Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog
     


Mortgage Fraud Crimes

Posted on: November 19, 2009 at 5:55 p.m.

Not all crimes in Los Angeles involve the use of violent force. While violent criminals accused of such crimes as assault or theft are generally apprehended by police officers in blue uniforms, people who commit crimes such as fraud are usually arrested by federal agents in white shirts and ties, hence the name white collar crime. As the real estate market in Los Angeles keeps spiraling downward, many people are talking about mortgage fraud crimes. Typical mortgage fraud crimes include the falsification of mortgage loan documents, fraudulently inflating the value of real estate, or, most recently, home loan modification fraud.

It is illegal in Los Angeles to make false statements on a home loan or credit application. Fudging the numbers on reported income, assets or debt has been a frequent practice by loan officers as well as people seeking a home loan in recent years. Whoever misrepresents the financial or identification information on a loan or credit card application could be charged with a federal crime and sent to prison for it.

In some cases, real estate industry insiders in Los Angeles have been caught working together to falsely inflate the value of a residential or commercial property. If banks, real estate agents and appraisers all work together to say a home is worth more than it actually is, and someone actually buys the house, they can all make more money, right? Well, they can also all go to prison together for fraud. White collar crime is in the news quite a bit lately, and this could add the further complication of a biased jury.

As the local economy in Los Angeles continues to be affected by high unemployment and job losses, many people are turning to mortgage loan modification to avoid foreclosure on their homes. While home loan modification is a legitimate path to stabilizing your finances, several unscrupulous loan modification organizations have sprung up to take advantage of desperate people. Some mortgage loan modification organizations actually ask homeowners in need of help to send their mortgage payments to a third party. Trusting homeowners usually find out a few months down the line that their supposed mortgage payments never actually got to their lenders and now they are in an even more precarious position.

Note that none of these white collar crimes involved the use of physical force, but all of them could enormously damage the lives of others. White collar crimes may seem less important or less serious than violent crimes such as assault or murder, but being convicted of a crime such as fraud in Los Angeles is still a very serious matter. If convicted, you could be fined up to $1,000,000 and sent to a federal prison for up to 30 years.

If you have been charged with a white collar crime, call the criminal defense attorneys at Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin, LLP today. With your whole future on the line, you need an attorney experienced in defending these type of charges. Let us fight for you.

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Can A Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Keep You/Get You Out of Prison?

Posted on: November 17, 2009 at 10:25 p.m.

With the recent economic recession hitting every area of public and private industries, the state of California has been searching for new and creative ways to deal with prison population levels. A skilled Los Angeles criminal lawyer may be able to help anyone facing jail time to take advantage of this situation.

Like many other things in Los Angeles, the prison system is overcrowded and under-funded. It is so overcrowded, in fact, that several United States federal judges have intervened, ordering Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to draft a proposal to reduce the state’s prison population by roughly 40,000 prisoners over the next two years. Governor Schwarzenegger had previously submitted a proposal to federal judges back in September, which was rejected by all three of the judges who reviewed it. While lawyers for the state of California have made statements to the effect that it is improper for a federal authority to intrude in state affairs, Governor Schwarzenegger went back to the drawing board to try and come up with a plan that would appease federal judges.

The governor’s new plan would open up 42,000 prison beds by 2011, some through new construction, some through sentence reductions for people already serving time in a state prison, and some through alternate sentencing. Within the state, a reduction in sentencing for people already incarcerated would need the approval of state lawmakers. One of Governor Schwarzenegger’s suggestions in the proposal was putting up to 25,000 current inmates on house arrest with satellite tracking devices. The governor had previously tried proposing such a measure before it was rejected by state legislators during budget fights last summer. The proposal also called for the transfer of certain inmates from a state prison facility to a county jail, depending on the severity of the crimes for which they had been incarcerated.

The landscape of California’s prison system is being forced to change, one way or another. In times like these, it becomes increasingly important to have an experienced criminal defense attorney by your side. A attorney could examine your case and get the prosecuting attorney to agree that jail time is not the best option. However, in order to take advantage of this once in a lifetime situation, you must hire a criminal lawyer who understands the courts, understands prosecutors and who has a successful track record. Our team has years of experience in District Attorneys' Offices, giving them a unique insight into any criminal case.

If you have been charged with a serious crime, having the right law firm could mean the difference between being sent to prison, being sentenced to home detention or being acquitted. Call Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin, LLP today.

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Violent Crimes in Los Angeles 3

Posted on: November 17, 2009 at 9:30 p.m.

Violent crimes in Los Angeles are very serious criminal offenses that can easily land you in jail or state prison for several years. As a category of crimes, violent crimes can mean so many different, individual crimes. Some of the most commonly committed violent crimes are murder, attempted murder, domestic abuse, sexual assault, forcible rape, terrorism, armed robbery and assault. Typically, violent crimes use physical force as a means to an end: the defendant is said to want something and is accused of using violent means to obtain it. Violent crimes can vary in that many are committed with some sort of weapon while many others are not. The relationships involved in violent crimes can also vary widely to include people romantically involved, family or friends, acquaintances or complete strangers.

One thing that is uniform to nearly all violent crimes is the harshness of punishments assessed in the case of a conviction. Because violent crimes often involve the serious injury of another person, or the loss of valuable property in a violent manner, violent crimes are very often punished by long prison or jail sentences, as well as longer probation or parole sentences. Most violent crimes are also classified as felony criminal offenses, which may make certain jobs more difficult to attain. Convicted felons also face the loss of certain rights such as the right to possess a firearm. A crime such as felony domestic abuse can send you to jail or state prison for anywhere between three months and three years. Being convicted of murder in Los Angeles can mean up to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Violent crimes in Los Angeles have the added factor of generally being considered “strikes" under California’s “Three Strikes" laws. These laws were designed by lawmakers to target habitual and serious criminal offenders by punishing them more severely with each crime. Certain crimes such as attempted murder, theft or assault are considered a “strike" upon conviction. If a defendant is convicted of three “strike" offenses, they are nearly always automatically sent straight to a state prison without the possibility of parole. Prior convictions on “strike" offenses also lengthen punishments. Crimes that under other circumstances would warrant probation might garner prison sentences if the defendant has a prior felony conviction under their belt.

If you have been accused of violent crime in Los Angeles, call the attorneys at Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin, LLP right away. The best defenses start as early as possible. Important factors such as how evidence was collected against you could result in your charges being dropped altogether. You do have options. Call today to find out what they are.

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Los Angeles Marijuana Possession

Posted on: November 16, 2009 at 2:32 a.m.

In Los Angeles, marijuana laws are complicated. Having a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney to help defend your Los Angeles drug offense will go a long towards keeping you out of prison.

Major League Baseball pitcher Tim Lincecum of the San Francisco Giants was arrested two weeks ago in his home state of Washington after local law enforcement agents found a small amount of marijuana in his car. Lincecum was initially pulled over because he was speeding, driving 74 miles per hour in a 60 mile per hour zone. When the officer approached the star pitcher’s car, he smelled the marijuana and immediately asked him to surrender the drug. Lincecum handed over roughly 3.3 grams of marijuana, in addition to a marijuana pipe from the car’s center console. Since the state of Washington considers most quantities of marijuana of less than 40 grams to be for personal use, Lincecum will most likely avoid felony drug possession charges and will instead be charged with a misdemeanor criminal offense. In the state of Washington, a first-time charge for the possession of marijuana for personal use typically garners a fine of about $622. Lincecum will also be cited for speeding.

In Los Angeles, small amounts of marijuana for personal use are technically legal-depending on which law enforcement agency finds them. Since marijuana laws allow for the use of marijuana for medical purposes, state and city agents might not arrest you if you are consuming the marijuana in your home. According to Los Angeles marijuana law, carrying the marijuana outside your home (in a car or in a public place, for instance), however, might make you eligible to be charged with a misdemeanor drug possession offense. Depending on the circumstances of your case, probation, community service, fines or time in a county jail may be assessed if you are found guilty. For many first-time drug offenders, Los Angeles also has a deferred entry of judgment program that would allow for drug treatment rather than jail time. In these cases, a defendant pleads guilty to drug possession charges, but instead of being sentenced to harsher punishments, the defendant’s case is instead put on “hold" for a time. The defendant is then required to complete a six-month series of drug education classes and avoid being arrested or convicted of another crime for 18 months. If the defendant successfully completes both requirements, the case is dismissed and criminal charges are wiped from their record.

Los Angeles marijuana laws surrounding the use of pot can be confusing. However, the help of an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney is invaluable when you have been charged with a drug offense. Call the attorneys at Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin, LLP today to find out what your options are.

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Medical Marijuana Dispensary Battles

Posted on: November 11, 2009 at 7:12 p.m.

A particularly contentious area of the law for Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys is medical marijuana law. While medical marijuana was legalized in Los Angeles and the rest of the state, law enforcement (both state and federal) continue to raid medical marijuana dispensaries. In fact, this battle is taking place throughout the state of California.

Arguments over medical marijuana use, as well as in other cities, are heating up all over California. By some accounts, there are more medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles than there are Starbucks and 7/11 stores. In Fresno, the fight over medical marijuana has recently been focusing on zoning laws and the overlap of legal jurisdiction between the city, state and national government. Fresno recently adopted zoning laws that effectively prohibit medical marijuana dispensaries from operating in city limits. Federal policy technically makes the use of marijuana illegal, even for medical purposes. The Obama administration, however, has taken a less forceful track than the Bush administration, saying it will not prosecute medical marijuana dispensaries or the patients who use it in states where it is legal by state law.

Fresno’s nine recognized marijuana dispensaries have been ordered to close their doors while lawyers hash out their legality in court. In 2006, Fresno very obviously attempted to ban dispensaries within city limits by drafting zoning laws that specified that all marijuana dispensaries must comply with both state and federal laws in order to operate. Since federal law prohibits marijuana dispensaries, no dispensary could fully comply and remain open legally. Opponents of the use of marijuana for medical purposes argue that Fresno’s zoning laws banning marijuana dispensaries are supported by federal law, which supersedes state law. Those in favor of medical marijuana argue that states’ rights and California state law should prevail, keeping the dispensaries open. Trial in the case has been set for January, 2010. In the meantime, opponents of the dispensaries have asked the presiding judge for a temporary restraining order that would shutter all of the city’s dispensaries until after the trial. The order was granted on October 28th. Attorneys for the city’s nine dispensaries will appeal the decision in an attempt to keep the dispensaries open until the trial begins.

Medical marijuana policies are likewise subject to the same confusion. While city zoning laws have not gone so far as to ban marijuana dispensaries, possession, sale or the manufacture of marijuana for medical purposes may still get you arrested, depending on the law enforcement agency that arrests you. With such a complicated criminal matter, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney by your side.

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Los Angeles Sex Crime Shocks Community

Posted on: October 31, 2009 at 9:24 p.m.

A recent rape has shocked the city, surrounding areas and school administrators. Three teens in Richmond California were arrested on charges of gang raping a 15-year-old girl outside a high school dance while as many as two dozen people stood around watching and not calling the police. The defendants are all under 18 and did not enter pleas in their case. The case is so serious that the defendants wore bullet proof vests in court for fear that they could be shot.

A sex crime such as this could lead to decades in prison for any defendants, including those under the age of 18. These individuals were reportedly recorded on cell phones, with people standing around laughing during the incident. These individuals are charged with an assort of crimes, including rape, sexual penetration with a foreign object, robbery and assault causing great bodily harm. Los angeles sex crime attorneys in such cases would have to work incredibly hard to prove innocence, since the jury, public and even the courts would be biased in such a salacious case.

While this incident happened in Northern California, sex crime cases can be no less publicized by the press. Having a skilled los angeles sex crime defense attorney working for you can help protect against a biased court, biased jury and intense public scrutiny. For example, even though this case is being made very public, the evidence has yet to be examined and the trial has yet to happen. These individuals are worthy of a fair trial under the U.S. Constitution, which people often forget in such a case.

If you've been charged with, or accused of, a sex crime, contact the Los Angeles sex crime defense attorneys at Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin at 877-781-1570.

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Los Angeles Excessive Use of Force Probe

Posted on: October 31, 2009 at 3:51 a.m.

At Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin, our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys are skilled in exposing Los Angeles police brutality in criminal defense cases. Recently, the Federal Bureau of Investigations has begun a probe into several members of the Burbank Police Department amidst allegations of the excessive use of force by as many as 12 current and former Burbank policemen. Federal investigators have requested information from the police department that specifically focuses on several officers’ use of Tasers, pepper spray and defensive tactics from as far back as 2003. The probe will examine the possible violation of suspects’ civil rights. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is also involved in the Los Angeles police brutality investigation.

The excessive use of force by law enforcement officials is a fairly sticky topic these days. Admittedly, Los Angeles police and Los Angeles County Sheriffs Deputies have a very difficult and very dangerous job. On a daily basis they may deal with both alleged and convicted criminals, some of whom may become physically violent. In many cases, law enforcement agents must chase, fight or physically restrain suspects, many of whom might be armed with a weapon of some sort. Sometimes retaliating in kind is seen as "necessary" in the line of duty, but very often, police may get carried away and engage in what is called the excessive use of force, or Los Angeles police brutality. Los Angeles police brutality occurs when Los Angeles law enforcement officials use more force than is necessary to apprehend or arrest a criminal suspect. Police have very strict guidelines at to when and how they may collect evidence of a crime against you. However, the line between law enforcement acting in a brutal or unfair manner or acting appropriately in any given situation is less clear. A police officer may use a weapon against you if he or she is “reasonably" fearful for their life. If you pull out a weapon, or anything that resembles a gun, they may “reasonably" fear for their lives and injure, if not kill you with weapons of their own.

If you have been arrested by police and believe you have been the victim of Los Angeles police brutality, or that you were treated unfairly by member of the Los Angeles Police Department, call the attorneys at Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin, LLP today. In many instances, criminal proceedings against you can be dismissed because of the improper conduct of police officers. Our attorneys have over 50 years of combined experience in defending against criminal charges of all types and know which details to look for. Call today to begin preparing your case.

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Los Angeles Paparazzi Laws Updates

Posted on: October 31, 2009 at 3:45 a.m.

The Los Angeles criminal defense attorney team at Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin is highly skilled, highly regarded and highly experienced. We've defended some of the most high profile cases in recent history, giving our defense attorney team unique experience. We work hard to keep our eyes on new criminal laws, whether they affect petty theft charges or paparazzi. In Hollywood, attorney teams must stay up to date with all paparazzi laws, especially with a celebrity governor in office.

By the most basic of definitions, paparazzi are photographers who primarily focus their efforts on photographing celebrities. The lives of actors and actresses have long held the interest of the public, leading to the immense popularity of tabloids and gossip columns centered on them. In recent years, however, paparazzi behavior has become increasingly invasive, and even dangerous. While photographing celebrities in a public place such as a restaurant or park is perfectly legal, many celebrities have complained about the intrusion on their privacy, and even successfully sued members of the paparazzi for things like wiretapping their homes and physical altercations. Stories of the well-known having been pursued in cars by the paparazzi, sometimes leading to collisions, abound. Photos taken of celebrities in their most private moments may sell well in tabloids, but cause mountains of embarrassment for the celebrity and their families.

In order to combat the more intrusive members of the paparazzi, the nation’s first anti-paparazzi legislation was signed into law in 1999, making it a criminal offense for a photographer to invade the privacy of the rich and famous by taking unauthorized photos of them in their homes or tapping their phone lines to listen in on their conversations. This first law didn’t seem to be enough to stop the paparazzi, so in 2005, new legislation went into effect that specifically dealt with the more violent photographers who enter into physical altercations with celebrities in their attempts to get photographs of them. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger recently signed legislation that also makes it easier for celebrities to sue the media outlets that purchase these photos from the paparazzi and profit from them.

With legislation on their side, the wealthy and well-known are fighting back with both civil suits and criminal charges. Stalking and trespassing are common criminal charges against the photographers. Stalking, legally defined as the repeated harassing or threatening of another person, is either a misdemeanor or felony criminal offense in Los Angeles. Trespassing is the unauthorized intrusion of a photographer that interferes with a person or their property. While typically considered a misdemeanor, stalking carries a penalty of up to six months in a Los Angeles County jail and up to $1,000 in monetary fines. Battery and assault are also frequent byproducts of interactions between the paparazzi and celebrities, and are often serious criminal offenses, punishable by jail time. If you are a photographer and have been accused of a crime involving a celebrity, call Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin, LLP today. Let us fight for your freedom and good reputation.

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Riverside Kidnapping Trial

Posted on: October 31, 2009 at 3:34 a.m.

At Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin, our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys also defend people in the surrounding regions, including Riverside County. Our Riverside kidnapping defense attorney team is comprised of criminal defense lawyers with a great deal of experience in criminal trials. We defend Riverside kidnapping cases often, and our track record is well respected in the legal community.

The trial for a 50 year-old Victorville man accused of a kidnapping have begun. Mark Herbert Warren is accused of attacking a Riverside woman in her home with a stun gun before handcuffing her, covering her head with a hood and putting her in a box in his van. Warren, a former contractor, left pictures of her restrained as well as ransom note behind for the woman’s husband, demanding $140,000 for her release. Warren was arrested just seven hours later when a local resident reported a suspicious looking van parked outside her home to police. Deputies investigating the van freed the woman and arrested Warren. He has been formally charged with a kidnapping for ransom, burglary and assault with a deadly weapon and is facing life in prison.

A kidnapping is a serious criminal offense in Los Angeles that is nearly always punishable by several years in a state prison. Kidnapping is typically classified as a felony criminal offense and counts as a “strike" under California’s “Three Strikes" laws, leading to longer prison sentences and harsher penalties for multiple felony convictions. Simple kidnapping, or kidnapping without asking for ransom, can generally garner a prison sentence of three, five or eight years, depending on the circumstances surrounding the crime. The kidnapping of children under the age of 14 is generally punishable by as many as 11 years in a state prison. Kidnapping for ransom or in connection with a robbery, as in Warren’s case, is sometimes referred to as aggravated kidnapping and is generally punishable by life in prison with the possibility of parole, in the case of a conviction.

Separately, burglary is the illegal entering of a building or home with the intention of stealing property or committing some other felony, which seems to have been Warren’s intent. Burglary alone in Los Angeles can land you in either a county jail or a state prison for two to six years.

If you have been charged with either burglary or kidnapping in Riverside, you are not without options. Consent or mistaken identity are both common and frequently successful defenses against kidnapping charges. Call the attorneys at Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin, LLP today to begin preparing your defense.

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Los Angeles Burglary Crime

Posted on: October 5, 2009 at 11:54 a.m.

An alleged Los Angeles burglary crime suspect was shot to death by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies in Azusa this morning after he pulled a knife out.  The deputies were trying to arrest two suspected car thieves around 1:00 in the morning when the two suspects fled the scene.  After a short pursuit, deputies cornered one suspect, who then pulled out his weapon.  A deputy fired several rounds at the burglary suspect, who was pronounced dead at the scene.  His identity has not yet been released.  The second suspect has also not yet been identified and has yet to be apprehended by law enforcement. Theft is a broadly-used term in California that can be used to mean all manner of theft crimes.  A Los Angeles burglary is specifically the illegal entering a building or home in order to deprive the owners of their property by removing it.  Larceny is the removal of property from a person or place with the intent to deprive the owner of their property.  Larceny and burglary in particular deal with tangible items such as cars, jewelry, artwork or electronics items.  This is different from crimes that involve real estate or services, which are items that cannot be “carried away" by a suspect.  Theft crimes in Los Angeles can be charged as either misdemeanor or felony criminal offenses.  The difference in these cases is generally the value of the items stolen:  if the value is above $400, then the theft is considered Grand Theft and is nearly always a felony offense.  If you are found guilty of grand theft in Los Angeles, you could find yourself in either a county jail or a state prison for up to 16 months, as well as being sentenced to probation, parole, community service, fines, restitution or any combination of all six. Our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys also wanted to share a word about dealing with Los Angeles law enforcement agents:  they can and will use potentially lethal force against you if you are threatening their safety.  If you find yourself being stopped (in any situation) by police, drop your weapon if you have one.  Do not run, because then they will have a reason to chase you.  If you are carrying anything that resembles a firearm or other weapon (even a something as common as a baseball bat), they can shoot at you, or even simply arrest you because they can claim that they were “in fear for their lives."  Police are legally allowed to stop you and ask you your name and address for pretty much any reason.  They can arrest you if they suspect you have committed a crime.  If they ask you anything beyond your name and address, ask to speak with an attorney first.  If you have been arrested or charged with a criminal offense, such as a burglary crime, call the Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys at Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin today.  Our attorneys have decades of combined experience in defending against criminal charges of all types.  In many cases, improper police conduct or gathering of evidence may even be enough to get your charges dropped and your case dismissed.  You can reach us at 877-781-1570.

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