OC District Attorney's Office Accused of Violating Constitutional Rights

February 11, 2014


Recently the Orange County Public Defender's Office filed a 500 page brief with the Orange County Superior Court alleging that their client, Scott Dekraai, had his Constitutional Rights violated by intentional misconduct by the Orange County District Attorney's Office. In essence, among other claims, the OCPD says that prosecutor's office sent a police informant into the jail AFTER Dekraai was represented by an attorney. Dekraai then made incriminating statements to the informant which were recorded on a hidden recording device. All of this conduct by the OCDA was accomplished with the covert assistance of the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

Who is Scott Dekraai? Well, he's the defendant who is charged with murdering 8 people in the biggest mass murder case in Orange County history. In such a heinous case, many would say, who cares? Who cares if law enforcement is covertly recording statements he makes to a police informant.

Well, the United States Constitution cares. That sacred document that spells out all of our rights as citizens and members of a free society, is not just a piece of paper that applies only to those who are sympathetic. The United States Supreme Court ruled in 1964 in Massiah v. U.S. 377 US 201, that after an accused is represented by an attorney, law enforcement cannot interview or get statements out of him out of the presence of his lawyer. The OCDA knows this long standing rule of law yet apparently chose to ignore it in the pursuit of a conviction.

This rule of law protects all of us. When it is violated by those entrusted to enforce the law it endangers all of us. Who will be next to have their rights violated? Value judgements can't make the difference in right and wrong. Our parents and our spiritual leaders have taught us all that doing the right thing is always the right thing. There is no room for deciding to violate one defendant's rights just because you don't like him or his crimes. Where does it stop? Who makes that decision? Who gets protected and who doesn't? Do members of minorities deserve any less protection under the Constitution? Of course not, yet many members of the community would say alleged law violators deserve whatever they get however they get it. I disagree.

It reminds me of a saying by Martin Niemöller (1892-1984):

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out-- 
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out-- 
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me--and there was no one left to speak for me.

No More DMV? No More DUI's? Could it happen...

January 31, 2014


No more DUIs? No more car accidents? No more driving on a suspended license? No more rites of passage like getting your drivers license at 16? You mean the DMV doesn't exist? Well yes, there could be lots of benefits to the concept car coming out. What concept car you ask? Multiple carmakers, including even Google which isn't even a car manufacturer, are working on; an automated car. No driver needed.

I personally like driving my car. However the era of driving a car yourself may soon be coming to an end. The new automated car can drive itself to the market, the courthouse, grandmother's house, just about anywhere you would ever want to go. The technology is there. How would this affect the legal profession? We have thousands of laws on the record books that control how you drive, when you drive and where you drive. All of these would really become moot with the automated car. You would program where you want to go and if there was a road closed then the car could reroute you and take you on a different road to your destination. It would be programmed to obey all rules of the road.

The crime of driving under the influence would be extinct. In fact think of the impact on limo companies? None would be needed because you just tell the car to go find a place to park while you go into the bar. On the program Sunday morning the car was parking itself in a parking spot that IT found. Criminal law will be changed forever. Driving laws will become similar to laws that are still on the books about where and how you tie your horse up when you leave it to go to the feed barn.

Think of the possibilities. A getaway driver would no longer be needed in a crime. Somebody who robs a bank can leave the car around the corner, have it drive up and pick him up for a getaway drive that would be anything but fast and furious. The police chasing the car would be able to stop it with a computer command. The possibilities are endless. No more CHP? What do you think?

Can Police Search Your Cell Phone After a Traffic Stop in Orange County, CA?

January 21, 2014


Imagine you are driving along and you get pulled over for a registration violation. The police officer asks for your cell phone along with your drivers license and insurance card. You say what? You have a right to have my cell phone?? The officer says, "oh yes I do. You are not under arrest, you are being given a citation for registration violation. Now hand over your cell phone because I want to search it." This is essentially the case now pending before the United States Supreme Court. If you have a cell phone then you are going to want to follow this case.

David Riley, a man out of San Diego, was stopped by police for having expired registration tags. The police had suspected him of being a gang member who was involved in a shooting, but they had no evidence to tie him to the shooting. When they saw David Riley driving a car that had expired registration, the police pulled him over. They discovered he had two cell phones and decided to search them. They looked through the cell phones and found that there were photographs on the cell phone. After opening the photos the police found photographs that linked Riley to the gang shooting. At trial, his lawyer argued that the search of the cell phones was illegal and that the prosecution should not be able to use the evidence found on illegal search at trial against Riley. That argument didn't work and he was convicted. Now the Supreme Court will take up the issue. Can the police search your cell phone anytime you're given a citation or arrested, without a warrant?

Under the Fourth Amendment, police generally need a warrant before they can conduct a search. The warrant itself must be based on "probable cause," evidence that a crime has been committed. However, The high court ruled 40 years ago that police don't need a search warrant to look through anything a person is carrying when arrested. But lower federal and state courts have differed over whether that decision, predating the digital age, should apply to increasingly sophisticated cellphones, including even more advanced smartphones.

Think about it. You are driving to the grocery store, make a right turn improperly, get pulled over, and next thing you know the police officers are going through your private photographs on your cell phone. How about your text messages, email or anything else that is on your cell phone? Cell phones now are basically hand held computers. Most people's whole lives are on their cell phones. If the Supreme Court rules the police can search your cell phone for a simple traffic stop, watch out America.

Rudolph Loewenstein Invited To Join The National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Trial Lawyers Association

December 30, 2013


Every year the National Trial Lawyers Association creates a list of the top 100 trial lawyers from around the nation. They look for the best and brightest of minds, those who have achieved the unthinkable in determining to fight for their clients' best interests. The National Trial Lawyers Top 100 is an invitation-only organization composed of the premier trial lawyers from each state in the nation who meet stringent qualifications as civil plaintiff and or criminal defense trial lawyers. Membership is extended solely to the select few of the most qualified attorneys from each state who demonstrate superior qualifications of leadership, reputation, influence, stature and public profile. The mission statement from the organization is to promote excellence in the legal profession through advocacy training, networking and education of trial lawyers. The National Trial Lawyers also endeavors to keep its members current on business and professional matters of interest through frequent conferences and publications.

I have been recognized for my work and commitment to excellent client representation and have been included in the 2014 selection of the Top 100 Trial Lawyers. If you have been accused of a crime, arrested, or are under investigation, or if you've never been in trouble with the law before what do you do? It might be embarrassing to ask friends for a recommendation but how else do you find someone you can trust?

The Internet has become a great tool for finding and evaluating professionals. A recommendation from someone you trust is probably the best and easiest way to go but if that isn't possible, or if several people are recommended, then a Google check might be your next step.

Not all lawyers are created equal so it is crucial you investigate thoroughly. Look for recommendations by legal groups who know what to look for in an attorney. One source is the National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Trial Lawyers.

As for me, it is an honor every time a client trusts me with his or her case. I know their freedom and reputation are at stake. Being recognized by my peers is probably the highest honor I could imagine. This selection is something I'm very proud of.

There are many organizations that evaluate lawyers. The National Trial Lawyers list of the top 100 is certainly one reliable method of finding a lawyer who has established his credibility in the courtroom as a fighter and an advocate for his clients. That's why I practice law the way I do.

The Shocking Truth about Secret Bail Hearings

December 20, 2013


Think secret bail hearings only exist in fiction? Unfortunately the answer is no, even though the 6th amendment to the constitution guarantees everyone the right to a public trial if they're accused of a criminal act. The United States Supreme Court has long held that this right extends to pre-trial hearings and motions. (Waller v. Georgia)

Bail hearings are no different, as the outcome of a bail hearing directly decides whether or not defendants must remain in custody while they await trial! (United States v. Abuhamra). That's what makes the recent decision in In Re Carrillo so unsettling. (In Re Carrillo 219 Cal.App.4th 572). Mr. Carrillo was arrested on charges of committing assault with a deadly weapon. At his initial bail hearing, Mr. Carrillo's bail was set at $90,000. Then, without any notice to Mr. Carrillo, and without giving him a chance to contest, the Judge and Prosecutors held a second, closed door bail hearing. At this bail hearing Prosecutors presented "confidential" evidence indicating they believed Mr. Carrillo was a threat to the community and should post a larger bail. The Judge took the Prosecution at its word, and set Mr. Carrillo's bail at $1,000,000.

Mr. Carrillo had no chance to contest the information presented to the Judge. He didn't even know what was presented to the Judge. He just knew that without his knowledge a warrant was issued for his arrest, even though as far as he knew he had posted bail. The Court in his case found this to be a violation of his rights, but in doing so laid out a perfect plan for any Prosecutor wishing to repeat this feat without getting in trouble. What are the magic steps? Well, the Prosecutor has to give notice, but the defendant still doesn't have the right to be present! As long as he knows the "gist" of what is being presented at this hearing, and as long as the Judge makes an independent determination that the information being presented is reliable, well then it's just fine to raise a defendant's bail to $1,000,000! It's now possible to have secret search warrants (People v. Hobbs 7 Cal.4th 948), anonymous juries (People v. Thomas 53 Cal.4th 771), and secret witnesses (US v. Jesus-Casteneda 705 Fed.3d 1117). With this new attack on the fundamental concept of presumption of innocence, it's no wonder the average defendant thinks he faces a presumption of guilt regardless of what the Constitution says.

If you feel frightened reading this you are in good company! Don't let it happen to you. An experienced attorney who knows these rules can help you avoid the pitfalls of a system where protection of the public sometimes goes astray.

Tables Are Turned On LA's Abusive Deputies

December 17, 2013


It wasn't too long ago that I cautioned those who were comfortable with law enforcement practices to ask "Who watches the watchers?" On the heels of a nationwide scandal involving the NSA and their blatant violations of our Constitutional rights comes a scandal that strikes much closer to home. 18 L.A. County Sherriff's deputies working in L.A. County jails have been indicted for multiple counts of federal civil rights violations.

Ranging in rank from deputies to sergeants to lieutenants, in other words, all the way up to supervisors, these 18 deputies are accused of violently beating inmates, detaining visitors against their will, and obstructing investigations into their wrongdoing by hiding away inmate victims from the FBI. In fact, these deputies attempted to intimidate an FBI Agent at her home, going so far as to tell her they were seeking a warrant for her arrest . What may have been the final indignity, among all the indignities suffered by the general public visiting friends and relatives in custody, was the detention and roughing up an Austrian Consulate official attempting to visit an inmate. This event apparently reached the ears of the Federal government when the Austrian government complained about the abusive treatment suffered by their official. Apparently it's not enough to get action when only American citizens complain of mistreatment and abuse. Let a foreign dignitary get abused and it's guaranteed action by those in power.

Abuse by the law enforcement agents we trust to protect our citizens and, yes, even our citizens who have been detained either suspected of or accused of a crime can't be tolerated by a law abiding society. It's easy to think that anyone in jail should suffer whatever consequences await him or her. But that is dangerous thinking because it is against the principles of our Constitution and basic notions of humanity (5th amendment, 6th amendment, 8th amendment). It reduces our democracy and our civil liberties if we, as a society, tolerate such rampant abuse. We entrust our law enforcement officials with the duty to protect all of us. We must remain vigilant as a society. The FBI and federal government are doing the right thing, but it should never have come to this in the first place. Our state and local communities must demand our law enforcement officials live up to the motto written on the side of their patrol cars, "To Serve and Protect". It's time the motto is changed to read, "To Serve and Protect Everyone Equally".

What Happens When A Necessary Witness Can't Appear At Trial in Orange County, CA?

December 4, 2013


The justice system has to be able to conduct lengthy criminal trials even when important witnesses can't be there. For example, a typical murder trial will last at least two to three weeks, and may require the testimony of dozens of witnesses. Because of the backlog in our court system, it can be fairly unpredictable as to exactly when a trial will start. For instance, even after all the formal delays in starting a trial (known as asking for a "continuance"), the state still has 10 days to "trail" the case as they wait for a courtroom to become available. And none of this takes into account the time between when an alleged crime occurs and when a case actually goes to trial. In fact, a trial can be years in the making.

So what happens if a witness who has important testimony simply won't be available when a case finally goes to trial? Sometimes an important witness for either the prosecutor or the defendant will fall ill, move out of the country, or any other number of things happen which would make them unavailable to appear at the trial. The solution to this dilemma is what is known as a "conditional examination." The procedure to be used in such an examination is carefully crafted to protect the prosecution and the defense and the ability of both to have a fair trial when that time comes.

California Penal Code Sections 1335 through 1345 set forth the circumstances when a conditional examination may be conducted. A conditional examination is appropriate when a witness is: 1) About to leave the state, 2) So sick or disabled that their ability to testify is in doubt, 3) Sixty-five years of age or older, or 4) A dependent adult. For purposes of the "conditional examination" the witness' testimony is taken in a normal courtroom setting. The Judge, Prosecutor, Defendant and his counsel are all present. While a jury is not present, the testimony is audio and video recorded. If the witness is truly unavailable for trial the tape recording can be played for the jury during the trial. The testimony given at a conditional examination has the same force and effect as if the testimony were conducted live and in person in front of the jury.

The usual scenario that unfolds is a witness is expected to be unavailable for trial and since the prosecution has the burden of proof, it's usually the District Attorney who wants to preserve the evidence. It could be a dying witness where the conditional exam could be conducted even in the hospital room of the dying witness. However, it is equally available and effective for the defense to use this tool to preserve evidence that could prove a defendant is wrongfully accused. Consider this situation: A homicide occurs. 7 years later a man is brought to trial for that murder. Many of the witnesses with relevant testimony are either in prison, dead, or live out of state. An out of state witness who has important eyewitness testimony that exonerates the defendant is flown in, but the trial date is pushed back a month. This witness has a life threatening illness that may cause him to be incapacitated and unable to travel for the new trial date. It may be impossible for the witness to fly back and subject himselfs to the rigors of a trial.. What does the defense attorney do? A conditional examination is the answer. Give the prosecutor a chance to cross examine the witness but don't lose the defendant's freedom because you, as his lawyer, don't know that there are options to preserve the testimony.

The criminal defense lawyer must know how to use every tool at his disposal. Opportunities can be lost without even knowing they were available if you don't have an experienced criminal defense lawyer. The availability of the conditional examination is just one more reason why it's critical to have a State Bar Certified Specialist in Criminal Law defending you in your time of crisis.

Orange County, CA Gang Injunctions

November 25, 2013

Gang-Injunctions.jpgTally another victory for civil liberties and constitutional rights. On Tuesday November 5, 2014, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a gang injunction in place in Orange County was overly broad and violated an individual's basic freedoms. An injunction is an order by a court for someone to do something or refrain from doing something. A gang injunction is a new and dangerous twist on this traditional court order that is being used by District Attorney's offices throughout the US. A gang injunction is a court order that attempts to restrain members of known gangs from associating with each other in public or representing their gang. As of 2010 there were 150 active gang injunctions in California alone.

But wait, what's the problem with telling gang members that they can't hang out with each other and wear gang attire? Why wouldn't we want to do that? Well, the problem is gang injunctions typically draw in a swath of law abiding citizens in an act of profiling and enforcement practices that resemble something closer to a police state than a democracy. For instance, the gang injunction that came before the 9th Circuit restricted what clothes could be worn within the "safety zone". It limited people's 1st amendment right to publicly associate with whomever they choose, and even imposed a mandatory curfew. The particulars of such a gang injunction seem better fitted for martial law than a free republic.

For instance, children of a community activist were served STEP (Street Terrorism Enforcement and Prevention) notices for merely being in a car with a suspected member who might have associated at one time or another with an associate of a gang. Her children were even finger printed, all at a routine traffic stop. Stories like these led the 9th Circuit to find that "the injunctions provisions were so sweeping that enforcement of them constituted a heavy burden on an individual's basic freedoms"

Well why don't non gang members just prove to Law Enforcement that they're clean? What's so hard about that? Well, for one thing, the way a gang injunction is obtained makes it very difficult to avoid being ensnared by it. The ACLU of Southern California describes just how scary the process of obtaining a gang injunction really is: "It's common practice in gang injunction cases for prosecutors to name only a gang as a defendant, obtain an injunction by default when no one shows up on behalf of the gang to contest the case and then to apply the injunction to anyone police or prosecutors think may be a gang member, without court approval or a chance for the supposed gang member to be heard." Without you ever realizing it you may become a "gang member" just because of where you live, who you talk to, or what you wear. That's why gang injunctions are a dangerous weapon, and that's why the 9th Circuit made the right call.

Los Angeles, CA Justice DENIED

November 15, 2013

On November 8, 2013, the Los Angeles Times had a headline that read, "34 year wait for justice is over". The defendant, Kash Register, was convicted of murder in 1979 on the testimony of a woman named Brenda Anderson. Register spent 34 years in State Prison maintaining his innocence. He couldn't be paroled because he always maintained his innocence. He refused to admit to a murder he didn't commit. The Parole Board is programmed to deny parole to those inmates who don't admit their crime because without an admission, how can the inmate be rehabilitated?

So, Register languished in prison, denied his freedom, the basic human rights of American citizens, but not the love of his family, who believed in him from the beginning. Along came Loyola Law School who diligently sought out the truth.

What truth were they seeking? The truth that the prosecution had failed to disclose to Register's defense attorneys that Brenda Anderson's sister had told LAPD before trial that her sister was lying. Brenda Anderson's sister told the police in 1979 that the man she had seen commit the murder was not Register.

According to the LA Times story, the prosecutors, not just the police, suppressed the exonerating evidence. The prosecution consciously chose to be the judge, the jury and the prosecution.

Convict an innocent man? No problem, because the decision had been made. They had their man. That's all that mattered. Only they were wrong.

Where is the justice in a system where Mr. Register maintains his innocence for 34 years and the LA Times proclaims "34 wait for justice is over"?

Where is the justice in the prosecution hiding exonerating evidence from the defense team despite the law of the land, which requires prosecutors to disclose materially exculpatory evidence in the government's possession to the defense, as stated in Brady v. Maryland? Who gives Mr. Register his 34 years back? How does he go to prison as a 19 year old young man and come out a 53 year old shell of his youthful self?

Where is the justice in that? Should we read the LA Times and say that this is a "feel good" story? We can proclaim now, "the system works!" Well, it doesn't work. Just ask Kash Register.

In Orange County, CA, What Happens When the Police or Prosecutor Hides Evidence?

November 12, 2013

Hiding-Evidence.jpgSubvert the criminal justice system. Lie to the judge. Hide evidence. Sounds like a defendant in a criminal case doesn't it?

Who else could it be? If it isn't the criminal defendant, it must be the much maligned criminal defense attorney, right? You know who he or she is, right? He's the one who you love to ask at cocktail parties, how can you represent those guys (defendants in a criminal case)?

Well, it's not either one of the above. In the case of the State of Texas against Michael Morton, the liar was none other than the prosecutor, Ken Anderson.

25 years ago, Morton was charged by Anderson with murdering his wife. Morton withheld two key pieces of evidence against Morton at the time of his trial. Both of these items, a witness statement and a police report pointing to another possible suspect in the murder, were hidden from the defense attorney. Not only did Anderson hide evidence, he lied to the judge during a pretrial hearing. After 25 years in prison Morton was released and the case against him dismissed when his attorneys, including those from the Innocence Project, convinced a new judge that he had been wrongfully convicted.

But,what of prosecutor, Anderson? Surely, his career hadn't flourished, had it? Cheaters never win, do they? Justice will be served, won't it? I don't think so and neither should you. After 16 years as the district attorney he became a judge in 2002.

But, wait, it's 2013 and now the truth has come out. The defendant is innocent and the prosecutor is guilty. So, prosecutor Anderson, excuse me, now Judge Anderson, will finally feel the full weight of the system which he represented but which betrayed the unfortunate Mr. Morton.

Don't be so naïve. Because prosecutors have immunity from prosecution for their crimes against victims/defendants, Anderson can't be severely punished at all. No 25 years in prison for him. Instead, Anderson can't be a judge anymore and the gray haired former public servant must give up his law license. Oh, and he has to serve 9 whole days in jail for lying to the judge. In addition, he has to pay $500.00 in fines and do 500 hours of community service.

With this kind of travesty of justice becoming much too commonplace, justice for Anderson will have to wait for the afterlife where he will hopefully meet all his other, so far, undiscovered victims.

Who Watches the Watchers in NSA Surveillance?

October 28, 2013


Is the government growing a conscience? Our previous blog post discussed the NSA's very nasty habit of watching everything we do without warrants or permission, and then turning over their information to law enforcement agencies. Well when we asked "who watches the watchers", it seems like we may have found an answer. The New York Times has reported that the Solicitor General for the United States, Donald Verrilli Jr. has voiced strong opposition to such tactics.

Typically there is no way to know if evidence gathered against you comes from the NSA's warrantless surveillance program. You can't fight what you don't know, so even if the government has illegally gathered evidence against you you're out of luck. But the Justice Department is set to inform certain defendants that the evidence gathered against them may have come from warrantless surveillance. Apparently Mr. Verrilli is extremely troubled by the actions of the NSA and the Justice Department and doesn't believe it's legal or right. Imagine that! Hopefully this is just a small step towards shoring up our Constitution and the rights it affords us.

Does NSA Surveillance Affect You in Orange County, CA?

October 23, 2013


How does the NSA surveillance scandal affect you personally? Most people take the attitude that the NSA snooping into everyone's lives is harmless if you have nothing to hide. The problem is sometimes we don't know we're hiding something! There are thousands upon thousands of laws, and it's impossible for even the most experienced lawyer to know all of them. Everyone at some point in time has made a harmless mistake and broken a law. Merge into another lane without using your blinker? Well it's not too farfetched to think that in a surveillance state even these small actions might eventually result in harsh punishment and prosecution. But the NSA can't arrest you! Plus they're only interested in terrorists! What a waste of time it is to get worked up over this!

Well, while the NSA can't arrest you themselves, it is becoming apparent that whatever they learn about your life gets passed along to law enforcement. You might be wondering how this is constitutional! They can't just snoop on you and violate your constitutional rights and then arrest you can they? Well, it turns out that law enforcement agencies use something called "parallel construction" to make it legal.

Parallel construction occurs when the NSA gives a law enforcement agency a "tip", and this law enforcement agency uses this tip to invade every aspect of your life until they can construct a legal way to introduce that evidence in a case against you. Right now the Drug Enforcement Agency is the biggest culprit. But even the IRS is in on this action! This is the scariest part! Where does it stop? Will the NSA give tips to local and state law enforcement? It's a brave new world when your government can spy on you at will illegally, and then help law enforcement agencies arrest and convict you legally. So whenever someone says they have nothing to hide, ask them "Who watches the watchers?"

Your Right to Carry a Firearm in Orange County, CA

October 15, 2013


Are you a defender of the 2nd amendment? One of the most valued personal liberties in the United States is the right to bear arms. Just recently, the United States Supreme Court reiterated that the 2nd amendment guarantees the right to personally possess firearms (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/District_of_Columbia_v._Heller). But it's important to realize that this doesn't mean you get to carry a firearm wherever you like, whenever you like. For instance, California does not allow a citizen to openly carry a loaded firearm in public (http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/cacode/PEN/3/4/2/1/2/s12031)! In fact, even carrying an unloaded firearm can get you into trouble these days.

But what is most troubling is that you can get in trouble for accidentally having a firearm or some form of ammunition on you. For instance, did you know that if you accidentally bring an empty magazine or even a single bullet into an airport, you can spend up to 6 months in jail? It doesn't matter if you have a firearm, or the ability to use that ammunition. It doesn't matter if it was just an accident; you can and will be charged with a violation of the Penal Code! Many people are unsure of where your 2nd amendment rights begin and end. That's why it's very important to have a good advocate on your side so you don't spend 6 months in jail for an accident!

In Orange County, CA, Didn't Have a Drop to Drink but Still Got Arrested for DUI?

October 10, 2013

Were you arrested for DUI but didn't have a single drink all night? It's a common misconception that if you have a blood alcohol content under 0.08 you cannot be found guilty of a DUI. This probably comes from Vehicle Code Section 23152(b) which says you can be arrested if you're BAC is over 0.08. But lots of people are unaware that you can also be in violation of Vehicle Code Section 23152(a), which simply says you're guilty of driving under the influence (DUI) if an officer thinks that you are unable to safely operate your vehicle because of alcohol or drugs. Not only does this mean that you can be found guilty of DUI if your BAC is below 0.08, but you can be found guilty even if you haven't touched a drop of alcohol.

What's worse is that violating Vehicle Code Section 23152(a) doesn't require you to have a hard drug in your system. While having meth, cocaine, or another hard drug in your system will certainly get you in trouble, many people don't realize that having everyday prescription drugs such as Xanax, Vicodin, or Ambien put you at just as much risk. Having a prescription doesn't automatically put you in the clear either! If you've taken more than your prescribed dosage for instance, you're going to have trouble on your hands. And even if you're within your prescribed range, you can still be guilty of violating Vehicle Code Section 23152(a).

Before you know it your license has been suspended, you're facing time in a county jail, and you have to pay thousands in court fees and fines -- all because you took your prescription medication. If you have an experienced attorney on your side, he will be able to schedule a hearing with the DMV to attempt to save your license from suspension. He'll be able to analyze the police reports and videos of your incident, and make sure the district attorney's office is aware of your legal prescription for your medication. If you've been arrested for DUI, it's important to have a good attorney, even if you didn't drink!

When A Mandatory Jail Sentence... Isn't

October 4, 2013


Just because you're guilty of committing a crime with a mandatory jail sentence doesn't mean you have to serve time in jail! Many crimes in California carry mandatory minimum jail sentences. Most commonly those who receive a second DUI conviction within 10 years of their first will find themselves facing time in the county jail. If it's mandatory it must mean there's no way to avoid it right? It must mean hiring a lawyer just isn't worth it; after all how could they possibly help you?

Well, turns out that in California a savvy criminal defense lawyer would know that secured electronic confinement (SEC) is always an option! SEC can take many forms in California, depending on the county you live in. While many people think it literally means you can only stay in your house, that's not true. Your lawyer can attempt to get exceptions for work, school, or other necessary tasks you must attend to on a regular basis.

So how does this process work? Let's say the District Attorney doesn't want to budge and will only offer a plea deal involving 60 days of jail(!). If the DA will not agree to SEC, your attorney can still ask the Judge if he would be willing to grant some or all of that time as SEC. Even if the *Judge* doesn't agree, you can ask the jail facility you are taken to if they are willing to release you on SEC. With the jails being so overcrowded in California, these requests are often granted. The problem is, if you don't know about it then you won't get it! Yet another reason to make sure you have good counsel, regardless of the charges against you.