sexual acts. Outside of the school, this video may be on someone else’s electronic device and as such, it is being used to exploit children. The only way to combat its use is by banning possession of it strictly, as would be the case in almost all U.S. states.   Continue reading

We are preparing for summer holiday travel by familiarizing ourselves with the security process for clearing airport checkpoints. In our last post we examined property or personal belongings searches. In this post we will spotlight body searches.

Can I Refuse a Body Screen?

Most airports have full-body scanners that use millimeter waves, MMW, to screen the body for contraband. Here, a prohibited item would be a cigarette lighter. If the scan identifies a cigarette lighter in your pocket, you will be asked to discard it to clear the body search portion of the scan. If the TSO cannot identify the item, he or she will refer you to an enhanced pat-down search.

When an enhanced pat-down search is ordered, the passenger may request the search be performed by a specific gendered TSO. A passenger may also request that instead of a full-body scan using MMW, an enhanced pat-down be performed and choose the gender of the TSO.  

There are many reasons people refuse a full-body scan that have nothing to do with carrying prohibited items or contraband. A person with a pacemaker cannot withstand the body scan. An individual with a concern about receiving radiation may refuse to provide MMW screening.

If the item detected in the full-body scan is contraband, like cocaine pellets in the passenger’s stomach, the passenger will be detained and referred to law enforcement for criminal investigation and arrest.

You May Request a Private Screening

A private screening means that an enhanced pat-down is conducted out of public view. The passenger may request a travel companion be present and the gender of the TSO. Again, passengers in these scenarios seek privacy and wish to protect it.

You do Not Have to Disrobe

During a TSA search, you will not be asked to disrobe or reveal a private area of your body. A cavity search can only be done by law enforcement personnel, not the TSA. Accommodations for religious clothing, like a hijab or turbans, may be requested and granted.

Be Respectful

The TSOs are screening thousands of passengers. Everyone’s clock is ticking. If any of your rights are violated during your airport screening, remind the TSO that it is your right to request an accommodation to the process. For more information on banned items you cannot carry onto an airplane, visit the TSA website or click here.

People Get Arrested at Airports All the Time

If you are in possession of contraband at an airport, you will be referred to law enforcement for an immediate arrest. If you or someone you know is charged with a crime in San Diego, contact a qualified San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney who can help mitigate penalties today and explain your legal rights and responsibilities. Available 24/7, the Boertje Law Firm represents clients at any stage of the criminal case and for any crime charged. Continue reading

Before you board a commercial flight anywhere in the world, you will need to go through airport security. In the United States, the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) is responsible for clearing airline passengers to fly.

The uniformed people at the airport security entrance are called Transportation Security Officers (TSOs). They are responsible for verifying that your identity matches the name on your airline ticket, inspecting and searching of your carry-on and personal items for prohibited materials, and searching your body for any contraband or prohibited items. Keep the following tips in mind this travel season to help you clear an airport checkpoint quickly.

Understanding the Search Process

What exactly is supposed to be going on when you place your bag and personal belongings on the conveyor belt? The TSA can only conduct an administrative search of your person and belongings. If they identify a prohibited item, like a shampoo bottle over 8 ounces, they advise you that in order to board the plane you must get rid of it. Once you discard the offending object, you complete the search process and may proceed to the airline boarding area.

A criminal search, on the other hand, can only be conducted by the police or law enforcement personnel such as the FBI or the Los Angeles Police Department. If, during an administrative search, a firearm is detected, for example, you will he held, and law enforcement called to investigate you and your belongings. Under most circumstances, you may be charged with illegal possession of a firearm, even if your state of residence permits you to carry one..

Be Prepared to Backup Accommodation Requests

You may be asked to demonstrate service animal credentialing for your dog to board with you. Similarly, individuals with pacemakers often travel with a doctor’s note, advising TSOs that the individual has a pacemaker and cannot undergo a security screen.

Accommodation Devices are Also Searched

Individuals traveling with wheelchairs, canes, or crutches, for example, will also have their accommodation devices screened and searched if contraband or prohibited items are detected. Even your eyeglasses can be inspected further. Any item or thing on your person can be evaluated.

Be Courteous

There is a lot going on at an airport security checkpoint. Be alert. Follow directions. Ask for clarification if confused. For a list of items you can carry onto an airplane, visit the TSA website or click here.

Large Airports Contain a Jail or Detention Facility

Large airports, like JFK in New York and LAX in Los Angeles, contain holding pens for people arrested for criminal conduct or behavior. You will most definitely miss your flight if you are detained in this way. If you are arrested an airport and charged with a crime in San Diego, contact a qualified San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney who can help mitigate penalties today and explain your legal rights and responsibilities. Available 24/7, the Boertje Law Firm represents clients at any stage of the criminal case and for any crime charged. Continue reading

The State of California has not executed an individual since 2006, when its capital punishment procedures relating to lethal injections were declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in Morales v. Tilton, 465 F.Supp. 2d 972 (N.D. Cal 2006). California authorizes capital punishment by gas or lethal injection. The state will continue to hold off on executions for capital crimes.

Governor Issues Moratorium on Executions

Two weeks ago, the Governor of California announced the statewide suspension of death penalty executions, granting a temporary reprieve to the 737 inmates currently on death row. California voters have rejected two initiatives to repeal the death penalty — Proposition 62 in 2016 and Proposition 34 in 2012. Instead, they voted to accelerate the death row appeals process in 2016 with the passage of Proposition 66.

Lethal Injection Procedures Declared Unconstitutional in 2006

The Ninth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals, in the Morales case, found California’s death penalty procedures relating to lethal injections flawed. At issue was the drug recipe that was used for the lethal injections. The three-drug compound that made up the lethal injection dose could lead to suffering and an agonizing death if it was not administered carefully, resulting in a violation of the Eight Amendment to the U.S. Constitution’s cruel and unusual punishment clause.

According to BBC reporting, the death penalty is legal in 30 states, including California. Since 1976, California has executed 13 death row inmates. 737 executions remain outstanding, representing the most number of prisoners on death row in the court. Overall 2,738 inmates are on death row nationwide.

As part of the settlement of the Morales case, the state was ordered to submit new procedures for execution by lethal injection. Theoretically, if the court approved the new procedures, executions could resume. The Governor rescinded the lethal injection protocol and closed the San Quentin execution chamber concurrent with his announcement. Continue reading

As many as eight million Californians have criminal records for misdemeanor or felony crimes. All of them are subject to denied or limited employment, housing, and credit opportunities because of their criminal convictions. Many of the past crimes are for low level misdemeanors, like simple marijuana possession, or low-level felonies that are non-violent in nature.

Jurisdictions all over the United States are banning prospective employers from inquiring about a job applicant’s criminal conviction history during the recruitment process. It is not until the job applicant is made a formal job offer that it is permissible for an employer to inquire about a job applicant’s prior criminal convictions. Despite these modest changes to the law, discrimination against prior criminal defendants persist, aided by the public record of his or her criminal conviction.

Current Law Regarding Sealing of Criminal Records

Right now, people can seal their rap sheets following the completion of all their sentencing conditions. For example, a person convicted of driving under the influence, who receives a two-month sentence in county jail and three years of probation is able to request his or her criminal conviction record be sealed after applying and paying a fee, three years from the date of his or her release from jail.

Proposed Criminal Records Bill

The proposed Criminal Records Bill, would automatically seal the rap sheet of people whose crimes are specified in the statute as eligible for automatic sealing. The bill would apply retroactively, meaning people with prior criminal convictions who have not applied to seal their record would have their records automatically sealed when the Criminal Records Bill becomes effective.

Law enforcement agencies and some employers would still be able to access prior arrest records as part of criminal investigations or deep background checks for certain job positions. Members of the public, including potential landlords and employers, would no longer have access to a person’s arrest and conviction records.

The California Justice Department under the proposed bill would be able to contest the automatic sealing of a criminal record under certain conditions and upon application to the court. All others, however, would automatically be sealed upon successful completion of sentencing conditions.

Seal Your Criminal Records Now

You do not have to wait for the Criminal Records Bill to pass to seek the sealing of your criminal record. Individuals may petition the court to have their prior criminal conviction records sealed under certain circumstances. If you would like to know if your criminal record can be sealed, contact the qualified and knowledgeable San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney today to understand the process and your legal rights and responsibilities in seeking such relief. Continue reading