Articles Tagged with California criminal defense attorney

If you are on trial for a serious crime, you can find some solace in the fact that courts have rules at both state and federal levels related to the relevancy of any and all evidence presented at trial. That means photos, witnesses, physical evidence, and more must be deemed reliable and pertinent before it gets in front of a jury. Does that mean that only prescient information gets to the jury? You might think so, but that is not always the case. 

Case in Point

One recent case exemplifies a problem that is becoming increasingly common. It surrounds a 17-year-old boy who found himself sentenced to life in prison based on circumstantial evidence. There were no witnesses to the crime, and there was no physical evidence. So, what convinced the jury that he was guilty? The lyrics of a rap song he had written were central to the conviction, despite the fact that they were difficult to understand and certainly open to multiple interpretations. 


“I shot the sheriff…” crooned Bob Marley.  No prison for him. Jimi Hendrix sang that he “caught her messin’ round town, yes I did, I shot her…” and was never even interviewed by police about the lyrics or murder. And when Bob Dylan sang about seven dead people in the Ballad of Hollis Brown, no one fretted he might be a murderer in our midst. The fact is, there are hundreds of thousands of popular songs from every genre that talk about acts of violence. Those lyrics are viewed as art, the songs a thread woven through American culture. Why, then, has rap music gotten such a bad rap?  It has got to be nothing short of bias.

Legislation Necessary

The music industry has taken note of the bias against rap music, particularly in the aftermath of a RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) indictment against famous rapper Young Thug in Georgia. The Grammy-award winner’s lyrics have been used against him in court, as prosecutors claim them to be overt acts. California is one state that is listening to the protest against using rap lyrics in criminal trials.

California Puts a Stop to Prejudicial Courtroom Antics

Governor Newsom says that all artists deserve to be able to create without being afraid their lyrics will be used against them in court—and he signed a bill into law saying as much. No longer can prosecutors use lyrics without the court thoroughly examining the research on that particular form of expression and considering racial bias. California is blazing the trail for more fair, impartial outcomes in a court of law. Continue reading

Hundreds of years ago all convicted criminals were housed together, regardless of gender, age, or mental illness. Prisons were filled with a mix of them all, until somebody recognized that there was a problem with the system in 1825. That is when New York House of Refuge was established with the goal of educating and rehabilitating juvenile offenders. It was not until 1899, however, that the first juvenile court was established meant to deal just with those under the age of 18. But there was unequal treatment of juveniles, and after much ado, Congress ultimately passed legislation—the Juvenile and Delinquency Prevention Act—in the mid-1970s to try to level things out. Nowadays we often hear that many juveniles should be tried as adults. Quite often those cries are heard, and now over 10,000 prisoners under the age of 18 are serving time in adult prisons across the country. What are the justifications for and against such a move? 

Arguments Against Trying Juveniles as Adults

Opponents of such a move have several strong arguments to explain their position:

  • Parents do not have to take any responsibility: When kids commit serious crimes, parents should be held accountable to some degree, such as by being ordered to find proper counseling, care, and rehabilitation opportunities.  
  • There is no benefit: Nobody wins when children, who should be getting education and rehabilitation, are simply locked up. Furthermore, it does not meet family court’s standard of acting in the child’s best interest.
  • Criminal activity is more likely again: When juveniles are treated like adults, they are less likely to get the help they need to change their lives, and a life of crime becomes more likely.
  • Punishment options are limited: The juvenile court system can order things like curfews and counseling, but the range of options in adult court is not geared toward young offenders.
  • Suicide risk increases: Juveniles in adult prisons are usually put in solitary confinement until they are old enough to join the general population, which makes them 40 times more likely to commit suicide.
  • A jury of peers is not possible: Every jury will consist of adults, even though the defendant may be just 9 or 10 years old. 
  • Sealing records is harder: It is much more difficult to seal an adult criminal record, making it more difficult to make a fresh start.
  • Young brains are underdeveloped: Juveniles’ brains have not developed completely, meaning their decision-making abilities are inadequate. Based on neurobiology alone, it is unfair and unfitting to hold them to the same standards we hold adults.

Arguments in Favor of Trying Juveniles as Adults

Proponents of treating kids as adults in the justice system are equally passionate in their arguments:

  • It teaches accountability: Some families just do not teach accountability, and it is left to society to pick up the slack. Serious crimes deserve serious penalties.
  • Juvenile courts are too lax with serious criminals: When juveniles are given the toughest sentence possible in a juvenile court, they could be out in their neighborhoods again by the time they are 18 (or 21 or 25 in some states). About 300 people are killed by children every year. Neighborhoods and communities deserve protection from all violent predators, regardless of their age.
  • Actions should have consequences: If a serious crime is committed, the age of the offender should not matter. Society demands justice, and there is no way around it..
  • They will have access to more programs: Adult prisons offer vocational and mental health programs that are bigger and better than what the juvenile system offers, along with programming for mental health, addiction, and learning disabilities.

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When you are up against criminal charges, you need an attorney by your side who is both ethical and willing to fight for the best possible outcomes for you. At The Law Office of David M. Boertje, our clients know we will go to bat for them, with several key principles guiding our decisions: 

  • We treat every single defendant with respect and dignity, and we speak frankly and honestly;
  • We work to ensure that legal procedures are adhered to and defendant’s rights are protected;
  • We fight for access to diversion programs in lieu of jail time whenever it is an option;
  • We fight to ensure that minor defendants are treated like children, not thrust into the adult criminal justice system;
  • We endorse restorative justice, not purely criminal consequences;We insist that forensic evidence is dealt with properly (and call it out when it is not) and that expert testimony is challenged for biases and/or misinterpretations;
  • We shoot for treatment programs, not punishment, when mental illness or addiction is a factor;
  • We fight aggressively against signs of racial and gender disparities;
  • We strive to hold law enforcement accountable for their actions and mistakes.
  • We enter any plea bargain negotiations with the goals of  fairness and just outcomes, and agree only with client consent.

Protecting Your Rights 

The Constitution and the Bill of Rights guarantee every criminal defendant the right to just treatment. No matter the alleged crime, every defendant is entitled to the following:

  • Fifth Amendment Protections: Anyone who has watched cop shows on television knows that the Fifth Amendment gives you the right to remain silent—but there is lots more to it. The Fifth also ensures that serious felony cases cannot be prosecuted unless, after a preliminary hearing, a judge determines that there is enough evidence to hold a trial or after a grand jury has issued an indictment. Defendants are also protected from double jeopardy, which means after you are found not guilty in a trial, you cannot be charged again by the state for the same crime. Finally, the Fifth Amendment provides for economic liberty, which is important in property issues like eminent domain.
  • Sixth Amendment Protections: Defendants are entitled to a speedy, public trial in front of a jury of impartial peers. The idea is that that indefinite detentions will not occur.  Defendants are also guaranteed the right to an attorney. 
  • Eighth Amendment Protections: Defendants are protected from extreme outrageous bail requirements and/or fines, and are shielded from cruel and unusual punishments.

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An arrest can be a scary thing, whether it is your first or your hundredth. That is because, as an arrestee, you feel like you have no control at all. But nothing could be further from the truth!  The central thing you need to remember is that you have the right to remain silent. That gives you all the control you need. 

Miranda Laws

When police are doing their jobs correctly, they must inform you of your Miranda rights: 

  • The right to remain silent;
  • The fact that your comments can be used against you in court;
  • Your right to an attorney;
  • The responsibility of the court to appoint an attorney if you cannot pay for one yourself.

Nonetheless, there will be tremendous pressure to talk about the crime in question, and even to confess. Don’t. Ask to speak to your attorney and say nothing more. Be aware that your interrogation is not just a simple question and answer session; police have been trained to extract information, and they use several extremely powerful psychological strategies to get what they want. One of these strategies is deception.

Limits to Lying 

Law enforcement is allowed to misrepresent what they know about a crime and can make assertions that seem to make you look guilty, even if they are not true. They cannot lie specifically about your legal rights, but they can twist, and even invent “facts.” For instance, they could falsely claim that an accomplice has already given you up. Perhaps they will say they found your fingerprints at the crime scene. There is one line they cannot cross: any statements you make must be voluntary. In other words, legally, they cannot threaten you, physically intimidate you, or otherwise force you to speak to them without the presence of your attorney. If the “totality of the circumstances” in a confession so much as hints that it was not voluntary, it may be inadmissible in court. 

What to Watch Out For

Whenever you are questioned by the police, assume you are a suspect. Even what seems to be casual chatting and questioning gives them an opportunity to collect information that could later be used against you. Always ask if you are free to leave, and if you are not, give only your name until your attorney is there.

The Reid Technique

There are three key parts to a coercive strategy called the Reid Technique, which police often use to get a confession (whether or not the suspect is guilty):  

  • Isolation:  The suspect is confined in a small interrogation room in order to create a sense of isolation and panic.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop–Maximization:  This one’s just like what you’ve seen on tv! The first officer comes in with the bad news that a conviction is inevitable based on the (often false) facts they have. The cop will seem confident that they have an air-tight case against you. 
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop—Minimization:  Now that they’ve got you feeling rattled, the good cop makes an entrance to let you know that your crime was understandable, and a confession will lead to lesser charges—maybe even the opportunity to go home. Ah—the perfect opportunity to fess up—to someone who really understands you! Don’t fall for it!

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Seeing the flashing lights and hearing the sirens near you, approaching you, and signaling you to pull over can be scary. Whether or not you know why an officer is trailing you trying to get you to stop your vehicle, what you do next matters. To best protect yourself and to make the stop go as smoothly as possible, there are some things to know about how to interact with the officer and what your rights are during a traffic stop.

When a Police Officer Pulls You Over

There are actions you can take and behaviors you can engage in that can minimize the potential negative outcomes that can take place when a California highway patrol officer pulls you over on the road. Here are some useful tips to be aware of:

  • Do what you can to show the officer you are interested in their safety. So pull over and stop your car, and keep your hands on the wheel. 
  • Be courteous when speaking to the officer.
  • If you see a police car near you or behind you, double-check that you are driving responsibly and lawfully so you do not give the officer a reason to pull you over in the first place.
  • Look for a safe location away from oncoming traffic to stop, but if there is not one available fairly quickly, use your turn signal and find an area off of the road to stop your vehicle.
  • If you are pulled over at night, put on your car’s interior lights so that the officer has a more clear view of who is inside of your car.
  • If the officer wants to search your vehicle, unless they have a warrant, they typically will have to get your consent to do so. You do not have to agree to a search of your car. If the officer searches your car without your permission or a warrant, there must be a valid reason to do it and the officer will have to justify their actions in court.
  • When an officer pulls you over, remain calm and collected. Speak clearly to the officer and use a tone of respect.

While there is no way to take the stress out of a traffic stop, taking certain steps and behaving in specific ways can reduce the potential that it becomes a disastrous or even deadly event. If you are arrested or if you believe that you were treated unlawfully by the officer, you can take action after the situation is over. Calling a San Diego criminal defense lawyer is recommended to have your case evaluated and to learn about your legal options. Continue reading

If you were arrested and it is likely that criminal charges will be filed against you, then the actions you take next are critical to protecting your rights and freedoms. It is best in these situations not to delay in looking for quality legal counsel to defend your interests and protect you from harsh criminal penalties. Having an attorney with you through each step of the process can make navigating the complicated criminal justice system much more manageable and improves your chances of getting the best possible results in your case.

Residents in California can count on the trusted and effective legal counsel of San Diego criminal defense attorney David M. Boertje. Attorney Boterje has many years of experience helping individuals fight their charges and secure optimal results.

Why Hiring an Attorney Early is Important

There are several benefits to having legal counsel with you from the start including:

  • Avoiding Excessive Charges: State prosecutors are aggressive and there is a good possibility that during pre-filing, they will be inclined to over-charge you for much more serious offenses than necessary. It happens more often than people think. Having a lawyer before charges are filed against you can minimize the chances of this happening to you. Plus, if your attorney has established relationships with local prosecutors, then this too, puts you in a much better position for negotiations to take place.
  • Running Interference with Law Enforcement: Instead of having to sit through an intense questioning session alone where what you say can be used against you, your lawyer can manage communications for you. In this way, you can avoid the pitfall of self-incrimination.
  • Assessing How Law Enforcement Gathered Evidence: Your lawyer will know how to assess the actions of the police to determine if they unlawfully obtained evidence against you. When this happens your lawyer can file a motion to have the evidence be excluded from your case or depending on the situation, there could be the potential to file a motion to dismiss your case completely.
  • Obtaining Reduced Charges or Dropped Charges: Your lawyer is going to investigate your case for any and all information and evidence that can help you overcome your charges. There may be evidence your attorney collects for you to present to the prosecutor which will prompt them to reduce your charges. You may even have evidence that shows you are not guilty and your charges could be dropped.
  • Preserving Evidence: When your lawyer does their investigation it is critical that they get started early to help build the strongest defense for you. When you delay in connecting with an attorney you also are putting off their ability to investigate and get all of the crucial evidence that could exist which may be invaluable to helping you avoid a conviction, having your case dropped, or having your charges reduced.

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If you have been arrested and charged with a crime, the type of charge you are facing will impact how harsh your punishments will be. Also, the level at which you are charged can have far-reaching implications for your life long after you serve your time and pay your fines. For example, a misdemeanor charge may be considered a lesser crime in the eyes of others, and it will come with milder punishments than a felony. Felony offenses can come with steep fines and hefty jail sentences, not to mention being considered a “felon” can be a black mark on your reputation for the rest of your life.

After being arrested and charged with a crime, your best possibility of securing the most advantageous outcomes is to work with an experienced attorney. When you choose your lawyer, do your research because not all attorneys are the same; just because you can secure one for a lesser expense does not mean you will be getting quality legal counsel. In many cases, including with your legal representation, what you get is what you pay for. When you want a qualified and seasoned attorney with a proven track record of success in California representing your best interests, you can count on the San Diego criminal defense attorney at The Law Offices of David M. Boertje.

Why You Want Your Charges Reduced

It may seem like a small thing to have a California felony charge reduced to a misdemeanor since all criminal charges come with penalties. But, this is not true. There are several reasons why you should do whatever you can to find a way to get your charges reduced if it is not possible to have them dropped. Having an attorney by your side who knows how to do this is essential. 

Consider the following implications that can impact the rest of your life even after you serve the time that will come with a felony conviction:

  • When you apply for a job, your background check will show your criminal record, but if your application asks if you have ever been charged with a felony, you can honestly answer the question with a solid no. 
  • Convicted felons have a much harder time obtaining a bank loan.
  • A felony conviction may come with probation time after your release from prison. This means you are not completely free, even on the outside. Just one slip up could send you back to prison.
  • You will lose the ability to legally own a firearm.
  • Inability to obtain an active professional license.
  • Building relationships with new people can be challenging because your felony conviction may scare people off from wanting to get to know you.

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There are many factors that go into a successful court appearance, and every little detail matters. Your attorney is going to put extensive work into gathering information and forming a strong defense strategy that can place you in the best light, place doubt in the jury’s minds about the crime you are charged with, and explain why you deserve to secure a not-guilty verdict. You should also put effort into making sure you are supporting your defense in any way possible including what you wear and how you look. This is because the way a jury perceives you can play a big part in how they evaluate your case.

When you are defending yourself against criminal charges in California, it is best to have the most effective and experienced legal counsel on our side advocating and fighting to get you the best possible outcome. David M. Boertje is a San Diego criminal defense attorney who will not only put together a strategic and sound legal defense for you and litigate it in court on your behalf, but attorney Boertje will also guide you on what to expect and do to secure the best outcome possible for your case.

Tips for Dressing for Court

There are going to be people who are not impacted by the way a defendant looks, but there are others who are. You cannot know what the makeup of the jury is going to be in your case or what the judge’s preconceptions are. It is better to err on the safe side and dress appropriately so that you can put your best foot forward. Consider the following tips:

  • If you have body jewelry that is visible, remove it.
  • If you have tattoos and body art that is visible, cover up what you can.
  • Keep your clothing more conventional and conservative, nothing too flashy.
  • Make sure your clothes fit you well and are laundered and ironed where necessary.
  • Make sure your hair is clean and in place.
  • Make sure your clothes are appropriately fitted to your body but that they are also comfortable to wear and sit in while you are in court.
  • Groom your entire body. Not only should your hair be in place but your nails clean and clipped, skin cleaned and shaven, and teeth brushed.
  • Do not keep too many loose items in your pockets so you do not make much noise as you move about.
  • Wear minimal jewelry, if any.
  • Do not wear a hat.

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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) reports that more than 60,000 young people under the age of 18 are imprisoned across the country on a daily basis. For juveniles, the impact of incarceration can be devastating mentally, emotionally, and in regards to their future career prospects and positive life outcomes. Juveniles are not fully mature, and because of this they need their families and loved ones near them. The benefits young people get from an uninterrupted education are vast, but this too goes by the wayside when they are put in jail. The resulting trauma of being incarcerated can impair a young person’s capacity for healthy growth. Also, society suffers when a youth loses out on all these life essentials and as a result, grows up with deficits that make living a life of crime more likely.

If your child has made mistakes or missteps and has gotten caught up with the California criminal justice system, rapid and strategic action is necessary to preserve their rights and protect their future. David M. Boertje is a San Diego criminal defense attorney who can help. Your child may be eligible for programs that allow them to avoid jail time and be put on a more constructive path.

Is Juvenile Incarnation a Problem in California?

Without a doubt, the issue of juvenile incarceration is a problem in this country. As to the root causes of why, that answer is a bit more complicated and can vary depending on who is answering. 

When looking at the statistics across the United States, California’s youth incarceration rates are high when compared to other states. California has a 226-300 per 100,000 youth incarceration rate. By comparison, North Carolina, for example, has a much lower 0-75 per 100,000 youth incarceration rate. 

As of 2013, there were 7,917 youths being held in juvenile facilities in California. North Carolina, by contrast, had only 543 in such institutions that year.

A case can be made that California has a far higher population than states like North Carolina, which could be one reason why there are more juveniles in detention. Still, the issue of confining our youngest population has substantial negative effects on this demographic. This is true with regard to both their healthy development and their ability to be productive and live happy prosperous lives as they age. And because of this, overall public safety can be affected.

It is therefore critical that if your son or daughter has an encounter with the law, you seek proficient and competent legal counsel immediately to help preserve their future.  Continue reading

In the aftermath of a car accident, an injured victim might feel shocked and overwhelmed. No one expects to be hit or to crash into another car when they go out to drive from one place to the next. But car accidents happen all the time across the United States and in the state of California. In the aftermath of a car accident, victims can suffer disabling injuries and death. In 2019, there were 3,606 fatal car crashes in the state of California alone. It is imperative that if you are in an accident in which property damage or physical bodily harm results, you must stay at the scene and try to render aid. If you leave the car accident scene without taking the right steps you could be facing criminal charges. 

Individuals involved in a car accident in California that flee the scene could face either a misdemeanor or felony criminal charges. If you are arrested for either a misdemeanor or a felony hit-and-run charge, you need proficient legal counsel to help you overcome your charges and secure the best possible outcome for your case. The San Diego hit-and-run defense attorney David M. Boertje can assist you in this situation. 

What Rendering Reasonable Assistance Means After a Vehicular Accident

If you are involved in a car accident it does not matter if it is your fault or another party’s fault for the incident happening. When the crash produces property damages or injuries and death,  you have to stay at the scene and render reasonable assistance. This does not necessarily mean that you have to physically administer treatment, although if you are trained to do so you may be able to use your knowledge and skills to help another person suffering physical bodily harm.

Regardless of if you are medically trained or not, rendering reasonable assistance is a must. This may mean that you simply call 9-1-1 to get first responders to the scene to evaluate injured parties and provide them medical aid. It is perfectly acceptable to respond to injured victims of a car accident by calling the emergency line for assistance. However, it is not perfectly acceptable to fail to provide reasonable assistance to people who are suffering harm.

If you are arrested or being investigated for a hit-and-run charge in California, there are a couple of things to know. First, you do not have to talk about your case with the police. Kindly and respectfully asserting your right to silence is the best action to take here. Then, getting in touch with the San Diego criminal defense attorney David M. Boertje can help you defend your rights and potentially keep you out of jail. Continue reading

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