A 67 year old doctor was recently arrested following sexual assault allegations made by multiple female patients. Dr. Michael Popkin, who has been licensed to practice medicine in California since 1977, was alleged to have committed the assaults at his Encino office during medical exams between 2001 and 2016. Given Dr. Popkin’s 4 decades of medical practice, detectives within LAPD’s sex crimes unit are continuing their investigation hoping to locate additional victims. As it stands, Dr. Popkin is currently facing 4 sex crime charges ranging from sexual exploitation of a patient and sexual battery. If convicted Dr. Popkin could face imprisonment in county jail or state prison and lifetime sex offender registration.

Criminal Arrests Involving Licensed Professionals

Dr. Popkin’s case exemplifies the heightened consequences licensed professionals face when charged with criminal offenses. In addition to the criminal case, the Medical Board of California (MBC) will likely launch their own independent investigation into Dr. Popkin’s medical licensing. As a California state licensing agency, the MBC has the authority to conduct its own administrative investigations and independently dispense its own punishments for acts which violate the board’s code of ethics. Similar to the California DMV’s authority to suspend one’s driving privilege even without a DUI conviction in court, the MBC and other professional licensing can impose administrative sanctions upon licensees without a criminal conviction.

The California criminal offenses of “assault” and “battery” are commonly used interchangeably. However, each offense represents two different yet closely related violent crimes. The crime of assault is described under California Penal Code statute 240 as an unlawful attempt, with present ability, to commit a violent act upon another person. Conversely, described under California Penal Code statute 242, battery is a willful and unlawful use of force committed upon the person of another. Therefore, while the definition of both offenses sounds very similar, the distinguishing characteristic between the two is that the crime of assault does not require any physical contact, whereas the crime of battery does. In other words, assault can be accurately described as an attempted battery.

Are Assault & Battery Felony or Misdemeanor Charges?

Violent crimes can be charged as felonies or misdemeanors in California depending on factors such as a person’s prior criminal record, whether a weapon or firearm was used, and the extent of the victim’s injuries. While seriously injuring another person would clearly rise to felony conduct, it is possible to be charged with a felony crime without causing injuries or even making physical contact with another. Raising your fist at another in a threatening manner would constitute a misdemeanor assault. However, raising your fist with a knife in your hand in a threatening manner would constitute a more aggravated form of assault – assault with a deadly weapon. Defined under California Penal Code statute 245(a)1, assault with a deadly weapon is a wobbler offense which can be prosecuted as either a felony or misdemeanor.

Living Torah Center Chabad, a Jewish synagogue in Santa Monica, has experienced its share of anti-semitic acts over the past couple years ranging from a man interrupting a service by yelling, “Heil Hitler” to a letter containing an anti-semitic message left in the synagogue’s mailbox. The most recent incident was discovered by a Rabbi who arrived Christmas morning to the repugnant sight of feces and food smeared across the entrance. Synagogue officials believe the vandalism to be racially motivated and although Santa Monica Police Department has not officially classified the criminal act as a Hate Crime, detectives have not ruled out the possibility as their investigation continues.

In California, the property crime of vandalism is typically prosecuted as a misdemeanor offense under Penal Code statute 594(a) and is described as defacing with graffiti or an inscribed object, damaging, or destroying real or personal property that is not his or her own. However, vandalizing a building owned and occupied by a religious institution primarily used as a place of worship can be charged as felony vandalism under Penal Code 594.3(a), thus increasing the punishment range. In addition, a Hate Crime special circumstance allegation would further enhance sentencing.

Charged or investigated for vandalism?

A 49-year-old teacher has been arrested after meeting an undercover federal agent with whom he allegedly agreed to watch child pornography. According to a KTLA news report, the Covina teacher was arrested in his Royal Oak Middle School classroom. Officials say he engaged in online chats with an agent about young boys and agreed to a meeting to watch child pornography together. Investigators then allegedly found videos depicting child pornography on his computer. He faces up to 20 years in federal prison for distributing child pornography online.

It is illegal to distribute, employ minors to participate in, advertise, develop, exchange or possess child pornography. Under California law, child pornography is defined as any material that depicts minors simulating or engaging in sexual conduct. This means that any material featuring children engaged in penetration, sadomasochistic abuse, masturbation, defecation, or exhibition of genitals is illegal…
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Los Angeles DUI ArrestsDuring major holiday weekends, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department increases its efforts to crack down on drunk driving. The Daily Breeze reports that 529 people were arrested in Los Angeles County over the Memorial Day weekend this year. Furthermore, 35 DUI arrests were made in Orange County. Throughout California, 1,133 people were arrested for driving under the influence and 15 DUI-related fatalities were reported over the holiday weekend.

The Los Angeles County arrests were made as part of the “Avoid the 100 Los Angeles County DUI Campaign.” Funding for the campaign comes from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). This campaign involves a DUI task force that utilizes sobriety checkpoints and DUI saturation patrols throughout the county.

The DUI task force uses the patrols and checkpoints to arrest impaired drivers in a highly visible manner to deter drunk driving. According to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the task force will be out in full force this coming July 4 as well as the Labor Day holiday weekend.
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A former “Days of Our Lives” actor has been arrested for allegedly selling illegal drugs out of his Los Angeles County home. According to The Malibu Times, the 20-year-old actor was arrested at his Agoura Hills home for selling cocaine. It is not clear from the report how much cocaine the authorities seized. He was charged with one count of possession as well as one count of selling cocaine within 1,000 feet of an elementary school. If convicted, he faces up to nine years in state prison.

California’s drug distribution laws make it illegal to possess, transport, manufacture, and sell cocaine. Individuals charged with cocaine-related crimes could face years of incarceration and fines. These penalties are enhanced if the alleged crimes occur near a school.

Under California Health and Safety Code 11353.1 (1), defendants may face additional penalties if a drug crime involved cocaine and “occurred upon the grounds of, or within, a church or synagogue, a playground, a public or private youth center, a child day care facility, or a public swimming pool, during hours in which the facility is open for business, classes, or school-related programs, or at any time when minors are using the facility.” The enhanced punishment for a cocaine-related drug crime on school grounds can include an additional year in state prison.
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California DUI LawsUnder current federal law, it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol level of .08 percent or higher. According to a news report in The Los Angeles Times, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is calling on lawmakers to lower the legal limit from .08 to .05 percent. This move is a direct reaction to recent statistics showing that one in three highway deaths involve an alcohol-impaired driver.

Federal regulators called the problem of drunken driving an epidemic and stated that 9,978 people were killed in drunk driving accidents in the year 2011. In their plea for stricter laws, they reported that many drivers feel that it is safe to drive as long as their BAC is below .08 percent. However, the NTSB contends that a driver’s physical and mental abilities can become impaired long before the legal limit is reached. The lower blood-alcohol content recommendation is one of 19 suggestions made by the NTSB. They also recommended more high-visibility enforcement and an increase in the use of ignition interlock devices.
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A 27-year-old Los Angeles woman was arrested after rear-ending a squad car while under the influence of alcohol. According to a news report in WeHoNews.com, the car crash occurred at Santa Monica Boulevard and Orange Drive in West Hollywood. Officials say they were conducting a pedestrian stop when a vehicle rear-ended their squad car. The deputies were not hurt in the crash. The driver allegedly registered .24 and .22 blood alcohol content (BAC) readings during the preliminary alcohol screening tests, which is nearly three times the legal limit of 0.08 percent. She was treated at a nearby hospital and detained on suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI).

You can face criminal charges for driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs with a blood alcohol level of .08 percent or higher. Under California Penal Code 23152 (b), you can be found guilty of DUI if your BAC is .08 percent or greater regardless of whether you were actually under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The prosecution only has to prove that you drove a vehicle and that your BAC was above the legal limit.

There are enhanced consequences for those with a BAC of .15 percent or higher. Before 2006, enhanced penalties were reserved for drivers with a BAC of .20 percent or higher, but now individuals with a BAC of nearly twice the legal limit will face a six-month alcohol program instead of a three-month program.
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Some sex offenders are required as part of their probation to wear GPS tracking devices. It is against the law to tamper with a GPS tracker and a new bill that is currently under consideration will send offenders who remove their devices to state prison. According to a news report in The Los Angeles Times, the bill passed its first legislative committee on April 30. If it becomes law, a first offense would result in a mandatory 180 days in county jail. A second offense would result in up to one year in county jail and a third offense would be punishable by a prison sentence. If it passes, this new bill would affect about 8,000 paroled sex offenders who are currently required to wear electronic monitors.

As the law stands now, the maximum penalty you can face for removing a GPS device is 180 days in county jail. This new bill substantially increases the penalties, but it is not the toughest bill that has recently come up for debate. At least one measure backed by Republican leaders called for prison sentences for first-time offenders.
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Comedian Kevin Hart, 32, was arrested for driving under the influence after nearly crashing his Mercedes into a tanker truck. According to a CBS Los Angeles news report, he was arrested on the 101 Freeway in Los Angeles. Officials say he was traveling at speeds close to 90 mph when he nearly slammed into a gas tanker.

He allegedly failed a field sobriety test and was booked for misdemeanor DUI. Later that day, the comedian took to Twitter to discuss his situation. He wrote: “Drinking and driving is not a game or a laughing matter. People have lost lives.” He also tweeted: “This is a wake up call for me, I have to be smarter and last night I wasn’t.”
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