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LOS ANGELES CRIMINAL DEFENSE BLOG

Gang Injunctions and Contempt of Court

For decades now, law enforcement agencies in Los Angeles County have been employing the tactic of obtaining court injunctions against specific gang members in an effort to curb their activities. The process begins when law enforcement asks the City Attorney’s Office to seek a gang injunction from a judge who in turn grants a restraining order against specific gang members of a particular gang, in essence suing them. It declares the gang’s behavior a nuisance and asks for special restrictions on their activity.

The lawsuit names actual gang members who are then forbidden to engage in a number of activities, some of which are already illegal such as selling drugs, vandalizing property, and possessing weapons. The suit may also specify a certain geographical area (often labeled as a “safety zone”) and prohibit seemingly legal activities such as wearing certain clothing, acting as lookouts, or even riding bicycles.

Shooting at an Inhabited Dwelling or Occupied Car

Assault weapons, like AK-47s, have come to be a firearm of choice in many urban shootings. They fire a relatively small caliber bullet at very high velocities which allows them to travel through walls and car doors, and often cause unintended consequences for completely innocent victims. Recognizing the consequences associated with shooting such firearms into houses, cars, or other places where people reside, California lawmakers enacted Penal Code 246 PC, “shooting at an inhabited dwelling,” which prohibits intentionally firing a gun at an inhabited home or occupied car. Section 246 PC is a felony-level offense that can result in multiple year prison terms. Because simply shooting in close proximity to the object violates this law, it’s not even necessary that you fire directly at a residence or vehicle.

California Penal Code 246 PC prohibits shooting at an:

Chronic Truancy Laws in California

California law requires that all children between the ages of 6 and 18 attend school, as well as maintain good attendance records. An adult’s actions or negligence in allowing truancy can be a violation of various laws. The state has enacted laws that specifically address truancy and, in certain situations, an adult can be charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor in violation of California Penal Code Section 272 PC.

The state defines legally truant as a student who misses school with a combination of the following types of absences without a valid excuse:

California Domestic Violence Law

In recent months domestic violence has often come to dominate the cable news cycle. Almost daily, reports of new incidents appear. Most high profile incidents have involved men and their spouses or girl friends, but children have been subject to violence as well. A recent case in which an NFL player knocked out his then girlfriend on a Las Vegas elevator caused a national debate on just how this violence should be dealt with. California law, however, very clearly spells out the manner and penalties that those convicted of domestic violence charges can expect.

There are numerous California laws that define and deal with various aspects associated with domestic violence.

Pre-Trial Motions in California

After the preliminary hearing, and before a criminal case goes to trial, the prosecutor and the defense team usually appear before a criminal court judge and make pre-trial motions. Pre-trial motions are legal arguments presented by the prosecution and the defense in an effort to set the parameters for trial, should one take place. In pre-trial motions, determinations may be made on what physical evidence and testimony can be used and what legal arguments can and cannot be made. The defense may offer valid reasons why the defendant should not be forced to stand trial and that the case should be dismissed altogether.

Specific possibilities are countless for arguments made during pre-trial motions and the following are common examples of pre-trial motions that might be made in a criminal case:

Making A Terrorist Threat

The term “making a terrorist threat” is a familiar phrase to frequent viewers of cable news programs. It brings to mind images of black-hooded, threatening figures in videos posted by jihadist groups known only to those specialists who study such things.

Laws enacted to address this type of activity, at both the state and federal levels, are used to prosecute terrorists, but now are used far more often to prosecute other violations of criminal law such as domestic violence, hate crimes, bomb threats, and school violence. So much so that, in California, crimes previously known as terrorist threats are now defined as “criminal threats.”

Motions to Suppress Evidence

There have been instances when law enforcement conducted searches for which they either had no warrant or obtained a warrant that was in violation of constitutional law. When a prosecutor seems likely to present evidence that was found during such a search in a case against you, a motion to suppress that evidence should be filed by your criminal defense attorney and could result in the prosecutor dropping the charges or in a reduction in charges.

A motion to suppress evidence may be used to challenge both searches that were conducted either with or without a search warrant. Without a warrant, the defendant has the initial burden of showing that a search or seizure was without a warrant and that it was unreasonable under the circumstances.

California Law on Driving without a License

Due to state funding problems, California newscasts often feature DMV offices with lines outside the building or sometimes even with closed doors being angrily shaken by citizens firm in their belief that the office should be open. The services DMV provides often cannot be deferred and are not optional. Take, for example, obtaining or renewing a driver’s license. Though it may seem that driving without a license is a relatively minor offense, it is a misdemeanor and a conviction will appear on your criminal record.

Driving in California requires a valid license, although it doesn’t necessarily have to be issued by the California DMV. It is permissible to drive with a valid driver’s license from the state in which you reside, and which is applicable for the type of vehicle (car, motorcycle, commercial truck, etc.) that you are driving.

Destroying or Concealing Evidence in California

In the era of electronic communications, many daily transactions such as sales, medical records, and transfer of funds are accomplished online. While these transactions leave a digital trail, this trail may be easy to alter or even destroy. Alteration or destruction of such information may be a crime when such data becomes regarded as evidence in a legal investigation. Likewise, any physical evidence such as weapons, documents or even EKG printouts are subject to concealment or destruction. California Penal Code 135 makes it illegal to destroy or conceal any evidence, written or physical, that you know is relevant to either a criminal investigation or court case.

This crime has two elements which are:

Allowing an Unlicensed Minor to Drive in California

A recent tragic car accident occurred in Southern California when a sixteen-year-old boy crashed an older BMW into a freeway embankment, killing five other teens. The driver, who survived the crash, did not have a learner’s permit, yet alone a driver’s license. The teen had not even started the process of obtaining a license, according to investigators. Furthermore, the question of just how the boy was in possession of the car brought his family members under a cloud of suspicion. The CHP stated that they were trying to determine just exactly who gave permission to the teen to drive the car, which is registered to someone else.

A provision within the California Vehicle Code absolutely prohibits a parent to cause or knowingly permit an unlicensed minor to drive. In addition, Vehicle Code 14604 stipulates that any owner of a motor vehicle is “required only to make a reasonable effort or inquiry to determine whether the prospective driver possesses a valid driver’s license before allowing him or her to operate the owner’s vehicle.”

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