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Posted on in Sex Crimes

sex crimes, prostitution, San Jose criminal defense attorneyProstitution is often referred to as the world’s oldest profession, and there are several arguments that state-sanctioned prostitution should be legalized across the country. Currently, Nevada is the only state that allows legal prostitution, meaning that it is a punishable offense in California. This is delineated in the state penal code, which states that any person who succeeds or intends in engaging in sexual conduct for money (or any other measurable transaction or consideration) can be charged with prostitution.

The only caveat to this is if the person does so as part of any stage performance, play, or other entertainment that is open to the public. This is where the line can be muddied, as there is no shortage of reports of exotic dancers or masseuse artists who claim that they have experienced entrapment by an officer who solicits a greater sexual act from them, and subsequently charges them with prostitution.

Profitable Crimes

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Governor Jerry Brown, prison reform, San Jose criminal justice lawyerOver the last several weeks, President Obama has commuted the sentence of nearly 90 inmates, mostly nonviolent drug offenders. His actions have sparked a number of conversations about America’s prison problem and caused many state officials to question whether or not we are doing it “right.” California’s governor, Jerry Brown, recently joined the conversations in a call for reform to the fixed-sentencing laws he implemented three decades ago, indicating that more change is now needed.

The Sad State of the American Justice System

The United States is home to only five percent of the world’s population, yet it houses 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. An alarming percentage of those inmates are nonviolent offenders who, for all intents and purposes, have no real reason for being separated from society in the long-term. But it is their continued imprisonment that strains our system, making it more and more difficult to ensure that dangerous criminals—those found guilty of violent, heinous, or serious crimes—behind bars.

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Posted on in California Laws

petty theft, larceny, San Jose criminal defense attorneyTo not steal may be a commandment embedded in the social fabric, but not all stealing is considered equal in the eyes of the law. There are different levels to stealing, and they are punished as such. The simplest type of theft is known as petty theft, or more formally, larceny. Petty theft is the taking of someone’s property without that person’s consent. It is considered larceny if it can be determined that the person took the object permanently—which is considered a crime against the right of possession. When someone steals a wallet left on a restaurant table, or takes an unlocked bike, it is considered petty theft or larceny. Shoplifting from stores is also considered larceny or petty theft. Petty theft can be violent, however—a person may take the object by force or fraud. Fraud, however, is considered a different crime, even if it involves money, such as the crime of embezzlement or forgery.

While petty theft and larceny are a serious issue, the rate of incident appears to be decreasing in recent years. There were over 6 million recorded incidents of petty crime in 2010, though that number was a 2.4 percent decline compared to the year before and a 6.6 percent decline from the 2006 estimate. Stealing from cars or motor vehicles was the most common type of one specific place from which petty theft occurred, with shoplifting ranking close behind. Petty theft from a building (including a home or a place of business) was significant, with pocket-picking, theft from coin-operated machines, purse-snatching, and the theft of vehicle accessories and bikes ranking as well.

While the seemingly disparate punishment for petty crime often makes the news, the average loss experienced by petty theft crime is nearly $1,000 per incident—a significant amount. And that adds up—in 2010 alone, the national total value of items stolen in incidents of petty theft averages over $6 billion.

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domestic violence, violence against family, San Jose criminal defense attorneyOctober was domestic violence awareness month. With that in mind, it is important to understand what domestic violence actually represents, along with some ways a victims of such actions can seek help. Domestic violence, most often perpetuated by a spouse or domestic partner, can have several definitions—one does not have to be physically assaulted for the abuse to be considered domestic violence. An abusive relationship can take several forms. There are many signs that a particular relationship may be abusive, some which may include (but are not limited to):

  • When a partner embarrasses the other with constant put-downs, either in public or private;
  • When a partner controls where the other can go or who he or she can see;
  • When one partner refuses to let the other make any of the joint decisions;
  • When one partner tells the other that he or she is a bad parent;
  • When one partner denies the other access to or time with the children;
  • When one partner controls all the financial decisions and money in the relationship; or
  • When one partner destroys the other’s property.

Domestic violence is surprisingly common—an average of 24 people every minute are victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner. This results in more than 12 million Americans being victims of domestic violence annually. These numbers represent nearly 30 percent of all American women and 10 percent of all American men. The numbers of severe physical violence are even more shocking: Roughly 25 percent of all women aged 18 and older have been the victim of such violence in their lifetimes, along with roughly 14 percent of all men.

Punishment for domestic violence in California is regulated by the California Family Code. A perpetrator is defined as anyone with whom the victim has an “affinity,” (related by marriage); with whom the victim lives (or has formerly lived with); or someone the victim is dating. If a person feels that he or she is being abused, he or she can then file for a protective order. If the situation is immediately dangerous, he or she may choose to instead file for an emergency protective order.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Legalized-Marijuana_20151028-174830_1.jpgCurrently, the state of California only permits legal use of marijuana for medical purposes. All other uses are currently considered drug crimes. But backers like The Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform are making serious progress in their ReformCA movement, and they hope to have the initiative in front of voters on the November 2016 election ballot. But is it really possible for California to join the states of Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and Colorado in the legalization of recreational marijuana?

The Cost of Legalizing Marijuana in California

Before marijuana legalization can go before voters, language for the proposition must be written. According to the Coalition, the first round should circulate within “days.” From there, the language will be edited and then circulated again to reflect any changes. Signatures will then need to be collected in order to get the proposition on a ballot. LA Weekly estimated it could take more than three million dollars in paid signature gatherer wages, just to make sure they get enough. But even then, they will have to overcome the stigmas and concerns of voters before the bill can pass.

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drunk drivingCalifornia police arrested 1,226 people for driving under the influence on Labor Day weekend this year. This is a sharp increase from the previous year, during which there were 1,168 DUI arrests on the holiday weekend.

If you were one of these drivers, then you probably have a long list of questions about DUI and the potential consequences. Read on to learn more about the penalties for first-time offenders:

What Are the Penalties?

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Posted on in Sex Crimes

statutory-rapeStatutory rape laws can be difficult to define exactly, and have often been criticized for harsh interpretation that does not allow for human behavior. The federal definition of rape was changed in the beginning of 2013 from the old definition of “the carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will,” to a much more specific definition. Rape is now defined as any type of penetration — no matter how slight — or oral penetration without the consent of the victim. When this new definition went into effect, however, the definition for statutory rape remained the same.

Statutory rape is federally defined as “nonforcible sexual intercourse with a person who is under the statutory age of consent.” The age of consent is determined by the state legislature, and so varies from state to state. If, however, the victim was unable to give consent because he or she was too young to give it, suffers from any mental impairment (temporary or permanent) the crime would be considered rape, not statutory rape.

While some states consider any sexual act between a minor and a person of legal age to be statutory rape, the state of California is a bit more lenient. Statutory rape in California is considered any sexual intercourse with a minor who is more than three years the perpetrator’s junior. If the perpetrator is over the age of 21 and engages in intercourse with a person who is under 16, he is guilty or a misdemeanor or a felony, punishable by up to one year in county jail or up to four years in state prison.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_drug-crimes-and-deportation.jpgWith election season in full swing, the issue of immigration and drug crimes has become front and center in American discourse. The debate surrounding immigration issues and drug crimes are not only for presidential candidates, however. In early September, California state legislature passed through the Senate Appropriations Committee two law proposals that would bridge the gap between California state law and federal law. In short, the bills assert that the state should allow immigrants charged with drug possession the same opportunities provided U.S. citizens — that they should be equally entitled to drug treatment programs rather than prison and eventual deportation.

California already has a program enacted that sets it apart when considering treatment of immigrants charged with drug crimes. This is known as Deferred Entry of Judgment, and it allows for any person charged with drug crimes to plead guilty, enter the program, and subsequently have the charges dismissed and his or her legal record wiped clean. Because, however, people must first plead guilty to qualify for this program, federal law could trigger deportation for these people—even if they are documented immigrants but not full citizens (green card residents).

These laws attempt to mitigate risk of deportation for immigrants charged with drug crimes. In recent years, deportation of non-citizens (even documented) has increased 43 percent between 2007 and 2012. This holds true for people charged with drug crimes who have no prior record, and for those who were charged with the crime sometimes decades in the past. Even if a person’s charge ultimately resulted in no prison time, he is still at risk for deportation.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_emotional-abuse.jpgEvery married couple argues. Every married couple can have dramatic fights that elevate to a level neither wanted it to go. But when that anger is especially one-sided, or probes deeper levels of psychological distress, it is considered domestic abuse.

Normal arguing does not leave one spouse frightened of the other, or fearing that he or she may be in danger. It is easy to forget that domestic abuse can be psychological as well as physical. This type of abuse is much more difficult to identify — whether you are the person perpetuating the abuse or on the receiving end.

Many emotional abusers do not intend to do so. It is a behavior than can stem from deeply seated places of emotional insecurity and lack of self-worth. Emotional abuse is characterized by name-calling, yelling, shaming, and blaming. An attempt to control one’s spouse and/or intimidate him or her from seeking other relationships or experiences outside of the marriage is also emotional abuse.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_chemical-testing.jpgIf you plan on drunk driving in the state of California, plan on having to take a breathalyzer test. That is to say, you do not have the right to refuse chemical testing if you are pulled over for alleged drunk driving in California. This is a right that you surrender with the acceptance of your California state license. If you refuse to submit or to complete the required chemical testing, you will be slapped with a hefty fine or mandatory imprisonment.

Per the California Department of Motor Vehicles, simply refusing to participate in chemical testing will also result in the suspension of one’s ability to drive a motor vehicle for one year (up to two years if there are multiple infractions in less than one year), in addition to fines and jail time.

According to the National Motorists Association (NMA), you could be slapped with heavy penalties as such even if you are not found to have a blood alcohol content (BAC) higher than the legal limit of 0.08 percent. If an accident occurs and you are found to have any alcohol content in your system and the official on the scene declares that you were too impaired to drive — even if you were below the legal alcohol limit — you can be declared responsible for the accident, even if it was not technically your fault.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_child-identity-theft.jpgAs summer draws to a close, many children across the country are heading back to school. It is difficult as a parent to let your child go into an unknown world, unable to offer any sort of protection. You can only hope you have prepared them for another year of school, and get them on the bus. As if the stress of back to school was not enough on parents across the United States, there is another problem many parents are having to worry about; Child Identity Theft. It almost sounds like a joke, but child identity theft is a very large problem across the country that many families are encountering. Here is everything a parent should know about child identity theft.

Children under 18 are the newest victims of identity theft in America. No, the practice is not nearly as common as identity theft on adults, but it is a serious enough issue that parents should be aware and take caution. A 2012 study by the Identity Theft Assistance Center found that 2.5 percent of American households encountered child identity theft at some point. Commonly, a child’s social security number is stolen and then combined with a different date of birth. This allows the thief to use this new, “synthetic identity” for many things. Another frequent child identity theft practice is known as “friendly fraud.” This is when a family friend or family member uses the child’s identity for various financial purposes like applying for credit cards.

What makes child identity theft more dangerous than adult identity theft is that it is not easy to spot. Most parents, unless they have already opened accounts or credit cards for the child, are under the assumption that their child’s credit will remain clean and intact. This leads to years of unchecked credit, meanwhile the child’s identity could have been stolen. This means that often, by the time the theft is detected, the child’s credit is already ruined.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_white-collar-crime.jpgThe idea of white-collar crime is nothing new. It was, in fact, a term coined as far back as 1939, and is know a term that is nearly synonymous with business fraud or any serious fraud, cheating, lying, or stealing perpetuated by business or executive professionals. While it may seem a lofty crime, one that does not necessarily affect its victims immediately and physically the way that violent crime does, white-collar crimes are in no way victimless. One executive who has the responsibility and ability to control one family’s finances, for example, can destroy that family’s well-being and future with the click of a mouse.

During the economic downturn of 2008 and 2009, the national dialogue focused, briefly, on just how serious these crimes truly are, and what appropriate punishments look like. Critics of the way that the government handled the crash and the recovery say that the government did not address the executives who were, at least in part, responsible for causing the crash.

There are many types of white-collar crime that the FBI recognizes. Some of these include, but are not limited to:

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b2ap3_thumbnail_college-sexual-assault.jpgSexual assaults on college campuses have sadly become more and more common. In the past few years, universities across the country have struggled with cases of sexual assault. Unfortunately, quite a few assault cases on college campuses, in California and across the country, are mishandled. Assault victims and, in some cases, alleged offenders, are often left feeling like they were not properly advocated for and protected.

Now, California lawmakers are considering a group of proposals aimed at simplifying and standardizing the process of universities handling sexual assault cases.

Federal law requires that universities take immediate action with cases of violence, harassment, and discrimination. California lawmaker Das Williams, author of many of the new proposals, says that universities across the country have failed at creating safe campuses. Williams says the state of California has a responsibility and an obligation to ensure safe learning environments, and that these proposed measures are a big step in the right direction.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_DUI-costs_20150809-183615_1.jpgEveryone knows that drinking and driving is not a good idea. Most importantly, your chances of hurting or killing yourself or others are exponentially higher when you get behind the wheel after drinking. Aside from the chances of bodily injury or harming innocent people, taking the risk of getting behind the wheel after drinking can have serious legal repercussions and very high costs. In California, the average cost of a DUI is well over $10,000 after considering legal fees, fines, raised insurance costs, and more.

The first cost to consider is bail or bond costs. While there are rare cases where drivers are released from jail on their own recognizance after being arrested for a DUI, in most situations, bail for first time DUI offenders can range anywhere from $100 plus to $2,000. Also, unless a passenger is able to get the driver’s car home after their arrest, towing and impounding fees need to be included in total DUI cost calculations. While the costs of towing and impounding depend on location, one can expect fees ranging anywhere from the low hundreds to the low thousands. On top of that, cars left in impound lots are at risk of being auctioned off, so drivers charged with DUI should be quick about retrieving their impounded vehicles.

Next to consider are fines and fees doled out by the court. These fees vary from state to state and also depending on how many DUIs the person has already received. In California, first time DUI offenders could see fines of nearly $2,000. On top of court given fines, one must also consider the costs of hiring an attorney. These costs are difficult to estimate, as they vary greatly depending on which law firm was hired, location within the state, and the length of the defense. Pleading guilty immediately with the assistance of a lawyer could cost as little as $300, but extensive cases could see costs upwards of $25,000.  

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b2ap3_thumbnail_juvenile-crime.jpgAny parent wants to know the whereabouts and activities of their children. As children grow older, however, constant supervision becomes unrealistic, and parents can simply hope that their children are making smart choices. While only a relatively small number of children commit crimes, juvenile crimes do happen, even under the care of responsible parents. Studies point to a few key identifiers that may indicate if a child is committing criminal acts.

Lets start by stating that, for the most part, children that do commit crimes typically only commit two or less offenses. For most children, the experience of getting caught, dealing with legal and parental consequences, and potentially spending time in juvenile hall is enough to discourage any more misbehavior. Repeat juvenile crime offenders are responsible for the largest majority of juvenile crime. These offenders tend to display similar behaviors that may indicate to parents that they are juvenile criminals. Children like this tend to start committing crimes at a young age, around 10 or 11 years old, and will continue to display signs that point to trouble. There are certain signs, described below, which parents should watch for.

Problems at School

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b2ap3_thumbnail_domestic-abuse.jpgDomestic violence continues to be one of the most serious issues in American society, despite recent and continued efforts to bring awareness to the issue and, as such, end it. The issue is one even more grave than war: between 2001 and 2012 approximately 6,500 American troops died in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. During the same time period, more than 11,765 American women were murdered by current or ex male partners. That is an average of three women every day being murdered by current or former male partners. This statistic is even worse if the woman is disabled: women with disabilities are 40 percent more likely to be a victim of domestic violence than women without disabilities.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the vast majority of victims of domestic violence are women—85 percent of all reported cases of abuse victims are women. There is more than one type of domestic violence. Physical and emotional abuse are the most common. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, physical abuse can have many forms. In addition to physical violence, physical abuse can include:

  •      Driving recklessly;
  •      Preventing you from seeking help from authorities;
  •      Abandoning you when you have no recourse;
  •      Trapping you in your home; or
  •      Punching walls, kicking doors, etc.

While physical abuse is obviously the most black and white when it comes to identification, emotional and financial abuse can be devastating as well. Emotional abuse can include isolating a person from her friends or family, refusing to trust a person or acting unjustifiably jealous, serially cheating and blaming a partner for the behavior, or just calling a person rude or insensitive names. Every year, there are 18.5 million mental health care visits resulting from intimate partner violence annually.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_death-penalty.jpgCalifornians could soon see the resumption of the death penalty in their state. A recent decision from the United States Supreme Court has opened doors for California to resume its efforts to relaunch the death penalty in the state. The ruling, from a case in Oklahoma, reinforced each state’s ability to use lethal injection as a humane method of execution. While execution of death row criminals will not resume immediately in California, state officials have promised to propose a new lethal injection method within 120 days of the Supreme Court’s decision.

The Supreme Court ruled on Monday, June 29th, to uphold Oklahoma’s use of a three drug lethal injection method and decided that execution methods do not need to be completely painless. The ruling came from an Oklahoma case over the drug midazolam, the first in a three part lethal injection procedure. In late 2014, inmate Clayton Lockett was involved in a botched execution after he awoke in the middle of the procedure, after he had already been given midazolam and should not have been able to come to. Opponents of the death penalty in Oklahoma argued that the three part lethal injection process left room for pain and did not provide a humane execution. The Court, however, ruled in favor of execution, arguing that “Holding that the Eighth Amendment demands the elimination of essentially all risk of pain would effectively outlaw the death penalty altogether."

Now, California officials have said that within 120 days they will have a proposal ready for a single drug execution policy. Where three drug methods faced legal issues in the past, a single drug method would be much safer, and difficult for opponents to argue against. Once officials unveil the single drug procedure, expected to be a single dose of a fatal sedative, they will still face year long administrative procedures and hearings. Opponents of the death penalty in California point to many past efforts to reinstate the death penalty that were shot down due to failure to comply with state administrative rules as a sign that this new proposal could still be denied. If this new proposal does end up passing, the next hurdle will be finding pharmaceutical suppliers to supply the drugs to prisons.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Prop-47.jpgLate last year when California changed its drug laws and introduced Prop 47, it drastically altered the landscape of drug crimes in the state. Six months after the passage of Prop 47, drug rehabilitation and the law’s effect on jail time has had mixed results. Narcotic arrests have dropped by 30 percent in Los Angeles and by 48 percent in rural areas patrolled by the LA County Sheriff’s Department, for example. Yet property crimes, such as burglary and theft, have risen since the passage of the law, meaning that the arrest numbers may be somewhat skewed.

According to the state government’s general election voter guide, Prop 47 intended to reduce the state’s budget for prison-related expenditures. This money was then re-allocated for programs meant to prevent truancy and school dropouts, and intended to help victims of crimes, mental health and abuse treatment programs, and other programs intended to keep would-be offenders out of jail.

Not only did the passage of Prop 47 work as a way to keep offenders out of jail, it will also release thousands of people who were jailed for a felony that has now been reduced to a misdemeanor. These people are eligible for immediate release from prison. While there are no statistics to directly support this, this could be one reason for the increased rates of other sometimes drug-related crimes. This could be one reason why that in February of this year, the state added an addendum to the proposition that disqualified out-of-state and juvenile adjudications as disqualifying convictions, however. It also stated that misdemeanors, in some cases, could not be considered as such retroactively.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_drug-crimes.jpgThere are more immigrants in California than in any other state, according to the Public Policy Institute of California. This comes out to more than 10 million immigrants in this state alone, meaning that one in four of the nation’s population that was born outside of the U.S. resides in California. While these numbers primarily refer to people who are living legally in the country, it is no secret that California is also home to thousands of immigrants who are illegal, who have not received permanent residency status or a green card. While this makes the state one of the most diverse, it can also mean it is one of the most divided when it comes to policy and policing. One of the most recent of these rulings to be considered by state legislators is one that would allow illegal immigrants to plead guilty to minor drug charges without fear of deportation that such an act would usually trigger.

Minor drug charges are often dismissed if a person pleads guilty and undergoes drug counseling. If, however, the charge is brought against a person living illegally in the country, such proceedings could trigger deportation. The new bill currently being debated by state officials would allow illegal immigrants to plead guilty to such charges and undergo counseling, without fear of deportation.

In 2013, fewer than 3 percent of federal criminal charges went to trial, in large part due to the acceptance of plea bargains. While plea bargains proved to largely be a good option for minor drug charges, there were unexpected consequences to their rise in popularity: the so-called “Rockefeller Laws” implemented in New York were one such example, in which punishments for minor drug infractions increased sharply to combat the rise of plea bargains.

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Posted on in DUI

b2ap3_thumbnail_boating-and-drinking.jpg

With summer’s official arrival, Californian’s are preparing for all types of water based fun. Millions of California residents safely enjoy boating on rivers, lakes, and on the ocean each summer. With nearly a million registered boats in the state, and no license required to operate a watercraft, the chance for danger while boating is high. Add alcohol into the mix, and the likelihood of an accident or injury becomes much higher.  For this reason, the state of California treats boating and drinking much like drinking and driving a motor vehicle. Though it is not illegal to operate a boat while drinking, the same legal limit of intoxication stands for boaters in California.

Alcohol and boating is a dangerous combination. Recent studies estimate that nearly 25 percent of boating accidents in the United States are alcohol related. Often, boating and drinking is more dangerous than drinking and driving, due to factors like engine noise, waves, wind, and glare from the sun. Operating a boat also requires specific skills like balance, coordination, and depth perception, all of which are suppressed when drinking alcohol. On top of that, alcohol often leads to overconfidence, cause watercraft operators to take more risks while boating. All of these factors lead to increased chance for accidents, collisions, injuries, or worse.  

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