Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog

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

Sexual Predators & Child Pornography in Los Angeles

Posted on: March 27, 2009 at 6:35 a.m.

The city of Los Angeles is sometimes known as "porn valley" because the adult industry is primarily based in the San Fernando Valley. While pornography for those 18-years-old and over is perfectly legal, it is illegal to to create or own any images or video for those under the age of 18. Los Angeles child pornography charges are serious, and only qualified Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys should be trusted to defend anyone facing such charges.

The invention of the Internet has changed the way people live their lives. From online stores like Amazon.com to being able to catch up on your favorite television shows to online banking and bill pay, we all spend significant amounts of time on the Internet every day. Children are no exception. Neither are sexual predators. The Internet has arguably made it even easier for the exchange of child pornography and for sexual predators to find potential victims.

All forms of child pornography are illegal not only in Los Angeles, but the rest of the nation as well. For legal purposes, child pornography is usually defined as any depiction of a minor committing a sexually explicit act. While child pornography is generally either a photo or video in format, in some jurisdictions even a drawing of a child in a sexual situation would be illegal. Digital cameras and the Internet have made the spread of child pornography a multi-billion dollar business all over the world.

While other nations may or may not have laws preventing child pornography, the United States does. Anyone found in possession of such imagery or video can be charged with a criminal offense, even if they purchased it online from another country.

Soliciting sex from minors through the Internet has also been on the rise over the last decade. The abundance of online chat rooms and social networking websites make anonymity easy. Many adults can and do pose as minors on these websites before suggesting a face to face meeting with a minor they meet online. Countless cases of abduction, molestation, rape and even murder begin this way.

In some cases, adults may not even need to pose as minors, but will still solicit sex from minors they meet in online chat rooms. Even with the consent of the minor, this would still constitute statutory rape or enticement, both of which are criminal offenses. Criminal offenses that are sexual in nature have a strong stigma attached to them that lingers even after court-given punishments are completed. Many states require sex offenders to register with local law enforcement after they finish their prison terms.

In places like Los Angeles, this registry is put online and open for the public to access. Even sensitive information such as a home address is put on the registry for anyone to see. A conviction for a sexual offense may also severely limit where a person can live or work. Being charged with a criminal offense such as the possession of child pornography or soliciting sex from a minor is a potentially life-altering event that requires the skilled guidance of an experienced criminal defense attorney. With your freedom and reputation on the line, call the attorneys at Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin, LLP right away to begin preparing your defense.

Tagged as: child pornography pc 311_11

Violent Crimes in Los Angeles

Posted on: March 23, 2009 at 8:40 a.m.

Violent crimes in Los Angeles are charged as felonies and carry with them heavy consequences in Los Angeles. Los Angeles violent crime defense lawyers regularly counsel clients through investigations, trials and all manner of legal proceedings.

Being charged with a violent criminal offense in Los Angeles is a serious, often frightening experience. Since the penalties for a violent crime can be so severe, a conviction for a violent criminal offense could completely change your life.

What exactly is considered a violent crime? In the simplest terms, a violent crime is a criminal act committed with the use of violence (obviously), force or threats. Violent crimes can occur with or without the use of a weapon. Victims of violent crimes typically end up either severely injured or dead. Violent crimes are usually classified as felonies (especially if a weapon is involved) and examples can include: murder, manslaughter, attempted murder, robbery, domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, hate crimes, assault and/or battery, aggravated assault, and carjacking.

For the most serious violent crimes, such as murder, a minimum sentence would typically be 25 years in prison for a conviction while the maximum sentence imposed would be life in prison, or the death penalty since it is legal in Los Angeles. Penalties for all types of violent crimes vary depending on the individual circumstances. For instance, assault with a fist is typically punished less harshly than would be assault with a baseball bat or a knife. Penalties for robbery can be anything from two to nine years in a state prison for a conviction, while a conviction for carjacking can incur a prison sentence of between three and nine years.

Violent crimes convictions in Los Angeles have the added dimension of the inclusion of Californias "Three Strikes Law." This law has the effect of enhancing punishments depending on the prior criminal record of a defendant, sometimes doubling a prison sentence if convicted of a second or third crime. With two or more prior felony convictions, a defendant can also face the possibility of life in prison even if the crime they are currently on trial for would not otherwise merit such a punishment.

When you find yourself in a situation where the rest of your life could be spent in prison, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney. If you have been accused of a violent crime, call the attorneys at Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin, LLP immediately. Their combined 50 years of experience in criminal defense has taught them the importance of details in each individual case and how those details can possibly save you from life in prison.

Tagged as: jury trial defense

Statutory Rape in Los Angeles

Posted on: March 19, 2009 at 12:16 p.m.

Los Angeles rape charges are serious, most people know that. Los Angeles statutory rape charges are also serious, and any Los Angeles rape defense attorney will tell you that there are serious consequences that go along with statutory rape.

Everybody knows that the difference between a rape charge or allegation and normal life is consent. There are, however, some instances where readily given consent does not legally apply to a sexual situation. Statutory rape is one such instance. In Los Angeles, the legal age of adulthood is generally 18, and anyone under the age of 18 is considered a minor. In most states, including California, this is also the legal age at which someone can consent to a sexual act with another person over the age of 18.

If one of the people involved in a particular sex act is over the age of 18 and one is not, this generally constitutes statutory rape and can incur a criminal charge. Even within this situation, however, there is a three year "window." Most Los Angeles statutory rape defense attorneys will tell you that in order to avoid a statutory rape charge in a situation involving a minor, both participants must be no more than three years. For example, if one of the participants is 17 and one is 21, then there are grounds for a statutory rape charge, unlike a situation where one participant is 19 and one is 16. Even a situation involving a 15 year old and an 18 year old would technically be allowable by legal standards. Charges for statutory rape in Los Angeles can be brought up both by the victims parents and the state, even if the victim insists that the act was consensual. The laws in this case do not view the victim as old enough to have given consent to a sex act without qualification and attempt to keep minors from being taken advantage of sexually by an adult, or even an older minor. Some statistics estimate that of the average age difference between a teen victim of statutory rape and an adult defendant is seven years and nine months.

Sex crimes are rigorously prosecuted and punished in California and statutory rape is no exception. The majority of sex offenses are classified as felonies and can incur punishments such as several years in a state or county jail, community service, heavy monetary fines, probation or parole and lifetime registration with Californias sex offender registry. If you have been accused of statutory rape, call the attorneys at Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin, LLP right away to begin preparing your case.

Tagged as: sex crime accusations

Assault vs. Battery

Posted on: March 17, 2009 at 2:25 p.m.

Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys get asked a variety of questions by people who want to learn about the law. There are many crimes in Los Angeles that seem similar, but that quite different. Our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys represent numerous clients charged with assault and/or battery, but who often don't know the difference between the two.

Most people hear the words "assault and battery" and think they know what that means physically attacking someone. That definition is really only partially true, especially in Los Angeles.

Historically, assault has been defined as the threat of violence coupled with the ability to carry out that threat, whether that threat is made verbally or through a persons actions. Battery has more often been seen as the actual act of violence against someone. While many states today do not make much of a distinction between assault and battery, in Los Angeles they are seen as separate crimes and charged and punished accordingly.

Simple assault, which includes both threats and attempts to cause injury to another person, is almost always a misdemeanor charge. Simple battery, the willful and unlawful use of force or violence against another person is classified either as a misdemeanor or felony offense, depending on the circumstances and the amount of damage caused. Assault and battery both serve as types of "umbrella" classifications that include other criminal offenses.

Sexual assault and battery offenses require both threat of unwanted sexual contact as well as physical contact that was not consented to by the victim. This offense in particular is very serious as not only can you be punished by possible jail time if convicted, but you may also be required to register with Californias sex offender registry for life.

Assault with a deadly weapon and assault with a firearm also include the threat or attempt of violence. The difference here is that a deadly weapon can be almost anything but a firearm, but both a firearm and a deadly weapon are likely to produce great bodily harm. Either can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, but a conviction for an assault with a deadly weapon charge will count as a "strike" under Californias "Three Strikes" laws. Battery with injury is an act of physical violence that injures another person and can be a misdemeanor or a felony. Domestic violence that results in an injury is also classified as battery. Mayhem (disabling or disfiguring a victims body or part of their body) and torture (causing cruel or extreme pain or suffering by inflicting great bodily injury) are also in the group of offenses under battery, and are usually charged as felonies.

Assault and/or battery charges are taken very seriously in Los Angeles and the punishments can be severe: county or state prison time, a permanent criminal record, significant monetary fines, probation, parole, mandatory anger management classes, losing the right to own a deadly weapon, the lifetime loss of eligibility for a California drivers license, and the loss of eligibility for certain jobs. Each assault or battery case is different, and each should be treated with special care. An experienced criminal defense attorney will know what details to look for in order to get the best possible outcome for you. If you have been charged with an assault or battery offense, call the Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys at Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin, LLP right away to begin preparing your defense.

Tagged as: jury trial defense

Drug Arrests in Los Angeles International Airport

Posted on: March 11, 2009 at 10:50 a.m.

In Los Angeles, drug penalties can be a serious challenge; however, when drug offenses occur at Los Angeles International Airport, any Los Angeles criminal defense attorney will tell you that the problems are compounded. Los Angeles drug offense attorneys know that the drug laws involving airport infractions are more complicated than at other locations.

Many people assume that celebrities get preferential treatment when it comes to drug issues. However, the recent arrest of rapper Coolio (real name Artis Leon Ivey, Jr.) is evidence that even the rich and famous can get caught in the wrong. The 45 year-old rapper, best known for his 1995 hit single, "Gangstas Paradise," was arrested last Friday at Los Angeles International Airport when security screeners found drugs and drug paraphernalia in his luggage.

Ivey is officially charged with one count of felony possession, one misdemeanor count of possession of drug paraphernalia and one misdemeanor count of battery as he grabbed a security screeners arm just before his bags were searched. Ivey was released after posting $10,000 bail and is scheduled to be arraigned April 3rd and faces up to three years in prison if convicted.

In Los Angeles, possession of any illegal drugs or controlled substances without a prescription is a criminal offense, as is the possession of drug paraphernalia. For most controlled substances, possession for personal use is classified as a felony, with the notable exception of marijuana, which is generally classified as a misdemeanor. Possession of drug-related paraphernalia or being caught under the influence of any illegal drug or controlled substance without a prescription are both generally misdemeanor offenses.

Most drug offense penalties depend on a variety of factors including the quantity and type of drug used (or found, in this case), whether the drugs in question were for personal use or sale, and the prior criminal record of the defendant, especially as it relates to drug offenses. Media outlets have reported that the drug found in Iveys luggage was cocaine, which will obviously carry a greater penalty than would a "lesser" drug such as marijuana. The rappers last criminal offense occurred in June of 2008 when he was arrested on an outstanding warrant for driving with a suspended license.

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 drug 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, we do everything possible to make sure that they receive the attention, resources, and dedicated legal counsel that they deserve.

Tagged as: counterfeit goods pc 350, drug crimes defense

Surprising Culprits of Child Pornography

Posted on: March 10, 2009 at 12:50 p.m.

Los Angeles is home to the San Fernando Valley, also known as Porn Valley to some. Along with the adult industry comes a highly illegal crime known as child pornography. Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers regularly defend those accused of and charged with child pornography charges. Child pornography (sometimes abbreviated CP) refers to images or films depicting sexually explicit activities involving a child; as such, child pornography is a visual record of child sexual abuse. In the United States, child pornography is illegal under federal law and in all cities and states, including Los Angeles, CA.

Many people have an image of a dirty old man in an overcoat kidnapping little children to make child pornography, but in reality the situation is often much different and much harder to interpret. For example, a former New Jersey lawmaker who once championed bills aimed at fighting child pornography pleaded not guilty Tuesday to child porn and official misconduct charges in his first public appearance since the state began investigating him in July.

A judge determined Neil Cohen is not a flight risk, so he can remain free without bail with restrictions. He's not allowed to "loiter or linger" around playgrounds or schools, have unsupervised contact with children under 16 or use the Internet for purposes other than business.

In Los Angeles, child pornography charges can lead to serious jail time, heavy fines and a permanent place on the sex offense registry for California.

Our Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyers aggressively defend charges of Child Pornography, and have utilized the latest court ruling in California interpreting Penal Code Section 311.11. The ruling states that an individual who possesses multiple images of child pornography on a computer can only be convicted of one count of possessing such images. In other words, if the police recover a computer with multiple images from suspects home, the defendant can only be charged with one criminal violation.

Tagged as: child pornography pc 311_11

President Obama's Marijuana Policy Changes

Posted on: March 9, 2009 at 8:02 a.m.

If there is an area of criminal law in Los Angeles that regularly frustrates Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys it is the area of law regarding medical marijuana. Medical marijuana lawyers are constantly battling between state and federal regulations, and during the Bush Administration there were major challenges. Now however, under President Obama, the policy regarding medical marijuana in Los Angeles may have taken a major turn.

With the recent change in presidents comes a very big shift in attitude towards marijuana. In late February of this year, newly-appointed Attorney General Eric Holder stated that President Obama intended to end many of the practices the Bush administration had used in regard to marijuana patients and providers.

Under the Bush administration, federal law enforcement officials can and did frequently arrest marijuana users and providers, as well as raid medical marijuana dispensaries, even in states like California where they were legal under state law. President Obama intends to honor states rights by allowing the 13 states that currently allow marijuana use for medical purposes to continue to do so without fear of federal law enforcement intervention.

While President Obama strictly maintains that he is not in favor of legalizing marijuana, a White House statement issued several weeks ago stated "The President believes that federal resources should not be used to circumvent state laws," and is expected to appoint new members for his drug policy team that are of the same opinion. The new presidents administration is expected to encourage each state to determine their own policies regarding marijuana and its use, which is a clear departure from policies in the Bush administration.

Unlike the previous president, Obama intends to mostly treat the majority of drug use as a health issue instead of a criminal justice issue, a sentiment he often voiced during his campaign for the presidency. The implications of this policy change could reach far and wide in California where it is currently a misdemeanor to be found in possession of marijuana and a felony to be found manufacturing or distributing the substance without a medical exemption.

With the application of federal law somewhat in flux, marijuana-related criminal charges in California require some delicate handling. If you have been charged with a crime relating to marijuana, contact a qualified criminal defense attorney immediately to begin reviewing the facts of your case.

With 50 years criminal defense experience, Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin specializes in successfully defending charges related to the Sales and Transportation of Marijuana (Penal Code Section 11360), Possession for Sale (Penal Code Section 11359), and Possession (Penal Code Section 11357). Our Los Angeles medical marijuana law firm has been recognized as a Top 5% U.S. Law Firm based on peer reviews from other attorneys, judges, and prosecutors, in the area of legal ethics, professionalism, and judgment. We have vast experience in defending all criminal matters including drug cases involving very large quantities of marijuana.

Tagged as: los angeles medical marijuana attorney

Gang-Related Crimes in Los Angeles

Posted on: March 3, 2009 at 12:16 p.m.

In the city of Los Angeles, gangs and gang-related crimes have become a harsh reality. Law enforcement target gangs more and more everyday, which often leads to innocent people being caught up in a widely thrown legal net. Having a qualified and experienced Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer by your side during a trial can make all the difference. A Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer will also be a major asset during criminal investigations, police questioning and pre-trial proceedings.

Historically, gang-related violence in Los Angeles has a strong tie to economics: as the economy goes down, gang violence tends to go up. If historical trends hold true, then Los Angeles may see a serious surge of gang violence in the next few years. Most of what we hear in the media about gang violence deals with homicides. A well-publicized story in March of 2008 involved an African American high school football player being shot and killed, allegedly by a Latino gang member.

Gang-related criminal charges are very often more than just homicide and can include drug possession, distribution or trafficking, weapons possession, money laundering, racketeering, smuggling, intimidation, robbery, kidnapping, rape and prostitution. None of these are charges to be taken lightly, and in a city such as Los Angeles, which has a long history of fighting gang-related crime, can be punished quite severely. Los Angeles in particular has several times issued gang injunctions, in essence suing gang members.

In a gang injunction, after evidence is gathered from local law enforcement officials and community members, a judge signs the order, which amounts to a restraining order, restricting the activities of every person named in the injunction. In most cases, the injunction stipulates that the people named may not associate with each other, wear certain types of clothing, make certain hand gestures, possess weapons, vandalize property or do drugs within a specified geographic area. Most of these activities are already illegal, so violating the injunction would constitute contempt of court and would add to the punishment issued from a conviction of another crime.

While the American Civil Liberties Union has argued many times against the unconstitutionality of gang injunctions, other cities in California and across the nation have adopted gang injunctions as a way to curtail gang activity. In Los Angeles alone, there are currently 33 gang injunctions against 50 gangs, covering roughly 11,000 people. Gang-related crime is prosecuted very heavily in Los Angeles, with punishments often including several years in prison.

If you are being charged with a gang-related crime, finding a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney with experience in gang crimes is the most important thing you can do for yourself.

Tagged as: gang allegations

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