Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog

Medicinal Marijuana: Police Officer was not an expert witness on unlawful possession, court rules

Posted on: January 13, 2008 at 4:22 p.m.

Los Angeles Criminal Lawyers frequently encounter cases where the possession of marjinuana is legally justified under California's Medical Marijuana initiative. The reason these cases are criminally filed is that the investigating police officers either ignore or do not understand the law justifying the legal possession of numerous ounces of marijuana, even if there is substantial money or scales nearby. As long as the possession is to treat a person's diagnosed medical condition, then it is completely lawful under California state law.

Criminal Defense in California courts must include pointed cross-examination of police officers' background, training, and experience in investigating not just drug sales cases, but specifically the experience officers have in medical marijuana cases. Just because an officer has many busts for cocaine, methamphematine, PCP, or ecstacy, does not make him an expert witness for legal opinions about whether the recovered marijuana is possessed for sale, in light of the California Medical Marijuana initiative.

Recently the Fourth District Court of Appeal found that police officers who have only limited experience dealing with people who possess marijuana legally do not have a sufficient basis to determine whether such persons intend to sell it. In a unanimous opinion, the court reversed a conviction for possessing marijuana for sale based on a lack of evidence, saying the police officer upon whose expert testimony the conviction was based had no expertise in differentiating between individuals who possess marijuana lawfully for their own consumption, and those who possess it unlawfully with the intent to sell. The court explained:

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California Penal Code Section 350 - Possession and Sales of Counterfeit Goods

Posted on: December 2, 2007 at 4:56 p.m.

Fake rolexes? Gucci sunglasses? Fendi purses? Pirated DVDS? The manufacturers of these high-end items lose millions of dollars in sales, and aggressively pursue counterfeiting by hiring undercover investigators nationally. The investigators in turn chronicle what they observe in a gray-market storefronts and turn over the product of their investigations to local police agencies. An example of someone who may be investigated is an individual selling Gucci sunglasses for $20 in Downtown L.A., or Venice Beach. If the glasses were not produced by Gucci, they are considered counterfeit, even if their quality is the same or better. Even if the seller is honest with the potential buyers that the item is a fake, California law states that it is criminal to sell an item with a counterfeit label such as Gucci or Fendi on an article, without the manufacturer's consent. This is known as a trademark violation, and the criminal consequences for such conduct include large fines, jail, and prison.

The Law Blog's attention has recently been turned to criminal counterfeiting cases, which are appearing more often in Southern California Courts. Manufacturers and distributors of counterfeit items are being arrested more frequently. Los Angeles criminal lawyers are now facing the prospect of defending criminal charges brought pursuant to Penal Code Section 350. The biggest criminal defense challenge in these cases is to keep clients out of custody. The clients usually have clean prior records and often do not realize, before being arrested, that their entrepreneurial activity was illegal. Mistake of law is not a defense in California courts. Penal Code Section 350 states in part:

"(a) Any person who willfully manufactures, intentionally sells, or knowingly possesses for sale any counterfeit of a mark registered with the Secretary of State or registered on the Principal Register of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, shall, upon conviction, be punishable as follows:

(1) When the offense involves less than 1,000 of the articles described in this subdivision, with a total retail or fair market value less than that required for grand theft as defined in Section 487, and if the person is an individual, he or she shall be punished by a fine of not more than five thousand dollars ($5,000), or by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment; or, if the person is a corporation, by a fine of not more than one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000).

(2) When the offense involves 1,000 or more of the articles described in this subdivision, or has a total retail or fair market value equal to or greater than that required for grand theft as defined in Section 487, and if the person is an individual, he or she shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail not to exceed one year, or in the state prison for 16 months, or two or three years, or by a fine not to exceed two hundred fifty thousand dollars ($250,000), or by both that imprisonment and fine; or, if the person is a corporation, by a fine not to exceed five hundred thousand dollars ($500,000).

(b) Any person who has been convicted of a violation of either paragraph (1) or (2) of subdivision (a) shall, upon a subsequent conviction of paragraph (1) of subdivision (a), if the person is an individual, be punished by a fine of not more than fifty thousand dollars ($50,000), or by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year, or in the state prison for 16 months, or two or three years, or by both that fine and imprisonment; or, if the person is a corporation, by a fine of not more than two hundred thousand dollars ($200,000).

(c) Any person who has been convicted of a violation of subdivision (a) and who, by virtue of the conduct that was the basis of the conviction, has directly and foreseeably caused death or great bodily injury to another through reliance on the counterfeited item for its intended purpose shall, if the person is an individual, be punished by a fine of not more than fifty thousand dollars ($50,000), or by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or four years, or by both that fine and imprisonment; or, if the person is a corporation, by a fine of not more than two hundred thousand dollars ($200,000).

In a recent LAPD sting in the Los Angeles Downtown shopping district, known as the Santee Alley, 26 people were arrested and $8 million of counterfeit goods were confiscated. It was reported in the press that more than 140 law enforcement officers descended on Santee Alley Police and seized more than 50,000 items, including pirated CDs and DVDs as well as near-perfect reproductions of designer merchandise. The street value of the goods seized by officials with the Los Angeles Anti-Piracy Task Force was estimated at more than $8 million. "It sends a strong message going into the holiday shopping season that this kind of activity is not going to be tolerated," said LAPD Capt. Jodi Wakefield. "If they are going to be doing it, we are going to be arresting them." But some shoppers in the alley said they felt sympathy for merchants. "It's a Catch-22," said Ron Brown, 39. "It's trademarked merchandise. It kind of hurts the manufacturer. [But] especially this time of year, you kind of feel bad -- people are just trying to make money, survive and feed their families. People are out there trying to make a living. Unfortunately it's illegal." Officers with the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department cordoned off a blocklong section of 11th Street on either side of Santee Alley. Aided by investigators for design companies, the officers examined merchandise such as watches, purses and perfume. They found copycats that carried designer labels, including Prada, Rolex, Fendi and Gucci, officials said. "I'm a librarian by trade, so I know about copyright laws," said Becky McIntosh, 60, of Idaho, wandering the fashion district after returning from a Southern California cruise. "I can't in good conscience do it -- I know it's taking away the profit of the original designers." But shopper Jackie Williams, 41, a part-time nurse from Corona, toted a few handbags she had just picked up and saw the issue in simpler terms. "If people choose to buy the real Coach, they can go to Nordstrom," she said. "For me," she said of Santee deals, "it's something I like."

Despite the debate about whether such investigations help society, counterfeiting will continue especially with the inflow of counterfeit goods from China. As a result, Los Angleles criminal lawyers will stay busy defending Penal Code Section 350 violations in court.

Tagged as: federal law and defense

Why did the police officer stop me? Example of a Motion to Suppress under Penal Code Section 1538.5

Posted on: November 27, 2007 at 12:31 a.m.

When an officer approaches you on the street, or knocks on your door at home, does that mean you are not free to leave, and/or that your must allow admission into your home? There are no clear answers and Southern California Criminal Attorneys litigate, almost daily, difficult search and seizure motions by filing Motions to Suppress pursuant to Penal Code Section 1538.5

If the situation is considered a "consentual encounter," under Search and Seizure caselaw interpreting the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, then police officers do not need a reasonable basis or reason to speak to the person, i.e. they are just making "small talk" -- which means that the officer can come up to the person and begin speaking. Of course, if you follow this train of reasoning, the person can just walk away right? Can the person just shut the door in the officer's face? While in theory the answer to both questions is yes, how many times will police officers just let the person walk away, or stand having a door slammed? Probably never. If anything, the police officer will find an articulable basis to "detain" the person, to explain his belief that the person is involved in criminal activity. This reasonable basis is required to justify law enforcement's intrusion on the person's right to privacy under the U.S. Constitution. The greater the intrusion, the greater the need to justify the search and seizure under criminal constitutional law. Thus, police officers entering a person's home requires a much greater level of lawful justification, than detaining someone on the street.

A recent court of appeal decision clarifies further for all criminal lawyers in Los Angeles - what is a "detention" (requiring justifying) under the Constitutional framework, as opposed to a consentual encouter (requiring none). The First District Court of Appear ruling states that a police officer

Tagged as: probation and sentencing laws, violent crimes defense

Grand Jury Investigation of High-Profile Individuals: Indictments of Barry Bonds in California, and Bernard Kerik in New York

Posted on: November 16, 2007 at 6:24 a.m.

What is a Grand Jury? A grand jury investigates civil and criminal matters in proceedings closed to the public. A civil grand jury investigates the operation, management, and fiscal affairs of the county and the cities in the county. A criminal grand jury has constitutional authority to indict a suspect after finding probable cause that he or she committed an offense. The prosecutor presents the case to the grand jury in the form of testimony and other evidence and may answer questions that members of the grand jury have concerning the law. A grand jury is not supposed to receive evidence that would be inadmissible over objection at trial. However, even if the grand jury hears evidence that would be inadmissible at trial, the indictment is not void if there is sufficient competent evidence to support the indictment. Once the presentation of evidence is completed, the grand jury deliberates in secret. A 19-member grand jury may bring an indictment when 12 or more jurors conclude that the evidence presented establishes probable cause to believe that the accused committed the offense. Probable cause is the same standard used by the magistrate at a preliminary hearing: whether the evidence would lead a person to believe and conscientiously entertain a strong suspicion of the guilt of the accused.

Why are celebrities and public officials often investigated through Grand Juries? The proceedings are secret investigations, witnesses are ordered not to reveal what they testified to in front of the Grand Jury, and thus the media is often unaware that an investigation is even happening, or the details surrounding it. The grand jury process often precludes the glare of media attention on witnesses, as well as the subjects of the investigation. The process is fair, in part, because an ongoing grand jury investigation does not mean someone will necessary be indicted for a crime. Thus, if there is insufficient evidence for an indictment, a person's name and reputation may be preserved without the taint of a public criminal investigation picked apart by the media. On the other hand, the prosecutors can coax reluctant witnesses to testify, and can take years to gather evidence and testimony they need to a build a case against a target. Also, the "secret" aspect of the process harkens back to the inquisitorial processes in criminal courts centuries ago.

Keep in mind that an indictment is just a criminal accusation made by a grand jury. The defendant still has the right to a jury trial to defend himself. Recent examples of grand juries investigations of high-profile figures include baseball player Barry Bonds and Former NYC Police Commissioner Bernand Kerik.

Barry Bonds was indicted today. The slugger became baseball's all-time home run king in August, and was charged by a federal grand jury in San Francisco on perjury and obstruction of justice charges after a four-year investigation into whether he lied under oath about his use of steroids. Bonds, 43, faces four counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice, the U.S. Attorney's Office in San Francisco announced. (The Indictment Reads: "Bonds is charged with knowingly and willfully making false material statements regarding his use of anabolic steroids and other performance-enhancing substances while under oath during his testimony before the federal grand jury that was conducting the investigation into [BALCO], and with obstructing justice in the same investigation," the office said in a news release.) BALCO founder Victor Conte pleaded guilty to distributing steroids after a 2003 raid of his company by the Internal Revenue Service, and Bonds would later tell a grand jury investigating BALCO that he may have unknowingly received designer steroid products known as "the cream" and "the clear." In testimony leaked to the San Francisco Chronicle, Bonds said he believed one of the products was flaxseed oil, a claim met by doubts from those who watched him increase his previous season-high home run total of 46 to a record-breaking 73 in 2001. Bonds' insistence of unknowing steroid use launched a subsequent grand jury that investigated whether he had committed perjury.

Bernard Keric, the former New York City police commissioner and protege of presidential hopeful Rudolph W. Giuliani, appears to be drawing to a close with a possible indictment. A grand jury that has been hearing evidence for several months on whether Keric committed tax evasion and other charges, The investigation stemmed from a $240,000 renovation of Kerik's apartment in 1999. Authorities alleged that most of the work was paid for by mob-connected builders who sought his help winning city contracts -- a charge he denied until a misdemeanor guilty plea in state court last year. Before the scandal broke, Giuliani endorsed Kerik's nomination in 2004 to head the Department of Homeland Security. Kerik then announced he was withdrawing as President Bush's nominee because of tax issues involving a former nanny.

Tagged as: counterfeit goods pc 350, high profile defense

Statutory Rape: 10-years Imprisonment and Sex Offender Registration is Cruel and Unusual Punishment, Court Rules

Posted on: October 29, 2007 at 11:22 p.m.

California law makes it illegal for anyone to have consentual sex with anyone under the age of 18. The criminal offense is also known as the California Statutory Rape law, Penal Code Section 261.5. The greater the age difference in the intimate relationship, the more serious the consequences in a criminal court. If the age difference is less than three years, the offense is a misdemeanor (informal probation, community service, and jail). If the age difference is greater than 3 years, the offense is known as a wobbler under California criminal law, meaning it could be prosecuted as either a felony or a misdemeanor (a felony means the possibility of prison time).

The difference between the Statutory Rape law and Child Molestation is in the latter the victim is under 14 years old and even a reasonable belief that the victim is older is not a defense in criminal court. The Statutory Rape law does allow the defense that the older person believed that the victim was actually older than 18 years old, ie. he/she told me he/she is twenty....he/she looked and acted much older...the bottom line the jury is left to decide whether the defendant truly and reasonably believed that the victim was 18 or older.

A recent case out of Georgia state court highlights an example where the state's Statutory Rape law was applied too aggressively to a consensual relationship. Genarlow Wilson in 2005 was convicted of aggravated child molestation for having oral sex with a 15-year-old girl when he was 17. He was sentenced to 10 years without parole, the mandatory minimum under Georgia law at the time. But the state's high court, in a 4-3 decision, found that the sentence amounted to "cruel and unusual punishment." In California, criminal defense lawyers know that this type of case would probably not have been prosecuted. And even if it was, the case would have been pursued through the juvenile court process resulting in a home on probation disposition.

And on Friday afternoon, Wilson, now 21, a former high school honor student and football star, walked free from the Al Burruss Correctional Training Center after 32 months behind bars. He was calm, soft-spoken and relieved. "I'm finally happy to see we've got justice," Wilson said at a news conference outside the prison. "It's just a whole new beginning. I've got fresh breath, a new life."

Wilson's case also highlighted the increasingly strict sex-offender laws that have become common in Georgia and other states. If his conviction had been upheld, Wilson would have had to register as a sex offender upon his release. Georgia law would have prevented him from living or loitering within 1,000 feet of schools, day-care centers, parks, churches, swimming pools or school bus stops. His lawyer stated, "This is an awakening of parents everywhere... have a conversation with your teenager." She added: "Dangerous sex predators are out there. Those are the people who should be subjected to harsh laws, not Genarlow Wilson."

In the majority opinion, Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears noted that the Georgia Legislature had altered the law in 2006 to make conduct like Wilson's a misdemeanor that would not require registry as a sex offender. Sears said that represented a "seismic shift in the Legislature's view of the gravity of oral sex between two willing participants." The Court explained that Wilson's case "does not rise to the level of culpability of adults who prey on children and that, for the law to punish Wilson as it would an adult, with the extraordinarily harsh punishment of 10 years in prison without the possibility of probation or parole, appears to be grossly disproportionate to his crime."

In Southern California, the criminal defense of sex-related offenses is common. Criminal lawyers should be aware that California child molestation law would require sex offender registration for life under Penal Code Section 290 (for sex with someone under 14). However, the statutory rape would not require such registration. And again, the bottom line here is how old the alleged victim was, not the age of the accused.

Tagged as: sex crime accusations

What happens when government gets involved in financing an indigent defendant's defense costs?

Posted on: October 28, 2007 at 11:10 a.m.

In Georgia, a defendant is charged with committing a heinous crime, first rape, then escaping from the courthouse killing a judge and three others. He is facing the death penaly. But because he is indigent, the state is paying for his defense lawyers fees, as is the case in all other parts of the country. Lawmakers are calling for impeachment of the judge who has approved the indigent defendant's lawyers fees.

The trial judge on the death penalty matter is subject to the ire of state lawmakers because he has approved over $1.2 in legal fees to the defense lawyers preparing for trial. No one has claimed that the lawyers have padded their bills, or been unreasonable in trial preparation work in any way. Rather, the lawmakers feel that the judge should rein in the criminal defense lawyers. Critics say DeKalb County Senior Judge Hilton Fuller has mismanaged the high-profile death penalty case. In the middle of jury selection, the case has come to a halt because of disputes about those payments.

The lawmakers have said: "How many more millions will be spent giving Brian Nichols a defense that no one, including the taxpayers, could afford for themselves?" said Republican House Speaker Glenn Richardson in a statement. "There are serious questions about the poor handling of public funds that need to be addressed. The law provides the House that authority, and we intend to investigate the matter." Richardson said he planned to appoint a special committee, headed by attorney and Republican state House Majority Whip Barry A. Fleming, to investigate Fuller's handling of the trial and whether there was an "abuse of the system."

This simply never happens. And it shows the power a government can have over a judge, if it does not like the judge's conduct. The judge appears to have done what any judge would have done in his situation -- approved reasonable legal fees for the defense. The fees are high, but should not an indigent defendant have a thorough defense, especially if he is facing the possibility of losing his life.

After Nichols arrest following the escape and homicides, the Georgia Public Defender Standards Council assigned a team of salaried defense lawyers to the case, but prosecutors raised issues about the standing of one of the attorneys with the State Bar of Georgia, and moved to disqualify the entire public defender's program from the case. The council withdrew the original lawyers, and in an abundance of caution, assembled a new team that included three outside lawyers who billed by the hour. Fuller approved those rates, which are as high as $175 per hour, in July 2005. By last August, according to court documents, they had billed for more than $700,000 in attorneys fees and $200,000 in expert fees.

Importantly, the prosecutors office also has a number of lawyers handling the case. Fulton County Dist. Atty. Paul Howard's office has assigned five assistant prosecutors to the Nichols case. They filed a 54-count indictment and submitted the names of 300 potential witnesses. Defense attorneys argue that they need a budget that allows them to mount a sufficiently vigorous defense.

The case is taking a toll on Georgia's public defender system. The Legislature cut the system's budget for the public defender's council about 20% this year. It owes the three outside attorneys more than $160,000, and has declined to pay, despite an order from Judge Fuller. On Oct. 17, Fuller halted the case after two days of jury selection after the defense attorneys asked that the funding issues be resolved. In other words, the defense lawyers want to make sure that they will paid for their months of work, just as the prosecutors.

Importantly, the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to effective counsel. So despite the pain of taxpayers having to pay for an attorney, we are ensuring that everyone who stands accused exercises to right to an attorney in court.

Tagged as: counterfeit goods pc 350

Internet Crimes and Child Pornography: Latest Court Ruling on the Application of California Penal Code Section 311.11

Posted on: October 27, 2007 at 12:52 p.m.

Soutern Callifornia criminal attorneys have noticed that police at the local, state, and federal levels has been investing more and more resources into the investigation of internet crimes. In California, frequently committed internet crimes include: internet fraud, phishing, credit card fraud, illegal downloading, child pornography, illegal pornography, and illegal distribution of viruses/spam. With the recent publicity of "To Catch a Predator" on NBC's Dateline, the public is more aware of suspects attempting to use the internet to engage in sexual chat and activities with minors.

California Penal Code Section 311.11 specifically makes illegal the possession of child pornography. While pornography overall is typically protected speech under the 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution (as ruled over 30 years ago during the Larry Flynt obscenity trials), child pornography is considered to be harmful and illegal speech, and is not subject to constitutional protections. The law is clearly aimed at protecting minors from exploitation, and victimization.

Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyers should be aware of the latest ruling in California, People v. Herzig, interprets 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 mutliple images from suspect's home, the defendant can only be charged with one criminal violation. As a result, in the Herzig decision, the Appeals Court ruled that nine of 10 counts on which Timothy Donald Hertzig was convicted of possessing child pornography under Penal Code Sec. 311.11 must be dismissed. The panel said Hertzig

Tagged as: federal law and defense, sex crime accusations

What is the Prosecutor's burden in proving a defendant's guilt? Have you seen innocent people falsely accused despite evidence of their innocence?

Posted on: October 6, 2007 at 7:33 p.m.

California Criminal Law requires that the state prove every element of a criminal offense beyond a reasonable doubt. This rule applies whether a defendant is accused of a DUI misdemeanor, or a serious felony such as Manslaughter or Murder. "Beyond a Reasonable Doubt" is defined as proof that is so strong that each juror has an "abiding conviction in the truth of the charge." This means that each juror's belief about the defendant's guilt is so strong that he would not change his mind later that day, that week, or later than month. This is a very high burden! Even if the juror feels defendant likely did it, but that not beyond a reasonable doubt, he must vote to acquit the defendant. Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyers argue in front of juries daily in Southern California courts, ensuring that the government has met its burden before a unanimous verdict is rendered. Nevertheless, jury decisions are sometimes fallible. The Innocent Project, based on the East Coast, has been involved in litigating on appeal hundreds of cases over the last decade, around the country. This criminal defense consortium has demonstrated that 100s of convicted defendants were later proven innocent through DNA testing, or other means. Many spent years in prison, and some were facing the possibility of the death penalty. 75% of the bad convictions resulted from faulty eyewitness identification, while the others were caused by coerced confessions, prosecutorial misconduct, or police hiding exculpatory evidence. The jury trial system is a powerful tool against government abuse. It prevents the state from prosecuting people with contrarian views, outspoken critics, or others with disparate interests. And it works to preclude politicians from pursuing rivals through false criminal claims in the courts. These are often problems in developing countries, and former Eastern Block nations, where the court system is corrupt, and there is no social acceptance of the court system as just and fair. Despite the United States' justice system's Constitutional right to a jury trial, and the right to an effective advocate, the court process does make mistakes. Aggressive criminal defense work is very important to ensuring that the innocent are exonerated.

Tagged as: california criminal laws, motion to dismiss unlawful police search

What rights do you have as a passenger in a vehicle after a traffic stop? Can the police search you, order you to provide identification, or pat you down for weapons?

Posted on: September 6, 2007 at 9:52 p.m.

The U.S. Supreme Court in Brendlin v. California (2007) 127 S.Ct. 2400 addressed many legal issues related to what constitutional rights passengers have after a traffic stop.

Assume that the police stop a car for an alleged traffic violation. Obviously, the driver is detained. But what about the passengers? Although it might seem obvious and a simple matter of common sense, a split developed on whether passengers in stopped cars were in fact detained. This is important because if the passengers were not detained, those passengers could not challenge the legality of the traffic stop. So even if the traffic stop turned out to be unlawful, and any evidence related to the driver had to be suppressed, the passengers were fair game and would lose their motions to suppress.

1. Passengers do have a Reasonable Privacy Expectation and have Standing to Challege Unlawful Police Intrusions after a Traffic Stop
Remarkably, the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari in Brendlin and has now issued its opinion, unanimously reversing the California Supreme Court. The holding of the court is that passengers in stopped cars are detained, thereby permitting those passengers the right to challenge the legality of the stop of the car: When a police officer makes a traffic stop, the driver of the car is seized within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. The question in this case is whether the same is true of a passenger. We hold that a passenger is seized as well and so may challenge the constitutionality of the stop. (Brendlin v. California (2007) 127 S.Ct. 2400, 2403.)

The test of whether someone is detained comes from two cases. In United States v. Mendenhall (1980) 446 U.S. 544, 100 S.Ct. 1870, 64 L.Ed.2d 497, the court held that a person is seized if a reasonable person would believe that he or she is not free to leave. This test does not cover all situations, so the court adopted a gloss on this test, in United States v. Drayton (2002) 536 U.S. 194, 202, 122 S.Ct. 2105, 153 L.Ed.2d 242, saying that a person is detained where that person would not feel free to decline the officer

Tagged as: federal law and defense, probation and sentencing laws

Prosecution and Defense of Consumer Fraud Crimes in Southern California Courts

Posted on: September 2, 2007 at 11:51 a.m.

Consumer Fraud is organized into several areas under the misdemeanor prosecution powers of the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office for fraud practices - Immigration, Contractor, Auto Insurance, Solicitation, Loan Scams, and Credit Repair Fraud. The Los Angeles District Attorney's Office prosecutes these criminal fraud cases as well, but typically as felony matters.

The Los Angeles Criminal Defense of all consumer felony and misdemeanor fraud matters requires timely intervention, especially with aggressive prosecution practices in Los Angeles and Southern California courtrooms. Often a California Criminal Lawyer's aggressive intervention can result in a felony theft matter being reduced to a misdemeanor charge.

In Los Angeles courts, one area of criminal law enforcement scrutinty is so-called Immigration Consultant fraud -- the investigation of people who are not attorneys, but pretend to be by misadvising clients about areas of law they have no expertise in, nor appropriate licensing. Under California law, an immigration consultant cannot provide a client with any advice on immigration matters. The Los Angeles City Attorney's Office feels these consultants are not lawyers and should not give legal advice. An immigration consultant may only provide a person assistance with translating information, locating and securing documents on your behalf, and completing immigration forms.

Another area of criminal investigation by Los Angeles prosecutors is Contractor Fraud. Often contractors have legal issues related to appropriate licensing, bonding, and pending complaints. Crimes of theft, fraud, and other legal matters are aggressively investigated and prosecuted as both felonies and misdemeanors. The decision to file charges depends on the level of loss, as well as the age and level vulnerability of the alleged victim. Again, Los Angeles Criminal Attorneys defend these allegations immediately, ensuring that restitution if any is paid, and that felony charges are reduced.

Another hotbed area for covert investigations, including undercover media reports, is Auto Repair Fraud, which includes appropriate licensing and fraudulent estimates/work inquiries by the police. The police often set up sting operations, and seek the filing of felony charges. Again swift and strategic legal action by a criminal defense lawyer can mean the difference between jail, and no custody time, in Los Angeles and So. California courtrooms.

Identy theft is another area of Consumer Prosecution. Los Angeles prosecutors focus on prosecuting all individuals using others' personal data for fraud. This is on of the fastest growing crimes in the United States is identity theft. Identity theft occurs when someone steals a person's identity and proceeds to ruin credit or commit crimes in the person's name.

Finally, Loan Scamming is a related area of criminal prosecution -- money is taken from a consumer, under the guise of a loan promise that nevermaterializes. Or, a consumer's equity is taken under the false promise of a home improvement, or refinancing. Again, these are fraud matters that Los Angeles criminal lawyers defend as either felony or misdemeanor cases. Southern California consumer fraud matters are typically aggressively prosecuted, and thus the criminal defense of these matters needs to be equally aggressive.

Tagged as: federal law and defense, theft, white collar crime fraud theft laws

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