Author Archive

THE HGN TEST – ENTIRELY UNRELIABLE?

Posted on: September 23, 2015 by in DUI
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California Vehicle Codes 23152(a) and 23152(b)

Orange County DUI defense attorneyIf the police stop you in Orange County because they suspect that you’re driving under the influence, they may ask you to take one or more field sobriety tests (FSTs). Field sobriety tests are supposed to determine if you are too impaired to drive, but there’s substantial ongoing disagreement over the accuracy and usefulness of FSTs. If you are arrested for driving under the influence because you failed a field sobriety test, put your case at once in the hands of an experienced Orange County DUI defense attorney.

California police departments employ FSTs developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Southern California Research Institute. However, if it’s not rightly conducted, a field sobriety test can be difficult for even a healthy, sober driver to pass. The test that seems to be popular with police officers is called the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test. Because alcohol disrupts the brain’s ability to control eye muscles, a jerking or bouncing of the eye – a movement called the nystagmus – becomes more apparent. An HGN test consists of a police officer asking you to watch the movement of a small object. As you’re looking, the officer looks at you to detect eye movement. Frankly, the entire procedure is suspect, and in the estimate of many, entirely unreliable. Failing the HGN test doesn’t even mean that you’re intoxicated – many who fail the test are using prescription medications or suffering from a neurological or visual impairment.

If you are arrested for DUI in Orange County on the basis of an HGN test, let an experienced Orange County DUI lawyer go to work for you. A good DUI lawyer can safeguard your rights, dispute the results of field sobriety tests, and fight diligently on your behalf for the justice you deserve. Arrange immediately to speak with an experienced Orange County DUI defense attorney if you are charged with DUI under California Vehicle Codes 23152(a) and 23152(b) – now or in the future – anywhere in southern California.

MORE EMBEZZLEMENT ALLEGED IN L.A.

Posted on: September 21, 2015 by in Criminal Defense
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California Penal Code 503

Orange County criminal defense lawyerProsecutors have charged two executives of a Los Angeles County group home for young people with embezzlement. The charges against Gary Batchelor and Steven Smith, the financial officer and executive director of Moore’s Cottage, mark the second time in a year that the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office has alleged criminal wrongdoing within the multimillion dollar group home industry that cares for some of our state’s most at-risk youth. Batchelor and Smith are accused of embezzling more than $100,000 from Moore’s Cottage. If you’re charged with embezzlement in Orange County, you’re going to need good legal help fast. You’ll need to contact an experienced Orange County criminal defense lawyer as quickly as possible.

Embezzlement in California is the direct theft, misappropriation, or falsification of financial documents to obtain funds illegally. Embezzlement is punishable under California Penal Code 503 as grand theft or as petty theft – it depends on the value and the type of property embezzled. If the property is valued at more than $950, the embezzlement is grand theft and may be prosecuted as either a misdemeanor or as a felony. A conviction for misdemeanor grand theft embezzlement is punishable by a year in custody; a conviction for felony grand theft embezzlement may be punished by up to 3 years in a California state prison. When the property stolen is valued at less than $950, the charge will be petty theft embezzlement, a misdemeanor punishable upon conviction by up to 6 months in jail.

If a mistake or a misunderstanding leads to an embezzlement charge against you, you’ll need an experienced Orange County defense lawyer who can explain the misunderstanding and help to clear you of the charge. In the worst situation – the evidence against you is overwhelming, and you’re convicted – a good defense attorney will fight for reduced or alternative sentencing on your behalf. If you are charged with embezzlement in southern California now or in the future, call an experienced Orange County criminal defense lawyer as quickly as possible.

HATE CRIMES DOWN IN ORANGE COUNTY

Posted on: September 18, 2015 by in Criminal Defense
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California Penal Code 422.6, 422.7, and 422.75

Orange County criminal defense attorneyBack in June, California Attorney General Kamala Harris reported a significant decline in hate crimes in this state in 2014. Now Orange County is reporting the same good news. Hate crimes in Orange County dropped 18 percent in 2014 from 2013, and in the last decade, hate crimes in the county have declined by fifty percent, according to the Orange County Human Relations Commission’s annual report released in August. A hate crime is any crime motivated by an alleged hatred of a person’s race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, disability, or gender identity. If you’re accused of a crime in Orange County and the authorities charge it as a hate crime, immediately contact an experienced Orange County criminal defense attorney.

Blacks continue to be the top target of hate crimes in Orange County as they have been since 1991. Eleven hate crimes were reported against black people in Orange County in 2014, the same as in 2013. There were also eight hate crimes against gays and lesbians in Orange County in 2014, six hate crimes against Jews, and three hate crimes directed at Arabs or Muslims. Under California Penal Code 422.6, you may not interfere with someone else’s civil rights or damage or destroy another person’s property because of that person’s racial, ethnic, religious, or gender traits. Under California Penal Code 422.7 and 422.75, if you commit a crime of violence motivated by the victim’s racial, ethnic, religious, or gender traits, the offense will be prosecuted as a hate crime, and if you are convicted, your sentence for the original crime can be substantially enhanced.

“We’ve been seeing a steady and consistent decline in hate crimes, so it’s really good news,” said Rusty Kennedy, executive director of the Orange County Human Relations Commission. He credited the decline to a “collaborative effort” between law enforcement and community organizations. To convict you of a hate crime, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that hate was a motivating factor, so if you are charged with a hate crime, you must have a good criminal defense attorney fighting on your behalf. If you’re accused of any hate crime in Orange County, put your case immediately in the hands of an experienced Orange County criminal defense attorney.

YOU CAN LOSE YOUR RIGHT TO OWN A GUN

Posted on: September 16, 2015 by in Criminal Defense
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Orange County criminal defense attorneyThe right to bear arms is fundamental to our constitutional system. Even if you are not a gun owner, your right to own a gun in California is something that you do not want to lose. However, California’s firearms laws are strict. If you are convicted of a felony or particular misdemeanors, you will lose your right to possess a gun in California. You can lose your right to own a firearm for at least ten years if you are convicted of:

  • any felony
  • threatening a police officer or intimidating witnesses
  • possessing a deadly weapon with the intent to intimidate witnesses
  • battery, assault, or sexual battery
  • discharging a firearm in a grossly negligent manner

If you are charged in Orange County with any of the crimes listed here, discuss your legal rights and options immediately with an experienced Orange County criminal defense attorney. If you are employed in a field such as law enforcement, private security, or firearm sales, losing your firearm rights could mean losing your job and having fewer employment opportunities in the future.

A conviction on domestic violence charges like stalking, making criminal threats, or harassment can trigger the loss of your firearm rights. Many Californians who lose their firearm rights lose them because of a domestic violence conviction. To regain your gun rights, it’s a complicated procedure. First, you’ll need to have a felony conviction reduced to a misdemeanor conviction, and then you’ll have to have the conviction for the misdemeanor expunged. If you are convicted of brandishing or discharging a firearm, you may never be able to regain your gun rights.

Frankly, it all finally depends on your personal circumstances and your criminal record. If you are accused of a crime in southern California, retain legal counsel at once, and if you are concerned about your firearm rights, make the call immediately to an experienced Orange County criminal defense attorney who can provide sound legal advice to you and aggressive defense representation on your behalf.

MAN CONVICTED OF MAKING THREATS

Posted on: September 14, 2015 by in Criminal Defense
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California Penal Code 422

Orange County criminal defense attorneyYour right to freedom of speech is fully protected in California and everywhere else in the United States. That means you freely have the right to express any opinion, no matter how extreme or unpopular that opinion might be. What you may not do, however, is threaten violence or intimidate someone by threatening violence. That’s called making criminal threats. It’s a crime in California, and if you’re charged with making criminal threats, you’ll need the help of an experienced Orange County criminal defense attorney. One man from La Mesa recently learned that no matter how strongly you feel or how right you may think you are, criminal threats are not tolerated by California courts.

John David Weissinger, who telephoned threats to the San Diego and Washington offices of a prominent Islamic group after the Charlie Hebdo massacre in France in January, pleaded guilty to a felony in August. Weissinger, 54, pleaded guilty in San Diego County Superior Court to the felony charge of making a criminal threat determined to be a hate crime, according to Reuters. Making “criminal threats” can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or as a felony under California Penal Code 422. The crime is making a threat to kill or injure someone unequivocally and with enough specificity that the person receiving the threat is put in a state of reasonably “sustained fear” for his or her immediate safety or the safety of his or her family. The threat may be verbal, written, or electronically transmitted.

Weissinger, who lives in the San Diego suburb of La Mesa, made the threats a week after militants invaded the Paris offices of the magazine Charlie Hebdo on January 7 and killed 11 people. On January 15, Weissinger left messages at the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) offices in San Diego and Washington threatening a retaliatory attack. “He had consumed copious amounts of alcohol. He acted on his drunken emotions without really thinking it through,” Weissinger’s attorney said. If you are charged with making criminal threats in Orange County, whether you’re innocent or guilty, you’re going to need aggressive defense representation fast. Contact an experienced Orange County criminal defense attorney. If you are arrested for making criminal threats, get the help you need and make the call as quickly as possible.

JUDGES MEAN WHAT THEY SAY

Posted on: September 10, 2015 by in DUI
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California Vehicle Codes 23152(a) and 23152(b)

Orange County DUI lawyerIt happens more than you might think, and not just in Orange County. Someone drives to a court hearing and parks in the lot at the courthouse. Inside, a judge suspends that person’s driver’s license. When the hearing concludes, that person walks back to the parking lot and drives away – illegally. Across the country, more and more law enforcement agencies are learning that one easy way to catch those driving on a suspended license is simply to follow them from the courtroom to the parking lot. If your license is suspended in California as the result of a DUI arrest or conviction, don’t drive. You will be caught. If you’re charged with DUI in Orange County, obtain legal help as quickly as possible and contact an experienced Orange County DUI lawyer.

Four people were charged in August when Orange County sheriff’s deputies staked out the Newport Beach courthouse. The deputies tailed a number of suspects who had already been warned not to drive. Four of the suspects allegedly got into their cars and drove away from the courthouse. Those defendants now face steeper fines, possible jail time, and lengthier license suspensions. Their vehicles were impounded. In June, Orange County deputies conducted a similar operation at the same courthouse and made eight citations. DUI charges and license suspensions are not something casual that can just be ignored or brushed aside.

If you’re charged with DUI in Orange County under California Vehicle Codes 23152(a) and 23152(b), it’s imperative to contact an experienced Orange County DUI lawyer as quickly as possible and adhere to that attorney’s advice. Don’t try to act as your own attorney, do not plead guilty, and while your DUI case is pending, do not break any other California laws. If you’re accused of DUI in Orange County now or in the future, help is available, but you must make the call to an experienced Orange County DUI lawyer immediately.

THE NEED FOR ONLINE CAUTION

Posted on: September 9, 2015 by in Criminal Defense
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Orange County criminal defense attorneyWe love our computers. We use them for banking, shopping, chatting with friends, and for doing our taxes and our homework. Most of us feel lucky to be living in the computer age. Of course, there’s also a downside to computers and the internet. That downside is internet-related crime and the people who are its victims. Lawmakers have responded with a number of relatively new laws governing the use of the internet, but many online crimes – for various reasons – go unreported for months or longer. If you are charged in Orange County for committing any kind of crime on the internet, retain legal help at once by contacting an experienced Orange County criminal defense attorney.

Child pornography is the online crime that probably gets the most media attention, but computers are used by thieves, embezzlers, and every kind of scam artist as well. Internet vandalism – an intentional attack on a website and the business conducted there – is a growing crime. Because internet crimes are hidden and complicated, it’s often difficult for law enforcement authorities to compile evidence to make arrests and file charges. Some internet crime defendants have been intentionally framed. Others are either wrongly accused, or they simply made a mistake, went to the wrong website, or downloaded the wrong thing. Almost anyone could be accused because almost everyone has made a mistake online at some point. If you’re accused of any computer-related crime in Orange County or elsewhere in southern California, speak with an experienced Orange County criminal defense attorney as quickly as possible.

Be cautious when you’re on the internet. Federal and California state laws treat crimes on the internet quite seriously, and if those crimes are linked to children, expect no mercy from the court if you’re found guilty. If you are charged with any internet crime, today or in the future, obtain high-quality legal advice and vigorous defense representation at once, and put your case in the hands of an experienced Orange County criminal defense attorney.

ROBBERY, BURGLARY, AND THE DIFFERENCE

Posted on: September 7, 2015 by in Uncategorized
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California Penal Codes 211 and 459

Orange County criminal defense attorneyIn everyday speech, we might refer to a burglary as a robbery or to a robbery as a theft, but in the law books and the courts, these terms are very precisely defined. Burglary, robbery, and theft refer to three somewhat different crimes in California, but if you’re charged with any of those crimes, you could land in jail if you’re convicted. If you or someone you love faces a charge of robbery, burglary, or theft in Orange County – now or in the future – arrange immediately to speak with an experienced Orange County criminal defense attorney.

What is the distinction between robbery and burglary? Burglary is defined as “entering a structure with the intent to commit a theft once inside” by California Penal Code 459. If the state can prove that a suspect entered a structure with the intent to commit a theft, that suspect will be convicted of burglary. Forced entry or the actual commission of a theft is not required to convict you of burglary. When you use threats, fear, or actual violence to take a person’s property from that person, it constitutes robbery under California Penal Code 211. First-degree robbery is prosecuted as a felony, and a conviction is punishable by up to nine years in prison. Second-degree robbery is also a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

However, before you can be convicted of any crime in California, the state must prove your guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt,” and a criminal defense attorney’s job is to challenger the state’s evidence and raise doubt. People can be accused of robbery, burglary, and theft for a number of reasons when they’re innocent, but whether you’re innocent or guilty, you must have aggressive defense representation – a criminal defense attorney who will advocate vigorously ion your behalf for justice. If you are charged with theft, burglary, or robbery in Orange County, put your case promptly in the hands of an experienced Orange County criminal defense attorney.

DUI – THE SECOND TIME

Posted on: September 4, 2015 by in DUI
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California Vehicle Codes 23152(a) and 23152(b)

Orange County DUI defense attorneyFirst-time offenders are the overwhelming majority of DUI offenders in California. They’re charged once, convicted once, serve their sentences, and “learn their lessons.” If – within a ten-year period – you’re charged a second time in California with DUI, and if you’re convicted, the penalty will be harsher, and the judge will have more penalties available to impose on you. If you’re arrested for a second California DUI in Orange County under California Vehicle Codes 23152(a) and 23152(b), you’re going to need good defense representation, and you’re going to need it immediately. Contact an experienced Orange County DUI defense attorney after any arrest for DUI in Orange County.

In California, a second DUI conviction within ten years of a first DUI conviction – or within ten years of a “wet reckless” conviction – could put you behind bars for a year and cost you a $1,000 fine. That second conviction also means that your driver’s license will be suspended for two years, you’ll be on probation for three-to-five years, and you’ll spend eighteen-to-thirty months in mandatory DUI education.

The good news is that even if you’ve been convicted of DUI within the previous ten years, an arrest isn’t necessarily a conviction, and a prosecutor still must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The charge might be dropped – or you might be found not guilty – for a number of reasons. The police may have violated your rights before, during, or after you were arrested. DUI testing procedures may have been violated. Your DUI lawyer will challenge the state’s evidence and advocate aggressively for justice on your behalf.

Talk To A Orange County DUI Defense Attorney

The best advice is the advice everyone knows: don’t drink and drive. That’s the only sure way to avoid a first, second, or subsequent DUI conviction. Take a cab, arrange for a designated driver, or if you must, get a room for the night. It may be inconvenient, but it’s nothing compared with the inconvenience of fines and incarceration. Do whatever it takes to avoid driving under the influence in southern California. If you are accused of DUI in Orange County – or falsely accused – get the legal help you need and speak at once to an experienced Orange County DUI defense attorney.

AS ROUTINE AS BUCKLING UP?

Posted on: September 2, 2015 by in DUI
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California Vehicle Codes 23152(a) and 23152(b)

Orange County DUI lawyerIf you’ve watched automobile safety technology advance over the last few years, it comes as no surprise. The U.S. Congress is now looking at legislation that would require automakers to install an ignition interlock device (IID) on every new car, bus, and truck. New York Representative Kathleen Rice is the sponsor of the legislation. An ignition interlock device works very much like a breathalyzer. A driver blows into the device, which measures the drivers’ blood alcohol content (BAC) level. If you’re over the legal limit, you won’t be able to start your car. Installation of an IID may be required by a California judge as one punishment for a DUI conviction; in Alameda, Tulare, Sacramento, and Los Angeles County, IID installation is mandatory upon a DUI conviction. You should contact an experienced Orange County DUI lawyer immediately if you’re accused of DUI in Orange County.

Back in 2011, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that IIDs are significantly more effective than driver’s license suspensions when it comes to keeping convicted DUI offenders from getting behind the wheel. The CDC, the National Transportation Safety Board, and AAA have long recommended the mandatory use of IIDs for all DUI offenders. In a July 14 press release, Congresswoman Rice cited a University of Michigan study that says after the first fifteen years, IIDs in every car would lower the number of alcohol-related traffic deaths by 85 percent and reduce injuries by approximately the same figure.

Hire An Orange County DUI Lawyer

Representative Rice was formerly the District Attorney of Nassau County, New York. While the congresswoman’s IID proposal may or may not be approved this year by Congress, eventually “blowing” to start your car will probably become as routine as buckling your seat belt. Right now, however, if you’re charged with driving under the influence under California Vehicle Codes 23152(a) and 23152(b) in Orange County, make the call immediately to an experienced Orange County DUI lawyer.