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Articles Tagged with criminal defense

California has peeping tom laws that protect the privacy of the public. The laws are found under Penal Code 647 (i) and (j) — peeking while loitering and invasion of privacy. If you are charged and convicted for either of these crimes you could be facing jail time and expensive fines. The details of your charges will determine how severe your penalties will be.

To protect yourself and your freedoms when you have been charged with peeping tom crimes in California, connect with David M. Boertje, a California criminal defense attorney who has handled thousands of criminal cases. Our legal team can provide you with a defense strategy to improve your chances of having your case dismissed, to help you obtain a not guilty verdict, have your charges reduced, or obtain a favorable plea bargain.

What are California’s Peeping Tom Laws?

Penal Code 647 (i) defines peeking while loitering, which basically makes it illegal for a person to be on private property and look at individuals who inhabit the property. If you are looking in someone’s window or watching a person in their home through their doorway, you could be arrested for peeking while loitering. When you are on another person’s property without their permission and you are watching them, you will be arrested if you are found out. Even if you are caught lingering on someone’s property and looking into the structure on that property and no one is home, you can still be arrested and charged.

Under Penal Code 647 (j), or invasion of privacy, there are ways that a person can spy on others that are illegal. Engaging in any of the following actions will result in an arrest if you are caught:

  • Making use of equipment to keep watch on a person such as would be the case with binoculars;
  • Putting a camera under someone’s clothes without their permission and taking a picture or a video to appease a sexual need; and/or
  • Using equipment to make a recording or to take a picture of a person while they are in a private space to see their body or their underwear.

Both forms of peeping tom activities are considered misdemeanors and jail time can be as long as six months. Fines can be as high as $1,000. If a person is arrested for peeping tom activities on a minor or if a person is arrested more than once for these unlawful activities jail time increases to up to one year and fines are also raised to $2,000. 

There is also the option of a judge providing for probation in lieu of serving time in jail. When this happens, many times the defendant must pay restitution to their victim, provide for regular progress reports to the court, or a combination of both. It is imperative that the defendant follows the orders of the court to keep probation because if they violate the conditions of their probation the judge will cancel this option and instead the defendant will go to jail. Continue reading

Have you been arrested and charged with lewd conduct in San Diego? If you are convicted of lewd conduct in the public sphere in California, you are subject to penalty under California’s Penal Code 647(a). The state characterizes the following actions as lewd conduct under the law:

  • Unwanted touching of other individuals’ genitals or “private parts” in an offensive or aggressive manner or for sexual pleasure.

If you are arrested and eventually convicted of engaging in lewd conduct in the state of California, do not wait to connect with a San Diego criminal defense attorney who can effectively fight the charges against you. David M. Boertje is a San Diego sexual offense attorney who will provide you with the best most proactive and aggressive criminal defense services possible. Sexual crimes do not just come with steep fines and jail time; the stigma that surrounds them can follow you around for your entire life and destroy personal relationships with loved ones as well as preclude you from being able to obtain gainful employment and many more negative life outcomes.

How Can You Fight California Sexual Offense Charges?

It can be an uphill battle fighting California sexual offense charges and clearing your name from the shame and dishonor that could shroud your reputation. You will need to work with a California criminal defense attorney who knows the law, is resourceful, and will provide you with the strongest criminal defense strategy possible. Without a strong defense, lewd conduct, which is a misdemeanor, can come with the following penalties:

  • A sentence of as much as six months in county jail
  • Fines as high as $1,000
  • Both jail time and fines

You may be to avoid jail time and instead only serve probation with the right attorney fighting on your behalf and preserving your legal rights. If you are able to secure probation, you must follow the requirements of the court. Some or a combination of the following actions may be required to avoid jail time while you are under court supervision:

  • Therapy and counseling
  • Community service
  • Adhering to a restraining order and keeping appropriate distance and terminating communication with a victim 
  • Paying restitution

Lewd conduct in California does not require the defendant to become a registered sex offender, which is good news, but if you are convicted, it will be listed in your criminal record. The prosecution arguing the case against you must show evidence that you did willfully engage in lewd conduct for your own personal gratification or to annoy another party in the public or in a location that anyone in the public could see, and that you knew of the people present when you did the act, and that all parties were offended. Continue reading

Scott Peterson became a well-known name when he was convicted of murdering his pregnant wife Laci in 2002. He was facing the death penalty for the murder. Recently, the California Supreme Court overturned his death penalty sentence. According to Justice Leondra Kruger, the trial judge dismissed jurors who were opposed to capital punishment. Discharging prospective jurors was not the right course of action. What should have happened is that these individuals should have been questioned further on their views.

 

The highest court in the state still maintained the guilty verdict of Peterson’s trial and indicated that prosecutors retained the ability to retry him for the death penalty. Not only did Peterson bring up the unfair removal of some jurors, but he also said that the immense amount of publicity that was put on his case before he went to trial precluded fairness. His trial was actually moved to San Mateo County because a judge said that there was no way he could see a fair trial if it took place in Modesto. Peterson’s lawyer said that there still was no fairness in San Mateo County, where a substantial number of jurors interviewed said that they believed he was guilty. For this reason, his trial should have been moved again to an area where there was not such rampant bias.

 

Despite the arguments surrounding the trial’s publicity, the court said that it would be difficult to find an area that had not already heard about the case so continually moving it would not have made a difference. The amount of attention that Peterson’s trial received was on the level of O.J. Simpson and the Manson family. 

 

Prosecutors are determining what course of action to take. They have not come to a decision on whether they will try him again for the death penalty or just allow him to be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. One of the considerations that is going to factor into their decision will be the opinions of Laci’s family.

 

The Disappearance of Laci Peterson

 

Laci Peterson was 27 and only a month away from her due date when she went missing on Christmas Eve. According to Scott Peterson, he was fishing in Berkeley at the time of her disappearance. A search for her went on for four months, until a portion of her body and that of her unborn son was spotted by a passerby who was out on a walk. They were found on the rocky shore only a few miles from the location Scott Peterson said he was fishing. Laci’s family was supportive of Scott initially, not suspecting him. But when his mistress, Amber Frey came forward and admitted that she was dating him, that changed. Scott appeared to try to flee but authorities found him in San Diego county with bleached hair and $15,000, where they arrested him.

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In June, Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order that requires all people who are outside of their homes to have a mask on. People in California have been mandated to have a mask on at all times if they are not at home, and that includes wearing one while walking about outside. Supporting Gov. Newsom’s order is Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who has also ordered those in L.A. to be wearing a mask outside their private homes. However, despite these orders, one Los Angeles Councilman says there are too many people in his district who are not adhering to the requirements and are not wearing masks.

 

Councilman Paul Koretz who represents Bel Air, Westwood, Culver City, Encino, Palms, and South Robertson, says that he sees far too many people walking around his district directly disobeying the mandate. Koretz suggested that there be punishments for those who are not wearing their masks by considering refusal to wear one to be reckless endangerment. Now an L.A. City Council committee is exploring ways to motivate residents to wear masks to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. Recommendations include forms of enforcement including the issuing of citations in addition to a public education campaign explaining the need for masks.

 

Imperial County in California has been negatively impacted by the virus the most in recent weeks. This county, outside of San Diego, is nearing 23% for their test positivity rate over a two-week period. More testing and increased numbers in hospitalization rates from the virus are causing great unease across the state.

 

Gov. Newsom announced that he is leaving the COVID-preventative restrictions to be decided by officials in their respective counties. However, if these counties are unable to figure out an effective way of getting their residents to wear masks, Newsom said he would intervene. Newsome urged officials in Imperial County to re-issue the stay-at-home order and shut back down. 

 

How Does the Los Angeles Police Department Feel About Mask Enforcement Measures?

 

Newsom warned the state that those counties that will not comply with widespread maks-wearing will risk losing some of the $2.5 billion COVID-19 funding. The LAPD has tried to stay on the sidelines thus far, hoping that the public would overwhelmingly decide to wear their masks on their own. Police officials would prefer not to have to issue citations and fines to individuals without masks. There were cases reported of incidents in which people were charged with trespassing when they would not use their masks inside a private business. 

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Protests over the killing of of George Floyd by a police officer in downtown Minneapolis came with waves of violence and looting across the country. In San Diego, the aftermath of prolonged protests that melded with rowdy rioters was over 100 arrests being made by the San Diego Police Department. At approximately 2:30 a.m. on Monday, June 1, the SDPD announced that the charges were diverse and included failure to disperse, assaulting officers, burglary, and vandalism.

 

Due to the unrest, officials decided to close all state buildings with offices located in the downtown area of the city on Monday. Amy Palmer, the spokeswoman for the state Government Operations Agency indicated that the decision was made after discussions between the California Highway Patrol and the Office of Emergency Services, where it was determined that the closures were necessary. The Department of Motor Vehicles all the way through offices that act to license workers and those that provide healthcare were closed down while urging those employees who can work from home to continue to do so.

 

The protests contained very tense moments. At one point, traffic on Interstate 5 was shut down by the protesters’ presence in the streets. In some instances, officers fired tear gas, flashbangs, and used less-lethal ammunition to control the unruly crowds. Much destruction to the community was left afterward. After the protests subsided, a large group of volunteers spent their day cleaning up businesses that were damaged and picked up debris on the ground from the chaos that took place earlier.

 

What is Considered “Vandalism”?

 

When an individual is determined and intent to destroy or bring about damages to property by way of trashing or tarnishing the appearance of the property, defacing it, or ruining it in such a way that its value is decreased, this act is considered vandalism. Vandalism is a willful crime and can include any of the following acts:

 

  • Using a marker to write on a public bench
  • Carving words, letters, or symbols into a public tree
  • Scratching up a car or slashing tires
  • Smashing windows
  • Spray painting buildings

 

There are other terms that are used synonymously “vandalism.” These include “destruction of property” and “damage to property.” Depending on the state you live in, these terms may describe more serious forms of property destruction. Other states use these terms in tandem with vandalism keeping the crimes in the same category. Crimes associated with vandalism, therefore, vary by state, and as such, so do the penalties.

 

In general, in order for you to be proven guilty of committing vandalism, the prosecutor must successfully make the case that the following took place:

 

  • Your acts resulted in physical damage
  • Your damage was done to another owner’s property who did not give you permission to change their property’s appearance
  • Your acts were done intentionally, not by accident

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A decades-old murder mystery in San Diego’s Middletown neighborhood may have finally been solved. A man was arrested in New York on Wednesday, January 29 in connection with the murder. Alvaro Espeleta, 28, was found brutally murdered on December 31, 1975. He was found in his home, located on Reynard Way, badly beaten and strangled.

Espeleta was a dental technician with the U.S. Navy and he was working at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot. When Espeleta was a no-show at work, two co-workers went to his residence to check on him, and they found his dead body. Investigators scrutinized all leads and never had any luck. The case grew old, but investigators kept it active. After 44 years, modern forensic science and technology along with multiple agencies working together found a suspect and put him in custody.

When Espeleta died, he had a palm print on his body, but it was highly difficult for authorities to determine to whom it belonged. 

Dennis Lepage, 62, was placed under arrest in New York when he had his fingerprints taken for a minor charge. His fingerprints were put through a law enforcement database. A match was found between the palm print on Espeleta’s body and the print from Lepage. The match was made, and Lepage was arrested in Troy, New York in connection with the murder of Alvaro Espeleta. Dennis Lepage would have been only 18 years old when he murdered Espeleta. 

According to NCIS, Lepage was also an active duty Navy Sailor who was living in San Diego. A fellow tenant who lived in the apartment building where the murder of Espeleta occurred said that there were red flags when thinking back to Lepage’s apartment. Lepage’s apartment had carpeting when all other tenants had hardwood flooring. The appearance looked as if there was something that the man was trying to cover up.

The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office did not provide comment. The San Diego Police Department gave many thanks to the agencies that helped in the case including NCIS, FBI, DA’s Office, San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, New York State Police, and Albany County Sheriff’s Department to name a few.

Where to Find a Murder and Homicide Attorney in San Diego

Technology is becoming more and more effective. Crimes that occurred many years ago which went cold are now having new evidence introduced causing present-day arrests. If you are facing a murder or homicide charge, from years ago or presently, you need the assistance of an experienced San Diego murder and homicide defense lawyer.   Continue reading

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

What is a Porch Pirate?

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

California Ranks #3 for Porch Pirating

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

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

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

What is Proposition 47?

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

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

Why do People Commit Porch Piracy?

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

How to Prevent Porch Piracy

Below are some tips to prevent porch piracy:

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

Common Defenses to Porch Pirating

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

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

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

Take Time to Plan the Visit

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

Boston, New York, Minneapolis, Denver, and Los Angeles are just a handful of cities in the United States sending teams or co-response teams of police officers and social workers to respond to incidents involving individuals suffering from mental health illness, reports The Economist magazine. 

Many individuals who come into contact with the criminal justice system suffer from undiagnosed mental illness. It is not until they receive their medical examination when they are booked in county jails that mental health professionals are able to assess them and start them on medications to manage the worst of their symptoms.

Those who know they suffer from mental illness may have difficulty medicating themselves, forgetting or skipping their meds, or not being able to afford the medication. How many people experience mental health problems during the criminal justice process is difficult, if not impossible, to quantify. Even though the U.S. Justice Department collects statistics on individuals with mental health problems in the criminal justice system, they rely on self-reported data from local police departments to complete their own assessments. Sharing the information with the U.S. Justice Department is voluntary, so the numbers available do not accurately portray the magnitude of the problem.

New Approach to a Difficult Problem

Studies show that as many as two in four of fatal police shootings nationwide involve a victim suffering from severe psychiatric problems. Most police officers are not trained to deal with mentally ill people. Many more are not advised that they are responding to a scene with a person with severe psychiatric problems. The result is often a fatal misunderstanding that perhaps could have been better resolved with the assistance of a mental health professional.

Police departments are facing severe budget shortfalls. Programs such as the co-response teams are expensive. Funding, when available, is patched together from multiple sources, including federal, state, and local funding and grants from private organizations. Before the program can even be implemented in a community, the social worker must be trained about law enforcement duties, policies, and protection, and the police officers need to be trained about mental health illness and how to respond to individuals experiencing a mental health crisis.

Funding made available to local Police Departments to implement co-response teams, are used to pay for the additional personnel of a social worker, to train social workers about law enforcement, and to train police officers about mental health illnesses and how to respond to individuals experiencing a scary but not life-threatening mental health crisis. Continue reading

We are close to the one-and-a-half-year mark of the legalization of the use and possession of recreational marijuana in California. There is a tremendous amount of misinformation on what is the permissible use and possession of recreational marijuana. The following post will tackle some of these misconceptions.

Use and Possession of Marijuana is Only Legal in 10 states, Including California

When reading about legal marijuana, it is important to focus on the source. More importantly, the state the author is referencing in an article or video is a critical factor. Recreational marijuana is only legal in 10 states. They are California, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Alaska, Colorado, Michigan, Maine, Vermont, and Massachusetts. Each state defines legal recreational marijuana use and possession differently. Use or possession of recreational marijuana is illegal, under federal law, in all 50 states.  

Legal Marijuana can Only be Transported in a Closed Container in the Trunk of a Car

Even though use and possession of recreational marijuana is legal in California, certain uses and types of possession remain illegal and will result in an arrest and charge if detected by police. For example, drivers can possess marijuana in their vehicles so long as it is in a container in the trunk. Even though the driver purchased marijuana legally and possesses a legalized amount, if it is in an open container, in a purse, in a glove-compartment, or on the back seat, an arrest will follow. This law is similar to the open container rule relating to alcohol possession in a car. You would not drive around with an open beer bottle; you cannot drive around with a rolled-up joint on your dashboard. Both types of possession of the legal substance, alcohol or marijuana, will result in a criminal conviction for illegal possession of marijuana or alcohol.

Public Consumption of Marijuana is Illegal in California

Additionally, public consumption of marijuana is illegal in California. While there may be businesses that are licensed for on-site marijuana consumption in California, these businesses may not serve alcohol or allow tobacco use on their premises. This means that bars and clubs cannot allow marijuana consumption on their premises because they serve alcohol. Continue reading

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