Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog

Involuntary Manslaughter in Los Angeles

Posted on: May 12, 2009 at 12:23 p.m.

Involuntary manslaughter is a crime in Los Angeles that people don't quite understand. Los Angeles criminal defense attorney represent countless people who are facing involuntary manslaughter charges.
For example, John Steven Burgess, of Los Angeles, pleaded guilty this past Wednesday to involuntary manslaughter and concealing his victims body in a Los Angeles Court. Burgess, a convicted sex offender, is currently serving a three-year sentence for failing to register with local authorities as a sex offender. Police have been investigating Burgess for nearly two years in relation to the disappearance of 19 year-old college student Donna Jou of Rancho Santa Margarita. Jou was last seen on June 23,2007 and police and Jous family had long believed Burgess was connected to her disappearance, but Burgess refused to speak to investigators about her. While it remains unclear why Burgess suddenly decided to talk to authorities about Jou, he admitted to meeting her through the website Craigslist.org. Witnesses reported having seen Jou enter Burgess rented home in the Palms section of Los Angeles. Burgess admitted to giving Jou cocaine, heroin and alcohol at a party at his home, then waking up the next morning to find her dead. Burgess told police he panicked and used his sailboat to dump her body in the ocean. While Burgess told police where he had dumped the victims remains, several searches conducted by authorities have failed to find any traces of her. Burgess is to be sentenced May 18th in Los Angeles Superior Court.
From a legal standpoint, there are several types of murder, with the differences between them usually hinging on the defendants intent. >Involuntary manslaughter is especially tricky because it involves the death of someone that is unintentional and is usually the result of reckless, negligent behavior, or the byproduct of some other action. Being convicted of involuntary manslaughter can land you in prison for a minimum or two years and a maximum of four. In Burgess case, his best defense is that he did not intend for Jou to die from the drugs he gave her. Since he already pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter charges, the prosecution cannot try to charge him with murder, which could have put him in a state prison for 15 years to life. Facing involuntary manslaughter charges is a serious and complicated legal matter that can change your life-do not do it alone.
Call the attorneys at Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin, LLP today to see what your legal options are and begin preparing your defense.

Tagged as: jury trial defense

Drug & Weapon Possession in Los Angeles

Posted on: May 12, 2009 at 12:14 p.m.

Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys represent many individuals who are facing drug possession charges as well as weapons possession charges. This delicate area of the law requires a competent Los Angeles criminal defense attorney who knows and understands the laws involved. High-profile cases involving drug possession in Los Angeles may get a great deal of interest, but for the people involved the consequences are very real.
Tina Fortenberry, receptionist to singer and actress Barbara Streisand, was recently arrested on Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu for drug possession of both cocaine and methamphetamines, as well as possession of a weapon. Malibu police initially pulled Fortenberry over for expired license plate tags, then found the weapon and drugs when they approached her car. The weapon reportedly found in Fortenberrys car was a sap, which is similar to nunchakus. Fortenberry was reportedly on her way to the post office with some mail for Streisand when she was stopped. No date for Fortenberrys arraignment has been given.
Drug possession and weapons possession charges may sound relatively harmless, but Los Angeles law enforcement takes them very seriously and a conviction on either charge can land you in jail. Possession of drugs and weapons can, under Los Angeles law, be classified as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the facts of each case. In general, people tend to think of weapons possession charges as involving an actual firearm, but in reality there are many, many types of weapons where possession would constitute a criminal offense. Illegal weapons in Los Angeles include knives, daggers, brass knuckles, nunchakus and many other martial arts weapons. Technically, even everyday items such as a box cutter or car keys can become deadly weapons if you use them to harm someone. As is the case with actual firearms, possession in the proper context and with the proper documentation is legal and allowable.
Depending on Fortenberrys criminal record, her weapons possession charge will most likely be considered a misdemeanor offense. If she is convicted, she will most likely face a fine and potentially up to one year in a county jail. In this case, the drug possession charges are more likely to land her in jail if she is convicted. In Los Angeles, drug possession of most illegal drugs is considered a felony, with the exception of smaller amounts of marijuana, which is often a misdemeanor criminal offense. Assuming Fortenberry was driving in her own car and not one provided by her employers, the prosecution will have to prove that she knew the drugs were in the car, which is not always as easy as it may seem. If convicted of drug possession, Fortenberry may be able to take advantage of Los Angeles Proposition 36, which allows first or second time non-violent drug offenders to complete a specified drug treatment program instead of serving time in a county jail.
Dealing with drug and weapons possession charges can be complex and stressful, given the potential consequences.

If you have been charged with either drug or weapons possession, call the attorneys at Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin, LLP today to begin preparing your defense.

Tagged as: counterfeit goods pc 350, drug crimes defense

Three Strikes in Los Angeles

Posted on: May 8, 2009 at 6:28 a.m.

Many people wonder how it's possible for someone to get a Three Strikes penalty that leads to decades in prison. People might reason that after one or two felonies, an individual might do their best to shy away from any serious offense. However, even the most well intentioned individuals can have serious problems with the law and as a result, potentially have Three Strikes issues.

For example, famed 24 actor Keifer Sutherland is in for another round of legal trouble as news outlets report that he turned himself in to the New York Police Department after an incident in a New York bar with fashion designer Jack McCullough early Tuesday morning. Sutherland reportedly head-butted McCullough, with some sources saying the force of it broke the designers nose. Witnesses say Sutherland was highly intoxicated before McCullough, who owns half of the Proenza Schouler fashion house, reportedly stepped between Sutherland and someone he was chatting with, prompting an argument. Sutherland turned himself in to face third-degree misdemeanor charges. No date has been set for Sutherlands arraignment yet and no mention as to whether the incident would be classified as assault or battery.
Sutherland has a few alcohol-related criminal convictions behind him. In 2007 Sutherland spent 48 days in a Los Angeles County jail after being convicted on a misdemeanor driving under the influence charge. Sutherland had had a similar arrest in 2004 after failing a sobriety test. While it is still too early to say with certainty, it looks as though Sutherland will most likely be facing potential jail time, probation, fines and possibly counseling as punishment for his crimes. The actors best shot at avoiding more jail time will likely be proving a lack of intent.

This is how an individual can "rack up" strikes under California's Three Strikes laws. In Los Angeles, people have gong to jail for stealing a slice of pizza and a VHS tape, with those penalties counting as third strikes. It's vital that if you're facing a Three Strikes penalty, you call a qualified Los Angeles criminal defense attorney who understands Three Strikes laws and Three Strikes penalties. An experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney knows the difference and can fight to defend you.
If you have been charged and are facing a Three Strikes violation, contact the attorneys at Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin today. Their combined 50 years of courtroom experience gives them the insight to fight criminal charges and find the best possible outcome for your case.

Tagged as: three strikes 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

Violent Crimes in Los Angeles 2

Posted on: May 6, 2009 at 6:41 a.m.

Los Angeles violent crime defense attorneys have to battle difficult laws, difficult judges and possibly juries who usually favor locking up violent offenders. The media is rarely kind to anyone accused of a violent crime in Los Angeles, and so it's up to Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys to stand for the accused. When police investigate violent crimes, they take many precautions, but act aggressively. Only a skilled Los Angeles criminal defense attorney understands police investigations well enough to be able to provide qualified legal defense services for those charged with a violent crime offense.

Recently, members of the Los Angeles Police Department have arrested three people in connection with a seemingly random shooting at a taco truck near Los Angeles International Airport last Wednesday. While the suspects names have not yet been released, witnesses say that a man with a rifle opened fire on people eating near the truck, killing 59 year-old Amador Cendejas-Cortes of Los Angeles and wounding five others. Among those wounded during the violent crime are two unidentified men, a woman and two young boys one just 12 years old. The violent crime occurred in Lennox, an unincorporated area not far from LAX. The possible causes or motives for the shooting, however, are currently unknown and being investigated by Los Angeles police.

Since the exact nature of the violent crime is still under investigation, no formal charges have been filed as of yet. It is likely that the shooter will be charged with either first- or second-degree murder, as well as several charges of assault with a firearm, all of which should be classified as felony offenses. A conviction on a first-degree murder charge in California would likely reap 25 years to life in a state prison, while a conviction of second-degree murder would be sentenced to 15 years to life in prison.

Each count of assault with a firearm would also likely add to the defendants total sentence, making it highly possible that the defendant, whoever it is, may never leave the state prison system once he enters it-if he is convicted. It is not clear what roles, if any, the two people police arrested in addition to the shooter played in the shooting and what their charges are likely to be. Murder and assault are gravely serious crimes that could land you in prison without hope of ever getting out.

If you have been charged with a violent crime, call the attorneys at Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin, LLP today to talk to someone about every legal option available to you.

Tagged as: jury trial defense

Sexual Assault at USC

Posted on: April 20, 2009 at 7:13 a.m.

Sexual assault in Los Angeles is a challenging crime, Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys regularly defend men and women in all walks of life who are charged with this crime. In Los Angeles, sexual assault can lead to years in prison, a life of shame and other consequences. Colleges in Los Angeles are, unfortunately, full of sexual assault accusations.

University of Southern Californias Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity has been suspended while Los Angeles police investigate as many as three claims of sexual assault by women who went to a party at the fraternity house this past Wednesday. One 19 year-old student told investigating police officers that she passed out from drinking while at the party and awoke to find herself partially undressed. The student believed she had been molested. Los Angeles police are currently looking for additional evidence and witnesses. Claims such as this are fairly common on college campuses, but they should never be taken lightly.

Sexual assault is usually defined as unlawful sexual touching, whether by force, restraint or intoxication that is unwanted by the victim, or upon someone physically or mentally disabled. A conviction for a sexual assault charge can be punished by up to one year in county jail, probation, fines and lifetime registration with Californias sex offender registry. Sex crimes in California are particularly serious because of the frequent requirement to register with the states sex offender registry, which is online and available for the general public to access. Anyone from a neighbor to a landlord to a potential boss can look you up and see exactly what crime you were convicted of. In that manner, sex crimes like sexual assault can follow you around well after you have completed whatever punishment a judge has handed down to you.

That is why finding an experienced criminal defense lawyer is so important if you have been charged with a sex crime. A strong criminal defense attorney knows that sex offense cases often hinge on consent, lack of witnesses and insufficient evidence. The right lawyer will look tirelessly through the body of evidence against you to see if any of it is inadmissible in court and fight hard to help you defend your good reputation.

If you have been charged with sexual assault, call the attorneys at Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin, LLP today. Their combined 50 years of courtroom experience is exactly what you need on your side when your reputation and even your freedom are at stake.

Tagged as: sex crime accusations

Hate Crimes & Murder in Los Angeles

Posted on: April 20, 2009 at 7:02 a.m.

Violent crimes in Los Angeles require a sophisticated approach to by defense attorneys. The Los Angeles criminal defense attorneysat Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin have defended numerous violent crimes, including those involving "hate crime" status. Hate crimes add penalties to crimes, and make defending such crimes even more difficult.

An ongoing murder case in Greely, Colorado is attracting attention as one of the first murders to be prosecuted as a hate crime. Colorado is currently one of 11 states in which crimes related to gender identity are classified as hate crimes and carry enhanced sentencing penalties for convictions. Allen Andrade, 32, is currently facing life in prison after bludgeoning to death the transgendered Angie Zapata. Zapata was born a male and still legally named Justin when she met Andrade online in 2008. After several days of online communication, Zapata and Andrade agreed to meet in person. They had spent a few days together in Zapatas apartment when Andrade accompanied Zapata to Greely municipal court to take care of a traffic ticket. The traffic ticket was issued in the name of Justin Zapata and that, prosecutors argue, is when Andrade discovered that Zapata was biologically male. Andrades defense attorney insists that Andrade flew into a uncontrolled rage upon discovering Zapatas true biological identity and killed Zapata, using both his fists and a fire extinguisher.

The prosecution counters that Andrade knew of Zapatas gender identity for a full 36 hours and planned to kill Zapata during that time. Andrade has admitted to killing Zapata and made several disparaging comments about homosexuality and the transgendered. In Colorado, the hate crimes statutes would add up to three additional years in prison to Andrades sentence if convicted. National gay rights groups have followed this trial closely, saying it is the first trial in which hate crimes statutes have been used to prosecute the murder of a transgendered person. California is one of the 11 states with hate crimes laws protecting gender identities. Gender is defined by both the victims actual sex or the defendants perception of the victims sex. Sexual orientation is also legally protected and both involve enhanced sentencing if convicted.

If you have been accused of a hate crime or a violent crime, contact the Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys at Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin, LLP today. Their combined 50 years of courtroom experience will fight hard to defend you.

Tagged as: jury trial defense

Sex Crimes and Politics in Los Angeles

Posted on: April 13, 2009 at 1:05 p.m.

Vernon is an unincorporated area east of downtown Los Angeles. A recent high-profile case of sex offenses has put the area in the news since it involves the son of a mayor. Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys know that defending sex offenses and sex crimes is a major challenge in Los Angeles, and being a high-profile individual can further complicate matters.

John Malburg, the 40-year-old scion of the family that founded the tiny, cloistered industrial city of Vernon, was sentenced Friday to eight years in prison after pleading guilty to sexually molesting one boy and videotaping another one for commercial purposes.

The case against Malburg, who was the dean of students at now-closed Daniel Murphy Catholic High School in the Fairfax district of Los Angeles, arose out of a public corruption investigation that involved him; his mother, Dominica, 83; and his father, Vernon Mayor Leonis Malburg, 80.

Three years ago, investigators serving search warrants in the voter fraud probe stumbled onto evidence that the younger Malburg was sexually abusing children. Authorities said one 17-year-old student appeared in a sexually explicit tape in exchange for a higher grade and money. The boy Malburg was convicted of molesting was between the ages of 10 and 15 when the abuse occurred, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Richard Taklender of the sex crimes division. Malburg had been a therapist for the boy when the abuse began, Taklender said.

A sex crime is an illegal sex act, or illegal form of human sexual behavior, as defined by the state and federal government. People who are convicted of sex crimes are called sex offenders. In the state of California, all sex offenders must list them selves on the Sex Offender Registry for an indefinite amount of time. This Registry is accessible to the public, which means that future employers, landlords, educational facilities, and neighbors will be able to obtain this information.

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: counterfeit goods pc 350, sex crime accusations

Los Angeles Immigration Raids

Posted on: April 9, 2009 at 6:23 a.m.

Los Angeles immigration raids have been made famous by the media, movies, historical texts and more. However, one dirty little secret that Los Angeles immigration defense attorneys know is that many U.S. citizens are taken into custody along with those non-citizens the federal agencies are so quick to remove.

Imagine the situation where you, either a naturally born citizen or perfectly legal immigrant, are arrested, held and not able to see your family for months because of an immigration raid. Well, just such a situation happened recently at an immigration raid in Los Angeles.

An ICE raid last year at a Van Nuys printer cartridge manufacturer, Micro Solutions Enterprises, generated wrongful-arrest claims from more than 100 citizens, said Peter Schey, chief lawyer at the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law in Los Angeles. All were held for two to three hours before being released, Schey said.

Americans seldom carry proof of their legal status, which can be a factor in the confusion about detainees' citizenship. There is no comprehensive database or list of all citizens for agents to check.

Immigration raids of factories and other work sites often result in at least a short-term detention of lawful residents and even citizens, as agents seal targeted businesses and grill workers about their status.

Officials in Washington said last month that the Obama administration was expected to rein in the controversial workplace raids -- shifting enforcement emphasis to target employers rather than workers. Immigrant advocates have long pushed for such a change, while others say easing workplace enforcement will encourage illegal immigration.

Deportation may be preventable, especially when a defendant has financial resources to bail out immediately after an arrest. In Los Angeles County, a defendant is typically transferred into Sheriff's custody from the arresting agency's jail within 48 hours of arrest. This happens ordinarily 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.

If you're facing criminal immigration challenges, contact the attorneys at Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin today.

Tagged as: immigration consequences

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

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