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Articles Tagged with California criminal defense attorney

Police have begun a homicide investigation after the body of a deceased male was found in a downtown San Diego high-rise apartment on Monday, January 20. According to the San Diego Police, officers were called out to the scene at Vantage Pointe apartments in the 1200 block of Ninth Avenue by a security guard who worked at the apartment building along with another individual who found the deceased man’s body in one of the apartment units.

The deceased man was identified by the police as a white man in his late 40s. The man had visible trauma to his body. Police believe that the incident appeared suspicious and then determined that it was in fact a homicide. The authorities are looking for information from the public and are urging anyone who has any details to call Crimestoppers.

Homicide Data in San Diego

According to UCR Crimes by GeoArea, from January to August of 2019 there were 31 murders in San Diego. In 1950, there were 10 recorded murders. By 2018, there were 35 murders. That is a steep jump, but the murders recorded in 2018 were not nearly as high as they were in 1991. In 1991 there were 167 murders.

Between January and June of 2019, there were 5,545 violent crimes in San Diego County. This comes out to approximately 31 violent crimes committed each day during that six-month span. Violent crimes include homicide, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. In the first half of 2018, there were 604 homicides in the city. The good news is that compared with the data from 2009, 2019 had a 19% lower violent crime rate.

In California, capital murder is the most serious charge a person can face. Punishment can include:

  • The death penalty by way of the gas chamber or lethal injection 
  • Life in prison without the possibility of parole

First-degree murder in the state falls under California Penal Code 187, and someone charged could be facing the following:

  • 25 years to life in state prison 
  • Hate crime first-degree murder comes with life in state prison without the possibility of parole 

Capital murder and first-degree murder are charges not to be taken lightly. If you are arrested for either, you are looking at many years in prison, if not the death penalty. There is no room for error when you are facing murder charges in California. The qualified and experienced legal representation from David M. Boertje, a San Diego criminal defense lawyer, will ensure that you have the best defense team on your side protecting your legal rights. Continue reading

On Sunday, January 19, a man struck and killed a pedestrian in Sherman Heights. According to the authorities at the San Diego Police Department, the man fled the scene after he hit the pedestrian, and hit another car before stopping for food. 

Apparently the man stopped at Humberto’s Taco Shop located close to Broadway and 25th Street to grab a meal after he hit the pedestrian. There were photos that showed the suspect eating at Humberto’s. After he finished his meal at the restaurant, he was entering his SUV when two women confronted him. He just sped away.

The pedestrian that lost his life was identified by authorities as Jason Gordon, 41, of San Diego. Gordon’s widow, Katie Gordon, was interviewed on Monday, January 20 on CBS8. A devastated Gordon explained that her husband had a love for life, his daughters, his wife, his friends, and his extended family. The Gordon family was in the process of finding a bigger home near San Diego State University to relocate. An operations manager at Tiffany’s, Jason Gordon was leaving a friend’s party when he was hit and killed.

There has been a GoFundMe page set up for the family. According to reports, Gordon was tragically hit by the SUV and dragged 100 feet on the 1800 block of Market Street. The San Diego Police Department has released a picture of the suspect’s vehicle in an attempt to see if the public can help find the man.

Prevalence of Hit-And-Run Accidents

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, when one person who is a part of a vehicular accident flees the scene, the accident becomes a hit-and-run. Across the United States, anyone who is involved in a crash must stay at the scene. It is unlawful to leave without offering information or aid to other parties in the accident; failing to report the crash is not acceptable. 

Unfortunately, the rates of these accidents that result in death are on the rise. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that in 2015 there were 737,100 hit-and-run accidents, which means that one takes place somewhere in the country every 43 seconds. 2016 had the highest number of fatalities from these accidents at 2,049. 

In California, if you are charged with a hit-and-run you could be facing either a misdemeanor or a felony. The seasoned California hit-and-run defense attorneys at the Law Offices of David M. Boertje know how to fight on behalf of defendants and win. Facing a hit-and-run charge in San Diego or the North County area means that you could have your life significantly altered for the worse. You need effective legal representation to preserve your legal rights. Continue reading

The Times of San Diego is reporting that there is video documentation in addition to a photo of an individual committing arson on January 12. A male set fire to a clothing alteration business in the Talmadge area around 12:30 a.m. that Sunday. The damages to the store cost approximately $1 million. The man was seen riding his bicycle up to the front of the doors of AA Fashion located at 4644 El Cajon Boulevard and setting it on fire. According to the San Diego Police, after he ignited the flames, he rode away.

The business was completely destroyed by the damages from the fire. The police are asking the public for information related to the suspect and his whereabouts. Anyone with tips will be kept anonymous and may be eligible to be rewarded up to $1,000.

Fire Statistics

In the United States, the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) indicates that cooking is the number one cause of residential fires. Cooking is responsible for 51.6% of all residential fires. Heating issues come in second causing 9.1% of all residential fires in the country. There are 15 causes stated by USFA in order of most common for residential fires. Intentional fires to a residential structure come in at number six and are responsible for 4.2% of all these fires.

In 2017, there were an estimated 1,900 fatalities from fires and 13.1% of them were intentionally caused. Also that year, there were 7,000 injuries from fires. 

When it comes to non-residential establishments, cooking still tops the list of the most common causes. In non-residential buildings cooking is the cause of 30.4% of the fires. Interestingly, the third-highest factor behind non-residential fires is from intentional causes. Roughly 9.8% of all non-residential fires were set intentionally.

Fire deaths occur most commonly in residential fires. While residential fires account for approximately 28.9% of all fires, they result in 77.6% of all fire deaths. Non-residential fires occur in 8.7% of all fires. Vehicle fires are more common than one may think, as these make up 14.3% of all fires.

What are the Arson Laws in California?

Penal Code 451 describes the state of California’s arson laws. In our state aggravated arson comes with up to five years in state prison when:

  • The person committing the arson has a felony on their record already for reckless arson under Penal Code 451 or 452. 
  • Great bodily injury or substantial physical harm is done to a first responder like a firefighter, police officer, or any other emergency personnel
  • If there is more than one person who has great bodily injuries 

Continue reading

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

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