Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog

Firearms Criminal Defense: Simulated Weapon Qualifies for Personal Use Enhancement, Penal Code Section 12022.53

Posted on: August 13, 2008 at 11:10 p.m.

The personal use of a firearm in the course of another crime carries long criminal sentences in California. Using a gun during a robbery, burglary, or another serious felony carries 10 years, 20 years, or 25 years to life, as an ehancement to the underlying criminal sentence. Of course, the prosecution must first prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury.

A recent appeals decision addresses a criminal case where where a defendant commits a robbery by displaying an object that looks like a gun. The court reasoned that because the object

Tagged as: federal law and defense

The Complexity of Child Pornography Cases

Posted on: August 12, 2008 at 9:17 a.m.

Lindsay, CA, a town roughly 200 miles north of Los Angeles, has an increasingly complex case involving a man accused of viewing child pornography at a public library.

The basic details are that, allegedly, then-assistant librarian Brenda Biesterfeld of the Lindsay Library found Donny Crisler viewing images of child pornography on one of the library's computers. Biesterfeld reported it to her superior who allegedly did nothing about it, which led her to report it to the police. After Crisler, who was caught allegedly viewing child pornography, was arrested, it was discovered that he was deaf and dumb. Biesterfeld was fired after the event, which she alleges was because of her actions in reporting the infraction to the police. However, the library alleges the event had nothing to do with her firing.

In July, the court ruled that Donny Crisler had to take a psychological evaluation, for which a sign language interpreter is needed. This puts the criminal case against Crisler at a stand still until his ability to competantly participate in his own defense is evaluated.

Recently, a member of the California Assembly recently passed a bill through the Assembly Public Safety Committee regarding child pornography which requires offenders convicted of possession of child pornography to register as sex offenders and which expands the list of qualifying offenses permitting offenders convicted of possession of child pornography with prior sex offense convictions to receive enhanced penalties to include all offenses that require registration as a sex offender. Under current law, such offenders DO NOT have to register as sex offenders.

Tagged as: child pornography pc 311_11

Unauthorized Practice of Law is Criminallly Prosecuted

Posted on: August 11, 2008 at 11:17 p.m.

While these criminal offenses are rarely seen in Los Angeles criminal courts, the crimes of Unauthorized Practice of Law, and similarly the Unauthorized Practice of Medicine, are in fact prosecuted in Southern California as violations of the California Penal Code, and the California Business and Professions Code. The offenses carry the possibility of jail time, fines, and even prison if victims demonstrate they were defrauded or suffered substantial pecuniary harm.

Oftentime, unsuspecting clients may be hurt by individuals posing as trained lawyers or doctors. An aggressive courtroom defense, or plea negotiations, are typically pursued of those who are criminally accused.

Recently the State Bar shut down a Montebello company accused of providing immigration legal services without a law license. The raid took place after the State Bar obtained the interim order pursuant to Business and Professions Code Sec. 6126.3. The law, which entered into effect in January 2006, allows a judge, on the petition of the State Bar, to grant the bar jurisdiction over a law practice if there is probable cause to believe that the practice is being illegally operated by a non-lawyer and that a client or other interested party is likely to be harmed if the practice continues.

Immediately after the order was issued, a team of State Bar investigators entered the company's offices and seized client files, served a court order on several banks to freeze the company

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

Los Angeles Immigration Courts

Posted on: August 11, 2008 at 10:32 a.m.

The LA Times reported that the number of immigrants landing in Los Angeles Immigration Court has surged in recent years, while the number of judges has remained about the same, causing crushing caseloads and lengthy delays.

Los Angeles immigration judges heard 27,200 cases last fiscal year, up from about 17,800 in 2000. In the last fiscal year alone, the number of immigration cases rose nearly 40%.

On a recent day in Los Angeles Immigration Court, one judge had 44 cases on the docket. Every seat was filled, and a crowd waited in the hall. The judge heard the cases quickly, getting updates, asking questions and setting new court dates -- sometimes six months in the future.

Immigration is intertwined with a number of criminal matters in Los Angeles, from outstanding warrants for homicide to gang activity. A frequently encountered issue with Immigration proceedings and criminal law is an old conviction, or probation case, which has raised a red flag with the INS.

Adding to the complication of criminal matters involving immigration is LAPD's controversial Special Order 40, which prevents officers from checking on the immigration status of suspects in most cases. This law was brought up during the murder trial involving slain high school football star Jamiel Shaw Jr. Shaw was killed by a gang member who was found to have been living illegally in this country for more than a decade.

The attorneys at Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin, LLP are experienced in handling both criminal and immigration matters. They are especially skilled with the various state and federal laws governing immigration.

Tagged as: immigration consequences

Federal Government Begins Immigration Plan

Posted on: August 8, 2008 at 12:32 p.m.

Federal authorities launched a pilot program this month which allows noncriminal illegal immigrants with final deportation orders to surrender rather than face possible arrest and detention.

Two Southern California cities -- Santa Ana and San Diego -- are among five cities nationwide where immigrants can turn themselves in until to August 22.

Some individuals will be given up to 90 days before being required to leave the country, and the agency will pay for the plane tickets for some.

500,000 are eligible to participate in the program, which was developed to see if it would be more effective that early morning raids on shops and factories.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement said it will continue to track down fugitives in Southern California and throughout the nation, arresting and removing immigrants who have criminal records or who have failed to abide by deportation orders. Last fiscal year, fugitive operations teams arrested more than 19,000 immigrants nationwide, including more than 15,600 who did not have criminal records.

The mass arrests of immigrants thoughout the nation are highly controversial, and Rep. Joe Baca (D-Rialto), head of the Hispanic caucus, pointed to charges that the workers did not have proper access to lawyers and were pushed into guilty pleas.

"The way the raids took place," he said, raising a copy of the Bill of Rights, "you'd think none of this was true."

The attorneys at Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin, LLP are experienced in dealing with INS, Federal immigration authorities and the court system in immigration matters. For more information, please contact them today.

Tagged as: immigration consequences

Detroit Mayer Demonstrates Pitfalls of Bail Bonds

Posted on: August 7, 2008 at 1:49 p.m.

Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was arrested and sent to jail for violating the terms of his bail bond, which forbid him from traveling to Canada without informing the court.

Traditionally, bail is some form of property deposited or pledged to a court in order to persuade it to release a suspect from jail, on the understanding that the suspect will return for trial or forfeit the bail (and be guilty of the crime of failure to appear).

In most cases bail money will be returned at the end of the trial, if all court appearances are made, no matter whether the person is found guilty or not guilty of the crime accused.

- Recognizance

Tagged as: bail and release

Sex Crimes Defense in California: Conviction Reversed due to Withheld Evidence at Trial

Posted on: August 6, 2008 at 9:11 p.m.

The failure to disclose evidence by a criminal prosecutor is a defense attorney's fear. Is a prosecutor willing to win at any cost, so that he or she will hide or fail disclose evidence favorable to a criminal defense attorney? While in practice in Los Angeles courts this phenomenon is rare, a recent criminal law case addressed what happens when evidence is withheld from the defense.
Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers have many tools to prevent a prosecutor from hiding the ball, including filing informal and formal discovery motions pursuant to Penal Code Section 1054.

Specifically the California Court of Appeal ruled a videotape of the medical examination of the alleged victim of a sexual assault, in the possession of a medical professional who works with police and prosecutors, should have been turned over to defense lawyers as potentially exculpatory evidence. The justices said the tape might have been helpful to attorneys for Agustin S. Uribe because it supported a defense expert

Tagged as: motion to dismiss unlawful police search, police misconduct, sex crime accusations

New Federal Internet Crime Statutes and Powers

Posted on: August 5, 2008 at 12:26 p.m.

An Internet crime is crime committed on the Internet, using the Internet and by means of the Internet.

Computer crime is a general term that embraces such crimes as phishing, credit card frauds, bank robbery, illegal downloading, industrial espionage, child pornography, kidnapping children contacted via chat rooms, harassment, scams, cyberterrorism, creation and/or distribution of viruses, spam, identity theft and so on. The federal government passed a law recently which strengthens the ability of federal prosecutors who fight Internet crime by removing some of the

Tagged as: high profile defense, internet crimes defense

Text Messaging as Trial Evidence? Constitutional Right to Privacy Protection

Posted on: August 4, 2008 at 9:18 p.m.

Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys are coming across cell phone and text messaging evidence more and more in court. The evidence connects parties to crimes, established relationships, and provides actual language/conversations between people - without a wiretap order. Recently the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that users of text-messaging services have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the contents of copies of messages the service provider stores on its network.

A three-judge panel ruled unanimously that the Ontario Police Department violated the Fourth Amendment rights of one of its officers and three others with whom he had exchanged text messages on a department-issued pager when it obtained transcripts of the messages from the service provider and reviewed their contents in order to determine whether a monthly overage charge resulted from personal use.The officer

Tagged as: motion to dismiss unlawful police search, probation and sentencing laws

Recent Los Angeles Violent Crimes, Hate Crime Allegations (Penal Code Section 422)

Posted on: August 4, 2008 at 11:30 a.m.

A violent brawl involving four white kids, one Mexican man, alcohol and ethnic slurs ended in the death of 25-year-old Luis Ramirez and murder and assault chargers for the four whites. Violent crimes with racial overtones can often involve "hate crime" charges, which can bring heavier sentences for the accused if convicted.

In this particular instance, a fight broke out amongst the men, most of whom were drunk, wherein the four white individuals used a number of slurs which incited Mr. Ramirez. Ramirez was beaten so severely that he died in the hospital two days after he was found. Two of the young white men were charged with murder, and all will face serious jail time even though two are under the age of 18.

California Penal Code Section 422.6.(a) states

Tagged as: jury trial defense

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