San Fernando Valley Criminal & DUI Defense Lawyers

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Trial and Why it Might be the Right Thing for You

Trial and Why it Might be the Right Thing for You Many criminal defense and DUI defense lawyers want to talk to you about a plea. Plead guilty, often straight up to the charged crime. What good does this do? Good question. If pleading guilty to the charges does not sit well with you, you’re not alone. It doesn’t sit well with me either. A win for me can take several different forms. First, a dismissal of all charges or an acquittal of all charges is certainly a win. But that’s not the only way to win. A reduction of …

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Mental Health Diversion

I recently posted a blog about pre-trial diversion in low level drug offenses. If you haven’t read it, you should read that short blog before you start this one as it will give you some good background on diversion and deferred entry of judgment. Another great diversion program recently became available in California courts. Pre-trial diversion is now an option for people suffering from documented mental illness who are charged with certain crimes. The crimes must be non-strikes and can be either felonies or misdemeanors. Felony DUI’s are excluded from the program as are many sex offenses and some vehicular homicides. The …

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Pre-Plea Diversion

As of January 1, 2018, California courts are offering “pre-plea”diversion in some drug cases. The benefit of pre-plea diversion is that defendant’s are not actually convicted of the charges and can earn a complete dismissal down the road. Prior to January of 1997, California offered diversion programs similar to the new law. After 1997, the law changed from “diversion” to “deferred entry of judgment”. The difference between the two is that diversion does not require a plea to be entered prior to accepting this as a settlement. This means that the defendant is never “convicted” of the crime. In the deferred …

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Mental Health Problems and the Criminal Justice System

I have had the troubling situation lately of having to deal with a number of clients with mental impairment. Specifically, I have had to three cases in the last year where a client was charged with a crime or crimes and they were unable to either grasp the nature of the criminal proceedings; unable to assist in their own defense; or, more commonly, they were unable to communicate with me. Or at least I was unable to communicate with them. Definitions Insanity in California requires some very specific findings. In order for a defendant in a criminal case to be …

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Recent Changes in Criminal Defense in Ventura County

By now a lot of people have heard or dealt with the changes that have occurred in Ventura County’s criminal justice system. The biggest change is the seemingly permanent closure of the work furlough program. Work furlough is a jail substitute where people who were convicted of crimes and sentenced to jail could serve their time at a facility located at the Camarillo airport. The location was supervised by probation officers and allowed “inmates” to leave during the day for work and return to the facility at night, thereby getting day for day credit for their stay in the program …

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Military Diversion Avoids any Criminal Conviction

Getting Clients into Military Diversion Have you ever heard of Veteran’s Court? Some people have, but even fewer people have heard of the Military Diversion Program. Diversion is a concept that was all but done away with back in the late 1990’s . Back then, if you were arrested for a drug crime, you could agree to waive time for 18 months to three years, remain crime free and complete an outpatient drug program in order to get your case dismissed. Since 1997, the deferred entry of judgment (DEJ) program replaced the drug diversion program. The big difference between the two programs is …

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“When Darkness Reigns”, By Philip R. Dunn

When Darkness Reigns, by Philip R. Dunn A couple months ago I rented a new office in the Conejo Valley in order to better serve my Ventura County clients. The office is located near the Thousand Oaks Auto Center at 141 Duesenberg Drive, Suite 10, in Westlake Village. I had the opportunity to rent space from a veteran criminal defense lawyer named Philip Dunn. Like many of the great defense attorneys, Phil started his career as a public defender in Ventura County with the likes of Tim Quinn and others great defenders of the Constitution. When I started talking to …

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Mental Health Issues in DUI and Criminal Defense

I have often said that the majority of my cases involve substance abuse, financial pressures or relationship troubles. Many involve more than one of these issues. More and more lately, my clientele seem to be effected by significant mental health issues. I’m not a doctor but sometimes it can be easy to tell when a client has a problem and it is often very hard to deal with it. Sometimes however, it’s not so easy to tell. I was referred a client recently from a local judge. The client is facing a second DUI with a high blood alcohol and multiple traffic collisions. At …

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Alcohol and Drug Dependency Resources NCADD

Alcohol and Drug Dependency Resources To me the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependency (NCADD) has been nothing more than the liaison between the court and the court ordered alcohol education program after my clients have been convicted of DUI and ordered into a program. After the case settlement, we get the paperwork from the clerk, head over to the NCADD office, pay them a fee and get our referral to an alcohol school. We then call the school directly and make an appointment to go in and sign up. Some weeks or months later, after we finish the program, NCADD …

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An Interview With a Criminal Appellate Lawyer

Sometimes things may not go as planned in the trial court. Maybe the jury didn’t see things the way you had hoped, or maybe there is a change in the law in the course of a case or after conviction. Maybe your trial lawyer forgot something or made a mistake. The remedy may come from a consultation with an appellate lawyer. I recently had an opportunity to speak with appellate lawyer Anthony D. Z. Tony was kind enough to have answered a few questions about his practice. I have summarized his answers and added a few comments to aid in the …

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Prop 47 Passes Making Most Drug Possession and Theft a Misdemeanor

Proposition 47 Passes Making Many Drug and Theft Offenses Misdemeanors In case you have not heard yet, Proposition 47 just passed. This means that many felony drug and theft offenses will now be misdemeanors. There is an exception in the law to exclude certain defendants with prior convictions for murder, rape and certain other sex offenses and gun charges. Also, the proposition has a retroactive effect which would allow previously convicted felons to be re-sentenced under the new law. Before re-sentencing the proposition requires some kind of criminal history review by a judge in order to assure the public that …

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Ray Rice Arrest and Technology in Criminal Defense

Unless you live in a cave, by now you have likely heard about Ray Rice, the NFL player who was cut by the Baltimore Ravens after his video-taped domestic violence incident went viral. So I’m not going to talk about him. But reading about him, and watching the video, made me think about some other aspects of my business. It made me think how there are two sides to every story. It made me think about how we are all innocent until proven guilty and how quickly people jump to conclusions and it made me think about how technology plays a part …

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Barry Bonds Gets House Arrest and Community Service

Home run record holder Barry Bonds was sentenced in Federal Court to 30 days house arrest, 250 hours of community service and a small fine after his conviction for obstructing justice. The Assistant United States Attorney who handled the sentencing, Matthew Parrella, was very upset at what he considered a light sentence and fine that was almost laughable. United States District Court Judge Susan Illston, who presided over the Bonds trial and sentenced him indicated that because much of his earlier testimony denying steroid use was out of the public eye, she viewed his actions as less serious and used …

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Convicted Murderer Released After Judge Overturns Murder Conviction

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Kelvin Filer overturned the murder conviction of Obie Anthony and ordered that he be immediately released from jail. Anthony, age 37, spend 17 years in custody after his conviction for killing a man outside a South Los Angeles brother. The judge was very critical towards prosecutors in the case because they failed to disclose to the jury that they made a deal with their main witness. The witness, John Jones agreed to testify in order to get a lighter sentence on his charges of pimping and pandering. Jones also testified against a co-defendant, Reggie Cole, …

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Los Angeles Veteran’s Court Accepting Transfers from Other Courthouses

I currently have a client charged with evading arrest and DUI in the San Fernando Courthouse of Los Angeles County. He also has a 20 year old strike prior from a previous alcohol-related driving incident. In fact, is entire criminal history involves alcohol use or abuse. According to my client, he has been abusing alcohol since he was 18 years old. This was the time he enlisted in the Navy. He served in a combat zone in Viet Nam and was honorably discharged shortly after the war ended. While in the Navy he was trained in aviation electronics and has …

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Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a Defense in Criminal Cases

Post Traumatic stress disorder is a popular defense these days. With the establishment of veterans courts around the country, courts are seeing more and more defenses to crimes based upon combat service in the military. Here in Los Angeles there is a Veteran’s Court in Downtown LA run by a fantastic superior court judge. Judge Michael Tynan will cut your the brakes you deserve. However, just as quickly, he will send you to prison for not following the rules. Judge Tynan is running LA County’s veteran’s court and he is doing a bang up job. If a criminal defendant is …

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