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LOS ANGELES CRIMINAL DEFENSE BLOG

Certificate of Rehabilitation

In California, there are many who, because of criminal mistakes they made years ago, can’t get a job, move on with their lives, or escape damaged reputations, even though they’ve served their time. For some people, one avenue of the record-clearing process, known as a California Certificate of Rehabilitation is the answer. Though it doesn’t erase an individual’s criminal record, it is a court order that states that an individual’s criminal history is a thing of the past. This Certificate is a declaration by the state telling society that the former criminal has moved on to become an honest, upstanding “rehabilitated” member of the community.

A California Certificate of Rehabilitation is a court finding that can go a long way in helping you secure better employment prospects and professional licensing. In some instances, it may also end sex offender registration requirements.

Fines For Certain Crimes In Wake Of Prop. 47?

Under Proposition 47, a number of crimes that were previously felonies that involved amounts of $950 or less became misdemeanors. Since the proposition’s passage, many government officials have expressed their concerns that low level offenses like shoplifting, forgery, theft, and vandalism carry little, if any, repercussions for the offender. This situation led to statements like that of Lancaster Vice Mayor Marvin Crist who said, “You could walk into a Walmart, put three 33-inch TVs in, and walk out and nothing be done. The sheriff’s department is helpless under Proposition 47. We want to put some teeth into it.”

For the City of Lancaster, the “teeth” come in the form of administrative fines under an ordinance that the city is considering for certain offenses in an effort to curb increased crime that city officials expect to occur under Proposition 47’s provisions. Accordingly, the council voted to authorize sheriff’s deputies in Lancaster to issue administrative citations.

California’s “Drunk in Public” Law

Certain Southern California cities, notably some beach communities, are known as “partying” destinations, a reputation that city officials can be eager to curb. Those officials may employ a highly zealous approach to enforcing public intoxication laws, taking offenses very seriously, and often targeting for apprehension and prosecution persons who may appear publicly intoxicated. Police will invoke the charge of drunk and disorderly as a “catch all” offense and use it to arrest those they consider undesirable or troublemakers. Often times police arrest someone for this offense if they just think the person is not cooperating with their orders.

Penal Code 647(f) PC is known as California’s “drunk in public” (or “public intoxication”) law. Despite what the name of this law would suggest, simply being drunk in a public place is not a crime and is not enough to justify a criminal charge of drunk in public under Penal Code Section 647(f). For successful prosecution, it must be established that the defendant was “willfully intoxicated” and it must also be proven that an individual was unable to exercise care on behalf of themselves or others or were obstructing a public way.

Pre-File Investigations

A pre-file investigation is when an individual is suspected of a crime and is under police investigation, but no formal charges have yet been filed. An open “pre-file case” undergoing an active investigation may be a strong indication that charges are forthcoming. Signs that you are under investigation may include the police or other law enforcement agencies attempting to contact you, your employer, your family, or friends, to ask questions. A search warrant may have already been issued. To possibly prevent further invasive inquiries and protect your rights before charges are filed, the importance of hiring a criminal defense attorney immediately when you are being investigated for a crime is critical.

Certain crimes, like white collar crimes, often require lengthy investigations. Even if a person knows that they are under an investigation which will require a considerable amount of time, it is still in their best interest to immediately hire a pre-filing criminal defense attorney. Preparation of an effective pre-filing defense may result in charges never being filed against you. In other cases, felony conduct may result in only misdemeanor charges.

Possession of a Stolen Firearm under Prop 47

In the statewide general election of November 2014, California voters approved Proposition 47 (“Prop 47″), commonly known as the “Safe Neighborhood and Schools Act.” It changed existing sentencing laws and reclassified a wide range of crimes from a felony to a misdemeanor.

One notable change in gun laws means shorter prison sentences, in certain instances, for the serious crime of possession of stolen firearms. Under Prop 47, the penalty for possession of a stolen firearm worth $950 or less, as many handguns are, is reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor. What used to be a sentence of up to three years in prison has been reduced to a maximum of just 12 months.

Making A Bomb Threat in California

In view of worldwide events, bomb threats cannot be lightly dismissed and are taken very seriously by local and federal law enforcement. All bomb threats, at the very least, generate a cursory investigation. Frequently, a large response utilizing considerable resources must be deployed. Because responding to a false bomb threat is costly and time consuming to law enforcement, the legal system employs stiff penalties to deter such threats. Pursuant to California Penal Code § 148.1, any person who falsely reports that a bomb was placed or will be placed in a private or public place may be accused of making a bomb threat.

Any action or message, such as a bomb threat, that is used to instill fear in a person or group of people can be viewed as a terrorist threat. California Code § 422 and CA Code § 148.1 address terrorist and bomb threats. Under the California statute, the false report must be made to specific people and the person making the threat must know it’s false. The threats can be made verbally or through texting, mail, email, or phone. False bomb threats can be reported to peace officers, television stations, radio stations, government officials, building occupants, public transportation employees, airline employees, news reporters, and other individuals.

Deportable Offenses in California

In California, certain crimes,  known as deportable offenses can lead to you being deported and removed from the country. If you’re not a U.S. citizen and you’re in the country, a criminal conviction may mean your deportation or removal from the United States. That is, the government can send you back to your native country and bar you from re-entering the United States.

These laws apply irregardless of the fact that you may be a “permanent resident” or have a “green card,” allowing you to live and work in the U.S. indefinitely and enjoy most of the rights and privileges that U.S. citizens have. Similarly, you may have a visa, which lets you stay in the country temporarily while you work or go to school. Green cards and visas do not grant U.S. citizenship.

Misdemeanor Hit and Run

In California, the crime of hit and run is committed when a person involved in a collision leaves the scene and fails to exchange identification and insurance information with the other parties involved. Hit and run offenses can either be charged as a misdemeanor or as a felony. Hit and run offenses involving traffic collisions that cause damage to the property of another person are charged as misdemeanors. Felony hit and run occurs when there are injuries.

There is always liability in a hit and run, regardless of who is at fault or the amount of damage. An individual not liable for a traffic collision who leaves the scene of the accident can be charged with misdemeanor hit and run pursuant to California Vehicle Code Section 20002.

Return Fraud

Fraud comes in a variety of ingenious forms and schemes, so it is not surprising that some merchants have become victims of thieves who can steal without even leaving the store. The scheme known as “Return Fraud” is a crime where people exchange stolen goods for cash, use counterfeit receipts or bring back items to merchants that have already been worn or used. Some bold fraudsters simply pick up merchandise from store shelves and take it to the customer service counter for a refund. One mid west fraud ring, aware of lenient store return policies, started returning items to the stores without receipts in exchange for store credit in the form of gift cards. They would then sell the gift cards at a discount.

Return fraud involves obtaining money or property by use of deceptive means. Like shoplifting, it is a type of retail fraud that is viewed in the eyes of the law as petty theft and, as such, requires proof that an item was taken intentionally (not accidentally), with the intent to steal.

Gun Ownership Rights and Prior Convictions

In general, the right to bear arms is guaranteed under the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, however there are several ways that a person can forfeit his or her gun ownership rights. California state law establishes specific groups of people who are not allowed to carry firearms, based on past convictions, either felony or misdemeanors. For those who have lost these rights, subsequent possession of a firearm is illegal under California Penal Code Section 29800 PC. This applies to anyone who is addicted to a narcotic drug or who has previously been convicted of a felony or certain misdemeanors. Penal Code 29800 is a complex gun law with many exceptions and technicalities. Those charged with violations of this code should consult a criminal defense lawyer with experience in these matters.

There are three specific groups of people who are not allowed to carry a firearm.

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