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LOS ANGELES CRIMINAL DEFENSE BLOG

Modern America and Prescription Drugs

The Prescription Drug Epidemic

Illicit drugs have a long standing negative image in modern American culture. They are widely regarded as something only those on the fringes of society make use of, but certainly not consumed by upstanding citizens. But, as history has shown, America has long held the door open to the use of drugs by all ranks of our society.

cocaine-drops

The Evolution of Organized Crime in America

Organized crime has played a fabled part in 20th century American history. Television and movies have done much to bring the story of organized crime into the nation’s consciousness. Those who remember the dawn of the television era may recall Senator Estes Kefauver and his “Special Committee to Investigate Crime in Interstate Commerce” heatedly questioning notorious mobsters who appeared before the committee in the early 50’s.

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Human Trafficking: The New Slave Trade

In the United States, the slave trade was officially ended in 1807 when the congress enacted legislation that stated that no new slaves were permitted to be imported. With the passing of The Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves, the practice of bringing slaves into this country should have long ago become a relic of the past. Most modern Americans think that this slavery is long gone, so it’s shocking to learn that the business of trafficking in humans, a present day version of slavery, is alive and even thriving in our state. California is ranked as one of the states with the worst problems of human trafficking with Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego being among the top 10 areas in the United States for the activity. There are subtle signs if we pay close attention. Sometimes a police raid of a human stash house or the story of a young woman sold into prostitution gets reported by local TV, but these stories are the exceptional few that have managed to emerge from what is a growing industry of trafficking in human beings.

Human trafficking as a modern form of slavery has evolved profoundly over the last five years. The reasons for this evolution are rooted in long established drug smuggling methods and the widening use of social media. Now a prime player in the human trafficking trade, the drug trafficking trade spawned transnational and domestic gangs, which then added the lucrative trafficking of human beings to their accustomed businesses of moving guns and drugs. By providing an easy method of victim recruitment, social media has become a key facilitator of human trafficking, particularly in the sex worker industry. All perpetrators of human trafficking have become more sophisticated and organized, in particular, technologically.

A National Tragedy: Police Violence and the Black Community

An Ongoing Parade of Police Violence

The country of late has been front-and-center witness to an ongoing parade of police violence, particularly against young black men. Since the August 2014 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, to Freddie Grey’s death in a Baltimore police van in April of this year, there has been a steady stream of fatal incidents involving the police and black men, for the most part, young men. And these are just the incidents that have made national headlines.

 

The Trouble with Eyewitness Testimony

Eyewitness Testimony…the Gold Standard?

Eyewitness testimony is understood by most people to be the gold standard when it comes to reconstructing the details of certain events that haven’t been documented by any other means. This belief comes into question when any number of people can witness a crime in progress and later report substantially different accounts than others witness present at the same event. Seemingly obvious items like gender, hair color, or if the person was wearing a hat can vary. In is further astounding when those same witnesses will later provide totally different details of the incident to another questioner.

DNA and Criminality: Two Sides of a Coin

Unique to an individual, except in very limited situations, DNA is unchanging throughout one’s life. DNA is a reliable identifier, and, most conveniently for forensic purposes, it is found in all the body’s cells. Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is an essential molecule that is found in every part of our bodies. DNA testing on biological samples such as skin, saliva, semen, blood or hair is increasingly used to help convict or exonerate people suspected of crimes and with great accuracy. As crucial courtroom evidence, it must be properly collected, preserved and kept from contamination. When the whole procedure is expertly undertaken and correctly completed, DNA testing has become the modern, almost foolproof version of fingerprinting.

 

Civil Rights Violations and the Local Police

Civil Rights Violations and the Local Police

Any casual viewer of cable network news would conclude that many Americans are of the opinion that the filing of charges by the Department of Justice against certain individuals, notably local police officers, for federal civil rights violations is an alternative for supposedly failed local criminal prosecution. This seems to occur especially when a vocal segment of the nation disagrees with the results of a local criminal investigation or the actions (or inactions) of certain district attorneys. Recent cases that are prime examples of the prevailing thought pattern include the Darren Wilson

Domestic Violence in California

Domestic violence continues to place itself high on the list of hot topics in the national conversation. Professional sports figures contribute many high profile stories for the public and the media to put under the microscope, but every day, ordinary citizens are involved in cases that are much more emblematic of the everyday violence committed against domestic partners. Some victims go almost unnoticed, while other victims of the violence pay the ultimate price. Meanwhile, public officials charged with the responsibility for enforcing the existing domestic violence laws seem to go on with business as usual, seemingly overwhelmed by their daily exposure to all the violence and oblivious to people’s fundamental lack of respect towards those closest to them.

Murder, The Ultimate Price of Domestic Violence

When a woman is murdered by her husband, suddenly a community’s denial about the seriousness and the potential deadliness of domestic violence vanishes. Other women being battered realize they could be next, and often consider calling law enforcement or begin to seek restraining orders.

What Happened When California Decriminalized Marijuana

Noticeable (and Notable) Effects of California Marijuana Laws

Observers have seen a number of noticeable (and notable) consequences in California resulting from the gradual move toward decriminalization of marijuana laws. Prior to the relaxation of such laws, so-called experts voiced dire warnings against partial legalization, of civic disorder, increased lawlessness and a drastic rise in other drug use. For the most part these warnings have proved unfounded.

Two pivotal events have been instrumental in shaping the current marijuana landscape in the state. California Proposition 215, also known as the Medical Use of Marijuana Initiative or the Compassionate Use Act, was placed on the 1996 general election ballot as an initiated state statute which was subsequently approved by the voters. The marijuana industry further expanded in California by the full decriminalization of marijuana that went into effect in January of 2011 when possession of one ounce (28.5 grams) or less of marijuana became an infraction, punishable only by a maximum $100 fine (plus fees), given that the possessor had no criminal record.

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.

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