“MAKING A MURDERER” AND THE PROBLEM OF FALSE CONFESSIONS

Posted on: February 9, 2016 by in Criminal Defense
No Comments

Orange County criminal defense attorney

Making a Murderer, a ten-part documentary from Netflix, came out at the end of 2015, a year in which the criminal justice system in the United States was widely criticized and endlessly scrutinized. The film has been seen by millions, and it’s generated plenty of controversy. Making a Murderer is the story of Steven Avery, a Wisconsin man who was released from prison in 2003 after serving eighteen years for a sexual assault that he did not commit. That story alone would have made for a fascinating documentary, but Avery’s first conviction and his exoneration are only where Making a Murderer begins. In 2005, Avery was arrested for the murder of a local photographer, Teresa Halbach, and he was convicted of that murder in 2007. The series also covers the arrest, prosecution, and conviction of Avery’s nephew and alleged murder accomplice, Brendan Dassey, who is a key figure in the story.

After serving 18 years in prison for sexual assault, Avery was exonerated when the DNA in the case was matched to another suspect guilty of other crimes in the region. After Avery was released in 2003, he filed a $36 million civil lawsuit against Manitowoc County and several county officials associated with his first arrest, trial, and conviction. However, soon after filing the lawsuit, he was accused of the murder of Teresa Halbach, a photographer last seen on the Avery family property photographing a minivan that Avery was selling.

THOUSANDS DEMAND A RETRIAL

The corrupted evidence in this case and the stunning behavior of the police and the prosecutors have frankly made it impossible to determine if Avery actually did or did not murder Ms. Halbach. Evidence may have been planted by the police to incriminate Avery in retaliation for filing a lawsuit. The only certainty about the case is that a dubious and problematic confession was coerced from Brendan Dassey. Dassey, who has an IQ of 70, was 16 when he was charged with being Avery’s accomplice. In a videotaped confession after a brutal, four-hour interrogation without a parent or a lawyer present, he told detectives that he raped and brutalized Ms. Halbach at Avery’s insistence, and he then helped Avery kill the young woman. Dassey later retracted his confession, but he was nevertheless convicted of the murder and sentenced to life in prison. Netflix viewers were shocked by the videotaped interrogation and confession, and thousands have signed a petition demanding a retrial for Dassey.

Step-by-step, Making a Murderer shows viewers why Dassey’s confession could not have been true. He tells a story that, on the basis of the forensic evidence, simply cannot be true. Viewers can clearly see and understand that Dassey’s police interrogators ask leading questions, and the intimidated teen tells the officers precisely what they want to hear. Despite the impossibility of Dassey’s story, his recanted confession nevertheless led to his conviction, although he may not have had any involvement at all in the crime.

Orange County criminal defense attorney

FALSE CONFESSIONS ARE COMMON

In fact, about one out five prison inmates who’ve been released after being exonerated by DNA evidence originally made a false confession. In Mississippi, Phillip Bivens spent more than thirty years in prison after confessing to a murder that he did not commit. DNA tests led to his exoneration in 2010 and identified the murderer as a man named Andrew Harris, who has been serving a life sentence for another crime since the mid-1980s. That case inspired novelist John Grisham to write The Confession, a fictional story based on some of the details of the Bivens case.

A case out of New York that’s almost as controversial is the case of Adrian Thomas. In 2008, after his infant son died of a head injury and subsequent infection, police officers spent hours interrogating Thomas and trying to coax a confession from him. They even threatened to arrest his wife for murder if he didn’t confess. Court records indicate that police officers told Thomas 67 times that they believed his son’s injury was an accident, 14 times that he would not be arrested, and eight times that he would be going home if he simply told the truth. Instead, Thomas was convicted of second-degree murder, and his confession was the key piece of evidence. The New York Court of Appeals ordered a retrial, and the second jury found Thomas not guilty.

An even more stunning case happened in Butler, Alabama. In 2001, Victoria Bell Banks, Dianne Bell Tucker, and Medell Banks, Jr., were each sentenced to fifteen years in prison. The trio all implicated themselves in the murder of Victoria Bell Banks’ newborn child. The State of Alabama, it was later determined, had convicted three people for the murder of someone who never even existed. In 1999 Victoria Bell Banks had faked a pregnancy in order to get released on bond for a minor charge from the Choctaw County jail. One of the two doctors who examined her had reported a possible fetal heartbeat. Months later, when Ms. Banks again encountered local police, they asked about her baby – the reason she had been released from jail – and when she claimed that she had miscarried, Alabama police launched an investigation that ended with three false confessions and three wrongful convictions.

SOME ARE EXTREMELY VULNERABLE

Victoria Bell Banks has an IQ of 40. Medell Banks, Jr., has an IQ of 57. Brendan Dassey has an IQ of 70. Intellectually disabled persons are extremely vulnerable to admitting to crimes they didn’t commit. Teenagers and children are also vulnerable. All of these groups are easily influenced and intimidated by authority figures. However, if you think the Dassey, Bivens, Thomas, and Banks cases are anomalies – glitches in the system – you would be wrong. False confessions are more common in the U.S. criminal justice system than most of us would want to admit.

For example, according to Steven Drizin, legal director for the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern Law School in Chicago, there have been dozens of cases in which parents have confessed to killing their children or children have confessed to killing their parents. Those confessions were later determined to be false. Sometimes, a person will simply walk into a police station “out of the blue” and confess falsely to a crime, but the majority of false confessions are coerced by the police during interrogations.

IF YOU ARE INTERROGATED

What happens in a police interrogation? According to Richard A. Leo, the author of Police Interrogation and American Justice (Harvard University Press, 2008), if you’re charged with a crime, the first thing you should know is that an interrogation can be lengthy, and there can be more than one. Never, ever allow the police to interrogate you without having your attorney present. You have the right to remain silent, and you have the right to legal counsel during any questioning or interrogation by the police. Show the police respect, don’t be hostile or have an attitude, but firmly insist on your legal rights. If every suspect insisted on his or her rights from the beginning, the number of false confessions – and wrongful convictions and needlessly ruined lives – would decline substantially. If you are charged with a crime, contact a good defense lawyer at once, and in southern California, call an experienced Orange County criminal defense attorney.

A study published in 2007 in Law and Human Behavior surveyed 631 police interrogators and detectives about their interrogations. Respondents said that about four out of five criminal suspects waive their Miranda rights – their rights to remain silent and to have an attorney present during questioning – and that one in every twenty confessions they hear is a false confession. Wisconsin police interrogated Brendan Dassey five times, and each session lasted for hours. The police can even ignore your request for a lawyer. In California, officers routinely continue talking to suspects after a lawyer has been requested. That’s because if a suspect starts talking again, then the request for a lawyer is considered waived. Also in California, prosecutors can use statements given without a lawyer’s presence to “impeach” a defendant’s credibility if that defendant testifies in his or her own defense.

Orange County criminal defense attorney

LIES, TRICKS, AND DECEPTIONS

The police are allowed to use lies, tricks, and deceptions when interrogating suspects – which is why you should always exercise your right to remain silent if you become the subject of a police interrogation. Most police agencies conduct interrogations using what is called the “Reid Technique,” a nine-step procedure that begins by confronting the suspect with guilt and then offering the suspect a reason for why he or she committed the crime. Officers may then apply a variety of psychological pressures to obtain a confession. Some observers believe the Reid Technique should be abandoned because it results in so many false confessions.

Everyone’s heard the old adage that “confession is good for the soul,” but it’s obvious that a false confession is not so good. A confession is a commanding piece evidence against a criminal suspect. If you have made a false confession to a crime for any reason, or if you have been subjected to a coercive interrogation by the police, you need serious legal help, and you need it now. Obtain the help you need and contact a good defense lawyer as quickly as possible, and in southern California, speak to an experienced Orange County criminal defense attorney.

8 SCARY TRUTHS ABOUT DUI

Posted on: December 3, 2015 by in DUI
No Comments

Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney

Everyone who drives on California’s streets and highways already knows that driving under the influence is against the law and that in some cases you can go to jail for a DUI conviction. Everyone also knows that driving under the influence is dangerous and that impaired drivers are frequently responsible for fatalities and other tragedies. But what you may not know is that driving under the influence is a global public safety and law enforcement problem, that teens are particularly at risk, and that men are more at risk than women – although women are catching up fast. Driving under the influence is a multi-faceted social and cultural problem that negatively impacts families and communities, national economies, healthcare and criminal justice systems around the world.

Driving under the influence is treated as a serious crime in the state of California. If you are convicted of a first-offense misdemeanor DUI in this state, the penalties can include up to six months in jail, three to five years on probation, a fine ranging from $390 to $1,000, three months of court-ordered rehabilitation, and a six-month driver’s license suspension. As if that’s not enough, in Sacramento, Los Angeles, Alameda, and Tulare County, you’ll also be ordered by the court to have an ignition interlock device – an “IID” – installed in your personal vehicle after you’re driver’s license suspension is lifted.

Subsequent DUI convictions, or convictions for driving under the influence that involve serious injuries or fatalities, will result in even harsher penalties. You probably already know that DUI laws are aggressively enforced and prosecuted in California, and now you know the penalties for a first conviction. Listed here are eight more scary truths that you may not know about driving under the influence:

TEENAGERS ARE AT RISK

On average, eight teenagers are killed every day in the United States in DUI-related traffic crashes. If you are the parent of a teen driver, talking with your teen and monitoring his or her activities is absolutely imperative. Traffic accidents are the number one cause of death of teenagers in the United States, and one-third of all teen traffic fatalities are in alcohol-related collisions. The legal drinking age in California is 21, so the “legal limit” blood-alcohol content rule of 0.08 percent doesn’t even apply to drivers under 21. Those drivers may be prosecuted for underage DUI if any amount of alcohol is measurable in their blood – no exceptions. If your teenager is arrested for driving under the influence, and if any measurable amount of alcohol is detected by a DUI chemical test, your teen will be arrested and charged, and you’ll need to contact an experienced Orange County DUI defense attorney immediately.

Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney

YOU COULD LOSE YOUR LICENSE

Many Californians do not realize that when you are arrested for DUI in this state, you actually have two barriers to retaining your driver’s license; the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and the criminal court. In the state of California, your driver’s license can actually be suspended simply because you’ve been arrested for driving under the influence – whether or not you are eventually convicted. After you are arrested, you have ten days to request a hearing with the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to defend your driver’s license. Contact an experienced Orange County DUI defense attorney immediately after a DUI arrest, and have your attorney request the DMV hearing. With only ten days to defend your driving privilege, you must act at once.

ALCOHOL PROBLEMS ARE GLOBAL

What, really, are the effects of alcohol? The World Health Organization has recently released a landmark report on alcohol use and abuse in more than a hundred nations. The report, “The Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health,” focuses on the consequences of alcohol overconsumption at both global and national levels. Alcohol is the number one choice of drug over all other drugs in the United States and throughout the world. Alcohol abuse is also a serious international healthcare concern, and governments around the world are struggling every day to deal with alcohol and its influence on crime, healthcare costs, and public safety. According to figures published by the World Health Organization, alcohol is partly or directly responsible for 2.5 million deaths each year. Globally, 320,000 young people aged 15-29 die every year from alcohol-related causes, a figure that represents nine percent of all deaths in that age group.

YOUR INSURANCE RATES WILL INCREASE

A DUI conviction means that your auto insurance rates will increase. The annual cost of alcohol-related crashes amounts to more than $59 billion, so auto insurance companies impose their own penalties on drivers convicted of DUI with no hearing, no defense, and no appeal. If you’re convicted of driving under the influence in California, expect your auto insurance costs to go up – and probably never to come back down. Also after a DUI conviction, California requires you to request an SR-22 form from your auto insurance company. An SR-22 is the document which proves that you carry liability insurance, and it restores your driver’s license after your license suspension is lifted.

DUI THREATENS EVERYONE

The overconsumption of alcohol weakens the immune system, and it negatively impacts our ability to make sound judgments. Alcohol is involved in about forty percent of all traffic accidents that result in fatalities in the United States. Every day, about thirty people die in the U.S. in alcohol-related traffic collisions. 10,076 people were killed in alcohol-related traffic accidents in the U.S. in 2013. Over one million drivers are arrested for driving under the influence every year in this nation.

Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney

MORE WOMEN ARE BEING CHARGED WITH DUI

By about a two-to-one margin, males are more likely to be arrested for driving under the influence – or involved in a DUI-related crash – than females. However, in recent years, women have been closing the DUI gap. The number of women arrested for driving under the influence in California has increased every year since 1989. From 1999 to 2011, DUI arrests of women ages 21 to 30 jumped 134 percent in Los Angeles County, and DUI arrests of women ages 51 to 60 rose by 81 percent. Other southern California counties report comparable statistics. Researchers have no single explanation for the increase in women’s DUI arrests; however, a recent study issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that one out of every eight women and one out of every five high school-age women surveyed admits to binge drinking. With more women working and functioning as single parents, more women are driving – and driving under the influence – than ever before.

DUI HAPPENS MAINLY ON WEEKENDS

The legal “BAC” level (blood alcohol content level) in every state is 0.08 percent for drivers age 21 and older. During a typical week, the drivers who use a BACtrack Smartphone Breathalyzer measure the highest average BAC level between 4:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. on Saturday mornings, where users average 0.113 percent. The lowest average BAC level is Tuesday mornings from 9:00 a.m. until 10:00 a.m. – 0.018 percent.

DUI HAPPENS MAINLY AT NIGHT

Fifty percent of the drivers who die in nighttime traffic accidents are over the legal BAC limit at the time of the crash, while only fifteen percent of the drivers who die in daytime traffic accidents are over the legal BAC limit. Obviously, more impaired drivers are on the road at night, so you may want to avoid unnecessary nighttime travel. California police agencies also tend to conduct sobriety checkpoints at night and rarely in the daytime.

TO LEARN MORE

If you are arrested for driving under the influence in Orange County or elsewhere in southern California, there is absolutely no reason to assume that you will be convicted or that your situation is futile. It’s possible that you’re actually not guilty. Alcohol traces from food particles or from acid reflux can make a breath test inaccurate. Medical conditions such as GERD and heartburn can also make a breath test inaccurate, as well as diabetes, hypoglycemia, or even an Atkins-style diet. If none of those conditions apply, it’s possible that you had a drink or two before getting behind the wheel, but you were still below the legal blood alcohol content level. If you blew into a breathalyzer, it’s also possible that the breathalyzer wasn’t calibrated accurately. Another possibility is that the traffic stop that led to your arrest was itself illegal. Except at a sobriety checkpoint, the police must have “reasonable cause” to stop you in traffic. These are only several of your defense possibilities after an arrest for driving under the influence.

Although convictions for driving under the influence are common, they may not be as common as you think. Good attorneys win a large number of cases for their DUI clients in this state. The conviction rate for DUI defendants in California is about 70 percent, so in three out of every ten DUI cases, the DUI charge is reduced to a lesser charge, entirely dismissed, or the defense wins the case at trial. Interested in learning more about DUI laws in California? Comment below or reach out to us on our social media channels, we’d love to hear from you. If you need legal help regarding a DUI matter in southern California, contact an experienced Orange County DUI defense attorney today.

CARJACKING – ALWAYS A FELONY

Posted on: November 25, 2015 by in Criminal Defense
No Comments

Orange County criminal defense lawyerCalifornia Penal Code 215 and 663

In the California criminal justice system, some crimes are considered felonies, some are misdemeanors, and a third category of crimes, called wobblers, may be charged as either felonies or as misdemeanors. California considers carjacking to be a serious crime. It’s always charged as a felony, and if you are convicted of carjacking, prison time is likely. If you are charged with carjacking in Orange County or elsewhere in southern California, contact an experienced Orange County criminal defense lawyer without delay.

If you steal a parked vehicle in California, the charge is auto theft, but if you steal a vehicle directly from another person by using intimidation, violence, or a weapon, the charge is carjacking. Under California Penal Code 215, a carjacking charge is always a felony charge, and a conviction is punishable by up to nine years in the California state prison system. If a weapon was used, the sentence may be even lengthier. California Penal Code 663 says that even an unsuccessful carjacking attempt still legally constitutes carjacking. If you are charged with carjacking because you were wrongly identified, or if there was no carjacking and the allegation was entirely false, an experienced criminal defense lawyer will ensure that what really happened is explained to – and fully understood by – everyone involved.

If you are arrested for carjacking in southern California, politely insist on your right to remain silent and on your right to have an attorney present during questioning. Do not plead guilty or accept any plea bargain before speaking to an attorney. Do not attempt to act as your own lawyer – too much is at risk. When you’re accused of carjacking or any other crime, take immediate action to protect your freedom and your future. Obtain the legal advice and representation that you’re going to need, and contact an experienced Orange County criminal defense lawyer as quickly as possible.

DUI “ENHANCEMENTS” EXPLAINED

Posted on: November 23, 2015 by in DUI
No Comments

Orange County DUI lawyerCalifornia Vehicle Codes 23152(a) and 23152(b)

One of the many ways that California lawmakers combat impaired driving is by finding ways to increase DUI sentences. For example, if you are stopped for DUI while you are driving recklessly, or if you are stopped while you have a passenger age 14 or younger in your vehicle, the sentence for a DUI conviction may be extended or “enhanced.” An enhancement penalty usually means sixty or more additional days behind bars. If it’s your second or third DUI conviction in California, the “enhancement” can last even longer. Thus, if you are charged with DUI in Orange County, it’s imperative to fight the charge and to retain the advice and services of an experienced Orange County DUI lawyer immediately.

Speeding alone does not rise to the level required to establish a DUI enhancement. The state must prove that you were driving recklessly while you were intoxicated, that is, over 20 mph over the limit on surface streets or more than 30 mph over the limit on highways. California law defines reckless driving as driving with a “willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property,” and that is often quite difficult for a prosecutor to prove. If you are stopped for driving under the influence with a child or children age 14 or younger as your passenger or passengers, a child endangerment enhancement will be attached to the charge against you.

Whether or not enhancements are attached, if you are charged with driving under the influence in southern California under California Vehicle Codes 23152(a) and 23152(b) – now or in the future – call an experienced Orange County DUI lawyer immediately. When the charge is DUI, it’s imperative to have experienced counsel. An experienced DUI lawyer can contest DUI test results, challenge the testimony of the police, and fight hard for the justice you need and deserve. After any arrest for driving under the influence in southern California, make the call as quickly as possible.

KIDNAPPING – DEFINITION AND PENALTIES

Posted on: November 20, 2015 by in Criminal Defense
No Comments

Orange County criminal defense attorneyCalifornia Penal Code 207, 208, 209, and 209.5

In California, if you’re arrested and charged with kidnapping, get the legal help that you need and speak immediately with an experienced Orange County criminal defense attorney. Kidnapping is a serious charge, so do not attempt to act as your own lawyer. Insist on your right to remain silent and to have an attorney present during questioning. Kidnapping is a felony in California, and “aggravated” kidnapping is an even more serious offense. Aggravated kidnapping happens when:

• force, fear, or fraud is used and a kidnapping victim is a child under 14 years old
• when a kidnapper communicates a ransom demand
• when a kidnapping victim suffers serious injuries or death
• when a kidnapping is tied to a carjacking or to another crime

Life in prison can be the penalty for aggravated kidnapping in California. Even without the circumstances that make a kidnapping “aggravating,” a conviction is punishable by up to eight years in a California state prison. If a kidnapping victim is taken across a state line, a federal kidnapping indictment is likely. A conviction may be followed by a civil lawsuit – victims of “false imprisonment” have the right to sue for damages in the civil courts. However, sometimes what’s happened isn’t actually a kidnapping – it’s a mistake or a misunderstanding. To convict you of kidnapping in California, a prosecutor must prove that:

• The victim did not consent or was too young to consent.
• You took, detained, or held someone through force or reasonable fear.
• You transported the victim or had the victim move a substantial distance.

Of course, merely being charged with kidnapping does not mean that you’ll be convicted. Some kidnapping claims are completely false; a skilled criminal defense lawyer can usually discredit such allegations. Get legal representation at once if you are charged with kidnapping in southern California, and put your case immediately in the hands of an experienced Orange County criminal defense attorney.

IMPAIRED BOATING – DON’T DO IT

Posted on: November 18, 2015 by in DUI
No Comments

Orange County DUI lawyerCalifornia Harbors and Navigation Code 655

It may not be spring or summer, but that doesn’t matter in southern California, where the weather – usually – is great every month of the year, and we often enjoy outdoor recreations even in the middle of winter. However, if your idea of delightful recreation is fun on the water, you need to know that “BUI” – boating under the influence – is a crime in California. Comparable to driving under the influence, BUI can be the charge if you are operating a boat and your blood alcohol content (BAC) level exceeds the legal limit of 0.08 percent. Even if you don’t exceed that limit, you can still be charged with boating under the influence if a law enforcement officer believes that you are too impaired to continue to operate the craft safely. If you face a BUI charge in southern California, contest it, and speak right away about your legal defense with an experienced Orange County DUI lawyer.

If you are operating a commercial watercraft such as a charter fishing boat or a sightseeing boat, the legal BAC limit is only 0.04 percent, and for personal watercraft such as a jet ski or water skis, there is zero tolerance; users of personal watercraft may not measure any blood alcohol content whatsoever under the law (California Harbors and Navigation Code 655). If you are convicted of boating under the influence, the punishments will be similar to the punishments for a DUI conviction including fines, probation, alcohol education classes, and the real possibility of time in jail.

To defend you against a charge of boating under the influence, a good DUI defense attorney may use the same strategies used for DUI defense. Did law enforcement officers have a reasonable cause for stopping you? Were your rights violated in any way? If you were tested for BUI, was the test properly administered? Breathalyzer results can be disputed; witness testimony can be challenged. Your attorney will fight aggressively for justice and will bring your BUI case to its best possible resolution. Enjoy the California waters – even in the winter – but don’t put your future and your freedom at risk. If you are charged with boating under the influence in southern California, discuss your case with an experienced Orange County DUI lawyer immediately.

WHAT ABOUT A PLEA BARGAIN?

Posted on: November 16, 2015 by in Criminal Defense
No Comments

Orange County criminal defense lawyerIn Orange County, if you are accused of a sex crime, a drug crime, a white-collar crime, or a robbery or theft, speak first and at once with an experienced Orange County criminal defense lawyer. As a criminal defendant, one of the first things you should know is that the majority of criminal cases are never heard by juries. Criminal cases in California and every other state are more typically concluded when both sides agree upon a plea bargain. You probably already know how a plea bargain works. A defendant enters a guilty plea to one or more charges. The state then dismisses any other charges, reduces them, or recommends a reduced or alternative sentence to the court. In some cases, if you’re charged with a crime in California, a plea bargain with let you avoid serving time in jail. However, before you accept a plea bargain on any criminal charge, it’s imperative to have a good defense attorney’s advice.

Prosecutors offer plea bargains as an expedient way to manage large caseloads in a criminal justice system that’s routinely congested and overloaded. If your defense lawyer believes strongly that you can be found not guilty by going to trial, or if your attorney thinks the charge will be dropped, don’t take the plea bargain. It’s your choice, but the wisest choice you can make as a criminal defendant is to retain experienced defense counsel and then adhere to your attorney’s advice.

If you are arrested and charged with a crime in southern California, and if you are offered a plea bargain, your lawyer can give you sound advice, but in the end you’ll have to weigh the pros and cons of a plea bargain offer for yourself. Don’t agree to anything – don’t even agree to being interrogated by the police – without first consulting an experienced Orange County criminal defense lawyer. If you are charged with a drug or sex crime, a robbery or theft crime, a white-collar crime, or with driving under the influence in Orange County, make the call as quickly after the arrest as possible.

IF THE CHARGE IS A “WOBBLER”

Posted on: November 13, 2015 by in Criminal Defense
No Comments

Orange County criminal defense lawyerIf you are convicted of a misdemeanor in California you might or might not serve time in a county jail, from a day up to a year. However, if you are convicted of a felony in this state, it’s possible that you’ll serve some time – at least a year, and in some cases substantially more – in a California state prison. Many crimes in California are always charged as felonies or always charged as misdemeanors, but in a number of other situations, a prosecutor may choose to charge you with either a misdemeanor or a felony depending upon the details of the crime and your criminal history. Numerous criminal offenses in California are called “wobblers” – because they can go either way.

If you are charged with a drug crime or a sex crime, a robbery or theft, a white-collar crime, or driving under the influence, many of these crimes are “wobblers,” and you’ll need the help of an experienced Orange County criminal defense lawyer. While an acquittal or dismissal of charges is usually the priority in a criminal defense, if the evidence against you is overwhelming, a good defense lawyer in some cases may be able to keep the charge from being filed as a felony. You’ll need sound legal advice and an attorney who will fight aggressively to bring your case to its best possible conclusion.

If it’s your first offense and you didn’t injure anyone or use a weapon, as a general rule if the charge is a wobbler it will be filed as a misdemeanor rather than as a felony. If you have prior convictions – especially prior felony convictions – if the charge is a wobbler, you’ll probably be looking at a felony. Every case is different, and you’ll need to obtain the specific advice that only an experienced criminal defense attorney – after reviewing your case – can offer. It’s imperative to retain high-quality legal representation if you are charged with any crime in southern California. If the charge is a drug or sex crime, a robbery or theft, a white-collar crime, or driving under the influence, put your case immediately in the hands of an experienced Orange County criminal defense lawyer.

A HIGH PRICE TO PAY

Posted on: November 11, 2015 by in DUI
No Comments

Orange County DUI lawyerCalifornia Vehicle Codes 23152(a), 23152(b) and 23513

Prior to 1981, all impaired drivers who caused fatal accidents in California faced a vehicular manslaughter charge. That year, however, California’s Supreme Court decided that in the most egregious cases, an intoxicated driver’s actions warrant a charge of second-degree murder. If convicted of a DUI-related second-degree murder, a driver can be sentenced to a California state prison – possibly for life. It’s a high price to pay for having a few drinks with friends. If you are charged with DUI in Orange County – whether it’s a misdemeanor and your first offense or a felony DUI and you’ve had several DUI convictions – take your case immediately to an experienced Orange County DUI lawyer.

A Capistrano Beach woman was found guilty in September of second-degree murder, of driving under the influence causing bodily injury, and of driving with a blood alcohol content level at or above 0.15 percent, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office. Kelly Michele Wolfe, 46, was convicted of killing an elderly woman and injuring the woman’s grandson in a hit-and-run crash in 2013. Wolfe fled the scene without rendering assistance, the DA’s office said, and she was arrested later at her home. Wolfe had a prior DUI conviction in Nevada in 1995, according to court records.

When the charge is felony DUI, you must be represented by an attorney who routinely handles a variety of DUI cases for scores of clients – someone who knows how to bring your DUI case to its best possible conclusion. If the charge is second-degree murder, the penalty is fifteen years to life if you are convicted. Now or in the future, if you are charged with DUI in Orange County under California Vehicle Codes 23152(a), 23152(b), and/or 23513, contact an experienced Orange County DUI lawyer at once. Whether it’s a misdemeanor or a felony DUI charge, make the call as quickly as possible.

EXPUNGEMENT EXPLAINED

Posted on: November 9, 2015 by in Criminal Defense
No Comments

Orange County criminal defense attorneyCalifornia Penal Code 1203.4

More than 70 million people in the United States have a criminal record. That makes them subject to scores of federal and state laws and regulations that restrict their rights, from voting to housing and employment to owning a firearm or obtaining a driver’s license. While some of the regulations make good sense, others have nothing to do with the original crime and conviction. Some of the regulations are arbitrary, unfair, and unreasonable. If you’re routinely turned away by employers, a criminal record may be the reason why. With help from an experienced defense lawyer, most California misdemeanors and some felonies can be expunged under California Penal Code 1203.4. Learn more about having your criminal record expunged by speaking right away with an experienced Orange County criminal defense attorney.

The current system’s basic unfairness was highlighted in May. Although there is no federal legal procedure that allows for the expungement of federal criminal convictions, a District Court Judge in Brooklyn took it upon himself to expunge a conviction he had personally handed down a decade earlier. District Court Judge John Gleeson noted the “adverse impact” the conviction for a minor insurance fraud charge has had on one woman’s ability to obtain employment. In his decision, Judge Gleeson wrote: “I sentenced her to five years of probation supervision, not to a lifetime of unemployment.”

Expungement permanently seals a criminal record from the general public – employers, landlords, and anyone else checking into your background. However, if you served a sentence in a California state prison, you are not eligible for expungement. Otherwise, if you need to have a criminal record expunged, speak with a criminal defense lawyer who routinely handles expungements on behalf of clients. Your attorney will review your record, and if you are eligible, your attorney will explain expungement and initiate the procedure. If something that happened years ago is preventing you from landing a job or is still detrimental to you in any other way, speak as quickly as you can with an experienced Orange County criminal defense attorney.