Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog

Violent Crimes Against the Homeless: Hard to Prosecute

Posted on: September 10, 2008 at 9:32 a.m.

Los Angeles police were investigating Sunday the fatal stabbing of a homeless man behind a liquor store in Woodland Hills. The victim was a transient who was stabbed multiple times near the back door of a liquor store.

Violent crime investigations involve a variety of information gathering tactics, including interviewing victims, interviewing possible witnesses and combing the crime scene. When a violent crime is committed against a homeless person however, it makes gather evidence incredibly difficult. If the violent crime committed is murder, it makes the crime even more difficult to investigate and prosecute. For police and detectives investigating violent crimes, if the victim has no home or have a community that can support the investigation, it makes things difficult.

Violent crime investigations include a behavioral analysis, which is done to provide behavioral based investigative and operational support by applying case experience, research, and training to complex and time-sensitive crimes, typically involving acts or threats of violence.

Law enforcement investigators may also enter certain violent crime information into a database for comparison and possible matches with unsolved cases. Additionally, criteria cases with an unidentified offender may be submitted for database comparison.

Tagged as: jury trial defense

High Profile Murders in Los Angeles

Posted on: September 9, 2008 at 1:09 p.m.

Recent murder trials which have received a great deal of press coverage are bringing a focus back to violent crimes in Los Angeles.

A man found guilty of slaying his girlfriend and leaving her to rot in a backyard shed was sentenced on September 8th to 15 years to life in prison. A jury convicted the man of second-degree murder in December for killing his girlfriend, stuffing her into a box and leaving her to decompose in a shed in August 2006, the hottest summer on record in the San Fernando Valley.

Also on September 8th, a death sentence was handed down for an Azusa gang member convicted of murdering four people between 1999 and 2004. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy rejected an automatic motion to reduce Ralph Flores' punishment to life in prison without the possibility of parole for three of the killings, and also denied the Los Angeles criminal defense attorney's request for a new trial.

Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys know that California

Tagged as: jury trial defense

Internet Crimes, a Growing Area of Criminal Law

Posted on: September 8, 2008 at 11:32 a.m.

Over the last fifteen years the Internet has gone from a little known technology to a part of everyday life for most Americans. With that though has come a growing area of criminal law.

An internet crime is a criminal act that is committed while using the internet or while on the internet. These crimes are far ranging, the laws can cover anything from luring a minor across state lines for the purposes of sex to online identity theft. Obviously these crimes are quite different. Los Angeles criminal attorneys are often scrambling to deal with the new issues which arise regularly when it comes to Internet crimes.

It is important to remember that Internet crimes can either be crimes in the state of California or Federal crimes. Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys also wrestle with that issue on Internet crimes, as states will have different laws, penalties and jurisdictions, making a criminal defense contingent upon who is prosecuting the crime.

Here are a few examples of how varied Internet crimes can be for Los Angeles criminal attorneys to defend:

- Auction fraud is the most commonly reported crime online, according to the federal Internet Crime Complaint Center, also known as the IC3. And in Los Angeles, an eBay auctioneer was selling fake memorabilia for months.
- Law enforcement officials cracked an international ring that tapped customer databases and trafficked in tens of millions of credit card numbers; a researcher uncovered a major flaw that permits hackers to steer some Web surfers to fake versions of popular Websites filled with malicious software; and computer assaults, which some researchers said they had traced back to Russia's state-run telecommunications firms, crippled websites belonging to the country of Georgia.
- Money lost in Internet crimes hit a new high last year, topping about $240 million, according to a government report showing increases in scams involving pets, check-cashing schemes and online dating.

Tagged as: internet crimes defense

Falsely Accused of Murder: Los Angeles Men Freed after 4 Months in Custody - Wrong Identification to Blame Says Prosecutor

Posted on: September 6, 2008 at 10:58 p.m.

Two Hollywood men who spent nearly four months in a Los Angeles County jail walked out free after a murder case against them was dropped, in Los Angeles, California. The men, both 20, had been charged with murder and attempted murder in a drive-by gang shooting in April that left one man dead and another injured. "This matter is dismissed in the interest of justice," Superior Court Commissioner Henry J. Hall said Friday afternoon, prompting applause by family members sitting in the courtroom.

The men, still wearing their blue jumpsuits, left the courthouse in downtown Los Angeles about 6:30 p.m. Relatives yelled, clapped and rushed toward them. "I feel like a million bucks," said one, "I knew I was wrongfully accused. I just had to wait it out."

The decedent Heriberto Osorio, 19, was killed on North Oxford Avenue in Hollywood early on the morning of April 20. Police arrested the two suspect about an hour after the shooting, and prosecutors filed charges a few days later. If convicted, they could have faced life in prison. The Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney on the case said the men matched the physical description given by witnesses and were in the immediate area of the shooting shortly after it occurred. Witnesses also identified both men in a field show-up, singling out one of the men as the gunman. Both men had prior criminal records and police believe at least one had gang affiliations. They both are construction workers.

Defendants had denied any involvement and told police that they were at a nearby McDonald's restaurant at the time. Despite the arrests, Los Angeles police detectives discovered the possible involvement of other individuals in the shooting, according to the prosecutor. One woman has since been arrested on suspicion of aiding and abetting, but police are still searching for the gunman.

Prosecutors realized that the clock on the McDonald's camera was incorrect and that Defendants said the car they were driving was at the fast-food restaurant just minutes after the shooting. Although the McDonald's video did not show them, it did show the van -- a different vehicle than witnesses said was used in the shooting, according to the prosecutor.

Thereafter, after reviewing the case, the L.A. criminal prosecutor made a motion to dismiss the case, which was scheduled for a preliminary hearing next week. "When we put it all together . . . it became clear to me at that point there was reasonable doubt, and, in fact, it was likely they didn't commit the crime," he said. "If someone is in custody improperly, we have to release them as soon as possible."

Tagged as: jury trial defense, police misconduct

California Drug Crimes: Different Drugs, Different Penalties, Aggressive Defense

Posted on: August 26, 2008 at 9:45 a.m.

Federal drug offenses can have a complex sentencing structure, dependent upon type of drug, the amount of drug, number of previous offenses and the surrounding factors of the arrest. Federal criminal lawyers in Los Angeles are quite familiar with the United States Sentencing Guildelines used to assess sentencing issues for drug charges in federal court.

For example, if a person is arrested for the first time in a drug trafficking violation with 10 grams of pure methamphetamine, he faces the possibility no less than 5 years in prison. However, if it's 50 grams of pure methamphetamine, then no less than ten years. Certain drugs, usually those considered more dangerous or addictive, such as methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, PCP, crack and the like carry heavy time in jail as well as heavy fines. Second offenses can keep an individual in jail for a decade or more, and a third offense can equal life imprisonment. Of course, the goverment must first prove these offenses beyond a reasonable doubt. Aggressive criminal defense of drug charges works to preclude such heavy sentencing.

The federal drug offense penalty for trafficking marijuana is equally as harsh, but the amount one would need to get a 10-year+ sentence is 1,000 kilograms or 1,000 or more plants. Possessing 100 - 999 Kgs or 100 - 999 plants would amount to a sentence of 5-10 years. Both of these sentences are for first time drug offenses.

What it comes down to, is federal and state drug enforcement agencies take all drug offenses seriously; one statistic shows that there were 95 arrests per hour in the United States in 2006 (up from 2 per hour in 1966), and that's just for marijuana. During the past two decades, California experienced a 25-fold increase in the number of drug offenders sentenced to state prison.

Every drug offense, from possession to trafficking should be taken seriously, and competent attorneys are needed in every case. Life sentences are possible, in both state and federal court, where the recovered quantity is high and there is an extensive criminal history (example: three strikes legislation in California).

Tagged as: drug crimes defense

Hit and Run: A Dangerous Crime

Posted on: August 26, 2008 at 9:45 a.m.

Hit and run crimes are quite deadly. People are killed almost daily by hit and run crimes, and those guilty of a hit and run face harsh criminal charges and penalties.

The criminal act of hit and run occurs when a person who is involved in a motor vehicle accident leaves the scene without properly identifying them self.

In recent weeks, the following hit and run crimes have occured all over the country:
Nicholas W. Davenport, 20, of Newburgh, IN was killed when he was struck by a car, apparently while walking to work through Green Springs Valley subdivision off Indiana 261 in Newburgh. The incident happened about 6 a.m.

In Philadelphia, PA a 5-year-old boy was struck and killed by a cab, and his mother is in serious condition.

A Durham man was charged with felony hit and run, as well as driving while impaired after hitting a man with his vehicle. Javier S. Hernandez, struck Jerome Taylor shortly after midnight then attempted to elude arrest and refused when a Durham officer told him to get out of his vehicle. Hernandez is also charged with resisting arrest and driving on a revoked license. His blood alcohol was measured at .15, according warrants issued in the incident.

In Bellflower, CA, a suspected drunken driver was in custody after he allegedly sideswiped a vehicle in Bellflower, fled the scene, and crashed moments later into a second car, injuring its driver.

These are just a few of the examples of how serious a crime this is, and how seriously law enforcement officials treat it.

If a person is convicted hit and run, he/she may be sentenced with:

- imprisonment
- large fines
- community service
- probation
- parole

Due to the life-altering legal consequences that are involved, it is always in a person

Tagged as: california criminal laws

Handling DMV Hearings

Posted on: August 25, 2008 at 9:43 a.m.

A DMV hearing is an administrative proceeding regarding the suspension or revocation of your driving privilege only, so it is unlike a court case. Both the State and Federal Constitutions provide that no person shall be deprived of property without due process of law. Due process of law entitles the accused to a notice of the action the DMV intends to take against a person's driving privilege and an opportunity to be heard, hence the term "hearing." After being arrested for driving under the influence, the accused has 10 days to schedule a hearing with the DMV.

The hearing has nothing to do with guilt or innocence, it strictly has to do with the person's privilege and the circumstances surrounding the arrest. During the proceeding, the following matters are discussed:
- Whether or not the accused took a blood, breath or urine test
- Whether the police officer had reasonable cause to believe the accused was driving a motor vehicle in violations of state codes and laws
- Whether the accused was placed under lawful arrest.
- Whether the accused was driving with a .08% or more by weight of alcohol in their blood

If a person refuses a blood, breath or urine test, then the proceeding will, in addition to the officer's proof and arrest procedure, check:
- Whether the accused was told that if s/he refused to submit to, or fail to complete, a test that person's driving privilege would be suspended for one year or revoked for two to three years
- Whether the police actually requested a blood, breath or urine test

A DUI attorney may actually represent you at the hearing. Simply having an attorney present may greatly increase the chances of getting the license back until trial, and may even help in the future with a DUI trial.

After being pulled over and arrest for DUI in Los Angeles, the arresting officer will confiscate the driver's license of the accused and hand over a pink slip (called at "Notice of Suspension," which acts a temporary 30-day license during the DMV hearing and DUI trial. After receiving the pink slip, the accused or the DUI lawyer has 10 days to schedule a DMV hearing.

The Los Angeles DUI attorneys at Kestenbaum Eisner & Gorin LLP specialize in the aggressive defense of DUI charges resulting from drunk driving arrests throughout Southern California. Our attorneys are Former Senior Los Angeles Prosecutors with more than 50 years experience litigating DUI charges in court and at DMV hearings.

Tagged as: violent crimes defense

Three Strikes Legislation Updates

Posted on: August 21, 2008 at 10:37 a.m.

In California, and throughout the rest of the nation, legislatures are updating the laws and sentencing structures of their Three Strikes rules, often making them more rigid. Below are some updates on activities in and out of California that are changing the laws regarding Three Strikes legislation:

- There was an effort this year in California, where a local group of families gathered signatures to try and get a measure on the November ballot that would amend California's Three Strikes Law. The main difference in the amended version is sentencing for those who commit a non-violent or non-serious offense as their third strike. Persons whose third strikes are non-violent or non-serious will be eligible for re-sentencing, rather than life in prison.
- Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire signed a bill that will strengthen the state's Three Strikes law to include felony offenses from other states. This means that Californians now have to be aware of laws in other states regarding Three Strikes, not just California.
- In Connecticut, the Judiciary Committee voted against one Three Strikes proposal, by a 25-16 vote, that called for mandatory life sentences for third time offenders.
- Last year in Ohio, the senate had hearings on a bill that would permit judges to lock up repeat felons for twice as long as current law allows. Judges could hand down maximum sentences without explanation for a second offense in any felony case. And criminals headed to prison for at least the third time could see their time doubled under a so-called Three Strikes provision.
- States, such as Indiana, are applying Three Strikes sentencing structures to immigration infractions for both individuals and companies.
- Foreign entities, including Canada, France and the European Union are all considering variations on "Three Strikes" sentencing rules.

If you are seeking counsel on a Three Strikes felony violation, contact the attorneys at Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin, LLP.

Tagged as: three strikes laws

California Propositions (NOV. 2008): Dangerous New Bail Law Proposed

Posted on: August 20, 2008 at 8:08 a.m.

Every November California practices its own brand of democracy by putting for propositions, many of which target criminal activity of some sort. This year is no different, and there is a highly controversial Prop. being proposed in regards to bail*.

Proposition 6, the "Criminal Penalties and Laws. Public Safety Funding. Statute" would require new state spending on various programs to combat crime and gangs, and to operate prison and parole systems. It would also eliminates bail for illegal immigrants charged with violent or gang-related felonies.

Targeting illegal immigrants is nothing new for those who attempt to get propositions onto the ballet, and non-citizens who are violent offenders are also easy targets. However, denying bail to these individuals may be denying them the rights given by the federal and state Constitutions. In fact, it seems a bit counterproductive, as non-citizens have the right to counsel from their home nation on certain matters. Attempting to keep them locked up not only keeps these non-citizens from returning to their home nations, but my infringe on their right to counsel (depending upon how the courts interpret the rule). There was a case in Texas recently where a man who was a Mexican citizen was put to death and not given the chance to speak with counsel from Mexico.

It will be interesting to see how this proposition is treated, and whether or not it passes.

*The taking of bail consists in the acceptance, by a competent court or magistrate, of the undertaking of sufficient bail for the appearance of the defendant, according to the terms of the undertaking, or that the bail will pay to the people of this state a specified sum.

Tagged as: bail and release, immigration consequences

Immigration and Crime: A Developing Situation

Posted on: August 19, 2008 at 9:28 a.m.

Over the past decade, government funding for immigration enforcement has more than tripled, laws like the 1996 Immigration Reform Act (IIRIRA) have increased the power of enforcement officers to monitor and detain non-citizens, and the immigration detention system has become the fastest growing section of the U.S. prison industry. In this climate, the dangers of over-reaching enforcement practices that breach the basic civil liberties of immigrants (and citizens alike) has grown tremendously.

A possible defense in criminal immigration cases, immigration counsel can argue that reversal of a removal order is required when an immigration judge plays an improper prosecutorial role in the proceedings. When the judge abandons his or her role as an unbiased arbiter of fact and law, and becomes a prosecutor, the court contravenes its responsibilities as a neutral fact finder.

The Immigration Court's decision should be reversed if the record clearly demonstrates that the judge played a prosecutorial role outside the scope of the court's responsibility as an unbiased trier of fact and law. The judge clearly acts as an aggressive prosecutor if s/he attempts to establish that the Respondent was guilty of a crime.

Developing situations in immigration and criminal law include:
- The increasing number of immigration raids throughout the state and the country.
- South Carolina's new bill; its central planks forces employers to screen new employees' citizenship by one of basically two ways: using a federal Web-based verification system, or by requiring an S.C. driver's license, which is only given to citizens.
- San Francisco's sanctuary ordinance, which shelters non-citizens, even if convicted of a crime.

Tagged as: immigration consequences

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