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LOS ANGELES CRIMINAL DEFENSE BLOG

Participating In A Speed Contest

Both movies and television have long glamorized the image of the street race, perhaps achieving the most memorable spectacle with the racing scene in Rebel Without a Cause. The ongoing franchise of Fast and Furious movies as well Discovery’s current offering Street Outlaws have done much to burnish the image of the street race and keep it alive among California’s youth.

In reality, the street race can quickly shed it’s glamorous image to reveal the picture of a very serious offense that can result in serious traffic violations for participants as well as spectators. The California Department of Motor Vehicles defines  a “speed contest” as an illegal exhibition of speed conducted on public streets or highways using a motor vehicle. It includes a motor vehicle race against another motor vehicle using a clock or other timing device. The DMV considers speed contests or exhibitions of speed, commonly known as “street race,” “speed race,” or “drag race,” a threat to the well-being and safety of the public.

Medical Care for Pregnant Inmates

In 2011 and 2012, less than 250 inmates gave birth while incarcerated in California’s prison system. Despite these small numbers, pregnant women in state prisons pose a significant problem because of their need for specialized medical care during pregnancy. After a child is born to an incarcerated felon, some of whom have been convicted of violent crimes, the need to balance what’s best for the prison with the newborn’s needs is handled in a strait forward fashion. Most new prison moms are back in shackles within two days of delivery and their infants are sent to live with relatives or foster parents.

Fortunately, in regards to the medical care, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) is required by law to provide standard pre- and post-natal care for women in prison. In 2001, a California court decided that the state’s prisons were violating prisoners’ Eighth Amendment rights to adequate physical and mental care and treatment.

The Use of “Stills” in California

Beginning prior to prohibition, the history of moonshine goes deeply into California’s past. It still maintains a tradition that is widely known and acknowledged. Yet, the arcane skills and talents used to produce illegal moonshine have largely remained unknown to all but a few enthusiasts who have a deep desire to taste the legendary stuff. With just a few episodes, the juggernaut that is popular television has changed all that. Highly rated shows like Moonshiners depict industrious rural citizens gathering everyday foodstuffs like corn, sugar, and yeast. Using simple hand tools, gleaming copper stills are crafted with a level of skill that can make a union-trained sheet metal worker envious. For the wannabe home still builder in California, however, there is a problem.

The problem is that the mere possession of a still is illegal under California law if it’s sole purpose is for making consumable ethanol, also called ethyl alcohol or drinking alcohol. However, they can be legally used in the production of distilled water, distilled essential oils as well as other non-alcoholic products (California Code Section 23032). Additionally, they can also be used for scientific and experimental purposes which do not concern consumable ethanol. Though it is legal to own a still provided you have obtained a permit from the state authorities, a still being used to distill alcoholic beverages without a distiller’s license, can be seized by the government and is considered to be illegal according to the ABC Act, California Code Section 25352.

Marijuana Possession at a California Airport

The possession of marijuana at a California airport is not the black-and-white issue it once was prior to the relaxation of marijuana laws in some states. At today’s airports, with the TSA’s ever present Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) screening passengers and their belongings for prohibited items (weapons, explosives, and other objects that may pose a risk to aviation security), TSOs sometimes discover marijuana possession or other items that are illegal under federal law.

TSA screening procedures are governed by federal law and designed primarily to detect threats to aviation security. TSA officers do not specifically search for illegal drugs. During security screening, and even in states where marijuana is legal, an officer may discover cannabis in an amount that may violate even state medical marijuana laws. TSOs must then contact a law enforcement officer when marijuana is discovered because possessing marijuana remains a crime under Federal law. Additionally, law enforcement officers may be contacted even if a passenger is carrying a legal amount of marijuana and a state-issued cannabis card because TSOs cannot make an independent determination as to whether a passenger’s documentation is sufficient to authorize possession of marijuana under state law.

Trespass Law in California

California trespass law defines many situations in which the offense of trespass may take place. They range from the ordinary to the highly unusual, and sometimes to the hard to figure. Trespass means different things to different people. It often means walking into an area posted with signs that state, “No Trespassing.” However, it is considered trespassing for an individual to be on a vacant property or building even if is not posted. Your claim that you didn’t know you were trespassing is not a defense.

A person who has a right to come onto the land may become a trespasser by committing wrongful acts after entry. A mail carrier has a privilege to walk up the sidewalk at a private home, he may not enter the residence because trespass laws expressly prevent breaches of the peace by protecting the quiet possession of real property.

What is an Insanity Defense?

The insanity defense typically refers to a plea made by defendants who believe that they are not guilty because they lacked the mental capacity to realize that they committed a wrong or appreciate why it was wrong. In general, the insanity defense is skeptically viewed but, as has been expressed by knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys, “When you’ve got no better defense, that’s the way to go.”

Under California Penal Code Sections 1016-1027, a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity is permissible. To be considered “legally insane” a person must able to assert the legal defense of insanity if, because of a mental illness, they either cannot understand the nature of their criminal act, or cannot distinguish between right and wrong.

Public Urination in California

Public urination, disgusting as it is, is generally not considered a criminal activity. But if you’re charged with public urination or a crime related to public urination, take it seriously. Often people are arrested for public urination in conjunction with other disruptive public behavior, frequently involving alcohol, and have attracted the attention of the police. You can be arrested for public urination under both state and local laws in California.

Strict legal attitudes towards public urination have a relatively short history in the state. It was not until 2006 that a California court expressly found that public urination could constitute a public nuisance. Currently, state statutes do not expressly prohibit public urination, except in public transportation (California Penal Code section 640). But public urination may be considered disorderly conduct (California Penal Code section 647) or creating a public nuisance (California Penal Code sections 370 and 372). Very rarely, people have been charged with the more serious crime of indecent exposure (California Penal Code section 314), a misdemeanor that requires “lewd” behavior.

Restitution in Criminal and Civil Matters

A phenomenon of late has been that of a motorist who has managed to drive an SUV through the front of a convenience store or the local pizza joint. If it is determined that the hapless driver was found to be driving under the influence or acting in a negligent manner, he will most likely find himself the subject of legal proceedings on two sides of the justice system, civil and criminal. On the criminal side there are violations of DUI laws or even assault laws. On the civil side there may be claims relating to property damage stemming from wrecked autos, shattered storefronts, or physical injuries. Victims of the incident including the property owner are entitled to compensation for economic losses associated with the mishap.

Victims often incur costs and expenses following this type of accident as well as other violent crimes and may need medical care for his physical injuries, and mental health care for his trauma. When a criminal defendant is successfully prosecuted, some of these costs could be reimbursed through restitution. Restitution is a court process in which criminal defendants who have been convicted have to pay money to their victims to cover any losses or injuries the victims suffered and will suffer as a result of the crime. Additionally, California has a victim compensation program (“CalVCP”) that pays claims of people who are victims of crimes like domestic violence, assault, drunk driving, homicide, and sexual assault.

Underage DUI in California

For adults, California BAC limit (0.08) is the same as many other BAC limits across the United States. However, under California’s “Zero Tolerance Law” persons under 21 may not drive with a blood alcohol concentration level (BAC) of .01 or higher. Compare this with the state limit for adult drivers of vehicles requiring a commercial driver’s license who may legally drive with a BAC of just under .04 percent. The geriatric driver of an eighteen wheeler can have a beer or two and probably still legally drive while a seventeen-year-old drinking the same amount may be subject to an underage DUI. Under state law drivers under 21 may not consume alcohol in any form. Or cough syrup, or prescription drugs for that matter.

For underage drivers convicted of a DUI, the consequences may reach, at least in their estimation, existential proportions. A judge may choose to confiscate an underage driver’s vehicle, often the very center of their existence. Drivers under 18 years of age that are convicted of DUI will lose their license for a year OR until their 18th birthday, whichever is greater. In all cases, the driver will have to pay fines of several thousand dollars, attend driving safety and alcohol/drug abuse classes, will have to prove financial responsibility.

Juvenile Crime And Court Proceedings

When a juvenile (a person under the age of 18) commits a crime, the act is usually dealt with through the juvenile justice system rather than the criminal justice system which deals with those over 18. In some cases, the juvenile may be found unfit for juvenile court proceedings, in which case, the minor’s case will be transferred to the criminal justice system.

The juvenile justice system deals with offenses that are largely the same as those dealt with in adult courts. In California, for example, theft and burglary are crimes, and a juvenile who commits these offenses can face juvenile charges. Under state law, when a person under the age of 18 is alleged to have committed a crime, the judicial process under which the child is prosecuted, called a delinquency proceeding, is a civil action rather than a criminal matter. A juvenile convicted of a theft offense is considered a delinquent.

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