Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog

Violent Crimes in Los Angeles

Posted on: March 23, 2009 at 8:40 a.m.

Violent crimes in Los Angeles are charged as felonies and carry with them heavy consequences in Los Angeles. Los Angeles violent crime defense lawyers regularly counsel clients through investigations, trials and all manner of legal proceedings.

Being charged with a violent criminal offense in Los Angeles is a serious, often frightening experience. Since the penalties for a violent crime can be so severe, a conviction for a violent criminal offense could completely change your life.

What exactly is considered a violent crime? In the simplest terms, a violent crime is a criminal act committed with the use of violence (obviously), force or threats. Violent crimes can occur with or without the use of a weapon. Victims of violent crimes typically end up either severely injured or dead. Violent crimes are usually classified as felonies (especially if a weapon is involved) and examples can include: murder, manslaughter, attempted murder, robbery, domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, hate crimes, assault and/or battery, aggravated assault, and carjacking.

For the most serious violent crimes, such as murder, a minimum sentence would typically be 25 years in prison for a conviction while the maximum sentence imposed would be life in prison, or the death penalty since it is legal in Los Angeles. Penalties for all types of violent crimes vary depending on the individual circumstances. For instance, assault with a fist is typically punished less harshly than would be assault with a baseball bat or a knife. Penalties for robbery can be anything from two to nine years in a state prison for a conviction, while a conviction for carjacking can incur a prison sentence of between three and nine years.

Violent crimes convictions in Los Angeles have the added dimension of the inclusion of Californias "Three Strikes Law." This law has the effect of enhancing punishments depending on the prior criminal record of a defendant, sometimes doubling a prison sentence if convicted of a second or third crime. With two or more prior felony convictions, a defendant can also face the possibility of life in prison even if the crime they are currently on trial for would not otherwise merit such a punishment.

When you find yourself in a situation where the rest of your life could be spent in prison, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney. If you have been accused of a violent crime, call the attorneys at Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin, LLP immediately. Their combined 50 years of experience in criminal defense has taught them the importance of details in each individual case and how those details can possibly save you from life in prison.

Tagged as: jury trial defense

Statutory Rape in Los Angeles

Posted on: March 19, 2009 at 12:16 p.m.

Los Angeles rape charges are serious, most people know that. Los Angeles statutory rape charges are also serious, and any Los Angeles rape defense attorney will tell you that there are serious consequences that go along with statutory rape.

Everybody knows that the difference between a rape charge or allegation and normal life is consent. There are, however, some instances where readily given consent does not legally apply to a sexual situation. Statutory rape is one such instance. In Los Angeles, the legal age of adulthood is generally 18, and anyone under the age of 18 is considered a minor. In most states, including California, this is also the legal age at which someone can consent to a sexual act with another person over the age of 18.

If one of the people involved in a particular sex act is over the age of 18 and one is not, this generally constitutes statutory rape and can incur a criminal charge. Even within this situation, however, there is a three year "window." Most Los Angeles statutory rape defense attorneys will tell you that in order to avoid a statutory rape charge in a situation involving a minor, both participants must be no more than three years. For example, if one of the participants is 17 and one is 21, then there are grounds for a statutory rape charge, unlike a situation where one participant is 19 and one is 16. Even a situation involving a 15 year old and an 18 year old would technically be allowable by legal standards. Charges for statutory rape in Los Angeles can be brought up both by the victims parents and the state, even if the victim insists that the act was consensual. The laws in this case do not view the victim as old enough to have given consent to a sex act without qualification and attempt to keep minors from being taken advantage of sexually by an adult, or even an older minor. Some statistics estimate that of the average age difference between a teen victim of statutory rape and an adult defendant is seven years and nine months.

Sex crimes are rigorously prosecuted and punished in California and statutory rape is no exception. The majority of sex offenses are classified as felonies and can incur punishments such as several years in a state or county jail, community service, heavy monetary fines, probation or parole and lifetime registration with Californias sex offender registry. If you have been accused of statutory rape, call the attorneys at Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin, LLP right away to begin preparing your case.

Tagged as: sex crime accusations

Assault vs. Battery

Posted on: March 17, 2009 at 2:25 p.m.

Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys get asked a variety of questions by people who want to learn about the law. There are many crimes in Los Angeles that seem similar, but that quite different. Our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys represent numerous clients charged with assault and/or battery, but who often don't know the difference between the two.

Most people hear the words "assault and battery" and think they know what that means physically attacking someone. That definition is really only partially true, especially in Los Angeles.

Historically, assault has been defined as the threat of violence coupled with the ability to carry out that threat, whether that threat is made verbally or through a persons actions. Battery has more often been seen as the actual act of violence against someone. While many states today do not make much of a distinction between assault and battery, in Los Angeles they are seen as separate crimes and charged and punished accordingly.

Simple assault, which includes both threats and attempts to cause injury to another person, is almost always a misdemeanor charge. Simple battery, the willful and unlawful use of force or violence against another person is classified either as a misdemeanor or felony offense, depending on the circumstances and the amount of damage caused. Assault and battery both serve as types of "umbrella" classifications that include other criminal offenses.

Sexual assault and battery offenses require both threat of unwanted sexual contact as well as physical contact that was not consented to by the victim. This offense in particular is very serious as not only can you be punished by possible jail time if convicted, but you may also be required to register with Californias sex offender registry for life.

Assault with a deadly weapon and assault with a firearm also include the threat or attempt of violence. The difference here is that a deadly weapon can be almost anything but a firearm, but both a firearm and a deadly weapon are likely to produce great bodily harm. Either can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, but a conviction for an assault with a deadly weapon charge will count as a "strike" under Californias "Three Strikes" laws. Battery with injury is an act of physical violence that injures another person and can be a misdemeanor or a felony. Domestic violence that results in an injury is also classified as battery. Mayhem (disabling or disfiguring a victims body or part of their body) and torture (causing cruel or extreme pain or suffering by inflicting great bodily injury) are also in the group of offenses under battery, and are usually charged as felonies.

Assault and/or battery charges are taken very seriously in Los Angeles and the punishments can be severe: county or state prison time, a permanent criminal record, significant monetary fines, probation, parole, mandatory anger management classes, losing the right to own a deadly weapon, the lifetime loss of eligibility for a California drivers license, and the loss of eligibility for certain jobs. Each assault or battery case is different, and each should be treated with special care. An experienced criminal defense attorney will know what details to look for in order to get the best possible outcome for you. If you have been charged with an assault or battery offense, call the Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys at Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin, LLP right away to begin preparing your defense.

Tagged as: jury trial defense

Drug Arrests in Los Angeles International Airport

Posted on: March 11, 2009 at 10:50 a.m.

In Los Angeles, drug penalties can be a serious challenge; however, when drug offenses occur at Los Angeles International Airport, any Los Angeles criminal defense attorney will tell you that the problems are compounded. Los Angeles drug offense attorneys know that the drug laws involving airport infractions are more complicated than at other locations.

Many people assume that celebrities get preferential treatment when it comes to drug issues. However, the recent arrest of rapper Coolio (real name Artis Leon Ivey, Jr.) is evidence that even the rich and famous can get caught in the wrong. The 45 year-old rapper, best known for his 1995 hit single, "Gangstas Paradise," was arrested last Friday at Los Angeles International Airport when security screeners found drugs and drug paraphernalia in his luggage.

Ivey is officially charged with one count of felony possession, one misdemeanor count of possession of drug paraphernalia and one misdemeanor count of battery as he grabbed a security screeners arm just before his bags were searched. Ivey was released after posting $10,000 bail and is scheduled to be arraigned April 3rd and faces up to three years in prison if convicted.

In Los Angeles, possession of any illegal drugs or controlled substances without a prescription is a criminal offense, as is the possession of drug paraphernalia. For most controlled substances, possession for personal use is classified as a felony, with the notable exception of marijuana, which is generally classified as a misdemeanor. Possession of drug-related paraphernalia or being caught under the influence of any illegal drug or controlled substance without a prescription are both generally misdemeanor offenses.

Most drug offense penalties depend on a variety of factors including the quantity and type of drug used (or found, in this case), whether the drugs in question were for personal use or sale, and the prior criminal record of the defendant, especially as it relates to drug offenses. Media outlets have reported that the drug found in Iveys luggage was cocaine, which will obviously carry a greater penalty than would a "lesser" drug such as marijuana. The rappers last criminal offense occurred in June of 2008 when he was arrested on an outstanding warrant for driving with a suspended license.

Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin, LLP is a criminal defense law firm that has been helping clients throughout Southern California contest their criminal charges and obtain superior results for years. Our skilled drug crimes attorneys have over 50 years of collective court room experience and we are fully prepared to undertake our clients cases. When we work with our clients, we do everything possible to make sure that they receive the attention, resources, and dedicated legal counsel that they deserve.

Tagged as: counterfeit goods pc 350, drug crimes defense

Surprising Culprits of Child Pornography

Posted on: March 10, 2009 at 12:50 p.m.

Los Angeles is home to the San Fernando Valley, also known as Porn Valley to some. Along with the adult industry comes a highly illegal crime known as child pornography. Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers regularly defend those accused of and charged with child pornography charges. Child pornography (sometimes abbreviated CP) refers to images or films depicting sexually explicit activities involving a child; as such, child pornography is a visual record of child sexual abuse. In the United States, child pornography is illegal under federal law and in all cities and states, including Los Angeles, CA.

Many people have an image of a dirty old man in an overcoat kidnapping little children to make child pornography, but in reality the situation is often much different and much harder to interpret. For example, a former New Jersey lawmaker who once championed bills aimed at fighting child pornography pleaded not guilty Tuesday to child porn and official misconduct charges in his first public appearance since the state began investigating him in July.

A judge determined Neil Cohen is not a flight risk, so he can remain free without bail with restrictions. He's not allowed to "loiter or linger" around playgrounds or schools, have unsupervised contact with children under 16 or use the Internet for purposes other than business.

In Los Angeles, child pornography charges can lead to serious jail time, heavy fines and a permanent place on the sex offense registry for California.

Our Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyers aggressively defend charges of Child Pornography, and have utilized the latest court ruling in California interpreting Penal Code Section 311.11. The ruling states that an individual who possesses multiple images of child pornography on a computer can only be convicted of one count of possessing such images. In other words, if the police recover a computer with multiple images from suspects home, the defendant can only be charged with one criminal violation.

Tagged as: child pornography pc 311_11

President Obama's Marijuana Policy Changes

Posted on: March 9, 2009 at 8:02 a.m.

If there is an area of criminal law in Los Angeles that regularly frustrates Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys it is the area of law regarding medical marijuana. Medical marijuana lawyers are constantly battling between state and federal regulations, and during the Bush Administration there were major challenges. Now however, under President Obama, the policy regarding medical marijuana in Los Angeles may have taken a major turn.

With the recent change in presidents comes a very big shift in attitude towards marijuana. In late February of this year, newly-appointed Attorney General Eric Holder stated that President Obama intended to end many of the practices the Bush administration had used in regard to marijuana patients and providers.

Under the Bush administration, federal law enforcement officials can and did frequently arrest marijuana users and providers, as well as raid medical marijuana dispensaries, even in states like California where they were legal under state law. President Obama intends to honor states rights by allowing the 13 states that currently allow marijuana use for medical purposes to continue to do so without fear of federal law enforcement intervention.

While President Obama strictly maintains that he is not in favor of legalizing marijuana, a White House statement issued several weeks ago stated "The President believes that federal resources should not be used to circumvent state laws," and is expected to appoint new members for his drug policy team that are of the same opinion. The new presidents administration is expected to encourage each state to determine their own policies regarding marijuana and its use, which is a clear departure from policies in the Bush administration.

Unlike the previous president, Obama intends to mostly treat the majority of drug use as a health issue instead of a criminal justice issue, a sentiment he often voiced during his campaign for the presidency. The implications of this policy change could reach far and wide in California where it is currently a misdemeanor to be found in possession of marijuana and a felony to be found manufacturing or distributing the substance without a medical exemption.

With the application of federal law somewhat in flux, marijuana-related criminal charges in California require some delicate handling. If you have been charged with a crime relating to marijuana, contact a qualified criminal defense attorney immediately to begin reviewing the facts of your case.

With 50 years criminal defense experience, Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin specializes in successfully defending charges related to the Sales and Transportation of Marijuana (Penal Code Section 11360), Possession for Sale (Penal Code Section 11359), and Possession (Penal Code Section 11357). Our Los Angeles medical marijuana law firm has been recognized as a Top 5% U.S. Law Firm based on peer reviews from other attorneys, judges, and prosecutors, in the area of legal ethics, professionalism, and judgment. We have vast experience in defending all criminal matters including drug cases involving very large quantities of marijuana.

Tagged as: los angeles medical marijuana attorney

Gang-Related Crimes in Los Angeles

Posted on: March 3, 2009 at 12:16 p.m.

In the city of Los Angeles, gangs and gang-related crimes have become a harsh reality. Law enforcement target gangs more and more everyday, which often leads to innocent people being caught up in a widely thrown legal net. Having a qualified and experienced Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer by your side during a trial can make all the difference. A Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer will also be a major asset during criminal investigations, police questioning and pre-trial proceedings.

Historically, gang-related violence in Los Angeles has a strong tie to economics: as the economy goes down, gang violence tends to go up. If historical trends hold true, then Los Angeles may see a serious surge of gang violence in the next few years. Most of what we hear in the media about gang violence deals with homicides. A well-publicized story in March of 2008 involved an African American high school football player being shot and killed, allegedly by a Latino gang member.

Gang-related criminal charges are very often more than just homicide and can include drug possession, distribution or trafficking, weapons possession, money laundering, racketeering, smuggling, intimidation, robbery, kidnapping, rape and prostitution. None of these are charges to be taken lightly, and in a city such as Los Angeles, which has a long history of fighting gang-related crime, can be punished quite severely. Los Angeles in particular has several times issued gang injunctions, in essence suing gang members.

In a gang injunction, after evidence is gathered from local law enforcement officials and community members, a judge signs the order, which amounts to a restraining order, restricting the activities of every person named in the injunction. In most cases, the injunction stipulates that the people named may not associate with each other, wear certain types of clothing, make certain hand gestures, possess weapons, vandalize property or do drugs within a specified geographic area. Most of these activities are already illegal, so violating the injunction would constitute contempt of court and would add to the punishment issued from a conviction of another crime.

While the American Civil Liberties Union has argued many times against the unconstitutionality of gang injunctions, other cities in California and across the nation have adopted gang injunctions as a way to curtail gang activity. In Los Angeles alone, there are currently 33 gang injunctions against 50 gangs, covering roughly 11,000 people. Gang-related crime is prosecuted very heavily in Los Angeles, with punishments often including several years in prison.

If you are being charged with a gang-related crime, finding a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney with experience in gang crimes is the most important thing you can do for yourself.

Tagged as: gang allegations

Internet Crimes

Posted on: March 2, 2009 at 7:59 a.m.

Los Angeles Internet crimes attorneys have had their hands full for the last decade as the Internet continues to develop new functions and thus new laws. Internet crimes in Los Angeles are often prosecuted harshly because the entertainment industry is very protective and powerful, and because there are numerous high-profile individuals who do their best to protect their name.

The term "Internet Crime" is a sort of catchall phrase that can represent so many crimes. In its most basic meaning, a Los Angeles Internet crime is any crime committed while using the Internet. Some of the most frequently seen Internet crimes in Los Angeles include phishing, credit card fraud, illegal downloading, child pornography, illegal pornography, and illegal distribution of viruses or spam. Phishing, for those who may not know, is a type of fraud where an individual or group poses as an otherwise trustworthy entity such as a bank and asks for personal information such as bank account numbers, credit card numbers, social security information or account passwords.

With such information, they can then access a persons bank accounts or credit cards, or proceed to commit identity theft. Phishing scams are so common that I myself was approached twice in the last month with e-mails claiming to be from banks that I no longer have accounts with that needed to "update" my account information for security purposes. Credit card fraud is nearly interchangeable with online auction fraud. In these cases, the victim tries to purchase something online with their credit or debit card that is never delivered to them. Bank and credit card account numbers are often the information that is being sought after.

Illegal downloading is downloading information from the Internet (usually music, movies or television shows) that would generally incur a fee of some sort from websites that have basically pirated their merchandise. Child pornography is illegal in Los Angeles and the United States, as is viewing or displaying it online. Other forms of illegal pornography are somewhat vague by definition and are more often subject to local or state laws. For the illegal distribution of spam and viruses, since by nature they are often intended to corrupt or otherwise bring harm to the computer they enter, they have also been deemed illegal and are offenses punishable by law. Los Angeles Internet crimes attorneys, such as those at Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin, are quite knowledgeable about Internet laws in Los Angeles and how they differ from non-Internet crimes.

Punishment for Internet crimes varies widely depending on the facts of each case. Depending on the scale of the damage done, imprisonment, large monetary fines & restitution, community service, probation or parole may be handed down by a judge as punishment. As in most cases, a first-time offender will likely be given a less severe punishment while the opposite is true for repeat offenders. One important note here is that if the defendant committed a sex crime while using the Internet that involved a minor, he or she may be subjected to greater charges with correspondingly greater punishments. The complexity of Los Angeles Internet crimes requires the skilled hand of an attorney experienced in fighting Internet-related criminal charges. If you or someone you know has been charged with committing an Internet crime, call the Los Angeles Internet crimes attorneys at Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin, LLP immediately to begin preparing your defense.

Tagged as: internet crimes defense

Warrants in Los Angeles

Posted on: February 26, 2009 at 10:03 a.m.

One legal area that many people in Los Angeles don't fully understand is how to deal with warrants. If people feel they have nothing to hide, then they won't consult a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer regarding warrants that have been issued against them. However, Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers know that warrants can create a slew of legal problems and should be treated quite seriously.

Warrants exist for the purpose of allowing law enforcement officials to do their jobs while still protecting the rights of freedom and privacy that Americans and Angelinoshold so dear. The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees a citizens right to be protected from unreasonable search and seizure, which is a stark contrast to other forms of government where law enforcement officials can search and seize property or arrest citizens with no justification or legal process at all.

There are three basic types of warrants issued by Los Angeles law enforcement officials in the United States: search, arrest and execution. While government entities such as legislatures can also issue warrants, typically they are issued by a court or a judge.

Search warrants in Los Angeles are issued for the purpose of searching a criminal suspects home or belongings to look for evidence of wrongdoing. If you are a suspect in a criminal investigation, law enforcement officials must first demonstrate why they believe you are a suspect, then receive signed permission from either a judge or a court to go through your personal property. Otherwise, any evidence they have against you would have been illegally obtained and inadmissible in court proceedings. An experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney will look for specific details such as this in order to defend you.

Arrest warrants in Los Angeles are similar in procedure to search warrants in that they, also, must be signed by a court or judge. They must also show probable cause that a crime has been committed and that the person named in the warrant has committed these crimes. In most legal jurisdictions, an arrest warrant is required for any misdemeanor not committed in sight of a law enforcement official. In the case of a felony charge, however, a warrant for arrest is usually not needed as long as law enforcement officials have the necessary probable cause before making an arrest. A bench warrant is a variant of an arrest warrant and is issued when someone charged with a criminal act fails to appear for a scheduled court appearance.

An execution warrant is really to protect a state or federally employed executioner from being charged with murder. In these cases, if someone is convicted of a severe enough crime and sentenced to death, and usually after all appeals have been exhausted, an execution warrant is issued and must be completed within a specified period of time. If it is not completed within that time frame, another warrant must be issued.

If you or someone you know has been charged with a criminal offense in Los Angeles, having an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney by your side is the single greatest asset you can have. The attorneys at Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin, LLP will meticulously go through the details of your case and fight for the best possible outcome for you.

Tagged as: california criminal laws

Domestic Violence in Los Angeles

Posted on: February 25, 2009 at 10:53 a.m.

Los Angeles domestic violence attorneys, such as those at Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin, regularly defend individuals charged with serious domestic violence charges. This crime carries with it serious jail time, fines, counseling, probation and more. Finding a qualified Los Angeles domestic violence attorney who knows how difficult it can be to navigate the law is important.

The term domestic violence covers all manner of violence or abuse that takes place in a home or domestic setting. Typically, domestic violence is most often thought of as spousal abuse. However, domestic violence also includes verbal, physical or sexual abuse of children in a domestic situation, or even between siblings. It is a common belief that the victim of domestic violence can decide to either not prosecute or drop charges in their respective cases. This is a misconception.

If law enforcement officials arrive at the scene and find evidence of abuse such as injury to the victim, then charges of domestic violence will be made by law enforcement officials and the suspected abuser arrested. Domestic violence charges can include: assault & battery, criminal trespassing, harassment, reckless endangerment, restraining order violations, sexual assault, spousal rape, stalking, kidnapping and false imprisonment.

While the home is considered a private place, charges of domestic abuse or violence bring actions into the very public arena of a court of law. Criminal convictions can and do stay on your permanent record to follow you around for the rest of your life. Hiring an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney right away is the smartest thing you can do for yourself if you have been charged with any kind of domestic violence.

Domestic violence offenses are typically tried as misdemeanors, but can, in some instances, be tried as a felony if the defendant sexually abused or assaulted a minor, or if substantial bodily injury was caused to the victim. If you are tried and, indeed, convicted on a charge of domestic violence, penalties can include: prison time, restitution, large monetary fines, community service, probation, parole and court-ordered counseling.

Los Angeles domestic violence cases can be very murky water for a defendant to wade through. Restraining orders may be filed limiting the defendants access to their own home, or contact with their spouse or children. Restraining orders or protection orders are strictly enforced and any violation of them can result in further criminal charges. If you or someone you know has been charged with a domestic violence, call the attorneys at Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin, LLP right away. Their combined 50 years of criminal defense experience will be a great asset in maintaining your freedom and good reputation.

Tagged as: domestic violence pc 273_5

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