Articles Tagged with criminal defense

For the last two weeks the owner of the New England Patriots football team has been the subject of many jokes and conjecture in regards to his sex life following his recent arrest and charge for solicitation of prostitutes in Jupiter, Florida. As many as 300 people are expected to be arrested in the latest law enforcement crackdown of sex trafficking in massage parlors in that region. Kraft faces two counts of soliciting another to commit prostitution, which are misdemeanor charges allegedly based on two separate visits to the Orchids of Asia Day Spa.

The massage parlor at the center of the Kraft investigation, the Orchids of Asia Day Spa, was shut down along with nine other massage parlor businesses in Florida. The massage parlors are accused of running a prostitution service out of their stores. These massage parlors are often located in strip malls and advertise half an hour to an hour massages for a fee. Instead of a massage, however, sexual acts are performed by the workers.

Women were also arrested during this crackdown. The women were identified as sex workers or victims of sex trafficking. The sex trafficking victims are new arrivals to the United States. They are recruited in their hometowns overseas or in the U.S. immediately after their arrival under false pretenses of a legitimate job. Once here, however, they are forced to become sex workers against their will.

Sex Trafficking in San Diego

The weekend before the Super Bowl, the FBI made splashy headlines around the nation when they announced the arrest of 139 people in the greater Atlanta Georgia area for soliciting sex from prostitutes. The Florida and Georgia stings may seem remote, but San Diego conducts such stings regularly. In January 2018, 29 people were arrested for soliciting sex during a sex trafficking sting operation here in California. The FBI lists San Diego as one of the 13 highest sex trafficking areas in the country.

Massage parlors are part of many sting operations because they are a common place at which these types of activities occur. An investigation published by WNBC San Diego in November of 2018 found that 243 massage parlors in San Diego offered sex acts to clients as a service. The practice is so rampant, that a subscription-based website was created to provide reviews and pricing of the services members received. Continue reading

Domestic violence, according to The National Domestic Violence Hotline, is a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship. The behavior becomes criminal when one partner hits or strikes the other partner, known as battery, which is often part of the pattern of abusive behavior. Other words used to describe domestic violence include intimate partner violence, domestic abuse, or relationship abuse.  

Who is an Intimate Partner?

Domestic battery as opposed to battery is a crime against a close family member or among persons in an amorous relationship, regardless of sexual orientation. An intimate partner includes a current or former spouse, a fiancé, co-parent of your child, a person you are dating, or a person who lives with you.

Domestic Battery Under the California Law

To be convicted of domestic battery under California law, the prosecution must prove that the accused person inflicted unlawful force or violence upon an intimate partner. (California Penal Code §243(e)(1)). If that charge fails, the prosecutor may charge the accused person with assault or battery.

Penalties for Misdemeanor Domestic Battery

Individuals convicted, by a guilty plea or after a trial, can face up to $2,000 in fines, be sentenced to one year in county jail, and be required to complete year-long treatment program for batterers. Beginning on January 1, 2019, there is the additional penalty of taking away the right of the accused person to own a gun for life.

Misdemeanor Domestic Battery Conviction Triggers Gun Ownership Ban

Any person convicted of misdemeanor domestic battery in California after January 1, 2019, even if it is a first offense, loses his or her right to own a gun for life. The imposition of the lifetime ban on gun ownership for convicted persons became law as part of Assembly Bill §3129 and is now part of the Penal Code at §273.5

Help is Available for the Accused Person

The National Domestic Violence Hotline helps the accused person as well as the victim of intimate partner violence. Per the hotline, if you are questioning your own behavior at all, or if someone else has brought it to your attention, acknowledging it is a step in the right direction. Give us a call today at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or chat online with us to start the conversation. Continue reading

This week a San Francisco free-speech group, the First Amendment Coalition, sued the California Attorney General and Justice Department over their refusal to disclose police misconduct records under the state’s new transparency laws. Last year the Senate passed a bill providing the public with greater access to police personnel files as well as greater access to video or audio from police shootings or deadly use of force encounters. Details surrounding both laws are described below.

Greater Access to Police Personnel Files

The California Penal Code was amended with Senate Bill §1421 to permit more access to police and prison personnel records. In the past, police and prison personnel records were not disclosed for confidentiality reasons even for litigation and public-records requests.

While police and prison personnel records are still confidential, they may be released in situations in which one or more of the following conditions apply.

  • When a gun is fired by police or prison personnel that results in death or great bodily injury;
  • A sustained finding that police or prison personnel sexually assaulted someone; or
  • A sustained finding that police or prison personnel were dishonest in a criminal case or in the investigation of another police or prison officer.

A sustained finding is a decision by investigational authorities in cases of police or prison personnel misconduct that finds fault in the conduct of the police or prison officer.

Greater Access to Video and Audio From Police Shootings

Assembly Bill §748 also amended the California Government Code and provides the public with greater access to video or audio from police shootings or deadly use of force incidents that result in death or great bodily injury.

The right to receive access to video and audio is not absolute. A police department or prison may deny disclosure or release of the video and audio recordings if the incident is under investigation and if would violate someone’s privacy rights. Assembly Bill §748 goes into effect on July 1, 2019.

Charged With a Misdemeanor or Felony Crime in California?

Most people in the criminal justice system are first-time offenders. For many accused people it may be the first and only criminal case they have in their lifetime. Understanding your rights and the steps involved to resolve a criminal case brings peace of mind during a turbulent and scary time for you and your loved ones.

Contact an experienced and knowledgeable San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney who can help mitigate penalties 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

An arrest is an undeniably traumatic experience. The simple question, am I free to go, will be answered with an affirmative “no.” Keep in mind that once the police officer starts the arrest process, he or she has probable cause to believe that you have committed a crime. If during the arrest process, you resist arrest, for example, you will receive an additional charge and that charge can stand on its own regardless of whether there is a conviction for the underlying arrest charge.

While you have a constitutional right to disrespect a police officer, if you desire to do so, we advise against it. It complicates the process. Resisting arrest can involve more than physical acts. Spitting on the police officer can support a conviction for resisting arrest, as well.

If you are arrested or taken to a police station:

  • DO tell the police your name and basic identifying information. But nothing else.
  • DO say “I want to remain silent” and “I want to talk to a lawyer.” The police should stop questioning you after that.
  • DO make sure you get your three phone calls within three hours of getting arrested or immediately after being booked. You can call a lawyer, bail bondsman, relative, or any other person. If you have children under 18, you get two additional calls to arrange childcare. Memorize phone numbers ahead of time.
  • DO know the police are recording your calls (except the call with your lawyer).

    If you are arrested or taken to a police station:
  • DON’T give police any information except for your name and basic identifying information.
  • DON’T give police a fake name or your cousin’s name. This may lead to another charge.
  • DON’T give explanations, excuses, or stories about your conduct or the subject of the police investigation. Calmly say, “I want to remain silent” and “I want to talk to a lawyer.”
  • DON’T talk about your case on the phone with anyone. The police might be recording your phone calls (except those to your lawyer).
  • DON’T make any decisions in your case without talking to a lawyer.
  • DON’T discuss your citizenship or immigration status with anyone other than your lawyer.

Continue reading

This time of year, there is an uptick in muggings, when someone is attacked and robbed in public. It can happen as a person enters his or her home, walks out of a restaurant, steps off the bus, or walks through a mall parking lot. Robbery is the taking of property from another person against his or her will by fear or force. The force may involve a weapon, such as a gun or bat, or physical force, like pushing the victim, punching the victim, or kicking the victim. Robbery in California is considered a serious and violent offense. Almost always charged with a felony, the highest crime classification in the state, individuals convicted of robbery face years in state prison.

Robbery Law in California

Under the California Penal Code at Section 211, anyone who purposefully steals someone else’s property by using force or fear will be convicted of robbery. The use of force can be pushing, hitting, slapping, grabbing, or any non-consensual contact. Fear includes any verbal act, such as threats of harm, conditional threats, and non-verbal threats like lifting up a shirt to show a gun.

An individual can be charged with first-degree robbery in California if the victim is a person performing his or her duties as an operator of a bus, taxi, cable car, street car, or any other vehicle used for the transportation of people for hire; the passengers of such vehicles; people in an inhabited residence; or a person using an ATM. A conviction of first-degree robbery can result in up to nine years in state prison.

Second degree robbery charges will follow if the accused person takes something that does not belong to him or her, in the presence of another person, and without the victim’s consent, and the accused person used force or fear and deprived the victim or owner of personal property. A conviction for second-degree robbery can result in up to five years in state prison. Continue reading

This week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced he would bring the First Step Act, a bipartisan criminal justice reform bill, to a vote. The proposed bill would bring criminal justice reform to individuals facing current charges and potentially cut the sentence of individuals currently serving time in federal prison.

Giving Federal Judges Sentencing Discretion

The bill proposes to give federal judges more discretion during the sentencing phase. Nonviolent crimes, particularly drug offenses, would receive shorter prison sentences. Some federal inmates would be placed in prisons closer to their homes – no more than 500 miles – making it easier for families to visit their loved ones.

Offering Rehabilitation Programs to Inmates

The bill seeks to expand prison employment programs so inmates could earn wages while they serve their federal prison sentence. Home confinement would be available for lower-level offenders, reducing the cost of housing non-violent offenders in federal prisons. Some minimum or low-risk offenders would be eligible for early release if they participate in education and rehabilitation programs aimed at reducing recidivism (returning to prison for a new offense once original sentence is served). Lastly, the bill would bar the use of restraints on pregnant inmates during labor.

Introducing Controversial Risk-Assessment System

The bill would set up a risk-assessment system to determine whether an inmate is likely to commit more crimes when released. This measure is controversial because of the high potential for bias, especially against minority communities.

Addressing Sentencing Disparities

The Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 reduced the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine sentences for individuals convicted of possession after 2010. The newly proposed bill seeks to apply the same rule to any individuals convicted of crack offenses retroactively, or before the 2010 Act became effective.

Text – S.3649 – 115th Congress (2017-2018): First Step Act

Hire a San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney to Petition Court for Early Release

If a loved one is serving time in federal prison for a non-violent drug related offense, contact a San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney to petition the court for early release. Petitions need to be filed in court with participation with the U.S. District Attorney’s office after your loved one completes some rehabilitation programs, or outright if his or her conviction stems from possession of crack prior to 2010. If you currently face drug possession charges, contact a San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney to help reduce your sentence. Continue reading

For the third year in a row, the rate of hate crimes increased in California. According to a report released by the California Attorney General’s office, there were 1,093 reported hate crimes in California in 2017, a 17.4% increase. This statistic follows an uptick in hate crimes since 2014: The amount of reported incidents jumped 44% in that three-year span.

What is a Hate Crime?

Hate crimes target people based on their race, sexual orientation, religion, or other protected class. More than half of the hate crimes reported in California last year involved racial basis, Black people, in particular, represented 27% of such reported incidents.

Hate Speech or Hate Crime?

Hate Speech is behavior motivated by hate but legally protected by the First Amendment right to freedom of expression. Examples include name-calling, insults, distributing hate material in public places, and displaying hate material on a person’s own property. Hate speech is permitted by the U.S. Constitution so long as it does not interfere with the civil rights of others.

A hate crime is a crime against a person, group, or property motivated by the victim’s real or perceived protected social group.

California Hate Crime Laws

Intent or motive to commit a crime is at the heart of most criminal offenses. Under the law, if one of the motivators for committing the crime is hate, the accused person will be subject to enhanced penalties, like a longer prison sentence or steeper fines.

California considers a person’s disability, gender, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation protected characteristics. If a person is harmed, threatened, or harassed because of the person’s protected characteristics, then the law imposes severe additional punishment for the criminal offender.

How to Spot a Hate Crime

A hate crime occurs when a victim or property is targeted because they belong to a protected group, like race or religion. During the commission of the crime, the perpetrator often makes verbal comments showing prejudice.

Have You Been Charged With a Hate Crime in California?

Committing a violent crime against an individual from a protected class California is a serious offense. If you have been charged with a hate crime in California, you can face heavy fines and years of imprisonment. Consult a qualified San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney who can help mitigate your penalties. Continue reading

Many employers conduct criminal background checks when individuals apply for a job. If you have been arrested or convicted of a crime, getting a job can become a stressful undertaking because some employers do not hire individuals with arrest or conviction records. Depending on the job, some classes of convicted people may be prohibited by law from getting hired.

Problems with Criminal Background Check Reports

It is not uncommon for an applicant to have incorrect or missing information in their criminal background check report. Reports can be mismatched, contain inaccurate information, include someone else’s information, or misclassify the criminal offense.

Expunging or Sealing Criminal Conviction Records

People who committed crimes when they were minors or people who have old criminal convictions can seek that their arrest and criminal conviction records be expunged, meaning they are hidden or sealed from public disclosure. This helps individuals put past behavior away and keep it from affecting their future employment or housing prospects.

Federal Laws that Protect Individuals with Arrest and Conviction Records

There are two main laws, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and Title VII that protect individuals from discrimination in employment because of prior arrest and conviction records. Under the FCRA, background checks that look into an individual’s criminal records, may not include arrest records that are more than seven years old, unless the position pays more than $75,000 a year. Conviction records however, have no such time limit. Title VII prohibits discrimination including in job screening and hiring practices in employment and frowns upon employment practices that issue blanket prohibitions against employment people with prior arrests or convictions.

Charged with a Misdemeanor Crime in California?

It is important that a person accused of a crime talk with his or her criminal defense attorney to understand the impact of a criminal conviction on his or her employment options. Current jobs may be lost after a person pleads guilty to a crime and future job opportunities may be curtailed because of an arrest or criminal conviction.

For example, if you are employed in commercial driving and you are arrested for driving while intoxicated, you may lose your commercial drivers’ license immediately. No drivers’ license means you can not work while your case is pending.

If you have been charged with a crime in California, you can face either a misdemeanor or felony charge along with heavy fines and years of imprisonment. Contact a qualified San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney who can help mitigate penalties today and explain your legal rights and responsibilities. Continue reading

Criminal behavior in California is defined by law and contained in the state’s statutes. If a person engages in actions the state has determined are criminal, he or she will be prosecuted in criminal court and possibly be convicted of the crime.

People today are well-informed and aware of the criminal justice system through what they see on TV and in movies, although they may not have much personal experience with it. True crime stories are highly publicized and have armchair jurors making judgments about the guilt or innocence of accused people. So, let us go over the basic of criminal charges in California.

There are four main types of crime:

  • Crimes against the person: Personal crimes are considered crimes against the person. They result in physical or mental harm to another person. Examples of personal crimes are assault, battery, false imprisonment, kidnapping, homicide, and rape.
  • Crimes against property: Property crimes are considered crimes against property. Things, rather than people, are harmed or another person’s right to use or enjoy property is taken away. These include larceny, robbery, burglary, arson, embezzlement, forgery, false pretenses, and receipt of stolen goods.
  • Inchoate crimes: Incomplete crimes are called inchoate crimes. These offenses were started by the perpetrator, but were not completed. The word attempt is often added to the underlying offense, like attempted homicide or attempted rape. In addition to attempt, these crimes also include solicitation and conspiracy.
  • Statutory crimes: Certain behavior by itself is not illegal, but state laws make it illegal. A good example of this is alcohol-related crimes, like driving under the influence of alcohol. Drinking by itself is not a crime. It only becomes a crime when the person tries to drive while under the influence. This type of behavior is called a statutory crime.

Have You Been Charged with a Crime in California?

Penalties for criminal convictions depend on the seriousness of the crime. The more serious crimes, like kidnapping and robbery, carry a year or more in prison. Misdemeanors are less serious and carry less than a year in jail. Both also carry monetary fines. If you face criminal charges in California, consult a qualified San Diego criminal defense attorney who can help mitigate your penalties. Continue reading

Changes to California’s felony murder rule with respect to accomplices has been the subject of the last posts. For background information on accomplice liability in California, click here. Access our last post for the background on SB-1437 and how it applies to new cases. The following post will examine the application of SB-1437 to past cases.

I am Already Serving a Life Sentence for Felony Murder as an Accomplice, is There Anything I can do to Get out of Jail Sooner?

SB-1437 contains a provision for defendants that have already been convicted of felony murder and were an accomplice in the original charge. Keep in mind that as an accomplice you are liable for the underlying felony. Any time allotted to the underlying felony must be served. The sentence that is reduced or eliminated has to do with the murder. The practical effect of the new law is less time in prison for individuals charged with felony murder as an accomplice after September 30, 2018.

Individuals serving time for felony murder as an accomplice before September 30, 2018, are now able to petition the court for a reduced sentence if they did not kill or intend to kill the victim in the felony murder charge.

SB-1437 provide a means of vacating the conviction and resentencing a defendant when a complaint, information, or indictment was filed against the defendant that allowed the prosecution to proceed under a theory of first degree felony murder or murder under the natural and probable consequences doctrine, the defendant was sentenced for first degree or second degree murder or accepted a plea offer in lieu of a trial at which the defendant could be convicted for first degree or second degree murder, and the defendant could not be charged with murder after the enactment of this bill.

Serving Time for Felony Murder as an Accomplice?

SB-1437 requires the participation of district attorneys and public defenders in the resentencing process. The individual appears in court again to be resentenced. Your attorney will address the mitigating circumstances and facts that demonstrate that you acted as an accomplice in the underlying felony but did not commit the homicide or intend to commit the homicide. It is critical that you contact the San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney if your loved one is incarcerated to discuss the possibility of a resentence for a felony murder conviction as an accomplice. Continue reading