Articles Posted in Defense

Lindsay Lohan was charged with a Los Angeles Grand Theft charge in January 2011. Grand Theft in California is charged under California Penal Code §487 and is filed a felony. It will be a grand theft charge anytime the item, or property stolen is valued over $950.

The penalty as established by legislation for a grant theft conviction may or may not include jail time, a fine and/or community service. Generally probation is a part of the sentence. The range for a potential sentence will differ for each person that is charged, based on their criminal history and the specific facts surrounding their case.

The good thing is that in California a grand theft charge is a “wobbler”. A “wobbler” is a charge that can be filed as a misdemeanor or a felony. Whether it is filed as a felony or misdemeanor will depend on the facts of the case and the background of the person being charged. The government will look to see if a person has any enhancements that will favor a felony charge over a misdemeanor. Enhancements are factors that may warrant prosecution to propose a higher penalty. These factors include multiple similar charges in the person’s criminal history, or the value of the time stolen is extremely high (65,000 or higher). If a person is a habitual offender, or is on probation at the time of the charge, chances are the government will want to take it seriously and file it as a felony.

Many of our clients believe that a marijuana possession charge is the same as being charged while driving. This in fact, is not the case. Marijuana possession (less than one ounce) is made unlawful by California Penal Code §11357(b), however, having marijuana in a person’s possession (less than an ounce) while driving is made illegal by California Vehicle code §23222(b).

Both charges have traditionally been filed as misdemeanors, however, as of January 2011, possession of marijuana under one ounce is now charged as an infraction, whereas VC §23222(b) remains a misdemeanor. Regardless of which section a person is charged under, they will likely be penalized with a fine and possibly community service, unless they have a criminal history. Whether it is charged as a misdemeanor or an infraction will have a significant impact on a person’s criminal record. An infraction is treated similar to a citation, and does not go on a person’s permanent criminal record. A misdemeanor remains on a person’s record until it is properly expunged.

There are several defenses available to a person who has been charged with marijuana possession while driving. If you hold a valid Medical Marijuana Prescription, the charge may be dismissed if the marijuana was properly placed in a legally allowed location in the car and was under the allotted amount.

On April 16, 2011, actor Nicholas Cage was arrested by officers when he was involved in a violent argument with his wife of six years in New Orleans. Additionally, when approached by officers, he refused to cooperate and taunted officers to go ahead and arrest him, which they did and charged him with an additional Disturbing the Peace.

Disturbing the Peace in California is charged under California Penal Code §415 and is referred to as a “wobbler”. A “wobbler” is a charge that can be charged as an infraction, misdemeanor or felony, depending on the facts of the case. A Disturbing the Peace charge can be filed as either an infraction or a misdemeanor.

Penal Code §415 is broken down into difference sections based on the actions that led to a disturbance including; disturbing the peace caused by unlawful fighting, unreasonable noise, and fighting words. A San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney is knowledgeable in the different defenses available to a person who is charged under PC §415. They may be able to argue that there was no intent to disturb the peace, or that they were not the ones causing the disturbance. Furthermore, if a person is engaged in a constitutionally protected activity, such as a peaceful protest, they are protected from being charged with disturbing the peace.

On April 16, 2011 actor Nicholas Cage was arrested for a domestic violence and disturbing the peace charge in New Orleans. Cage was heavily intoxicated and got into an argument with his wife of six years in a tattoo parlor. The argument got violent and witnesses report that the actor pushed his wife several times. He continued the argument onto the street and refused to cooperate with officers on the scene. The officers were obliged to hand cuff him and charge him with disturbing the peace, as well as domestic abuse.

Domestic violence in California is usually charged under two sections of the Penal Code, §243 (e)(1) and §273.5. California Penal Code §243 (e)(1) charged battery against a spouse and §273.5 is corporal injury to a spouse. There is a valid domestic battery charge when a person inflicts force or violence on a partner. This partner can be a current, former or future spouse, someone a person lives with, the parent of their child, or even someone a person is dating. §273.5 is a more serious charge. It involves inflicting bodily injury on a partner, including the parent of a person’s child, current of former spouse, and someone with whom they have lived, or do live.

In order for Prosecution to establish a case under California Penal Code §273.5, they must prove that there was an infliction of bodily injury to a partner as described above, that there was a willful infliction of injury and it resulted in a traumatic condition. To establish a case for Domestic Battery, the Prosecution must prove that there was a willful infliction of force or violence upon a partner as described above. Domestic battery is the lesser offense for domestic violence. It is usually filed as a misdemeanor and a person can be convicted of domestic battery even if they did not physically injure their partner.

Experience provides an individual with the expertise necessary to carry out a task successfully, being able to account for possible obstacles from previous incidents and to move forward efficiently and with the ease of having completed that task on numerous prior occasions. Although the term may be used universally, it wholly applies to the practice of Criminal Defense.

Experience adds a fundamental element to a knowledgeable San Diego Criminal Defense attorney’s representation. The attorney has tried thousands of cases similar to yours and knows which arguments are effective and powerful and which are less so. He or she is well versed in the complexities of the Penal code and can immediately tell you your options, defenses and potential consequences based on the specific facts of your case.

Furthermore an experienced San Diego Criminal Defense attorney will be familiar with the courts in your area, as well as the Judges and Prosecutors. Consequently, the lawyer you hire will be familiar with which arguments certain prosecutors use and what defenses and sentences Judges prefer. Knowing beforehand what to expect allows the attorney to better prepare a powerful argument on your behalf so that you are sure to get the results you desire!

The attorney client privilege is defined under California Evidence Code §954. It states that ” the client, whether or not a party, has a privilege to refuse to disclose, and to prevent another from disclosing, a confidential communication between client and lawyer.”

Put simply, this means that any communication you have had with your attorney may not be used as evidence in court. You have the right to refuse to allow any such communication to be presented by any party, and you will not be required to disclose any such evidence as part of a trial.

The privilege is held by the client and accordingly can be claimed by the client alone, however the attorney is obligated to claim the privilege on behalf of the client if the opportunity arises, unless told by the client not to do so. Furthermore, the privilege can only be claimed while the holder of the privilege is still in existence, is only effective while the client is alive.

Public Defenders are attorneys that are provided to you by the government to assure that your rights are protected in a criminal trial when you are unable to afford an attorney to help defend you. It is your constitutional right to have legal representation so as to ensure you are given a fair trial and that you have a proper defense. It helps keeps the justice system in balance and assures that trials are no biased and defendants aren’t unfairly taken advantage of.

So then if you are given a public defender for little or no charge, then why hire a Los Angeles Criminal Defense attorney? Public Defenders are highly educated and professional attorneys who are not only knowledgeable in what they do, but are also greatly experienced with the ins and outs of the criminal court system. However, with the amount of people that cannot afford attorneys, Public Defenders are assigned hundreds, if not more, cases at a time. The time they have to dedicate to each case is vastly insignificant to the time a private criminal defense attorney can offer.

An experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney will only accept cases they have time for. That way they can dedicate the time and energy it takes to prepare a powerful defense for your case so that you get the outcome you desire. With a Criminal Defense attorney you can get a free consultation and sit down with the attorney to thoroughly discuss your case so that you are properly informed of all possible defenses and options. With the busy schedule of a Public Defender, you would barely be able to have a few moments on the phone to discuss your case, or several minutes prior to entering court.

When a Juvenile case is presented before the Criminal Judge, the factors considered are different from those in an Adult case when deciding upon the appropriate sentence. For A juvenile case, the biggest concern is to reform the individual and prevent them from becoming a part of the criminal system in the future. They want to educate and deter the juvenile and break any habits that may be forming, before they become an adult.

With those goals in mind the Judge considers many different aspects of a youth’s background. They look at how often the child skips or is late to school and what their grades are. If the child’s grades are high, then they might be getting bored in school and will look to provide more of a challenge so that the child remains engaged with the tasks they are given. Additionally, they will look at the company the child keeps. Who are they hanging out with? Who do they associate themselves with and what kind of habits do these kids have?

Another factor considered that differs from an adult criminal case is family background. The Judge will look at the home life of the child and in many cases may determine that the child needs to be separated from the home if he or she feels that the environment at home is negative or conducive to bad habits. Is there alcoholism or substance abuse? If there is, it may lead the Judge to conclude that the kid has a negative influence from the parents and could be reformed if he was given positive attributes and examples to follow.

The prosecutor’s in Southern California see hundreds of cases a day and each comes before them with a preconceived notion regarding the person being charged. It is the job of an experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense attorney to not only change that biased perspective but to assure that the court sees you not as just another case number, but as a positive citizen of society.

You are allowed to represent yourself in court, but this may leave you vulnerable and inexperienced on what might prove to be a plea bargain worth considering and what could easily be reduced or dismissed with a strategic and well planned defense. When walking into court for your first appearance; the arraignment, the Prosecution has already determined what sentence they will recommend to the Judge based on the facts of your case. To them, you are just another member of society who has allegedly broken the rules and should therefore be penalized appropriately. This is the picture they will paint for the Judge.

What they do not see is all of the positive aspects of your life outside of the arrest. They do not come to learn about your background, your character and your achievements that come together to make you not just another case number, but a unique individual who might have made a mistake. A knowledgeable Los Angeles Criminal Defense attorney is fully aware of all the different aspects of life that comprise an individual; it is not just the charge and specific facts of an incident.

Once you have entered a plea of not guilty at the arraignment of your criminal case, the next appearance will be a Pre- Trial Conference.

The Judge will schedule a Pre-Trial Conference with Prosecution so that both sides will try to come to a settlement regarding the allegations. If your case is a misdemeanor, your attorney may make an appearance on your behalf. Although you are permitted to represent yourself, it is not recommended.

Prosecutors deal with cases like yours every single day and are highly experienced in preparing an argument that will work against you. They have reviewed all the information and your background and know precisely how to approach your case. An experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense attorney can not only prepare a powerful defense that will serve to change the prosecution’s perception of your case, but they have worked with the prosecutors in Los Angeles on thousands of cases and know the weaknesses and strengths of each.

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