Two teenage girls in Northern California were arrested this week after allegedly drugging one of the girls’ parents in order to use the internet past curfew. According to reports, two unnamed girls in Rocklin, which is 20 miles southwest of Sacramento, purchased milkshakes from a nearby fast food restaurant on December 28th, then crushed several prescription sleeping pills into each drink. Of the two girls, one is 16 years old while the other is just 15. The girls gave the drug-laced milkshakes to the 16-year-olds parents, who fell asleep about an hour later. Both the mother and father woke up in the middle of the night and reportedly felt extremely groggy and had hangover-like symptoms, though neither had consumed any alcoholic beverages that evening. The following morning both parents were still said to have been feeling “really odd,” so they went to a nearby police station and purchased $5 drug screening kits. The tests, which are usually used by parents to test their children for drug use, showed traces of drugs. It was at that point that the parents contacted local police and eventually brought their daughter into the police station. Investigators later that the girls had schemed to put the 16-year-old’s parents to sleep in order to have access to the internet after the 10 p.m. curfew. Both girls were booked into the Placer County Juvenile Hall on December 31st on suspicion of conspiracy and willfully mingling a pharmaceutical into food. It is still unclear whether or not prosecutors will formally charge the girls with a crime. Investigators involved in the case also did not know what websites the two girls had accessed on the night in question. As a spokesman for the Rocklin police said, “Kids are crazy these days.” While not all kids may be certifiably crazy, many kids find themselves in real legal trouble all the time. Minors committing crimes are very often dealt with in very different ways from their adult counterparts. Many crimes committed by juveniles are handled through the juvenile court system, which differs in several important ways from the criminal justice system that adults may be familiar with. First, the juvenile court system aims more to correct criminal behavior in children instead of simply punishing it. Several laws in the state of California, however, make juvenile punishments for criminal activity just as harsh as those for adults. Depending on the severity of the crime and the age of the child, their case may be handed over to the adult criminal justice system anyway. Whatever the age of your child, if they have committed a crime, they need an experienced attorney to handle their case right away.
Tagged as: juvenile crime, juvenile law
A 16-year-old high school student was arrested for murder after gunning down a classmate near the 3rd Street Tunnel in downtown Los Angeles. The young man, whose name has not been released because he is a minor, had reportedly had a dispute with another 16-year-old classmate during the day at Central High School, a continuation school both boys were attending. The two boys were reportedly members of rival gangs and met after school was done for the day in mid-October at the 3rd Street Tunnel to resolve their dispute. The victim was shot multiple times in the torso and taken to nearby Los Angeles County U.S.C. medical center where he died of his wounds. The shooter was arrested while still armed at the scene of the crime by a local policeman who happened to be passing by and saw the incident. The defendant was taken to Eastlake Juvenile Hall and is still awaiting trial.
As any experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney can attest, murder is a very serious crime, even for someone who is still a minor. The same Attorney can also tell you that crimes committed by minors are often treated very differently from crimes committed by adults. Children even have a completely different court system to deal with their criminal behavior and the appropriate punishments. An experienced lawyer knows that the criminal justice system that deal with children typically approaches them more with an eye to rehabilitate rather than simply punish. In recent times, however, many politicians gain favor with constituents by enacting "tough on crime" laws that still affect minors profoundly. For example, the experienced Attorney knows that the state of California's tough "Three Strikes" laws have been applied to minors. Under Three Strikes laws, a person who commits three eligible felony criminal offenses can be sent to a state prison for life. These sentences can be applied to crimes as serious as murder or assault, as well as seemingly smaller crimes such as theft, vandalism or drug possession crimes. If your child has been arrested for a criminal offense, call the offices of Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin, LLP today at 1-877-781-1570 to speak to a Defense Attorney about your son or daughter's case. Our attorneys have decades of experience in defending children and teenagers against criminal charges of all types and we know how to provide you and your child with the aggressive, experienced legal counsel you need at an important juncture in your lives.
Tagged as: juvenile crime, juvenile law, Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney
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
Authorities serving a search warrant Thursday in Lancaster arrested two juvenile teenage boys and seized 25 guns, a sheriff's sergeant said. The two juvenile boys, ages 16 and 17, were booked on suspicion of possession of illegal weapons, possession of stolen property, being a minor in possession of a firearm and possession of an unregistered assault weapon.
During the search, deputies recovered 25 firearms, including 12-gauge shotguns and a 50-caliber pistol. Thousands of rounds of ammunition, two computers and gang paraphernalia were also recovered. The warrant was based on information gathered from the Internet describing gang activity in the Antelope Valley.
Handling juvenile offenses can be difficult, as any Los Angeles criminal defense attorney will tell you, especially when violence or gang activity is involved. Weapons charges can be serious as well.
A juvenile crime is any criminal act that is committed by a minor (person below the legal age of 18). All too often, juveniles and their parents assume that because the crime was committed by a minor, the minor will not be subject to harsh legal penalties if convicted. This belief is far from the truth. In California, all juvenile crimes are taken very seriously by law enforcement and are vigorously prosecuted. Additionally, if the juvenile is close to the legal age of 18, or has committed a felony offense, he/she may be charged as an adult.
Gangs often prey upon juveniles, as people under 18 feel they are less at risk of major jail time if arrested and convicted. The gangs can also influence these young people however they choose since they may not have the life experience to get away from dangerous situations.
If a juvenile is convicted of a criminal offense, the court will usually focus upon rehabilitating the minor instead of punishing them. It is believed that juveniles can change their actions and delinquent behavior if they receive proper counseling and treatment. Due to the life-altering legal consequences that are involved, it is always in a person
Tagged as: gang allegations, juvenile law
Frequently L.A. Criminal Attorneys represent individuals charged with carrying a concealed weapon pursuant to Penal Code Section 12020, which includes knives, dirk/daggers, switchblades, brass knuckles, or other concealable weapons. The crime is a "wobbler" which means it can be prosecuted as either a felony or misdemeanor, and thus carries the possibility of jail and/or prison for someone convicted of violating this weapons law.
Many cases have addressed what type of objects can constitute a concealed weapon pursuant to this Penal Code provision. While the object may not appear to be a weapon in everyday use, many objects qualify as illegal concealed weapons.
Tagged as: california criminal laws, juvenile law
Under California criminal law and procedure, an accused who is tried as an adult is typically 18 years old or older.
Individuals under 18 typically receive far more lenient treatment in juvenile court and/or a stay in juvenile hall if they are convicted. They usually do not face the risk of county jail, or prison.
However, a severely violent crime, or habitual criminal activity may persuade a judge to try a minor as an adult, which for certain crimes could lead to life in prison. This proceeding is called a "Fitness hearing."
In Oxnard, one such case involving a violent crime, which also qualified as a hate crime, may proceed in that direction. A judge has ruled that a 14-year-old who allegedly killed a classmate who was openly gay can be tried as an adult, and if convicted this individual could receive a life sentence. The alleged killer shot they openly gay student in the head, after which the boy was pronounced brain dead and had his organs donated.
A violent crime such as this is often the kind of case a judge will consider trying a minor as an adult for, in part because there may have been some pre-meditation on the boy's part. The violence coupled with the "hate crime" aspect also puts public pressure to bring about an acceptable solution.
The Los Angeles Daily News reports that hate crimes are up 28%, and a judge/jury aware of that rise may want to punish violent offenders as a message to others. Certain violent gang activity may also cause a judge to charge a minor as an adult.
Alternatively, the DA's Office can also utilize a legislated court procedure which allows it to file directly on a juvenile in adult court, without seeking to first file a Fitness Motion in juvenile. This is referred to as a "Direct Filing." With this new California law in place, a judge's discretion is completely bypassed, and the DA's Office become the arbitrer of whether a juvenile goes to adult court. Accordingly, a juvenile faces the possibility of being housed in state prison if convicted in adult court.
Tagged as: jury trial defense, juvenile law
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
Can the police search you or your property without a search warrant? What happens if the search is illegal?Posted on: June 10, 2007 at 9:08 p.m.
This question addresses Search and Seizure Law which provides protections to all people from unreasonable police infringement on their rights, as provided in the Fouth Ammendment in the U.S. Constitution. The bottom line in court is whether the search is legal or not. In cases where there is a search warrant, a judge has reviewed the officers' reasons for the search in advance. In other words, the judge has signed off on the search, meaning that if what the police told him under oath him is true, there is sufficient cause to search a certain location. In cases where there is no warrant, the police upon observing suspicious activity justify a search of your person, your car, or your home based on their own opinion. Because this type of search is not judicially preapproved, it receives more scrutiny from courts after someone is arrested and charged. A defense attorney files a Motion to Suppress Evidence to prevent illegally obtained evidence from being used in court against a client pursuant to the provisions of Penal Code Section 1538.5. If the judge finds the police violated a person's constitutional rights, the officers did not have sufficient cause to search you or your property. Thus the recovered incriminating evidence, ie. drugs, firearms, or any other illegal items, is excluded from court which often leads to the case being dismissed. Or, if the police stopped your car for improper reasons to later conduct a DUI investigation, the entire DUI case is dismissed.
Tagged as: faq, juvenile law, motion to dismiss unlawful police search
What defense options are available to a client facing charges in juvenile court? Can juvenile records be sealed?Posted on: June 5, 2007 at 12:49 a.m.
California law provides that juvenile court is about rehabilitation not punishment, except in cases of serious violence such as murder and rape. Unlike adult court, all proceedings are confidential and not open to the public. The law attempts to straighten out youthful offenders through monitoring school achievement, home life, curfew, and general attitude. Essentially a juvenile court judge is a surrogate parent. Minors are given multiple chances through the Welfare & Institutions Code to have case dismissed, and charges sealed, if they follow the court's orders. A juvenile has the same constitutional rights (except a jury trial) to challenge the evidence against him in a court through cross examination, and calling own witnesses. Most minors are eligible to have their records sealed after they turn 18 years old. The exception to these flexible laws are cases of murder, rape, and the sort, wherein a minor who is at least 14 years old may be prosecuted in adult court, if the DA chooses to send him to state prison. The law feels that the seriousnes of these crimes outweighs the need for rehabilitation.
Tagged as: faq, juvenile law
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