Articles Posted in Criminal Defense

Comedian and actor Katt Williams has followed up his recent spate of arrests by not appearing in court for an incident involving a police chase. On November 25, 2012 Williams led police on a chase through Sacramento while riding a three-wheeled motorcycle on the wrong side of the road. He was arrested on December 8, 2012 for that incident but was released after posting bail.

He was arrested again on December 28, 2012 for child endangerment after police found large quantities of illegal drugs and weapons in his home. All of his four children were taken away. According to a news report in The International Business Times, Williams was arrested the night of January 8, 2013 at his Los Angeles home for failing to appear in court in connection with the Sacramento incident. He is being held on $105,000 bail.
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The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is currently enforcing a zero-tolerance policy regarding misconduct. According to a news report in The Huffington Post, this policy involves the creation of “teacher jail,” in which teachers are reassigned to office or administrative duty until their investigation concludes.

Officials say there are nearly 300 teachers who are currently collecting pay but are not being allowed to actually teach because of pending investigations. Many of these teachers were reportedly involved in alleged incidents as minor as tapping a student’s stomach or grabbing a student’s arm.

It is important to protect our children from dangerous sexual predators, but many have said that the current crackdown in LAUSD is nothing more than an unreasonable witch-hunt. It is not clear how many of the teachers who are currently not allowed to teach will face actual criminal charges.

The LAUSD’s actions were in response to two serious incidents that occurred this year. The first arrest involved a Miramonte Elementary School teacher who was accused of sexual misconduct against 23 students. Those allegations resulted in the removal of the entire school staff. A more recent incident involved a teacher at Telfair Elementary School who was arrested and sentenced to jail for molesting students.
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Los Angeles Law Enforcement LawsuitAccording to a news report in the Los Angeles Times, a lawsuit filed by legal scholars and civil rights attorneys alleges that Los Angeles County prosecutors and Sheriff’s officials have concealed both complaints about law enforcement misconduct and important evidence from defendants in criminal cases. The lawsuit cites several specific cases in which authorities purportedly failed to disclose information about misconduct complaints “filed by inmates against deputies who were to be witnesses in criminal cases,” and alleges that similar evidence may have been kept hidden in potentially thousands of cases.

In addition to the lawsuit, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Southern California submitted a state bar complaint against the county district attorney calling for a civil grand jury investigation. The complaint also calls for an independent counsel to review cases that have resulted in convictions since “controversial policies” have been enacted. The lawsuit claims to go to the heart of the legal duty prosecutors have to ensure defendants receive a fair trial by disclosing information that is beneficial to the defense.

The district attorney’s office and the Sheriff’s Department have denied the allegations, stating that the lawsuit mischaracterizes how they decide what evidence is turned over. The Los Angeles County District Attorney claimed in an official statement that the lawsuit is an obvious “attempt to mislead the public and the court,” adding that he is confident that the policies of the office comply with the highest constitutional and legal standards.

California residents have certain rights when dealing with the authorities. Having a basic understanding of your legal rights under California law can help you protect yourself if you are arrested, accused of a crime, or simply stopped by the police. Individuals have different rights depending on whether they are in or outside of their home.

If a law enforcement officer arrives at your home, you have the right to keep your door closed. You have the right to refuse entry to your home to any officer who does not have a warrant to search the premises. If the officer has a warrant, you have the right to review it. If you choose to allow an officer into your home, anything they find may be used against you in court. If you refuse to let them in, they will have to obtain a warrant. If they return with a search warrant, it is important to remember that the warrant gives them the right to search your home, but you maintain your right to remain silent.

If a police officer stops you outside of your home, you have the right to ask the officer if you are free to go. If the officer refuses to let you go, you have the right to remain silent beyond providing your name and identification. Remember, anything you choose to say to an officer may be used against you in court. It is your right to refuse to speak with the authorities until your attorney is present.

The criminal record system in California is supposed to serve as an accurate report of criminal convictions. Companies that involve children, such as schools and daycare facilities for example, perform extensive background checks on their employees as they should, to keep children safe from violent offenders and sexual predators. According to a recent article in The Los Angeles Times, the California criminal records system, which almost all employers rely heavily on during the hiring process, is rife with errors and inaccuracies.

The report goes on to list a number of problems with the criminal records system. Information about a number of convictions has never been entered. Additionally, there are about 7.7 million cases where the cases’ outcome is not listed. This means that if someone was wrongfully charged, but acquitted, they could still have a criminal record – even if their charges were dismissed. It is not clear how many people have been affected as a result of these inaccuracies.

There are many consequences of being charged with a serious crime in Southern California. Anyone facing criminal charges would be well advised to seek legal guidance from a skilled criminal defense attorney. The stakes of a criminal conviction or having a criminal record are extremely high.

Experience is probably one of the most important attributes, if not the most important attribute, one should look for in a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney. Before you retain the services of a criminal defense lawyer – regardless of whether you are facing a misdemeanor of felony charge – it is important that you establish the attorney’s credibility and track record in handling similar cases. Failure to do so might prove costly, as a man defending murder charges in Washington D.C. recently found out.

According to a news report in The Washington Post, a Washington D.C. Superior Court judge recently declared a mistrial in a 2008 murder case and allowed the defendant to fire his attorney. The judge was apparently angered by the defense attorney’s lack of knowledge of proper trial procedure. The judge specifically pointed out the fact that the defense attorney told jurors during opening statements that he had never tried a case before. Among other acts of misconduct, the defense lawyer reportedly told an investigator in an e-mail to “trick” a government witness into testifying in court that she did not see his client at the murder scene.

The attorney’s acts were obviously shocking to the judge, not to mention his own client, who placed his life in the hands of this man. In felony cases, including those that involve sex crimes, drug charges or violent crime charges, the stakes are extremely high. Defendants, if convicted, are looking at lengthy prison sentences, fines and a potentially damaged reputation.

While infamous actress Lindsay Lohan faces felony charges stemming from the disappearance of a $2,500 necklace from a Venice, CA boutique in January, she has spent the past week in New York City, and according to sources, visited seven different nightclubs in just four days. Reports differ on whether or not the actress consumed alcohol while out on the town. Lohan is due to appear in court in Los Angeles on Friday, March 25, regarding whether she will accept the plea deal offered to her in the necklace theft case or go to court, possibly facing jail time.

Even without drinking, could the actress get into any legal trouble for her antics? According to the rules of her probation, which relate to her DUI case from last year, Lohan is not permitted to go to a place where alcohol is the main item of sale.

When interviewed by People.com regarding Lindsay Lohan’s situation, Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer Steve Sitkoff stated it was a gray area. He said, “A prosecutor could very well collect evidence that Lohan’s been frequenting these places as grounds for a probation violation or having her bail revoked, which could lead to jail time.” Sitkoff added, “However, the definition of a place where alcohol is the chief item of sale is sometimes murky, especially if the establishment also doubles as a restaurant.”

With state and city budgets getting tighter, more and more cities and law enforcement agencies in the OC are relying on the Orange County crime lab to analyze evidence relating to several crimes, including high-profile murders and sexual assaults. According to a news report in The Orange County Register, Huntington Beach recently became the last of several Orange County law enforcement agencies to shut down city labs that deal with drug analysis. This move makes the county lab the only one left in the area to handle such services.

Officials say that the county lab has been able to operate without backlogs despite the recent increase in its workload. The county lab offers several forensic-related services, including DNA processing, ballistics, and drug and alcohol-testing. Needless to say, these services are extremely valuable. Running a crime lab is a costly operation due to the costly equipment that is required as well as the expertise that is necessary to make such complex analyses.

If you have been charged with a serious crime in Orange County, it is very likely that forensic evidence of some type is involved. Whether your charges involve drunk driving, drugs, burglary, sexual assault, or homicide, physical evidence is an extremely important part of a criminal case. Physical evidence in a criminal case can make the difference between incarceration and acquittal.

California Penal Code 273 was amended in January 2011 to expand the penalties for the abuse of a child under the age of 8. Under the revised law, those found guilty of abusing a child who is 8 years of age or under, causing the child major bodily injuries or death, could now face harsher penalties.

California Penal Code Section 273 (a) was created to penalize individuals who are found guilty of causing great bodily injury resulting in the death of a child in their custody under the age of 8. Anyone convicted of this crime could face 25 years to life in prison. California Penal Code 283a (b) now extends these same penalties to individuals whose offense against a child causes a comatose condition due to brain injury or permanent paralysis.

Child abuse is a serious problem in our society. There is no question that individuals who cause serious harm to young children must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. However, if you have been falsely accused of child abuse or if you have been arrested because of a misunderstanding, you deserve to have those charges aggressively defended. The consequences and penalties for a conviction of child abuse are life-changing.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a serious problem for veterans returning from war. Many residents in California are suffering from complicated mental disorders because of their time spent in stressful and life-threatening situations in war-stricken nations. The state of California has enacted Assembly Bill 674 to handle criminal cases involving veterans differently then those of a regular citizen. Under the new law, the court must hold a hearing to determine if the alleged crime occurred because of a service person’s time spent in war.

California Penal Code Section 1170.9 states: “In the case of any person convicted of a criminal offense who could otherwise be sentenced to county jail or state prison and who alleges that he or she committed the offense as a result of sexual trauma, traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, or mental health problems stemming from service in the United States military, the court shall, prior to sentencing, make a determination as to whether the defendant was, or currently is, a member of the United States military and whether the defendant may be suffering from health problems as a result of that service.”

Veterans determined to be suffering from mental health issues because of time spent in combat may be eligible for nonprofit treatment care instead of probation or jail time if they are convicted of a crime.

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