Articles Tagged with violent crime

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

For a long time, hot weather has been associated with crime, particularly in cities throughout the U.S. Temperatures have been on the rise in American cities and around the world, with the last two years registering some of the warmest temperatures on record. For example, for decades the trend has been that in colder months fewer people are murdered.

The weather does not cause crime. Crime is caused by people’s actions. The rising temperature affects people differently. Hot weather either sends people out to cool down or in to cool off. Minor inconveniences can quickly escalate to an argument and then to violence because heat tends to make people physically uncomfortable. Feelings of irritability and anger are higher when the temperature is higher.

2017 Crime Rates in the United States

Every year, the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) releases statistics of crime rates in America. The violent crime rate seems to have peaked in 2016. 1,250,162 violent crimes were reported in 2016. In 2017, the number decreased to 1,247,321 violent crimes. Violent crimes are against people and include murder and manslaughter, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault.

San Diego Violent Crime Rates are Down

San Diego is a city with approximately 1.42 million inhabitants and ranks as one of the top 10 most populous cities in the country. Of all the most populous cities in America, San Diego ranks as one of the safest cities when it comes to violent crime. In 2017, according to the FBI, the police investigated 5,221 violent crimes. Ahead of San Diego are San Jose, New York, San Antonio, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Dallas, Philadelphia, Houston, and Chicago. The most violent crimes occurred in the cities of Chicago, Houston, and Philadelphia.With respect to property crimes, San Diego had the second lowest rate with 18.4 crimes reported per 1,000 residents.

Have You Been Charged with a Felony Crime in California?

Felony crimes are the most serious criminal offenses in California. The penalties include long prison terms, and repeat offenders may face life imprisonment for future crimes. If you have been charged with a felony crime in California, consult a qualified San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney who can help mitigate penalties and prison sentences. Continue reading

In a tragic turn of events, seven adults were shot at a University City apartment complex pool party earlier this month. One woman named Monique Clark was killed. Witnesses say that  49-year-old Peter Selis, a resident at the upscale La Jolla Crossroads complex, never even left his pool chair when he opened fire on a birthday party.  The question left in everyone’s mind is whether Selis was motivated by race, something that the witnesses and survivors of the shooting believe to be true. All the victims of the mass shooting were people of color – four black women, two black men, and one Latino man.  

The three police offers who arrived at the scene shot and killed Mr. Selis. The preliminary investigation revealed that Mr. Selis is a car mechanic at a Ford dealership, and a 2015 bankruptcy filing illustrated that he was under crushing debt.

Hate Crimes

According to the FBI, a hate crime is a “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.”

Hate crimes are the only criminal case in which prosecutors are required to prove a perpetrator’s motive at trial. Typically, the defendant’s mens rea, or criminal intent, is all that is needed to prove guilt. This means that the perpetrator’s state of mind must be an element of the crime; he or she must have taken action intentionally to pursue a criminal result. For example, if a gunman opens fire on a crowd, prosecutors must prove that he intended to pull the trigger (the action) and shoot people to harm them (the criminal result). With hate crimes, prosecution must prove that the perpetrator had the mens rea  to shoot people, but that he or she was also motivated by the victim’s race, gender, or religion.

As a result, hate crimes are extremely difficult to prove even if the crime of shooting is considered by some to be a ‘slam dunk’ case. The mere difference between the race of the offender and the victim in and of itself, absent of any other objective bias indicators, is unlikely to result in a conviction. Usually there must be more evidence to examine the surrounding circumstances. This may include statements the suspect made prior to the crime, which do not exist in the case of Mr. Selis.

A total of 84 “hate crime events” were reported in 2016 in San Diego. Continue reading

It has already been reported several times that Prop 47 may be affecting crime rates in the state, but the state’s most damning evidence was just recently released. According to the state’s attorney general’s most recent report, the number of violent crimes jumped 10% across California last year, reversing several years of declines.

According to Attorney General Kamala Harris, homicides have increased by 10%, while robberies and aggravated assaults were up more than 8% from 2014 to 2015. Aggravated assaults with a firearm were even higher, with a reported jump of 15.7%.  It was also reported that property crimes such as burglary and car theft have increased by 8%.

Harris, who is currently running for the U.S. Senate in anticipation of Boxer’s upcoming retirement, did not comment on the causes of these crime spikes. Many factors could be to blame, ranging from unemployment rates to the police departments being short staffed.

In the state of Texas, like many other states, police are saying that more crimes are being committed with imitation weapons like BB guns because they are made so realistically, are cheaper, and easier to obtain. Fake weapons like BB guns can be bought for as little as $25 and require no background check. Criminals also mistakenly believe that they will avoid harsher sentences if they are caught possessing a fake weapon instead of a real one.

In the county of Arlington, Texas, police have reportedly seen at least half a dozen crimes committed with a BB gun, imitation gun, or airsoft gun instead of a real one. In the most recent case, Arlington PD caught a teenager robbing someone with a fake gun, and the Houston PD says that the use of these fake weapons has risen over the years.

In states like Texas, New Jersey, and even California, if the victim of a crime believes the weapon is real, that is enough to warrant a felony charge as if the weapon were real.

A man named Jose Ricardo Garibay, 26, is accused of dousing a stranger, 39-year-old Julio Edeza, with a flammable liquid in a busy Oak Park parking lot and setting him on fire. The victim Edeza has been hospitalized and is currently in critical condition. He was taken to UCSD Medical Center with burns covering most of his body.

Garibay was arrested near his home in the 6200 block of Estrella Avenue. He surrendered without incident, and according to police accounts, was “very matter-of-fact about [his] arrest.”

Earlier this week, Garibay pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted murder, aggravated mayhem, and torture. He is being held without bail and faces life in prison if convicted.  Additionally, special circumstance allegations could be added if the victim does not survive.  Investigators have not determined a motive for the apparently random attack and law enforcement do not believe the assailant and victim knew each other. A status conference was set for April 29 and a preliminary hearing for May 3.

The Crime of “Torture” in California

While it sounds like a crime associated with a federal terrorism statute, the state of California has its own law addressing “torture,” which was passed into law in 1990 by way of a California ballot initiative. See CA Penal Code § 206.  CA Penal Code § 206 defines torture as:

  • Inflicting great bodily injury on another person,;
  • With the intent to cause extreme pain and suffering or permanent disability;
  • “For the purpose of revenge, extortion, persuasion or any sadistic purpose.”

It is not necessary for the perpetrator to intend to kill a victim to be able to be charged and convicted of torture. However, in California, if a murder is committed willfully using torture, it is then considered a “special circumstances murder,” which means an automatic life sentence with no possibility of parole. This means that if someone dies as a result of being tortured. even if you only intended to maliciously assault him, you will be looking a life sentence.

By itself, torture is a felony punishable by a life sentence and a fine up to $10,000. If you are convicted with torture, you will not be eligible to seek a parole hearing until at least seven years into your sentence. Continue reading

Earlier this month, the news reported Salinas Councilman Jose Castaneda’s new slew of legal problems, and this time they go beyond whether or not he is legally holding two elected offices.  Salinas police announced that Castaneda was arrested and charged with kidnapping, false imprisonment, and felony domestic violence. According to reports, Castaneda was waiting for his ex-girlfriend when she arrived at her home on Friday night. He allegedly forced the woman into a van, drove away to another location, and held her hostage for several hours. During that time, police believe he assaulted her, leaving her with the bruises that led to the felony charge of domestic violence. Castaneda allegedly eventually released the woman and allowed her to walk home.

Castaneda and his attorney, Anthony Prince, eventually contacted police and said he would turn himself in to police. They asked police if it could wait until after a press conference Castaneda had scheduled for Thursday morning. Police took him into custody at the press conference. If convicted of the felony charges, California law would disallow Castaneda from holding any state office, and he would also face the legal ramifications associated with those charges. His bail is currently set for $100,000.

California False Imprisonment Law