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30 Years of Daily Courtroom Experience
Los Angeles Criminal Lawyers Blog
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If you are going through a dissolution, it will be handled by the Family Law Court. This court is very different from the criminal court. The laws are different, procedures are different, and the Judges are different. If you are going through a dissolution, it is highly recommended that you consult with a Family Law attorney along with an experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer.

Although the two cases are different, and will be heard in two different courtrooms by two different Judges, the orders made in either may affect both cases. There are many different ways a conviction can affect your dissolution case.

Custody and Visitation

If you have minor children, the family law court will hear the issue of custody and visitation. They will determine what the parenting plan will be for the two of you to share time with your children. If you have been convicted of a domestic violence, then there will be a cause for concern by the court and can limit, restrict or prohibit time with your children.

Domestic Violence Restraining Order

If you have been convicted of a domestic violence, it may be grounds for the victim to obtain a domestic violence restraining order against you. This means that the court can technically prohibit any kind of contact with your significant other, your children and possibly even your home and other property. This can cause an endless array of problems for you in not only the technical sense, but in regards to your restrictions in going about your daily activities and earning a living.

Spousal support

If you are convicted of a domestic violence charge, it can be grounds for denying you spousal support, even if you are entitled to it. Family Code §4320 gives the Family Court authority to deny any kind of support, or deny support requests made by a party that has been convicted of domestic violence against the other party.

A domestic violence charge can lead to an endless array of issues, not only in criminal court, but also in family court. If you find yourself in this situation, it is very important to obtain a family law attorney, as well as a criminal defense attorney so that the two may work together to prepare strategy and defenses. Properly addressing the case and being prepared can make a huge difference in the overall outcome of both matters. Do not hesitate, make the smart move and consult with a legal professional as soon as possible!

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When you have been arrested on suspicion of having committed a criminal offense, you will be issued a citation. The citation will contain the date in which you have to appear in court, the courthouse, the law that you have violated, and whether the charge is an infraction, felony, or misdemeanor. It is important to understand the dynamic of each, and to understand that some charges can be charged as either.

At the time of the arrest, the officer will give you the citation and he, or she, will determine what the level of the citation will be. However, the prosecutor’s office will determine whether you will be charged, and whether that charge will be changed from what is stated on your citation.

For example, if you have been arrested for driving under the influence, the citation may read, VC 23152, Misdemeanor. This means that you are being charged under California Vehicle Code §23152, as a misdemeanor. Each level carries with it its own characteristics, and can be reduced with the right arguments and defenses.

A felony charge is the highest level. Felony charges almost always carry with them jail time and high fine. Oftentimes, those charged with felonies remain in custody. A felony will also require that you appear in court whether you have an attorney or not. You always want to avoid a felony charge on your record.

Misdemeanors are the in between. The can potentially have jail time, or high fines, but it will depend on the actual offense, your criminal background, and the facts of the case. For example, if you are charged with a first offense DUI, and it is a misdemeanor, your fine may be high but you may not serve any jail time. However, if you are charged with a second offense misdemeanor, some jail time may be mandatory based upon the fact that you have a prior.

An infraction is the least of all criminal offenses. It includes no jail time, and is generally just a low fine. An infraction will also not remain on your record and you are not required to disclose it on applications. Traffic tickets are infractions.

A charge can be reduces to a misdemeanor from a felony, or an infraction from a misdemeanor, if the statute allows for it. For example, drunk and disorderly conduct, which is generally a misdemeanor can be reduced to a disturbing the peace charge which can be an infraction. In fact, a person who is charged with disturbing the peace as a misdemeanor can be reduced to a disturbing the peace infraction.

It is crucial to have an experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense lawyer on your team, especially when the result can be a reduction in charge. Having your charge reduced can make a huge difference to the consequences you may face with a conviction, so don’t take any chances!

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 California Penal Code §647 defines several different scenarios in which a person may be charged with lewd or lascivious conduct.

One of the most common scenarios in which many of our clients find themselves, is when they are charged with drunk and disorderly conduct. The relevant code section under California Penal Code §647 (f) reads:

“who is found in any public place under the influence of intoxicating liquor, any drug, controlled substance, toluene, or any combination of any intoxicating liquor, drug, controlled substance, or toluene, in a condition that he or she is unable to exercise care for his or her own safety or the safety of others, or by reason of his or her being under the influence of intoxicating liquor, any drug, controlled substance, toluene, or any combination of any intoxicating liquor, drug, or toluene, interferes with or obstructs or prevents the free use of any street, sidewalk, or other public way”

There are several different elements to a drunk and disorderly conduct charge, as outlined in the code section. Prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:

  1. A person is found in a public place
  2. Under the influence
  3. In a condition that he or she is unable to exercise care for his or her own safety, or the safety of others
  4. OR interferes with or obstructs or prevents free use of any street, sidewalk or public way.

Lets consider an example. Danny is outside of a bar. He is clearly intoxicated. He is unable to get into the bar so he is sitting outside on a bench. He is sitting to the side of the bench, and is quietly drinking water hoping to sober up. The bench is next to sidewalk and placed there for the purpose of sitting. Danny is not in the middle of the sidewalk, he is not talking to anyone, nor is he falling over.

If Danny is charged with drunk and disorderly conduct, it is likely that he will be able to overcome the charges against him. Prosecutors will have a hard time making a case that Danny was a harm to the safety of himself or others, or that he was obstructing the sidewalk. Furthermore, unless he was administered a drug test, it will be difficult to establish that he was intoxicated.

The elements of this charge are subjective and there is room for argument and defenses. Using the help of a Los Angeles Criminal Defense lawyer can really help your chances for a dismissal, or in the very least a reduction. If you find yourself in this situation, do not hesitate, consult a professional as soon as possible to learn what your possible arguments and defenses are.

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Many people believe that a violation of Vehicle Code §14601 is an infraction and does not care with it significant consequences or penalties. This is not true. Driving with a suspended license is a serious charge, and can result in a misdemeanor conviction.

The statute reads as follows:

“No person shall drive a motor vehicle at any time when that person’s driving privilege is suspended or revoked for reckless driving in violation of Section 23103, 23104, or 23105, any reason listed in subdivision (a) or (c) of Section 12806”

If you are found guilty of driving with a suspended license, then you may be facing anywhere between 5 days in jail to 6 months, and a fine of $300.00 to $1,000.00. The final sentence will take many different factors into account, such as prior offenses, the facts of your case, available defenses and other variable facts that the Judge will consider.  There are several defenses that are available to the person being charged as well.

For example, if you had no notice that your license was suspended. Regardless, the relevant code section outlines the different scenarios in which you may still be charged. For example, if you have not kept the DMV updated of your current address, if they have proof of mailing and that you received it.  If you are facing a situation in which you have been charged with driving on a suspended license, it is important to consult with a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney.

It may seem that the charge is minimal compared to others, but it may affect your insurance rates, your ability to get a license, and if you are on probation it may be a probation violation.  Oftentimes when a person has been charged with a criminal offense, such as a DUI, they are put on probation. The terms of their probation prohibit them from getting arrested, or charged for another criminal offense. Doing so, may result in a probation violation, or additional sentencing added to the original charge.

A probation violation is its own offense, and will result in another criminal case being opened against you. If you, or someone you know finds themselves in this situation, advise them to seek the help of a Los Angeles Criminal Defense attorney as soon as possible.

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What is an Expungement?

An Expungement basically allows certain criminal records to be sealed. This means that if you are applying for a job or a financial institution, home loan or otherwise, they would not be able to see your criminal records. This allows for more job opportunities, and financial opportunities that would not be available to you if there is a criminal conviction on your record.

When am I eligible for an Expungement?

You are eligible for an Expungement when you have completed all the terms of your conviction. For example, if you are required to complete three years of probation, pay a set amount of fines and twenty hours of community service, you will not be eligible until all of those terms have been completed. Even if you have completed the community service and paid fines in full, but it has only been two years, you will not be eligible.

Can I get an Expungement for a DUI?

Until recently, you were not able to get an Expungement on a DUI. This meant that if you had even one DUI offense on your record, it would remain on your record. If you applied for jobs, for certain government positions, financial institutions or even educational institutions, they would ask that you list any criminal convictions and you would have to do so.

Additionally, certain professional licenses can suspend, or revoke your license if they feel it is necessary based upon the conviction.

What will the Expungement accomplish?

The Expungement will release the record of your conviction from all public records. This means that if an employer or educational institution were to do a background criminal check on you, the conviction would not show up.

Will it completely erase my record?

No. An Expungement will not completely erase your record. Your record will remain for all governmental purposes. This means that if you are brought before the court on another criminal charge, even if your record has been expunged, the criminal Judge will be able to access your charges. A court will generally not consider a DUI charge beyond ten years, as it is no longer considered a prior. However, if it is within ten years, they will still be able to consider it for purposes of sentencing or otherwise.

If you have completed the terms of your conviction and are actively applying to positions or to schools, it is definitely worth speaking to a Los Angeles Criminal Defense lawyer to try to expunge the matter .It can make a huge impact on your future endeavors and success.

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The California Bar Association allows any attorney that is licensed with them to practice law in any field, in any city, as long as it is in California. This, as you can imagine, is an increasing number of lawyers. If you have been charged in the South Bay for a criminal offense, it is important for you to know whether you should be hiring a South Bay criminal attorney.

Whereas it helps to have an attorney that is in the South Bay, it does not necessarily mean that the attorney must have an office in South Bay and practice only in South Bay. The important thing to note is not that the attorney must be “born and raised” in the South Bay, but that they practice frequently in the area and are familiar with the Courts.

To fully understand the situation, let’s consider an example that illustrates the difference.

Larry is a brand new attorney. He has worked with the District Attorney’s office and he has worked as an intern with the Public Defender. He has experience in Criminal Law, but he has worked primarily in downtown Los Angeles and Santa Monica. Criminal law is the same throughout the state, and so, there should be no difference whether Larry is practicing in Santa Monica, or the South Bar. Larry’s rates are reasonable because he is brand new, and is just getting his feet wet. While the practice of criminal law and the Penal code are no foreign concepts to him, actual practice as a private defense attorney on his own, is.

Larry accepts the case at a very low rate. He walks into court on the morning of the Arraignment and goes straight to a prosecutor that he sees and starts his argument and negotiation. The Prosecutor looks at Larry, annoyed and give him a plea bargain. Larry believes that the offer is too high based upon his own experience and denies the offer. He then asks the Court to set it for Pre Trial. At the Pre Trial the Prosecutor makes an offer that includes minimal jail time, and the Judge confirms it. Had Larry known the Prosecutors and the Judges, he would have known to accept the first offer, and that based upon the facts he might not have gotten what he wanted for his client .

If Larry had known and been familiar with the South Bay courts, he may have waited or negotiated with a different Prosecutor. He may have asked the Judge to be changed right off the bat, before continuing the case to Pre Trial. These are small, but very important things to know. What should be noted is that the law is not different in each courthouse, it is always the same. The way each court does things may be different. What matters is how each courtroom likes to operate and the offers they make. This will aid the Criminal Defense Lawyer in making the right decisions and the right argument for his client.

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When you have been issued a citation upon arrest, you are ordered to appear in Court, on or before the date stated on the citation. This is not voluntary, or optional. It is a mandatory order and one subject to consequences if you fail to appear. The consequences will differ depending on the circumstances of your case, and whether you are represented by an attorney or not.

If you are represented by an attorney, and the charge against you is a misdemeanor, then the attorney can appear on your behalf under California Penal Code §977. If you are not physically in court, and only your attorney is, then there will be no consequences. You always have the option to appear, but oftentimes most negotiations are done between the attorneys. Attorneys are also not allowed to enter a plea on your behalf so you will not be pushed into a decision that you have not discussed and confirmed with the attorney.

Let’s walk through a typical arraignment where the party is represented. This is a general arraignment, and is not always the case.

The Los Angeles Criminal Defense attorney appears in Court between 8:30 AM and 9:00 AM. Once the court room opens, he or she will go inside and inform the deputy of the case number and case name. Once the case has been called, the attorney will speak to the prosecutor and request discovery. Discovery is the arrest report, and other documents or audio visual exhibits that the government has in aiding the case. Once the attorney has the discovery, they will sit down in the attorney section and review the documents and the contents.

Upon a complete review, they will talk to the Prosecutor once again and ask what the plea bargain will be. The prosecutor will indicate their offer and the attorney will make note of it to discuss it with the client.

The attorney will then wait until the matter is called before the Judge. The Judge will then ask the attorney what they would like to do. Whether they would like to set the matter for Pre-Trial, enter a guilty plea, or accept the offer.

This is where the attorney has to use their knowledge and experience to make a decision. If the offer given by the Prosecutor is low, and worth consideration, the attorney will likely continue the matter so that they can discuss it with the client. In that situation, the attorney will ask the court for a short continuance so that may have some time to consider the offer.

If the offer is not a good one and the attorney knows they can get a better offer, they will enter a plea of not guilty and set for Pre-Trial, where a lengthy discussion may be had with the Prosecutor.

There are many benefits to having an attorney. Not only do you have someone who is familiar with the system arguing for you and advocating for your side, you also don’t have to deal with the stress and hassle of going to court.

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When a person is charged with a criminal offense in Los Angeles it is likely that as a part of their sentence, they will be put on probation. The probationary period is generally about 3 years on a misdemeanor and is usually informal probation.

There are two types of probation violations. An external violation and an internal violation.

Let’s consider some examples.

Danny is charged and convicted of misdemeanor drunk and disorderly conduct. As a part of his sentence, he is required to pay $1200 in fines, and complete 10 hours of community service. Further, he is ordered to not commit any additional crimes during his probationary period or his current sentence may be increased.

An external violation would be if Danny was subsequently arrested for a Los Angeles Driving Under the Influence. As part of the order, Danny was ordered not to commit any additional crimes. Having been charged with Driving Under the Influence, he may have violated that order. If he is convicted, then the sentence for the Drunk and Disorderly conduct may be increased, and Danny will also be charged with a probation violation.

An internal violation would be if Danny failed to pay the fine that was ordered, or complete the community service. Because Danny was ordered, as part of his sentence, to pay a fine of $1,200.00 and to complete community service, he is required to do that. If he fails to do so, he is in violation of his probationary terms. An extension can always be requested, but it needs to be done properly with the Court.

There are defenses to internal violations of probation. For example, let’s say that Danny sent a check for $1,200 to the court but the check got lost in the mail, or didn’t get properly recorded as received. Then Danny did not fail to follow the order, it just didn’t get completed like he thought it did. Providing proof to the court of a copy of the check, or the date stamped envelope he mailed is a good defense.

Let’s say that Danny did complete his community service, but the organization he completed the community service with failed to show proof of completion to the Court. This can be remedied by Danny obtaining the proof and providing it to the Court personally.

A probation violation is not a minimal charge. It can be an additional offense, and can add to the sentence for the original offense. If you are facing a situation where there is a misunderstanding and you are being summoned to court for a probation violation, keep in mind that there are defense available to you. To learn about what you can do to get that additional charge dismissed or reduced, contact a Los Angeles Criminal Defense lawyer as soon as possible!

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When a person has been convicted of a criminal charge in Los Angeles, it is likely that they will be put on probation for at least three years. As a part of the probation, the person charged will have certain conditions and requirements placed on them.

There are two types of probation:

  1. Formal

Formal probation is generally a part of felony convictions. It requires that the person convicted check in formally with a probation officer. It also requires that the person not leave the county or the state (depending on the terms) and may include additional provisions as well. For example, the person being charged may be required to not be under the influence of drugs or alcohol at any point, and may have to submit to random drug or alcohol testing. As with all probation, the person charged must stay out of trouble and not be charged, arrested or convicted of any further criminal charges.

  1. Informal

Informal probation is usually about three years and requires that a person not be charged with, arrested or convicted of any additional criminal charges. Unlike formal probation, the person is not required to check in with a probation officer and they are generally not restricted from leaving the county or the state.

There are also two types of probation violations:

  1. External

An external probation violation is where a person commits further criminal offenses that result in an arrest, charge or conviction. This is a violation outside of their own specific terms of probation, but a violation of general criminal code sections.

  1. Internal

An internal violation is a violation of the person’s specific terms and provisions of probation. For example, a person is restricted from alcohol and drug use is tested to have cocaine in their system. They are in violation of the terms they agreed to.

Probation violations are serious charges and can result in their own conviction on top of any other convictions the person may have. A probation violation has its own sentence and consequences, and can also result in probation being revoked and the sentence for the original offense that put the person on probation being increased.

If you find yourself with a probation violation it is highly advisable to hire a Los Angeles Probation Violation lawyer with years of experience. A probation violation can be dismissed if it is presented properly to the Judge and argued efficiently. Doing so will avoid a significant amount of problems for the person being brought before the Court. If you find yourself in this situation, do not hesitate and do not underestimate the potential consequences. Contact a professional as soon as possible!

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What happens when you have a prior criminal record in California, and you are charged with a crime in a different state? This question becomes important when there is a potential probation violation due to the previous case. In order to better understand this process, it is best to define it through the use of examples.

David is a Los Angeles resident and works as a consultant for a company. His job requires him to travel a lot. One night while David was out with friends in LA, he was charged with drunk and disorderly conduct. David was drinking and him and his friends were causing some disturbances on the street outside of a restaurant, and were consequently too drunk to be allowed back in. This led David to be charged, and eventually convicted of a misdemeanor drunk and disorderly conduct.

As part of the sentence, David was put on three years of informal probation. Informal probation does not require that David check in with an officer, nor does it require that he not leave the state or the county. It does, however, require that David not commit any additional offenses while he is on this probationary period.

Unfortunately for David, he is still on informal probation when he goes on business to New York. In New York, he meets up with some of his college friends, and they end up going out and about on the town, which eventually leads David to be arrested for Disturbing the Peace.

He is arrested and charged before the New York State court. The question then becomes, will he be charged with Disturbing the Peace in New York and a Probation Violation?

A person may be charged with a probation violation when they are under probation and have violated the terms of their probation. In this case, David was under probation and was not to commit any other offenses during that probationary period. However, by being arrested and charged with Disturbing the Peace, he has violated the terms of his probation and can, therefore, be charged with the additional charge.

It will be up to the New York state court if they want to charge David with the probation violation. The probation terms are not theirs, and they are not required to uphold the terms. They may if they want to, but there is nothing requiring them to do so. Additionally, the prosecutor in New York may not even know about the probation pending in California. If they do not, chances are they will not even address it.

If you are being charged with a case in another state and are currently on probation in California, consult with a Los Angeles Criminal Defense attorney to assure that you are properly addressing the issues in the event that probation violation moves forward.