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LOS ANGELES CRIMINAL DEFENSE BLOG

Charging a Criminal Case: The Grand Jury

A lot of criminal cases begin with an arrest. After the arrest, the police will make a report that summarizes the events leading up the arrest. The police will then send the arrest report to a prosecutor. It is the job of the prosecutor to initiate and prosecute criminal cases utilizing one of three possible methods. He may decide that the case should be charged (as a felony or a misdemeanor), and file a complaint with the trial court or decide that the matter should not be pursued. The third option is to decide that the case should be charged as a felony and bring evidence before citizens serving as grand jurors, who will decide what charges, if any, to file.

The Role of a Grand Jury

Case Closed: Dismissal With or Without Prejudice

At the conclusion of a preliminary hearing, the court has the power to dismiss a criminal case for a variety of reasons and in two distinct manners: with or without prejudice. A judge may dismiss a case that was brought in bad faith, if there was misconduct on the part of the prosecution, the rules of the court were not followed or the state did not prosecute the case within a reasonable time and violated the defendant’s right to a speedy trial. A judge may also dismiss a case based on a belief that there is insufficient evidence to “hold [a defendant] to answer for the charge(s).” The court may make the dismissal on their own volition or they can rule in favor of a motion filed by a criminal defense lawyer on behalf of his client.

Dismissal Without prejudice

Plea Bargaining in California DUI Cases

Being arrested for a California DUI doesn’t necessarily mean a conviction of that charge, because under certain circumstances, it might be possible to negotiate a “wet reckless” instead. The term wet reckless derives from Vehicle Code Section 23103.5, which provides for a conviction of reckless driving involving alcohol. Though the primary goal of a skilled DUI attorney is obviously to have your charges dismissed, a plea bargain of “wet reckless,” if accepted by the prosecution, would be a favorable option.

In some cases, the prosecutor may determine that the DUI charge against you has some weaknesses. An example of a weak case might be indicated by a breath test or blood test resulted in a BAC close to 0.08, if the driving and Field Sobriety Tests were marginal, and the defendant had no prior record. In such instances, the prosecutor might offer the option to plea bargain for a wet reckless. Successful efforts to bargain for a wet reckless means a reduced charge with a reduced sentence.

California Welfare and Institutions Code § 5150

Involuntary Confinement

With probable cause, any California peace officer can insist on the confinement of a person who is exhibiting behavior that the officer decides is the “result of a mental disorder, a danger to others, or to himself or herself, or [is] gravely disabled.” Section 5150 is a part of the California Welfare and Institutions Code and provides for the involuntary psychiatric hold by law enforcement that is commonly referred to as a “fifty-one-fifty.”

Fake IDs in California

California has a number of age restricted activities that have proven to be very attractive to many persons under the age of 21. Some of them choose to obtain fake identification in order to drink at restaurants and bars, buy cigarettes or purchase alcohol. Unfortunately, this practice can have serious consequences. A teen who is caught with a fake I.D. may face serious criminal charges.

In California, there are several different laws that can result in criminal charges if you are in possession of a fake identification card. These laws deal with making, possessing, and displaying false driver’s licenses and identification cards. Central to these laws is Penal Code 470, which defines the crime of forgery as knowingly altering, manipulating, or creating a written document or instrument with the intent to obtain an undeserved personal gain.

Stalking Laws in California

The First in the Nation

California anti-stalking laws, considered among the toughest and most comprehensive in the nation were first passed in 1990 in response to the murder of actress Rebecca Schaeffer by a stalker. This made the “Golden State” the first in the nation to enact an anti-stalking law. It is difficult to assess the effectiveness of these laws when celebrities are still frequently the victims of stalking activity by fans obsessed with the object of their attention.

In California stalking is defined as any person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows or harasses another person and who makes a credible threat with the intent to place that person in reasonable fear for his or her safety, or the safety of his or her immediate family. Common forms of stalking include unwanted pursuit of another person, such as following a person, appearing at a person’s home or place of business, making harassing phone calls, leaving written messages or objects, or vandalizing a person’s property. “Swatting,” in which the victim’s residence is falsely reported to police as being the scene of a home invasion or hostage taking, has become a form of intimidation used by obsessed fans. Stalking is not a one-time event and the harassment of certain individuals may continue for years.

The DMV Administrative Per Se Hearing

The “Notice of Suspension”

As part of the DUI arrest procedures, current California law allows law enforcement officers to automatically seize a driver’s license if they have reason to believe the driver was impaired. After seizing a license the officer will issue a “Notice of Suspension” informing the driver that the DMV has started a suspension process of the seized license. If the driver’s license was valid at the time of arrest, the Notice of Suspension is also a temporary driver’s license. The driver may drive for 30 days from the date the order of suspension or revocation was issued, provided the driver has been issued a California driver’s license and the driver’s license is not expired, or the driving privilege is not suspended or revoked for some other reason.

Scheduling an Administrative Per Se Hearing

The Notice of Suspension issued at the time of arrest states the driver has ten days to request an “Administrative Per Se” hearing if he /she intends to contest the suspension of their driver’s license. These are ten calendar days and include weekends and holidays. Any failure to act within the ten day period, with some very rare exceptions, will result in forfeiture of the right to a hearing and the DMV will suspend all driving privileges.

Drinking and Driving in Los Angeles Memorial Day Weekend

It’s your traditional summer kick-off, and you’ve purchased eight cases of beer to celebrate.

Fine. Just don’t get behind the wheel. As it is, it’s way too easy for cops to ensnare drunk drivers on holiday weekends. In fact, it’s so easy police are even telling you pretty much exactly where they’ll be for Memorial Day and the time leading up to the big holiday. And some of you will still get arrested.

Be responsible. Don’t be a target:

-Tonight from 4 p.m. to midnight extra cruisers and motorcycles will hit the streets of the LAPD’s downtown-and-beyond Central Bureau. Cops call it a “saturation patrol.”

-Tonight from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. there will be an LAPD DUI checkpoint on Florence Avenue at Main Street in South Los Angeles.

 

-Tonight from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. there will be a checkpoint waiting for you on Highland Avenue at De Longpre Avenue in Hollywood.

 

-Tonight from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. you’ll find a checkpoint on Osbourne Street at Laurel Canyon Boulevard in Pacoima.

 

-Tonight from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. yet another checkpoint will be serving you on Ventura Boulevard at Big Oak Drive in Sherman Oaks.

 

-Tonight from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. an L.A. County Sheriff’s Department checkpoint will be up and running somewhere in the city of Santa Clarita (they’re not saying exactly where).

-Tonight from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. Pico Rivera will host a sheriff’s checkpoint. The department is not telling us exactly where it will be.

-Tonight additional checkpoints and saturation patrols will include the following, according to the sheriff’s Avoid the 100 DUI Task Force (which refers to 100 L.A. County law enforcement agencies that will be looking out for drunk drivers during the holiday weekend):

Checkpoint – Avoid the 100 Multi-Agency in San Gabriel
Checkpoint – Avoid the 100 East/Pomona
Checkpoint – Avoid the 100 East Multi-Agency in Arcadia
Checkpoint – Avoid the 100 West Multi-Agency in El Segundo
Checkpoint – Pasadena
Checkpoint – CHP East Los Angeles Area
Checkpoint – CHP South Los Angeles Area …
Checkpoint – LASD Lancaster
Checkpoint – LASD Santa Clarita
DUI Task Force Ops – Avoid the 100 West (El Camino College, El Segundo, Gardena, Hawthorne,
Hermosa Beach, Huntington Park, Inglewood, Long Beach, Manhattan Beach, Palos Verdes
Estates, Redondo Beach, Signal Hill, South Gate, Torrance and Vernon) …
DUI Patrols – LASD Palmdale
DUI Patrols – Azusa
DUI Patrols – Pomona
DUI Patrols – Whittier
MEP (Maximum Enforcement Period) – CHP Southern Division

Health Care Fraud in California

Who commits health care fraud?

Health care fraud has become a widespread form of white-collar crime that involves the filing of false or dishonest health care claims in order to garner it’s practitioners substantial financial gain. The ingenuity and size of these fraudulent health care schemes can be astounding to the taxpayers who ultimately pay for them. Who commits these crimes? According to the National Health Care Anti-Fraud Association, the majority of health care fraud is committed by organized crime groups and a very small minority of dishonest health care providers. Sixteen doctors were recently linked to alleged Medicare fraud schemes across the nation involving an estimated $260 million in false billings to the taxpayer-funded program.

Medicare is the victim of many common types of health care fraud. Florida was the recent scene of a notable case recently, when two suspects were charged in a $23 million scheme in which the defendants solicited kickbacks from a pharmacy owner for providing Medicare beneficiary information. That data was then used to bill for drugs that were never dispensed.

Human Trafficking in California

A fast growing criminal industry

Many governments and law enforcement agencies consider human trafficking to be one of the fastest growing criminal industries. California, a populous border state with a significant immigrant population and the world’s ninth largest economy, is one of the nation’s top four destination states for trafficking human beings according to the state Attorney General.

Human trafficking, also known as trafficking in persons (TIP), is a modern form of slavery. It involves controlling a person through force, fraud, or coercion to exploit the victim for forced labor, sexual exploitation, or both. Human trafficking strips victims of their freedom and violates our nation’s promise that every person in the United States is guaranteed basic human rights. It is a crime under both state and federal laws.

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