Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog

LA Stalkers Causing Chaos

Posted on: June 16, 2010 at 12:14 a.m.

Two major celebrities were involved in stalking trials, watching Defense Attorneys protect their clients in spite of the surrounding celebrity.

Shawn Johnson, an Olympic gold medal winner in gymnastics, testified in a trial where her alleged accuser was on trial. The man is accused of breaking onto a studio lot where she was filming “Dancing With the Stars." The man flew from Florida to Los Angeles carrying an array of weapons in his possession. His Criminal Attorney helped the man plea not guilty by reason of insanity.

Ryan Seacrest also had an alleged stalker who was being prosecuted in L.A. Chidi Benjamin Uzomah, Jr. received a maximum sentence, 10 years, for stalking the “American Idol" host. In addition to this crime, Uzomah was on probation at the time for an incident in Orange County, in which he eventually pleaded guilty to three misdemeanors, including assault, battery and carrying a switchblade knife after he attacked one of Seacrest's bodyguards outside an event.

Whenever a Criminal Lawyer represents such an individual, it requires skill, knowledge and a track record of success. Any criminal trial in the City of Angels can turn into a circus, and even if it does not it could permanently change the life of whoever is involved. Imagine what life would be like with a 10 year jail sentence. Having a skilled lawyer defending you and protecting your future can be the difference between 10 years in jail and freedom.

Our Law Firm spends a great deal of time examining their client’s case in order to protect the individual’s best interest. Being arrested for, or charged with, stalking and/or kidnapping can lead to serious consequences and can be charged as a felony. In California, being convicted of a felony can lead to a lifetime of problems. It can affect your job situation, prevent you from getting certain jobs, and even land you in jail for years under California’s Three Strikes rule.

If you or someone you love has been charged with stalking, kidnapping or some other felony, contact Kestenbaum Eisner & Gorin today. We have been helping clients throughout Southern California contest their criminal charges and obtain superior results for years. Our skilled three strikes 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 and their parents, we do everything possible to make sure that they receive the attention, resources, and dedicated legal counsel that they deserve.

Tagged as: california criminal laws

Lohan's Home Burglarized Again

Posted on: September 7, 2009 at 3:05 p.m.

Los Angeles burglary crimes can lead to serious fines, probation and years in prison. A Los Angeles criminal defense attorney is absolutely necessary for anyone facing a burglary charge. In Los Angeles, where celebrities walk down the street, attorneys defend people charged in crimes involving celebrities all the time.

Actress Lindsay Lohan's Hollywood Hills home was burglarized this past Sunday. Police reports of the incident claim the actress arrived at her home around 3 a.m. and noticed some of her belongings were missing. Lohan reportedly called her father, who then called the Los Angeles Police Department at around 6:30.

According to both the actress mother and father, a safe that had been attached to a wall, a few watches and several articles of clothing were taken.Michael Lohan also believes that the theft was an inside job as his daughter's employees had failed to arm the home's burglar alarm before they had left for the evening. Video surveillance of the home reportedly shows three men breaking into the actress' home. Lohan had previously also reported an attempted robbery to Los Angeles police this past May. Video surveillance at the time showed that the would-be burglars were apparently scared off when the home's burglar alarm began to sound.

In a large city such as Los Angeles, there are all types of theft that can occur. Crimes such as shoplifting, or theft where the value of items taken is less than $400 are classified as petty theft. For a first offense, petty theft is generally considered a misdemeanor criminal offense and is punishable by a fine and/or between one and three years of probation. In the case of the burglary of Lohan's home, the value of the stolen items most likely exceeds $400 and can constitute grand theft. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the theft, it may be classified as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Upon conviction for grand theft, a defendant can expect up to 16 months in either a county jail or a state prison, probation or parole, fines, community service and restitution as punishment, or any combination of all five.

If you have been charged with theft or burglary in Los Angeles, call the attorneys at Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin, LLP today. Our attorneys have courtroom experience in successfully defending against theft and burglary charges. Call us today to begin preparing your defense.

Tagged as: california criminal laws

Theft Crimes and Medical Marijuana in Los Angeles

Posted on: August 31, 2009 at 9:20 a.m.

Two ares of the law which keep Los Angeles criminal lawyers very busy are theft crimes and medical marijuana dispensaries. A recent crime wave has combined the two however, giving police a baffling situation to try and handle.

Recently, reports have come out regarding a team of gunmen robbing medical marijuana dispensaries in the western region of the San Fernando Valley. Officials are saying the frequency of the heists, and their violence, is increasing.

These robberies are costing the medical marijuana dispensaries tens of thousands of dollars and are extremely dangerous. Even the Los Angeles police department is letting the public know that these men are armed and dangerous. These men allegedly enter the dispensaries posing as customers, then they take over the business and then flee with large quantities of marijuana. Los Angeles medical marijuana dispensary operators have been shot and injured during these robberies.

Theft crimes, especially armed robbery, is a very serious crime in Los Angeles and requires the skill of an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney. The penalties for theft crime in Los Angeles include imprisonment, large fines, restitution, community service, probation, parole and much more. The severity of your penalty will depend upon whether you committed a felony or a misdemeanor.

Typical or common theft crimes include such crimes as shoplifting, carjacking, burglary, robbery, armed robbery, identity theft, credit card fraud and more. Some crimes are usually misdemeanors (such as shoplifting) and carry fines and possibly short periods of jail time. Carjacking, armed robbery and money laundering however carry much heavier penalties including years in prison and severe fines. Such theft crimes require a skilled Los Angeles criminal defense attorney who knows and understands prosecution tactics, Los Angeles courts and more.

If you or someone you love has been charged with a theft crime, contact Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin at 877-781-1570.

Tagged as: california criminal laws

Los Angeles Warrants and the Law

Posted on: August 19, 2009 at 7:37 a.m.

In Los Angeles, a warrant usually refers to a specific type of authorization issued by a judge or magistrate which gives law enforcement the ability to perform an otherwise illegal act, such as coming into a home without authorization. On television shows and movies, warrants are always a key item used to demonstrate how complex the criminal justice system can be, with lawyers, police and judges wrestling with legal issues.

The United States was founded on principles of individual liberty, and limiting the power of the federal, state and local governments from harassing citizens. Illegal search and seizure is a legitimate violation, something the courts and the citizenry should take very seriously. In Los Angeles, the legal system is structured to have checks and balances so that government power does not overstep its limits and violate both the state and federal Constitutions. When the police go to a judge to obtain a warrant, which is a clear symbol of the system of checks and balances designed to protect average citizens.

Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys work hard for clients to make sure that police, sheriffs and other law enforcement officials obey every limit placed upon them by the warrants they've obtained.

There are three types of warrants: search warrants; arrest warrants; and bench warrants. Qualified Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys will have experience with each of these types of warrants. In fact, at Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin, our criminal defense firm has "insider" experience with these warrants. Our team spent years in various Los Angeles District Attorney's Office, so our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys understand how warrants are issued and what their limits are.

  • Search warrants - Search warrant limits are set by the United States Constitution. Law enforcement must follow certain requirements before obtaining a search warrant, which include having probably cause which they must clearly demonstrate to the judge in question.

  • Arrest warrant - An arrest warrant is very similar to a search warrant. In Los Angeles, an arrest warrant must be obtained from a judge and gives police the authorization to arrest a specific person. Once the individual is in jail, he or she must be taken to court and appear in front of the judge.

  • Bench warrant - A bench warrant gives permission to arrest someone if they have failed to appear in court due to a pending criminal action. The goal of any bench warrant is to bring someone into court for their appearance. The show "Dog the Bounty Hunter" often deals with people who have failed court appearances and so have bench warrants issued.

Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys, such as those at Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin are skilled in dealing with all types of warrants, and can provide experienced advice, counsel and knowledge regarding them. If you, or someone you love, has a warrant out for their arrest, our criminal defense firm can help protect you, protect your rights and make sure that any law enforcement actions obey Los Angeles law and the Constitution. Contact us today at 877-781-1570.

Tagged as: bench warrants, california criminal laws

Los Angeles Police Brutality

Posted on: July 30, 2009 at 7:03 p.m.

As citizens, we all would like to believe that the Los Angeles police force fights for the safety and orderliness of our community. Nobody ever wants to believe that our local law enforcement officers would abuse their power, but the unfortunate reality is that sometimes they do. The excessive use of force by the Los Angeles police is, in particular, a sticky point between Los Angeles police officers who say they are merely trying to do their jobs and community members that would accuse the Los Angeles police of overreacting.

Take, for instance, the case of a Texas man who was recently tasered by police in the parking lot of a church in Webster, TX. Jose Moran, a pastor of the Iglesias Profetica Peniel Church, was tasered after interfering with a routine traffic stop that local law enforcement officers were conducting. Police at the scene maintain that Moran was belligerent, shouting at them and actually shoving one officer before running into the church.

Police accounts state that Moran was asked to leave several times before an officer attempted to arrest him. An officer used his taser gun to subdue Moran and pepper spray to disperse the crowd that had surrounded him. According to Moran's son, Omar, Jose Moran came outside to the parking lot to offer assistance ot the officer making the traffic stop, then went back inside.

Omar Moran maintains that police followed his father into the church, kicking in a door and using the taser gun on his father twice before using the pepper spray on the crowd. Omar Moran also noted that his father has heart problems and remains hospitalized since the incident. Webster police noted that while their officer had only used the taser gun on Moran once, the gun usually leaves two marks on the victim. Only the people at the scene can say for certain who was at fault for the outburst.

If you are involved in a crime, or a police investigation, that involves Los Angeles police brutality, you should contact a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney right away. A criminal defense attorney could help you get the best results possible for your case if it involves police brutality.

If you have been arrested for a criminal offense and feel that the police involved in the incident handled you with excessive force, call the Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys at Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin to fight for you.

Tagged as: california criminal laws

Los Angeles Crime

Posted on: July 15, 2009 at 9 a.m.

Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys hear stats all the time that are manipulated to call for the hiring of more police officers, more severe punishments and so forth. One of the major challenges for any defense attorney is defending their client against not only criminal charges, but public opinion as well. A skilled, qualified attorney will know how to navigate the courts, the judicial system and the laws in Los Angeles, all of which are unfortunately influenced by crime statistics.

When it comes to tracking Los Angeles crime statistics, the citys media outlets are doing a far better job than the Los Angeles Police Department. Recent reports have claimed the LAPDs online crime tracking database has omitted as much as 40% of the actual crimes committed in various parts of the city for the last six months or so. The crime mapping program is available online and was launched in 2006 as the publicly accessible version of Chief William Brattons highly-touted CompStat system, which is used internally by the Los Angeles Police Department to track crime statistics and guide deployment. Administrators for the public crime mapping website have so far chalked the statistical omissions up to programming errors and say they are looking into the problem. As one example, the public website in April mistakenly attributed thousands of crimes to the Los Angeles Civic Center area, making it appear to be one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the city. The websites administrator has since dropped the crimes that were incorrectly attributed to that neighborhood from their numbers, but has yet to report them on the site in the correct locations.

Whether or not the Los Angeles Police Department is reporting their statistics correctly, criminal offenses are still obviously being committed in the city every day.

If you have been charged with a criminal offense in Los Angeles, call the Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys at Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin, LLP today. Our combined 50 years of courtroom experience in defending against criminal charges will fight for you. An experienced criminal defense attorney knows that each case is different from the next, and that seemingly insignificant details can make a big difference in the outcome of each one. Our attorneys will carefully comb through your case to search for the best possible outcome for you. In many instances, we may even be able to have your charges dismissed altogether. When you are facing potential jail time and a criminal record, let us protect you.

Tagged as: california criminal laws

Before Charges are Filed in Los Angeles

Posted on: May 6, 2009 at 6:51 a.m.

Having the advice of a highly skilled Los Angeles criminal defense attorney before criminal charges are filed is a luxury few people take advantage of. Once charges have been filed, it is difficult for a criminal defense attorney to walk you through the defense process.

For example, police officers arrested two high school students for allegedly planning to open fire on fellow Covina High School students at an upcoming school assembly. Both teens, just 15 years old and 16 years old, admitted to police independently of each other what their plans were and that they had both brought handguns to school on three separate occasions prior to their arrests. They were booked on suspicion of possession of loaded and concealed firearms, possession of loaded firearms on a school campus, making criminal threats and burglary. Neither of the suspects admitted to a specific date to carry out their plan. The 16 year-old suspect further admitted to stealing two guns from a gun safe in a West Covina garage, then giving them to the 15 year-old for safe-keeping. Both guns were located in the 15 year-olds home, one of them was found loaded and cocked. Neither gave a motive for their plans, and formal charges have not been issued.

A good Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer will tell you that legal trouble like this can follow you around wherever you go for years. Criminal records detailing past mistakes can very often come back to haunt you when you are applying for a job, applying to colleges, even filling out an application to rent an apartment. Even if you were never convicted in court of a criminal offense, Los Angeles law permits job and licensing applications to actually ask applicants if theyve ever been arrested before. You can guess how unfavorably that may reflect on some people. If you have been implicated in some sort of criminal offense, the best thing you can do to keep your future not just jail-free but clear of a criminal record is hire an experienced defense attorney. Even if formal charges have not been brought against you, any good attorney should be able to sit down with you and comb through the evidence in your favor. Your Los Angeles criminal defense attorney may be able to have evidence against you suppressed in court if it was not obtained correctly. In some instances, your lawyer may even be able to persuade prosecutors to drop their case against you.

If you have been implicated in a crime, call the Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys at Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin, LLP today. Even if no formal charges have been brought against you, their combined 50 years of courtroom experience will fight to uphold your reputation.

Tagged as: california criminal laws

Accessory to Crime in Los Angeles

Posted on: April 6, 2009 at 8:50 a.m.

One are of the law that Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers find difficult to educate people about is accessory. Being an accessory to a crime, whether a violent crime, a theft crime or other type, in Los Angeles can happen without much effort. If the police want to charge you, they may not have too difficult of a time doing so, and without a qualified Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer by your side, you may be left at the mercy of the Los Angeles Police Department.

You do not have to actually commit a crime in order to be implicated in it. New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma is finding this out the hard way as a New York-area condominium he owns has recently become the epicenter of a double murder investigation. Police investigating the murders believe two Liberian immigrants, Ansu Keita and Sekou Sakor, were shot in the head while at Vilmas condominium in late March for their connection with a "black paper" scheme. Police have stated that Vilma is not in any way considered a suspect in the murders and is giving investigators information as to who may have had access to his property. Vilma himself had not been in the condominium since January of 2008 and had been trying to sell the property. Only Vilmas real estate agent and a few members of the football players family are believed to have had access to the property.

Neighbors reported hearing gunshots late one night, but by the time they arrived at 10 oclock the next morning, New York City police had already found the bodies at separate sites in Queens and Brooklyn.

For a person to be charged as an accessory to any crime, investigators must prove that a suspect knew that a crime had been, or would be, committed. Most jurisdictions distinguish this from an accomplice, who is generally present at the time the crime is committed and participates in some capacity.

In Los Angeles, an accessory to a crime may help or encourage the actual criminal in some way, fail to report the crime to law enforcement, or attempt to help the criminal conceal the crime. In Vilmas case, for example, if he had known a crime was going to be committed and did nothing to stop it (or report it to the police after the fact), he could be considered an accessory to the murders.

Since Vilma had not been to the condominium in over a year and was trying to sell it, this is most likely not the case. Being charged as an accessory to a crime is still a serious offense and punishments will vary depending on the crime committed and the severity of the damage. People can be accessories to murder, robberies, arson, blackmail or any number of criminal offenses. In most cases, someone charged as an accessory to a crime can be given the same punishment as the person who actually committed the crime. For some people, getting caught up in bad situations is an all-too ugly reality. Do not think that just because you didnt actually commit a criminal offense that you are safe.

If you were in any way involved in a crime, you need a strong Los Angeles criminal defense attorney to fight for you. If you or someone you know has been accused of being an accessory to a crime, call the attorneys at Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin, LLP today. Their combined 50 years of courtroom experience could help you avoid a criminal conviction.

Tagged as: california criminal laws, counterfeit goods pc 350, jury trial defense

Reducing Felony Offenses to Misdemeanors in Los Angeles

Posted on: April 3, 2009 at 7:35 a.m.

A skilled Los Angeles criminal defense attorney will have the ability to work with the Los Angeles courts to negotiate sentencing, charges and so on. Getting a felony changed to a misdemeanor charge in Los Angeles is difficult, but the skilled Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers at Kestenbaum, Gorin and Eisner have experience doing just that.

There are many benefits to having a felony turned into a misdemeanor, and while some might think it is difficult, it's not impossible. For example, a recent report stated that the University of Southern California football player Shareece Wrights initial felony charge of resisting a police officer was reduced to a misdemeanor offense. The charges stem from an incident at a house party in Colton, California in September of 2008. Local law enforcement was called to the scene and proceeded to break up the party, ordering Wright to leave. Wright claims he was asked by the partys host to stay. The Los Angeles Times does not mention any physical force or violence between Wright and police on the scene, which is most likely why the charges against him were reduced to a misdemeanor.

A judge in the San Bernardino Superior Court ruled that in Wrights case the football players actions were less violent to a significant degree than would normally have been classified as a felony offense. Co-defendant Salvador Naza, who was also at the party and ordered to leave by local police still faces felony charges of resisting a police officer. Wright could still face time in a county jail, but his Los Angeles criminal defense attorney is optimistic that the player will ultimately be punished with either community service or a fine instead.
In California, there are many criminal offenses that can be prosecuted as either a misdemeanor or felony. Such offenses are commonly referred to as wobblers. Examples of criminal offenses that are wobblers include theft, assault, drug violations and certain types of driving under the influence (DUI).

In most cases, an offence is either a felony or a misdemeanor depending on the amount of damage done, injury caused, or the monetary value of items stolen. Other factors may also influence a judges decision to reduce charges to a misdemeanor. Prior criminal record is probably one of the most important things taken into consideration. Someone with a long criminal history, or even a troubled personal history, is less likely to have charges reduced, even if most of the prior convictions were misdemeanors as well. A knowledgeable criminal defense attorney will be able to advise you as to which offenses might be reduced.

If you have been charged with a felony criminal offense, the right attorney will thoroughly look through your case to see if charges might be reduced. Call the attorneys at Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin, LLP today to see if you might be able to avoid possible prison time.

Tagged as: california criminal laws

Los Angeles Hit-and-Run

Posted on: March 30, 2009 at 11:05 a.m.

In Los Angeles, near the campus of USC, a student was killed by a hit-and-run driver.

The 19-year-old student was struck as she crossed Jefferson Boulevard at the school, police said. Another student, a male, was critically injured in the same crash, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

Hit-and-run is the crime of colliding with a person, their personal property (including their motor vehicle), or a fixture, and failing to stop and identify oneself afterwards. Dealing with a hit-and-run in Los Angeles can be a major challenge, issues of burden of proof and intent come into play, and only a qualified Los Angeles hit-and-run lawyer can guide you through the process.

Before a person is sentenced for committing hit and run, the court will evaluate a variety of factors such as the nature of the accident, if any person was injured during the accident, the severity of the other persons injuries (if any), cooperation with law enforcement, the extent of property damage, and if the defendant has any prior offenses on his/her criminal record.

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 hit and run 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: california criminal laws

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

Petty Theft in Los Angeles

Posted on: February 18, 2009 at 9:20 a.m.

The city of Los Angeles is known for its shopping, and the city is covered in malls from Santa Monica to Riverside. As a result, there are numerous petty theft crimes every year, and Los Angeles theft crime attorneys often represent those accused of committing petty theft crimes.

Petty theft is a seemingly small crime with potentially serious consequences. In its most basic form, theft is, of course, stealing. Petty theft is generally defined as the stealing of goods whose monetary value is under $500 without the intention of returning them. As an example, if you were at a house party and decided to take a $200 watch from a bedroom without permission, this would be petty theft. If you were to take a more expensive item, say a nice camcorder or some expensive jewelry, this would constitute grand theft in that the goods stolen were worth more than $500.

This is contrasted to burglary, which is stealing something from a place that you were not lawfully allowed to enter such as entering a retail store after hours or breaking into someones home. The differences in the details here can be tricky, and if you have been accused of petty theft, the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney can mean the difference between jail time or paying a fine.

Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys will tell you that petty theft can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances surrounding the crime and the value of the goods stolen. A first-time offender who stole less than $500-worth of goods will most likely be charged with a misdemeanor and be sentenced to pay fines and/or restitution. A deferred judgment or diversion is also a possibility. In this case, you are still required to pay fines, but if you are not arrested for another crime within a specified period of probation, the charge will come off your criminal record. A second offense is more likely to be tried as a felony and will carry the possibility of serving time in jail. Deferred judgment is also not usually an option and the theft will be a permanent mark on your criminal record.

The penalties of petty theft in Los Angeles vary considerably depending on the circumstances surrounding the crime and having a solid criminal defense attorney fighting for you is a decision you will not regret. If you have been accused of committing petty theft, call the attorneys at Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin, LLP today to begin preparing your defense.

Tagged as: california criminal laws

Armed Robbery in Los Angeles

Posted on: February 17, 2009 at 7:10 a.m.

Los Angeles theft crime lawyers will tell you that one of the most serious forms of theft crimes is armed robbery, because it usually involved either some form of violence and/or threats of violence that can add on years to a prison sentence. For example,a group of armed men raided a Harbor Gateway company and stole three shipping containers in a heist authorities suspect may be the latest in a string of cargo thefts by the same group in the Southland, police said Monday. At least five men subdued a security guard at a logistics company, leaving the guard tied and lying face down on the ground.

Two of the men, armed with handguns, entered the warehouse through a rear door and the rest drove in through the front with semitrailer trucks, officials said. When a security guard tried to stop the vehicles from entering, the two armed men attacked the guard. Robbery is the crime of seizing property through violence or intimidation, and armed robbery is the use of a weapon while in the course of robbery.

In Los Angeles, such a theft crime as grand theft is taking another persons property (valued at $400 or greater) without the persons consent. Many grand theft crimes are considered felonies; which means that the offender can be sentenced with over a year of jail time if convicted.

Once a person is convicted a theft crime, he/she may be punished with:

  • imprisonment

  • large fines

  • restitution

  • community service

  • probation

  • parole

If you have been charged with a serious criminal offense, do not hesitate to call Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin, LLP at (877) 781-1570. Our knowledgeable legal team can evaluate your case and advise you of your legal options.

Tagged as: california criminal laws

Hiring a Trusted Attorney

Posted on: January 21, 2009 at 7:51 a.m.

It may seem like a "no-brainer," but hiring a trusted Los Angeles criminal defense attorney is one of the most important thing some people will do in their lives. If you are charged with a serious crime, a qualified, experienced criminal defense attorney may be the only person who can keep you out of jail and harms way. On the flip side, choosing an attorney who isn't trustworthy can cause problems for years.

  • In Ohio, an attorney was sentenced to four years for stealing.The former Ohio lawyer who concocted a story about being kidnapped after a client accused her of taking his money, was sentenced Thursday after pleading guilty in November to aggravated theft.

  • Another high-profile case involving an attorney concerns Marc Drier, a name partner at a large corporate law firm. He is charged with selling sham investments to hedge funds. His scheme amounted to losses of up to $380 million.

The question becomes, how can you find an Los Angeles criminal defense attorney to trust? First off is finding a criminal defense attorney and/or law firm that has a history of success and that is well respected in its field. There are attorney rankings you can review, including Martindale-Hubbell, which ranks attorneys based on their success and peer ratings. An "AV" rating is the top rating an attorney can receive. Martindale-Hubbell is a trusted name among lawyers and the legal community.

Another way to find a qualified criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles is to check what their background is; if a criminal defense attorney has experience teaching at a major university or has worked as a District Attorney, that person has some pretty serious qualifications.

Overall, you want to be able to trust an attorney with your money, your case and possibly your life.

Tagged as: california criminal laws

Testing the Boundaries of Vandalism

Posted on: December 10, 2008 at 10:11 a.m.

A 59-year-old woman pleaded guilty Friday to bombing a federal courthouse and a FedEx building earlier this year in what her attorney described as "misguided vandalism." Ella Louise Sanders of San Diego entered her plea to possession and use of a destructive device to commit a crime of violence. She could face up to 30 years in prison when she is sentenced in August. The courthouse explosion on May 4 spread nails and shrapnel as far as two blocks, and authorities almost immediately began looking into whether it was related to the April 25 FedEx bombing. No one was injured in either bombing. As part of her guilty plea, Sanders said she conspired with others to construct and detonate a series of pipe bombs. She said she bought explosive materials and stole pipes to make five bombs that were used in both explosions, prosecutors said.

The creative defense concocted by the vandalism defense attorney invented an interesting definition of the term "vandalism." Vandalism is ruthless destruction or spoiling of anything beautiful or venerable. Such action includes criminal damage, defacement, graffiti and crass erection of an eyesore. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger actually signed into law a measure that requires those convicted of graffiti vandalism to clean up their scrawls and possibly keep the surface clean for one year. Usually, vandalism is a charge that has more to do with petty crimes that bombings.

The law which Go. Schwarzeneggar signed into law was sponsored by Los Angeles. City officials say Los Angeles has seen a more than 25 percent increase in graffiti in the past three years, from 25 million square feet of marred surfaces in 2005 to 31.7 million in the year that ended Wednesday.

The law makes it mandatory for a person convicted of graffiti vandalism to repair the property when possible. However, a judge could decide not to order the defendant to risk injury by cleaning up graffiti on a sign hanging over the freeway.

Tagged as: california criminal laws

Medical Marijuana: Still a Mystery

Posted on: December 2, 2008 at 2:44 p.m.

In Los Angeles and in California, drug defense attorneys are constantly battling with the state and federal governments to get a clear sense of what the drug laws actually say in regard to medical marijuana. Recently, some medicial marijuana defense attorneys attempted to bring this issue before the current United States Supreme Court in order to get some clarification. Unfortunately, however, the Court wasn't interested in the issue.

More than three years after Garden Grove police seized a small amount of medical marijuana from a chronic pain patient, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to consider the city's argument -- which divided California's major law enforcement organizations -- that it should not have to give the medical marijuana back.

Advocates cheered the development as a step forward for medical marijuana users to get their "medicine" back from police. "This is our biggest legal victory to date, and we're very glad it's now become final," said Joe Elford, an attorney with Americans for Safe Access, an Oakland-based medical marijuana advocacy group.

City officials expressed disappointment and said their position was never to challenge the constitutionality of California's medical marijuana law, only whether police could be forced to return the drug.

California, one of 13 states that had declared medical marijuana to be legal, has as many as 300,000 valid medical marijuana patients. A litany of the state's major law enforcement organizations opposed the return of the defendant's marijuana, including the California State Sheriffs' Assn., the California Police Chiefs Assn., the California Peace Officers' Assn., and the California District Attorneys Assn., along with 15 cities or counties. But Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown supported the defendant.

California's medical marijuana law, called the Compassionate Use Act, has often been challenged, or completely ignored, by Federal authorities. However, this particular issue was a state matter. The challenge in the the Supreme Court choosing not to hear the matter is that it leaves a chasm between the state and federal law, leaving defendants to twist in the wind.

Proposition 215 was passed by the voters in California in 1996, commonly referred to as the Compassionate Use Act. That was followed 8 years later by Senate Bill 420, enacted in 2004. These two propositions have been codified in the California Penal Code section 11362.775 et seq. The federal government does not recognize this law, and thus sales of medical marijuana under the federal system are criminalized. Unfortunately, the Los Angeles Police Department has decided not to enforce the medicinal marijuana laws of California.

Tagged as: california criminal laws

Plea Bargaining: Guilty Pleas that are Not Knowing Voluntary or Intelligent

Posted on: November 30, 2008 at 1:45 p.m.

Plea bargaining is an integral part of the American criminal justice system. Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyers and prosecutors rely on the process both in state and federal courts to resolve over 90% of criminal cases, without a jury trial. The process is essential to the proper functioning of the system, as there are simply insufficient court resources to provide a jury trial to every single defendant charged with either a misdemeanor, DUI, or felony offense.

A plea bargain is like any binding legal contract. The prosecutor and the defendant, through the assistance of his lawyer, agree on terms that they must honor in the future. But what about a siuation where a defendant feels that he was not adequately represented by his lawyer during a plea bargain with the prosecutors? What if the defense lawyer did not do an adequate investigation or the prosecutor withheld favorable evidence? The defendant would have an argument that his plea was not knowing or intelligent because it was based on improper advice or prosecutorial misconduct.

Withdrawing from a plea bargain does not get rid of all the criminal charges. It simply means the defendant can now contest the charges with a jury, and the prosecution is not bound by the lower sentence it had offered the defendant as part of the plea bargain.

A recent example from the Los Angeles criminal courts comes from a well-known federal case dealing with illegal wiretapping by a private investigator. A well-known movie director was able to argue that he can withdraw his guilty plea to an information charging him with making false statements to a federal agent. After the plea, and conviction, he was facing a four-month prison sentence.

The appeals court ruled that a reasonable person in defendant's position would not have pled guilty if he had been properly advised by counsel as to the possibility of suppressing the evidence incriminating him in the Anthony Pellicano wire-tapping scandal.The Defendant, who directed such films as Predator, Die Hard, and The Hunt for Red October, falsely told agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigations that he had hired Pellicano as a private investigator one time in connection with his divorce, but had no knowledge of Pellicano

Tagged as: california criminal laws, vandalism pc 594

Major Auto Theft Ring Exposed

Posted on: November 28, 2008 at 4:56 p.m.

Between movies such as Gone in Sixty Seconds and video games such as Grand Theft Auto, automobile and vehicle theft is almost seen as a romantic profession. However, law enforcement sees auto theft as a serious theft crime with serious consequences, and Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys know that defending auto theft crimes is a challenge.

Recently, the Los Angeles Police Department's specialized auto crimes unit has broken up a San Fernando Valley auto theft ring in which seven young men were stealing vehicles and possibly transporting them to Mexico. In addition to the auto thefts, the group of male friends ranging in age from 17 to 20 also allegedly committed home burglaries in the Canoga Park, Reseda, Tarzana and West Hills areas of the San Fernando Valley, authorities said, adding that some of the crimes extended into Ventura County.

The thieves returned to many of the victims' homes after stealing their vehicles and took items such as credit cards, jewelry, laptop computers and digital cameras.

A theft crime is a criminal act of taking another individual

Tagged as: california criminal laws

Crime of Arson: California Penal Code Section 451(a),(b),(c),(d),(e)

Posted on: November 20, 2008 at 11:20 a.m.

Criminal defense of arson charges in Southern California courts revolves around (1) questioning the identity of the suspect - how is he linked to the fire (2) establishing intent - was the fire started intentionally or accidentally and (3) reviewing the other legal elements required for prosecution pursuant to Penal Code Section 451.

The wildfire that began in the Santa Barbara area earlier this month was apparently an act of accidental arson. The fire that destroyed scores of homes in Montecito and Santa Barbara was caused by a group of young people who had built a bonfire.
A group of 10 young men and women described by authorities as locals went to the Tea house, an abandoned mansion, for a bonfire party. They told Santa Barbara County sheriff's investigators that they had put the fire out before they left that night. But authorities believe the fire continued to smolder before breaking out into fire when winds swept in Thursday afternoon. Last year, officials arrested several people who allegedly started a bonfire in some caves above Corral Canyon in Malibu, where flames burned dozens of homes.
Arson is a serious matter, especially in Los Angeles where the yearly fires cost millions of dollars in damage, as well as the lives of some home owners. Arson is a serious crime, and the laws hand down stiff penalties to individuals who commit the crime, whether purposefully or accidentally. Criminal defense attorneys who defend arson cases often have to dig through piles of facts, research and so forth to find out exactly what the prosecution will portray as the truth.
Under the criminal law of most states, arson is committed when a person intentionally burns almost any kind of structure or building, not just a house or business. Many states recognize differing degrees of arson, based on such factors as whether the building was occupied and whether insurance fraud was intended.
To enforce state fire and forest laws, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection's 300 plus officers are busy year round investigating fire causes, interviewing witnesses, issuing citations and setting up surveillance operations. Additionally, law enforcement staff provides assistance when requested by local fire and law enforcement agencies in arson, bomb, fireworks, and fire extinguisher investigations, as well as disposal of explosives. Office of the State Fire Marshal Arson and Bomb Specialists provide fire and bomb investigation services to state-owned facilities, and provide assistance to local government fire and law agencies. The Department's investigators have a very successful conviction rate.
Criminal defense attorneys who defend those accused of arson understand that the laws governing arson are strict and harsh. According to California Penal Code 451.5. (a) Any person who willfully, maliciously, deliberately, with premeditation, and with intent to cause injury to one or more persons or to cause damage to property under circumstances likely to produce injury to one or more persons or to cause damage to one or more structures or inhabited dwellings, sets fire to, burns, or causes to be burned, or aids, counsels, or procures the burning of any residence, structure, forest land, or property is guilty of aggravated arson if one or more of the following aggravating factors exists:
(1) The defendant has been previously convicted of arson on one or more occasions within the past 10 years.
(3) The fire caused damage to, or the destruction of, five or more inhabited structures. (b) Any person who is convicted under subdivision (a) shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for 10 years to life. (c) Any person who is sentenced under subdivision (b) shall not be eligible for release on parole until 10 calendar years have elapsed.

Tagged as: arson pc 451, california criminal laws

Budget Cuts Affect Crime Prevention Budgets

Posted on: November 18, 2008 at 11:45 a.m.

Throughout Southern California the latest economic hardships have begun to affect crime prevention. Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys have seen a drop in police budgets, crime prevention budgets, gang prevention budgets and so on. Belt-tightening has already begun in Riverside and San Bernardino counties, which have both been particularly hard hit by the recession.
The millions of dollars in budget cuts throughout California, such programs as child abuse prevention are being cut. The Los Angeles Times reports that Orange County alone is cutting $5.2 million from the sheriff and coroner's budget and $4.3 million from the public defender's budget. That means that while there may be less law enforcement officers to arrest people, once arrested there will be a much lower level of criminal defense provided by the county.
Now, more than ever, it's imperative to find adequate Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys throughout Los Angeles, San Bernardino, San Gabriel and other counties in Southern California. If you believe that criminal charges are about to be filed against you, it is always to your benefit to speak with a reputable criminal defense attorney. Even if criminal charges never get filed by the District Attorney, you will benefit immensely from the advice and guidance of a skilled defense lawyer.
Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin, LLP is a Southern California criminal defense law firm that is dedicated to providing reliable legal representation for clients located throughout Los Angeles and surrounding counties. Our reputable lawyers have over 50 years courtroom experience, and specialize in all criminal and DUI matters. Martindale-Hubbell, a national lawyers' review company, has recognized year after year that we are a "Preeminent Law Firm," designating it to be a Top 5% U.S. Law Firm. When our clients decide to retain our services, they can be confident that they have hired a knowledgeable, distinguished, and tenacious legal team that will place every effort into helping them avoid a criminal conviction and keep them out of custody.

Tagged as: california criminal laws

As the Economy Falls, Theft Crimes Rise

Posted on: November 13, 2008 at 10:51 a.m.

In America, the economic challenges have had impacts in all walks of life. When it comes to crime, Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys have found themselves defending more and more alleged theft crime offenders. According to the Federal Government, property theft crimes have falled drastically over the last 30 plus years. However, the current economic crisis is driving more and more people away from stable jobs to acts of desparation.
These theft crimes will increase in the specific areas where people have lost, or are losing, their jobs, homes and possessions.
A theft crime is a criminal act of taking another individual

Tagged as: california criminal laws

Hate-Crime/Gang Assault Involves Juveniles

Posted on: November 11, 2008 at 12:47 p.m.

Seven teenagers in New York are accused of committing a hate-crime in which all of them ganged up in order to attack a man of Hispanic ethnicity. Seven Patchogue-Medford High School students were arraigned for a fatal stabbing authorities are treating as a hate crime. The slaying shocked the community, thrusting issues of race and immigration to the forefront of the 3,000-student school.

Hate crimes (also known as bias motivated crimes) occur when a perpetrator targets a victim because of his or her membership in a certain social group, usually defined by racial group, religion, sexual orientation, disability, ethnicity, nationality, age, gender, gender identity, or political affiliation. Hate crime can take many forms. Incidents may involve physical assault, damage to property, bullying, harassment, verbal abuse or insults, or offensive graffiti or letters

All seven students are charged with first-degree gang assault. Jeffrey Conroy, 17, is also charged with first-degree manslaughter as a hate crime.

Family and friends of two other suspects said their backgrounds made the charges particularly perplexing. Jose Pacheco, 17, is of Puerto Rican descent, according to his attorney, Chris Kirby of Syosset.

"How can it be a hate crime? My son is half-Hispanic," said a woman outside Pacheco's home, who identified herself as his mother.

Anthony Hartford, 17, has a grandmother who is half Puerto Rican, neighbors said.

"His mom is devastated; he has a Hispanic background himself," said Laurence Silverman, Hartford's Huntington attorney. "So why would he be out targeting them?"

At least one suspect has been associated with a prior crime. Christopher Overton, 16, of East Patchogue, is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to burglary for his involvement in a well-publicized home invasion that left a man dead.

The other defendants in the slaying of Marcello Lucero, of Patchogue, are Kevin Shea, 17, Nicholas Hausch, 17, and Jordan Dasch, 17, all of Medford.

Some students said racism is a problem at the school. A sophomore who said she knew some of the suspects said she just learned that some Patchogue-Medford students engage in the targeted harassment of Hispanics. Superintendent Michael Mostow said the district added six guards Monday, and county police bias task force members talked to students about race.

As defined in the 1999 National Crime Victim Survey, "A hate crime is a criminal offense committed against a person or property motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender's bias against a racial group, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexual preference, or disability. The offense is considered a hate crime whether or not the offender's perception of the victim as a member or supporter of a protected group is correct." According to the FBI Hate Crime Statistics report for 2006, hate crimes increased nearly 8 percent nationwide, with a total of 7,722 incidents and 9,080 offenses reported by participating law enforcement agencies. Of the 5,449 crimes against persons, 46 percent were classified as intimidation and 31.9 percent as simple assaults. 81 percent of the 3,593 crimes against property were acts of vandalism or destruction. 58.6 percent of the 7,330 known offenders were white and 20.6 black. More than half, 52 percent, of the 9,652 victims identified were targeted because of racial group.

Tagged as: california criminal laws, juvenile law

Criminal Penalties: Losing the Right to Vote?

Posted on: October 24, 2008 at 9:10 a.m.

Being convicted of a crime could mean the criminal justice system will subject you to fines, prison/jail time and/or community service. However the fallout for criminal convictions will affect more than what a judge or prosecutor can hand down.

For example, voting privileges are often revoked for people convicted of a felony. Vermont and Maine are the only two states that allow virtually all inmates to vote.

In Vermont, the position on voting rights is enshrined in the state's 1793 Constitution: "Any elector who shall receive any gift or reward for the elector's vote, in meat, drink, moneys or otherwise, shall forfeit the right to elect."

Nationally, states began restricting felons' rights to vote in the early years of the 19th century, said Alexander Keyssar, a Harvard University historian and author of "The Right to Vote: The Contested History of Democracy in the United States."

In most states, people incarcerated on misdemeanor convictions can vote. In some other states, there are circumstances that allow some felons to vote. One reason for restricting the right to vote is retribution, to punish a felon for violating the norms of society, while another is to protect the purity of the ballot box, he said.

In the 1790s the Vermont Legislature tried to outlaw inmate voting, but it was overruled in 1799 by the Council of Censors, a now-defunct fourth branch of government that met every seven years to decide constitutional questions, said Montpelier attorney Paul Gillies.

The most recent effort to outlaw prison voting in Vermont came in the early 1980s. The office of then-Secretary of State Jim Douglas

Tagged as: california criminal laws

Immigration Consequences from Criminal Convictions - DUI Drunk Driving Charges

Posted on: October 21, 2008 at 4:24 p.m.

The immigration consequences resulting from a conviction is a frequent issue considered by defense attorneys in Los Angeles Criminal Courts. The conventional wisdom is that criminal defendants who are not citizens may face deportation if convicted for a criminal offense, felony or misdemeanor. However deportation is not automatic, nor predictable. The reality is that the more serious the criminal offense, and greater the number of prior convictions, then the greater the likelihood that INS will begin deportation proceedings in immigration court. Sometimes however even a less serious criminal conviction leads to deportation, such a Driving Under the Influence offense (California Vehicle Code Section 23152(a)) -- which is quite atypical.

A recent Court of Appeal decision addressed this issue, holding that the U.S. Attorney General may decide by adjudication that a non-citizen's individual crime was

Tagged as: california criminal laws, immigration consequences, violent crimes defense

NFL Running Back Sentenced in L.A. to Prison

Posted on: October 7, 2008 at 2:38 p.m.

While some were waiting for news on former USC and NFL great OJ Simpson's trial to end, another former college star who played in the NFL was sentenced in Los Angeles. Former NFL running back Lawrence Phillips was sentenced Friday to 10 years in prison, two years after he was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon.

The sentencing was repeatedly delayed while Phillips fought to withdraw a guilty plea in a domestic abuse case that could have led to a stiffer sentence. The crime would be considered a first strike under California's "three strikes" law. If the guilty plea stood, it means the car assault would be a second strike carrying a potential sentence of 20 years, prosecutors said.

The 33-year-old former Nebraska running back has been jailed for assault since August 2005, when he drove onto a field near Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and his car struck three boys, ages 14 and 15, and a 19-year-old man, who suffered cuts and bruises. The car narrowly missed four other people, prosecutor Todd Hicks. Phillips was allegedly upset after losing a pickup football game to the youths and accused them of stealing some of his possessions.

Assault with a deadly weapon is the act of menacing another person with a weapon that could cause death. This is usually a gun, but it doesn't need to be. This form of assault does not include the action of using force, called battery, but it often leads to assault and battery charges. Understandably, stiff penalties are involved. Interpretation of assault versus battery with a deadly weapon can depend on local statutes, which makes researching the penalties in your region essential. Knowledgeable criminal attorneys in Los Angeles can assist those facing all manner of assault and/or battery charges.

There are many defenses to charges of assault, and contacting an attorney as soon as charges are filed will allow evidence to be evaluated and witnesses questioned while everything is still fresh. A skillful Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer can help you get through this complicated process.

Tagged as: california criminal laws, jury trial defense

Jails and Prisons: Is There a Difference? Which is Better?

Posted on: September 24, 2008 at 11:24 a.m.

Some people think that the terms jail and prison are interchangeable. However, at least in Los Angeles, these two terms mean very different things. Qualified Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys who know the system can adequately advise their clients as to which would be the better choice, should that situation arise.

County jails in Los Angeles, for example, are run and supervised by the Sheriff's Department and are designed to house inmates with sentences of less than one year, most of whom have been convicted of misdemeanors. Private jails are either small city jails or jails owned and operated by private entities that meet certain criteria and get approval from the state.

State prisons, on the other hand, are run and supervised by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and are designed to house felons who have been sentenced to one or more years in the penitentiary. Inmates sentenced to state prison are generally considered dangerous and, as such, are not eligible for the relative "freedoms" of pay-to-stay confinement. Inmates sentenced to jail, however, are often there because they have been convicted of first-time or nonviolent offenses.

Tagged as: california criminal laws

California Murder Defense Law

Posted on: September 20, 2008 at 12:05 p.m.

The criminal defense of murder cases in Southern California is typically handled by very experienced attorneys, as the prosecution and the defense face high stakes. The prosecutor attempts to vindicate the interests of the decedent and his family, while the defense lawyer is facing the possibility of his client receiving life in prison.

California criminal law provides a person may be found guilty of murder, under an implied malice theory. In other words, when the defendant has no intent to kill a decedent, he may be found guilty of murder if his conduct is found reckless enough by a jury. For example, criminal prosecution has extended the use of the implied malice theory of murder (ie. where to is no express intent to kill the deceased) to argue that a defendant is guilty of murder, when death is caused, where the defendant's reckless conduct was committed during the course of drunk-driving, street racing, evading the police during a pursuit, interfering with railroad cars, gang crimes that begin with a simple fight, and playing russian roulette with a firearm.

A recent case dealt with the theory of implied malice in murder cases, and addressed a situation where a defendant does not know a woman is pregnant, can he be held responsible for the death of the fetus as a result of his violent actions upon the mother? While the knee jerk societal response is "of course he should be," the defendant's response is -- "I did not know of its existence and should not be found guilty."

A criminal court decision provided guidance for Los Angeles criminal lawyers specializing in the defense of murder cases. The Appeals Court rejected a defendant's argument that he was not guilty of murder for killing an unborn child because he had strangled

Tagged as: california criminal laws, jury trial 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

Organized Crime, Gangs and Consequences

Posted on: July 23, 2008 at 9:25 a.m.

Organized crime and gang activity are situations that police, the media and politicians often pay great attention to, and this leads to laws that can be extremely harsh for those accused of belonging to a gang. Many reports have surfaced of late about feet washing up on shore in the Pacific Northwest and Canada. The feet are alleged to be involved in some sort of gang activity or organized crime. Some authorities believe people who got on the "wrong side" of certain people had their feet cut off, and may have been killed.

In Los Angeles, gang activity is said to be increasing in volume. Authorities are targeting those individuals thought, or accused of, being involved with gang activity.

Gang crimes are quite varied, everything from graffiti to murder. Gangs are also often involved in drug activity in the communities they inhabit.

The penalties for belonging to, or being affiliated with, a gang come from both state and Federal authorities. The United States Senate passed the Gang Abatement and Prevention Act of 2007, which attempted to prosecute gang activity by defining new federal criminal offenses and boosting federal criminal penalties for gang crimes. While some criticize the law as vague and that it infringes upon local law enforcement, Congress is attempting to curb gang violence through more strict laws.

Attorneys defending those implicated in gang related crimes must have the kind of knowledge and experience that will allow them to understand the laws, the law enforcement philosophy and the nature of the justice system. The attorneys at Kestenbaum Eisner & Gorin LLP have decades of experience and have a track record of successfully defending clients from a variety of criminal charges.

Tagged as: california criminal laws, gang allegations

A Criminal Case DISMISSED Due to Police Misconduct

Posted on: July 1, 2008 at 12:38 p.m.

Criminal Defese Attorneys in Los Angeles have to be mindful of police misconduct being a reality. A Pitchess Motion, previously discussed in the Criminal Law Blog, is a method through which defense lawyers are able to access prior evidence of police misconduct through personnel records. Here is an example of a recent misconduct case which led tp felony charges being dismissed.

In the last six months, the media, politicians and law enforcement officials have increased their attention on gang activity in and around Los Angeles County. This has led to a number of arrests, usually involving drug and/or violent crime. However, a major drug case took a turn when a man arrested on drug charges and accused of being a gang member was seemingly "set up" by the police who arrested him.

The man was arrested on drug charges, as police alleged that during a chase he threw away a bag containing cocaine and crack. However, it was revealed in court that a surveillance camera in the apartment the man was chase into showed evidence favoring the defense. The video showed that it took police over 20 minutes to find the drugs they said they saw thrown away. It also recorded audio of the police making comments about changing the report, as one officer is quoted as saying "Be creative in your writing [of the report]" and another officer acknowledging the comment.

As police and law enforcement officials are under a great deal of stress to prosecute drug matters and to stop gang activity, matters such as this will arise on occasion. Defending the rights of the accused is vital, as police reports may or may not be completely accurate in terms of detailing the arrests, charges, evidence and so forth. This individual may have gone to jail for many years with such a conviction, both possession and gang membership, and it all could have been based on faulty police reports. The actual charge was possession with intent to sell, which carries jail time, fines, probation and more.

The individual charged lived in fear for a year of jail time. However, the police offered the man a two-year jail sentence if he plead guilty. Speaking with an attorney before agreeing to any deal with law enforcement officials is vital, as it saved this man jail time and a potentially ruined life for drug charges.

Tagged as: california criminal laws

Domestic Violence: Felonies, Misdemeanors, and Rights to Child Custody

Posted on: June 17, 2008 at 4:26 p.m.

Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorneys frequently encounter cases where there are claims of domestic violence and abuse. These typically take the falls within one of two different scenarios: (1)a long-lasting abusive relationship or (2)unpredictable violence by one or both parties at the time of break up. The first scenario is a lot more serious, and leads to serious felony charging. However, the the second scenariou is typically isolated and does not recur if the parties do not reconcile. Charges of domestic violence are aggressively pursuen by Los Angeles prosecutors in the wake of OJ, and other cases, where the aggressor was not stopped, punished, and counseled before the homicide.

As a result, Domestic violence and domestic disputes are never simply matters that can be sorted out. They often involve quite a bit of history, and as with all emotional matters, rarely is the truth black-and-white. When children are involved, matters become far more complicated for both sides of the dispute. The risk of violence may be greatest, in the course of child custody issues. Below is some useful information for individuals going through domestic disputes and/or domestic violence where children are involved:

- If a father is involved in a domestic dispute and faces a domestic violence charge, there is a great likelihood that the judge will award custody to the mother. In a 1991 Census, almost 38% of father's weren't granted visitation rights. Further, 90% of custody battles end up favoring the mother.
- Jail time for domestic violenceconvictions can range from 1 year for misdemeanor crimes, and three years in prison or more for felony convictions.
- If you are accused of domestic violence but the alleged victim attempts to withdraw the charge, you can still be tried and convicted.
- Restraining orders can often be hard to prove and often more difficult to enforce. They make make the winner feel good, but have no real impact on whether the other party continue calling or harrasing him or her, even if the police gets involved.
- There are support groups and battered women shelters for women who are suffering from violence in their homes.

Tagged as: california criminal laws, domestic violence pc 273_5

The Dangerous World of Child Pornography

Posted on: June 12, 2008 at 11 a.m.

Child pornography is illegal, and there is very little leniency in the law. With the ease with which individuals are able to obtain child pornography via the Internet, state, local and federal law enforcement officials have increasingly been looking to crack down on potential violators. The Supreme Court of the United States has again and again reaffirmed laws prohibiting creating and disseminating child pornography.

However, there are various sides to this issue and the prosecution of these laws can often net unintended victims. For example, those in the many artistic communities across the nation see what they are creating as quite different from child pornography. However, these individuals have often been arrested, charged and convicted under laws prohibiting child pornography. Also, people often considered religious zealots have attempted to use child pornography laws to interfere with the adult film business, which has time and again been considered legal.

The laws governing child pornography often change though; in 2002 the Supreme Court struck down a 1996 law because it interfered with legitimate educational and scientific studies. However, the most recent developments have led to tougher laws and stiffer penalties for child pornography. This has also led to sex offense databases across the nation containing the information of anyone who has violated child pornography laws. Being put on this list is a permanent punishment.

One of the ways the law enforcement or government agency prosecuting child pornography laws can error is in how they collect information. For example, while Internet providers have agreed to block child pornography, and they often give their information to the agencies investigating child pornography crimes, there are still constitutional guidelines the agencies must follow in collecting evidence.

For more information on the defense of child pornography charges, please contact the attorneys at Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin, LLP.

Tagged as: california criminal laws, child pornography pc 311_11, internet crimes defense, sex crime accusations

Weapons Charges and Dennis Farina

Posted on: June 12, 2008 at 10:09 a.m.

Dennis Farina, star of the television show "Law & Order" and the movie "Get Shorty," was arrested on weapons charges for bringing a gun to an airport.

Back in May, the 64-year-old actor was booked in the felony case for possessing a case with a semiautomatic .22 gun. The actor spent a day in the Van Nuys jail and posted $35,000 bail. Farina claimed to have forgotten he had the gun with him. Farina isn't the only high-profile individual to have had this happen to him; Snoop-Dog was arrested at an airport for similar charges, as was the son of former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. Both were carrying weapons into the airport, which is illegal.

In California, especially in cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco, weapons and firearms laws are particularly stringent, and the general public must be aware of this.

Below are some tips on how to handle firearms and weapons related charges:

1. Contact an attorney - Law enforcement may not notify you of your rights entirely, and security at the location where you've been arrested may not act according to the law. An experienced attorney will be able to help you with this.
2. Cooperate with police - While you do have the right to remain silent, you don't have the right to resist arrest, fight with the police or obstruct justice. This may help with sentencing.
3. Be aware of your surroundings - Places like airports, schools and other public places will be particularly sensitive to someone bringing firearms or weapons with them. Be aware of this when you're traveling to a school, a park, any major city or the airport.
4. A serious enough weapons charge could count against you as a felony or under California's Three Strikes laws.
5. Any weapon can and will be checked for recent crimes, and even if you aren't the person who committed the crime, it could lead to jail time.

Tagged as: california criminal laws, counterfeit goods pc 350, federal law and defense, jury trial defense

Illegal Narcotics and the U.S./Mexico Border

Posted on: June 10, 2008 at 10:54 a.m.

Southern California has a number of factors affecting it which causes the laws throughout the state to often look strange to the rest of the nation. One such factor is the border that California shares with Mexico. Prosecuting drug laws can be difficult due to the challenges of having to extradite criminals across both sides of the border, and the differing drug laws in each nation. Other states bordering Mexico include Texas, Arizona and New Mexico.

Recently, a drunk driver plowed into a bicycle race near the Mexican border in Texas. Part of the challenge in attempting to prosecute is the citizenship of the individuals injured as well as the individual accused. Drug policies can be even more difficult, as witnesses may not have citizenship in the country they witnessed the crime, making it difficult for law enforcement agencies to get them to testify.

The popular television bounty hunter Dwayne "The Dog" Chapman had his challenges with this issue as he arrested an American citizen while he was in Mexico, which violates Mexican law. Smuggling drugs across the border is a federal offense, and could bring charges on both sides of the border.

If you would like to talk to an experienced attorney regarding drug related charges, or any other criminal matter, please contact the attorneys at Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin, LLP.

Tagged as: california criminal laws, drug crimes defense, high profile defense

Murder in Los Angeles: The Numbers are Frightening, For Some

Posted on: June 2, 2008 at 4:30 p.m.

As of May 18 of this year, there were 315 murders in the city of Los Angeles. For a city with 4 million or so people, that's not a very high number, however a further look into those statistics reveal not only a terrible reality, but a scary revelation of present day LA.

Of those 315 murders, 269 were black or Latino, and only 30 victims were white. Los Angeles has long had racial challenges (highlighted by the 1969 and 1994 riots), but this number is staggering when taken into consideration. African Americans don't even make up 10% of the total population of Los Angeles and yet they total over 24% of all murder victims. Latinos are roughly a little less than half the total population of Los Angeles, and yet they number far more than half the number of murder victims.

Almost all of these murders involved weapons, and almost 80% of them involved guns. Many of these tragedies involve gangs and/or gang activities, and the city of Los Angeles has long talked about trying to stem the tide of gang violence (with very little success). Murder seems like a black and white crime, a person is alive one minute and dead the next. However, this crime is not always obvious, and there are often mitigating circumstances.

The war against violent crime can often net innocent people, as evidenced by the countless inmates currently being freed on DNA evidence who were on death row. If you've been arrested on murder charges or need advice, contact a competent attorney to protect your rights from being violated.

Tagged as: california criminal laws, jury trial defense

Prosecution's Failure to Recover - Test Evidence: 2008 Example of Wrongful Conviction

Posted on: April 27, 2008 at 3:08 p.m.

People on the street ask criminal defense lawyers - how can you represent a murderer? The Law Blog's frequent response is that a client is just accused of murder, and may actually be innocent. The next question may be - How is this possible? Hasn't the police done its job and gone after the right person? A criminal lawyer obviously reviews each client's defense on a case by case basis - and his or her job is to provide a zealous defense, to ensure that the prosecution has proven its case. Sometimes the police, the prosecution, and even the jury get it wrong: garbage in, garbage out.

In other words, if the evidence in a case is somehow wrong, or misleading as to what actually happened, then the result could be just as incorrect. A recent case in Southern California illustrates the point of how effective criminal defense helps the innocent. In San Diego, California, a widow was accused of poisoning her husband, for insurance money. The prosecution further alleged that she used the insurance proceeds, not on her kids, but on plastic surgery, multiple lovers, and large parties. Further the evidence showed that she appeared to not be grieving after her husband died and, ultimately, was convicted by jury of his murder.

After the jury verdict, Defendant Cynthia Sommer hired a different criminal defense attorney - who may have been asked "how can you represent a convicted murderer, an evil woman?"

As a result of the new lawyer's efforts, and after his client Cynthia Sommmer had spent close to 3 years in custody, San Diego County Dist. Atty. Bonnie Dumanis moved to dismiss murder charges against her, telling reporters that overlooked evidence and new scientific scrutiny had poked holes in the prosecution's assertion that she used arsenic to kill her husband. It was a startling conclusion to a murder prosecution built on a tabloid-style scenario of a scheming wife poisoning her younger husband, watching as he died and then -- soon after -- getting a $5,400 breast augmentation, partying and having sex with several partners. Within hours of Dumanis' announcement, Sommer was free. "I never lost any hope, faith or anything....You can never give up if you're innocent," she told the press.

In November 2007, a jury had convicted Sommer of first-degree murder, but the trial judge overturned the verdict, ruling that prosecutors' description of her "lifestyle" was so inflammatory that it deprived Sommer of a fair trial. She had been convicted of murder with special circumstances -- murder for hire and murder by poison -- that carried a mandatory life sentence without possibility of parole. Deceased Todd Sommer, 23, was stationed at Miramar Marine Corps Air Station and appeared to be in excellent health when he fell ill and died within days in 2002. Married in 1999, the couple had a son. Cynthia Sommer had three children by a previous marriage.

When she was arrested in 2005, she had moved to Florida. Prosecutors had said Sommer killed her husband to collect on his $250,000 life insurance policy and begin a new, fun-filled life. She had remained in jail while prosecutors prepared for a second trial. In response to a discovery motion by Sommer's new defense attorney, prosecutors gathered all the tissue samples that had been taken from her husband's body, including some that were not tested before the first trial. When they had the new samples tested, forensic experts could not find arsenic -- creating what D.A. Dumanis called reasonable doubt that Todd Sommer had died of arsenic poisoning. An expert newly hired by the prosecution also suggested that earlier samples in which arsenic was found had been contaminated. The new criminal lawyer told the press that it should not have taken a defense motion to make prosecutors gather samples that had remained at the San Diego Naval Medical Center since Todd Sommer's death.

During the jury trial resulting in the wrongful conviction, San Diego County Superior Court Judge Peter Deddeh told prosecutors he would not allow evidence about Sommer's behavior after her husband's death. But Deddeh relented when defense attorney Robert Udell opened the door by introducing his own evidence of Sommer as a grieving widow. After the conviction, Deddeh ruled that her attorney's error had deprived Sommer of a fair trial.
The evidence about her breasts, drinking and sexual activity "became like an overwhelming cloud that covered everything," said her new attorney. Even as both sides prepared for a second trial, prosecution investigators were again asking Sommer's friends questions about her behavior after her husband's death, the new criminal defense lawyer said. He was prepared to call experts who would suggest that Todd Sommer died of a heart ailment or reaction to weight-control pills or an anti-diarrhea prescription medication.

So even in 2008 there is a risk that without a zealous and thorough criminal defense, a person may be convicted and yet be completely innocent of the charges.

Tagged as: california criminal laws, faq, jury trial defense, motion to dismiss unlawful police search

Police Misconduct: Using a Pitchess Motion in Criminal Defense - Penal Code Section 1043

Posted on: April 7, 2008 at 4:11 p.m.

A successful Pitchess Motion may at times be a powerful tool for defense counsel.

Defendants are entitled to relevant "discovery," ie. police reports and witness interviews, contained in the personnel files of an arresting officer. Typically, Los Angeles criminal attorneys file this motion before the preliminary hearing in cases where there are allegations made against arresting police officers of racial discrimination, excessive force, or some other misconduct which is relevant to the criminal case.

Prior misconduct evidence can then be used to impeach the officers in the current case.

Tagged as: california criminal laws, police misconduct

Crooked Cops? LAPD Internal Affairs Fails to Adequately Investigate Its Own

Posted on: February 17, 2008 at 6:24 p.m.

Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorneys hear many stories from clients about officers being too aggressive, coercing consents to search, forcing Miranda statements, and even planting evidence. LAPD Internal Affairs is supposed to investigate all complaints of police misconduct. Some say that how can LAPD police and thoroughly investigate its own.

A recent report and finding by the Police Commission confirm this claim, concluding that Los Angeles Police Department investigators routinely fail to fully investigate citizens' complaints against allegedly abusive officers, often omitting or altering crucial information in ways that help exonerate the officers, according to a report to be released today. Further, the report raises questions about the department's ability to police itself, adding to still-unresolved problems highlighted in previous reports. The audit, which is expected to be presented to the civilian Police Commission today, examined how 60 complaints filed against officers in recent years were handled by the officers' supervisors and investigators in the department's internal affairs group. In 29 of the cases -- nearly half of the time -- it found some sort of flaw, including investigators who inaccurately recorded statements and failed to interview witnesses or identify accused officers. In some cases, investigators failed to address allegations of misconduct at all. "

In several of the cases reviewed, the report concluded that the investigators' conclusion that the accusations against officers were "unfounded" would have been different if the investigations had been handled better. In one complaint about excessive force, a witness said in a tape-recorded interview shortly after the incident that there had been too many officers surrounding the man to get a good view of what happened. But in their report, the internal affairs officers paraphrased the witness' comments much differently, writing that the man "had a clear and unobstructed view and did not see or hear the alleged acts occur." Problems with paraphrasing in this case and several others, the report found, were the reason the officers were ultimately absolved of any wrongdoing.

In another case, two men said they were injured -- one suffered a broken or badly sprained elbow -- by a group of officers using excessive force while trying to break up a party. The report faulted investigators for failing to interview two witnesses or retrieve any of the documents on file about the incident. Investigators failed to identify any of the officers involved in the altercation and did not include any photographs of the injuries the accusers sustained -- a basic component of an excessive-force complaint.

Better training may be required. Police officers who become members of internal affairs receive only a five-day training course on how to conduct investigations. Complaints are usually filed with a sergeant at a local police station who conducts interviews and passes the claim to internal affairs. Internal affairs handles the more serious cases -- several thousand each year.

Los Angeles Criminal Lawyers are able to obtain a police officer's record of prior misconduct through two sources: (1) The District Attorney's Brady Unit, set up after the Rampart scandal; and (2) Los Angeles City Attorney's Office, which represent LAPD in court, after litigating a Pitchess Motion before trial. Both of these procedures are utilized soley within the criminal justice system. L.A. criminal settlement and defense issues are greatly affected when it turns out that one of the investigating officers has a history of misconduct.

Tagged as: california criminal laws

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

Criminal Defense: Mitigating a sentence by humanizing a client to the Court and Prosecutor

Posted on: August 30, 2007 at 3:50 p.m.

The criminal court system in Los Angeles, California deals with hundreds and hudreds of cases daily. How do criminal defense lawyers humanize a client to busy criminal courts? While this is not the easiest task to accomplish in the Southern California justice system, an L.A. criminal attorney must defend his client by humanizing him to mitigate a possible sentence.

Persuading Los Angeles prosecutors, probation officers and judges to recognize a client's life cannot be defined based solely on the conduct that brought him or her to court is essential to gaining a just outcome. Few persons are accurately defined by the worst thing they ever did, but unless we intervene to demonstrate the contrary, the default of the justice system is to assume that is the way our client is in his or her daily life.

For criminal defense clients, the offense conduct is certainly negative, but the entire picture of the defendant's life may be far more positive and inspirations. Showing that to the court comes with an in-depth investigation, and usually proves to be a major benefit to the outcome of the case. Character letters from employers, family members, social organizations (church, temple, AYSO, wherever client participates) assist the Criminal Defense Blog's clients on daily basis. This is one substantial factor in obtaining probation for clients, instead of state prison.

Tagged as: california criminal laws, vandalism pc 594

Criminal Defense in Los Angeles: Juvenile Offenders in Adult Court Prosecutions

Posted on: July 27, 2007 at 9:17 a.m.

California Criminal Law currently allows prosecutors to directly file on juveniles 14 years old or older in adult court, for "strike" offenses. These offenses are defined as "serious or violent felonies" in the California Penal Code, in Sections 667.5, 1170.12, 1192.7.

Los Angeles Criminal Lawyers realize that these laws contradict the spirit of "juvenile jurisdiction" - to rehabilitate youthful offenders. For crimes as serious as murder, California attorneys understand that the Legislature's policy of locking up murderers trumps society's desire for rehabilitation. But what about if the offender is only 14 years old, at the time of the crime? What about offenders facing non-murder charges, such as assault, robbery, inappropriate touching, drug offenses? What about cases where the juvenile offenders have mental illness, mental defects, autism, or were physically abused while growing up? These minors would clearly be benefited by attempts to rehabilitate and do not deserve substantial prison sentences. Society should not just lock them, and throw away the key, without attempting to rehabilitate them.

Criminal Defense Attorneys in Los Angeles have noticed that the public's fear of juvenile crime has reversed the long-accepted practice of treating young offenders in special juvenile courts.
A recent report from the National Sentencing Project on criminal sentencing in California found that thousands of children annually are now being transferred "automatically," without judicial review, from juvenile court jurisdiction to adult criminal court and into adult corrections. These transfers place children into a court setting in which they are at a disadvantage at every stage of the process. Children who are incarcerated in adult facilities are at great risk. Those who are convicted but not imprisoned may still suffer long lasting negative consequences.

Typically the policy of the Los Angeles County District Attorney is to prosecute most serious cases in juvenile court first, through a "Fitness" motion. Thereafter a juvenile judge makes a determination of whether the child should be subject to adult or juvenile jurisdiction. However, the Criminal Law Blog is aware of at least one case where the DA's Office dismissed the juvenile case, and refiled the case in adult court, because the rulings were going against the prosecutors. The minor never had the benefit of his criminal defense attorney litigating a Fitness Motion in front of a juvenile judge. This type of "forum shopping" violates the fundamentals of U.S. Constitutional Due Process.

The National Sentencing Project further found that the imposition of adult punishments, far from deterring crime, actually seems to produce an increase in criminal activity in comparison to the results obtained for children retained in the juvenile system. Reliance upon the criminal courts and punishment ignores evidence that more effective responses to the problems of crime and violence exist outside the criminal justice system in therapeutic programs. Because there is considerable racial disparity in the assignment of children to adult prosecution, the harshness, ineffectiveness, and punishing aspects of transfer from juvenile to adult court is doubly visited on children of color, the study concluded.

Tagged as: california criminal laws, juvenile law

How does a criminal conviction affect my Immigration Status? What if I was convicted many years ago, and only now the INS has informed me that I am subject to deportation?

Posted on: July 23, 2007 at 8:55 a.m.

Criminal convictions may cause direct and grave consequences to someone's immigration status. The INS guidelines are very detailed and complex, and the Criminal Law Blog frequently confers with immigration law specialists to properly advise its clients. Before any plea-bargaining is done, the Law Blog discusses with clients their immigration status. Often the Law Blog will seek charges that are not considered by the INS as moral turpitude offenses (ie. subject to deportation), and to convert any possible custody time to community service work.

In Los Angeles, the L.A. County Sheriff's Department responsible for running the jails verifies immigration status upon receiving an inmate. As a result, as soon as an inmate is in custody (even if charges are later dismissed), an "immigration hold" may be placed subjecting him or her to deportation proceedings. As a result, the inmate may be deported from the United States after the INS picks the inmate up from Sheriff's custody. The saddest part is that the inmate may be innocent of all charges, and still be deported because his immigration status is questionable.

Deportation is preventable. If a defendant has financial resources, it is important to bail out immediately after an arrest. In Los Angeles County, a defendant is tranferred into Sheriff's custody from the arresting agency's jail within 48 hours of arrest, which is typically right after the arraignment. Subsequently, a criminal disposition may be reached in court without jail time. An immigration hold in Sheriff's jail is avoided, as the accused is out on bail and his immigration status is typically not checked within the court system.

Another issue frequently encountered with Immigration and Criminal Court: An old conviction has raises a red flag with the INS, causing the agency to start deporation proceedings 10-15 years later, against someone who has led a trouble-free life for many years, working, raising a family, and being an overall model citizen. The Criminal Law Blog's Attorneys have represented numerous clients in this situation. There are numerous legal mechanisms to vacate a prior conviction, including using a "Writ of Corum Nobis". The typical argument to attack the conviction focuses on explaining to the court why the client was not properly advised of immigration consequences at the time of the plea, many years earlier. Another option is to attempt to re-negotiate the old charges with the prosecutor's office, to seek an agreement that the crime of moral turpitude dismissed, and substitute in its place an offense that is more innocuous in the eyes of the INS.

Los Angeles Criminal Lawyers must examine immigration consequences of every plea deal, before advising a client to take it.

Tagged as: california criminal laws, immigration consequences

What is a preliminary hearing?

Posted on: July 23, 2007 at 8:29 a.m.

In California criminal courts, preliminary hearings are formal court hearings where the judge determines if there is probable cause to hold the defendant to answer for trial, on charges filed in the Felony Complaint. The hearing is only available if felony charges are filed (and not in misdemeanor prosecutions). It is a "mini-trial," where prosecutors present witness testimony establishing a crime was committed, and how the defendant is responsible.

A criminal defense lawyer may use the hearing as a vehicle to:

(1) determine how strong the case is against his client - are the witnesses credible? were there problems in the investigation? should he advise the client to settle the case in the trial court?

(2) test out the defense theory of the case through extensive cross-examination, and by possibly putting on affirmative defense witnesses to establish the defendant is not guilty.

The only drawback to presenting defense witnesses at such an early stage of criminal proceedings is that, if the case is not dismissed, prosecutors have a chance to preview the defense and fix their proof problems before trial through additional preparation and investigation.

In sum, the preliminary hearing may lead to charges being dismissed, or may inform experienced defense counsel that plea-bargaining is the best strategy in the trial court. Finally, if the judge finds there is probable cause for the charges in the Complaint, the case is sent to a trial court for arraignment on charges the prosecutor files in an Information, which is the trial court's formal document listing criminal charges.

Tagged as: california criminal laws, federal law and defense

Small theft from a store: Petty Theft v. Burglary

Posted on: July 23, 2007 at 12:26 a.m.

California law defines a burglary as entry into a building with the intent to steal. Even if nothing is taken, a burglary is committed when the entry happens (with the intent to steal or commit a felony inside the store). For example, prosecutors may argue that someone entering a store with a booster bag (one with false bottom), and scissors, shows premeditated conduct to steal at entry, and thus even if something under $50 is taken, the criminal conduct is a burglary. A burglary is a wobbler which means it could be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor. Compare this to a Petty Theft, a violation of Penal Code Section 484. This crime is a misdemeanor. Anytime a theft occurs of items under $400 - California law deems a violation of this statute occurs. So, if there is no evidence of premeditation before entry into the store, a defendant is usually charged with a Petty Theft offense. If Defendant tells the police or store personnel that he or she planned the theft, a Burglary will also be charged.

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

Should I just go to court and plead guilty, with the help of the public defender, or just by representing myself?

Posted on: July 10, 2007 at 4:38 p.m.

Any decision to enter a plea in a criminal case should be very seriously considered. Often the consequences of a criminal conviction, even a misdemeanor such as a DUI, may impact someone's life for years to come. For example, a truck driver convicted for a first time DUI loses his privilege to operate a commercial vehicle for a year -- which translates a one year loss of income! Another example, a person pleads guily to a theft crime, and finds out years later that his or her hopes of becoming a U.S. citizen are destroyed. Finally, you must financially qualify as low-income to receive the legal services of the Public Defender's Office. If you do not financially qualify, you must hire your own attorney or represent yourself. In sum, before going to court, the Criminal Law Blog advises possible clients to not just take what appears to be (on the surface) the easy way by pleading guilty on the first court date, without the assistance of a qualified criminal defense lawyer.

Tagged as: california criminal laws

Charges in State Court v. Federal Court

Posted on: July 1, 2007 at 8:25 p.m.

Federal court cases are typically investigated by federal agencies, including the FBI, DEA, Customs, Treasury, and other federal agencies. Sometimes state and local agencies also file charges in federal court if the offenses involve major quantity of drugs, weapons or other contraband. The federal government has more resources to prosecute cases, including special units to prosecute drugs, fraud, and violent crimes. While the state and local government also has special units, they have fewer prosecutors, with larger case loads. Also, local law enforcement does not have nearly an many resources to complete investigations with as much thoroughness as federal law enforcement. For the most part, it is definitely in a criminal defendant's interest to be prosecuted in state, rather than federal court. The state of California's sentencing system has more flexibility in terms of alternative sentencing options than the United States Sentencing Guidelines. In one large drug cases, a criminal defense attorney had his client cooperate with the police in exchange for the case to be presented to the state, rather than federal authorities for prosecution

Tagged as: california criminal laws, federal law and defense, high profile defense

What can I do so no charges get filed? Is my case barred by the law from being prosecuted?

Posted on: May 21, 2007 at 12:26 a.m.

A defense lawyer may convince a prosecutor ("filing DA") from not pursuing criminal charges. A Filing DA reviews the police reports, and investigation submitted to him by the arresting police agency. If the Filing DA decides no charges will be filed, the case is referred to as a "reject." There are many reasons why a case is rejected, including problems of proof, interests of justice, or a non-desirous victim. Early intervention by a defense attorney often makes this happen. However, the prosecutor may always revisit the decision not to file criminal charges if the "Statute of Limitations" period has not expired. So, if say in neighbor dispute, one neighbor continue to harrass the victim, the prosecutor may choose to file charges over the first incident despite the initial decision to reject the case. Every criminal offense has a statute of limitations period that is set out by the Penal Code. In simple terms, the less serious the crime, the shorter the statute -- in other words, the Prosecutor has less time to decide on filing criminal charges. In misdemeanor cases, California law provides the statute is 1 year; in felonies, the statutes is 3 years or more depending on how serious the crime is. Once the Statute of Limitations expires, the offense cannot be prosecuted in court (with one exception, murder cases have no limitation - that is why cold case DNA cases are prosecuted sometime 10, 20, or 30 years later.)

Tagged as: california criminal laws, faq

How are criminal charges filed in court after someone is arrested?

Posted on: April 23, 2007 at 12:49 p.m.

The police officers that make the arrest complete all police reports about the crime, run a background check of the suspect, and do further investigation before submitting their work to a detective. As an example, in a domestic violence case, the detective in the assault unit usually follows up by contacting the witnesses and the alleged victim, to confirm whether the statements obtained by the responding officers were accurate and thorough. Often, this is they most propitious time for a defense lawyer to make a dramatic impact in a Pre-Filing Intervention, as the police usually know very little about the person arrested. The police then bring their entire investigation to the District Attorney's Office. A prosecutor reviews the documents to determine whether criminal charges are warranted. The prosecutor has the option of rejecting the case for criminal prosecution, filing a misdemeanor, or filing a felony charge. If charges are filed, the next step in the criminal process is in court, at an Arraignment. The law firm of Kestebaum Eisner & Gorin LLP is a criminal defense firm discussing aggressive prefiling intervention with the prosecutor's office.

Tagged as: california criminal laws, federal law and defense, high profile defense

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