San Fernando Valley Criminal & DUI Defense Lawyers

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Domestic Violence Cases Are on the Rise

Domestic Violence is on the Rise Domestic violence is on the rise. It appears to be another negative biproduct of the pandemic. Normally, in my business, we hear about domestic violence cases on the rise about Thanksgiving time and they stay up in numbers through the new year. This reoccurring phenomenon seems to have two main triggers. First, the holiday times generally means there is a lot of time with family. There is often a great deal of vacation taken and a lot time spent in the home with relatives and friends. Next, there is traditionally more alcohol consumption around …

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Now is the Perfect Time to Expunge Your Conviction

Now is the Right Time to Expunge Your Conviction Many of us have time on our hands right now. Let’s use it wisely. Many of us are unemployed or underemployed right now. What do we do about it? Now is a great time to clean up your criminal record and make yourself more hirable. Expunging your criminal conviction in California can be a career saver. Under California law (Penal Code Section 1203.4) if we successfully complete probation, we can expunge most criminal cases. Once we expunge a case we can honestly tell a potential employer that we have not been …

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Never Hire Your Lawyer Over the Internet

Never Hire a Lawyer Off the Internet For years I have been saying the same thing over and over again. Never Hire a lawyer over the internet. Only hire a lawyer you were referred to by someone you trust. Talk to the actual lawyer your are going to hire, before hiring them.  Don’t hire a lawyer who spends all his time creating a huge internet site simply to gather clients.  Don’t talk to a sales rep, secretary, case manager or otherwise.  Even if the sales rep says they are a lawyer, they may not be your lawyer.  And, never hire …

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What Happens After My Preliminary Hearing?

What Happens After My Preliminary Hearing? Felonies get filed two ways in California State Courts. People can be indicted by a grand jury or far more often is the case that a complaint is filed by the District Attorney. After the complaint is filed, the client sees the judge and enters a not guilty plea. We have the right to a speedy preliminary hearing or probable cause determination before a judge. This occurs within 10 court days and not more than 60 calendar days of our arraignment unless we waive our rights to a speedy hearing. Many felonies in California …

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Can You Get My DUI Reduced?

Can You Get My DUI Reduced? A common question for me is whether or not I can get DUI charges reduced. This could be in the case of first offense DUI and it could be a felony causing injury. Most often, the circumstance is a first or second offense, misdemeanor DUI with a blood alcohol test above .10. When a client blows over .10, the prosecutors tend to feel that their case is more “provable” and are far less likely to reduce the charge. By contrast, a DUI with a .08 or .09 is quite often reduced. What can be …

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Felony DUI and the Three ways to get There

Felony DUI’s and the Three Ways to Get There Many people in California know someone who has been arrested for or convicted of a DUI. Some people even know a bit about felony DUI’s. Most commonly a DUI becomes a felony when an injury is caused. California Vehicle Code Section 23153 covers the felony DUI from injuries. These cases can be either misdemeanors or felonies depending upon the extent of the injuries. In extreme cases, the offense can even be a strike where there is great bodily injury or death. As a misdemeanor there is still mandatory jail time and …

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Mental Health Diversion in California Criminal Defense

Mental Health Diversion May be a Great Option to Resolve a Criminal Case A potential client called me last week. She had two theft cases with one open and one closed. Her lawyer pled her guilty to a trespassing misdemeanor with the understanding that after completing a formal diversion program, the case could be dismissed. Client asked me if that was as good as Mental Health Diversion. Client was asking if I could get her Mental Health Diversion (MHD) on the new case or both of the cases. Client also said that her present lawyer told her MHD was only …

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Multiple Arrests and Scared

Multiple DUI Arrests and Scared? Cases seem to come to me in bunches.  This year seems to be my year for Crane operator clients.  I’ve had three this year.  I’ve also had several clients this year who were arrested more than once in a very short period of time.  Three were DUI’s, two were driving on suspended licenses after DUI’s and one was simply a juvenile with a bad attitude.  What they all have in common is they all are very scared and the courts and prosecutors tend to be very unhappy with this type of behavior. So how do …

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Veteran’s Court Can be a Fantastic Option

Veteran’s Court Can be a Fantastic Option I had a client graduate from Veteran’s Court this past Thursday.  It was a very long road for him and for me, but it was very much worth the trip.  My client LH was charged with felony vandalism.  This was not is first criminal charge or conviction.  It was not even his second.  But it was his first felony.  After 13 years in the Air Force reserves, including some time in active service in Afghanistan, LH wanted to stay in the service and retire from the reserves.  A felony conviction would have meant …

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Why Hiring me is Better than Hiring the Public Defender

New clients often call or come into the office and ask if it really makes a difference if they hire a lawyer or use the public defender. I normally say that I have been doing this for a long time. I can give their case a lot more time and personal attention than a public defender and I make my living getting better results than the public defender. Here is a good example of the difference between hiring me and hiring a public defender. A client (AC) hired me for a serious felony in Van Nuys. I resolved the case …

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Disparity in Sentencing Between Federal and State Courts

For many years we have been hearing about harsh sentences handed down in federal courts for non-violent drug offenses. Even after the Federal Sentencing Guidelines became discretionary instead of mandatory, sentencing for federal drug crimes has been very harsh compared to state court sentences for similar offenses. Mandatory minimum sentences have remained in place in the federal system, even after doing away with the mandatory sentencing guidelines. Most people are not aware that sentencing can be even more disproportionate in other areas of the law. Specifically, crimes involving human trafficking have become the crime du jour of late. Rightfully so, selling, …

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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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What Can Be Done About Your Hit And Run?

If you are driver involved in an automobile accident and there is any property damage, regardless of fault, you are required to stop and leave your name and address with the other party or leave a note with your name and address and a statement about what happened with the owner of the property or in a conspicuous place where the accident occurred. If you are involved in an accident where there are injuries to people, you must stop the car, identify yourself to the other driver or the police and give address and names and addresses of any passengers …

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Recent Developments in Bail Law in California

If you ask most lawyers about bail, they will tell you to call a bail bondsman. Many will even suggest you call one that they know and regularly do business with. This is probably not the answer you want to hear when you or someone you love is in custody and has questions about bail. What you want to hear is how your lawyer can help explain how bail works, what the options are for the client or the client’s family and how recent changes in the law may dramatically reduce the cost of bail. Bail Reduction First, when a client …

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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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Prior Bad Acts in Domestic Violence Cases

A new client came in a few months ago. He was charged with felony domestic battery and violating a criminal protective order from a prior misdemeanor DV conviction. The allegations of the new case were pretty serious. In fact, the police reports were so bad that two different judges and the district attorney refused to offer him a misdemeanor settlement. We set the case for preliminary hearing. Twice the district attorney wasn’t ready to go. One time, I was in trial and now we have the case set for prelim on Tuesday. Friday I got 100 new pages of police reports and a …

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Pitchess Motions and Getting Better Results in Criminal Defense Cases

Leveraging Better Results in Criminal Defense Cases: Pitchess Motions Almost every time a new client comes in they want to know how their case will end up. Often times, clients want me to “lay odds” about what will happen with their case. I have to tell them the same thing every time: Every case is different. Every result is different. I may have some idea about how a case should work out, but I never know exactly how the case will resolve. What I do know is that I can frequently do things to increase my client’s odds of a …

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My Boyfriend Told me to Refuse the Test

My Boyfriend told me to Refuse the Test I repeat client called me yesterday to tell me she was arrested for her third DUI last weekend. She was driving home from work at a local night club and was pulled over for swerving. I asked her about the contact with law enforcement and she told me she performed the field sobriety tests and attempted the field breath test at least 6 times. She was then arrested and taken to Van Nuys Police Station for booking. The officers asked her if she wanted to take a breath or blood test at the station …

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Meet Your Lawyer Before You Hire Him

I got a call Friday from a potential client. I was walking out the door to meet a colleague for lunch when the phone rang. I asked the caller if I could call her back in 90 minutes. She said o.k. and I set off for lunch. When I got back, I returned the call and was told that my potential client was completing the process of hiring another lawyer. My loss, right? Wrong. For years I have been saying the same things and they are more true today than they were when I first started writing blogs. Please, please, …

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The Mill vs. the Real Criminal Defense Lawyer

Almost every criminal defense lawyer who is under 70 and has been practicing for more that 6 weeks, has a website. Some sites are better, and some are worse. Some sites are larger and some are simply a splash page with contact information. I was recently retained by a very interesting fellow. He is a computer programmer who works at a very high level for very significant clients. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that he hired me. After all, I’m good at my job. I’ve been doing this for over twenty years and I offered this client exactly what …

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Don’t Plead Guilty at Arraignment

I recently wrote a blog entitled: “Don’t Take Deferred Entry of Judgment at Arraignment”. It has received more views in the last year than any other article I wrote. The point of the article was simply to explain that short of going to trial and losing, there is absolutely no risk to plead not guilty and push a deferred entry of judgment case out toward trial in order to try and get it dismissed or reduced. Deferred entry of judgment cases are not the only cases that fall into this category. Pleading not guilty can be beneficial in many other criminal charges …

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Winning Criminal Defense and DUI Cases

Winning in criminal defense takes a variety of different forms. First, a dismissal of all of the charges is the best example of a “win”. I have had a great deal of success in getting cases dismissed lately. In the last week I got a sex offense dismissed in Van Nuys, a battery dismissed in Pasadena and a felony domestic battery dismissed in Ventura. But, the vast majority of criminal cases which get filed don’t get dismissed outright. What other resolutions constitute a win? A true win depends upon the specific needs of the specific client. Some clients seek to avoid deportation. Some clients …

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Once Reduced, A Felony is a Misdemeanor for All Purposes

If you have been convicted of a felony in California, there is a good chance that the felony conviction can be reduced to a misdemeanor under California law. Under California Penal Code Section 17, a “wobbler” felony can be reduced to a misdemeanor any time probation is granted and no form of state prison (even a suspended sentence) has been imposed. This means that if you are having trouble getting or keeping a job because of your criminal history, you should call a lawyer about trying to clean up your past. What Types of Convictions are Relevant? If you have a prior …

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Prostitution: Beware of a Crime Involving Moral Turpitude

Many people, myself included, feel that prostitution should be legalized, regulated, licensed and taxed. Maybe one day that will happen in our fine state. However, the federal government views this crime much differently than the state. Because prostitution under California Penal code Section 647 (a) is a crime involving moral turpitude or CIMT, it could be cause for deportation, denial of naturalization or denial of re-entry into the United States for a non-U.S. citizen. What Are the Consequences? That’s alright, we say. Here in Los Angeles and in other locations, there are diversion programs for prostitution. I can plead guilty to …

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What to do if you were Arrested for DUI Over the Holidays?

Were You Arrested for DUI Over the Holidays? If you or someone close to you was one of the unlucky people who were arrested for DUI this holiday season, then you are in good company. The task forces were out in force and the number of people arrested is quite high. Remember that the best way to deal with a DUI arrest is to deal with it immediately and not ignore it. First, read all the paperwork you got when you were arrested. If you or your loved one is still in jail, call me and we can talk about ways to …

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Getting Arrested During the Holidays really Sucks!

Getting arrested is NOT a good way to avoid family events during the holidays. I know that we all have certain obligations this time of year. We need to spend money on holiday gifts. We need to see family and friends to share meals and exchange presents. We need to attend holiday parties for work. Some must travel to see family and friends, while others stay home and entertain. Either way, there will be a lot of family in the next two weeks. There will be a lot of expenses in the next two weeks and there will be a …

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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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How Much Should it really cost to hire a Criminal Defense Attorney

I got an unsolicited email this weekend. A potential client was asking how much I would charge to represent them in a drug possession for sale case. God bless this potential client who said she was trying not to take too much of my time, but wanted to get an idea of what it would cost to hire me. I emailed back that I had some questions: Where is the case, some background information on the client, criminal history, some specific facts about the case, etc. The client indicated she had been quoted about $5,000 from two different lawyers. She seemed to …

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Drunken Boater Not Charged in Connection with Friend’s Death

A Los Angeles man was sentenced to 36 months of probation in Sonoma County Superior Court on October 12th, 2016 in connection with the death of his lifelong friend while wakeboarding out on Lake Sonoma earlier this year. The defendant, 30-year-old Andrew Scheff, pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of operating a recreational vessel with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or more, while a concurrent misdemeanor boating under the influence charge was dismissed. According to the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office, prosecutors found that there was insufficient evidence to prove that boating under the influence caused the …

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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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Valley Criminal and DUI Defense Lawyers Relocated

San Fernando Valley Criminal Defense and DUI Lawyers Jeffrey Vallens and Ross Erlich Have Relocated In the olden days I would have called up my printer and had formal announcements printed up which “announce” my move. I would then actually stick the announcements in envelopes and mail them to everyone I know or at least to everyone who I think might care that we moved. In the digital era, it seems that printed announcements are no longer necessary, but I do want people to know that after 9 years at the old location we moved about a mile down the …

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The Right Way to Do Criminal Defense vs. The Wrong Way to Do Criminal Defense

I was in CCB* Tuesday on a motion to reduce a felony to a misdemeanor and expunge an old felony conviction for a client. When I first met the client, I told him that there is a right way and a wrong way to run this motion. The wrong way is to fill out the form and mail it in to the court with the $120 filing and wait and see what happens. In fact, a few years ago, another lawyer had been paid by this client to do this very same thing. That lawyer’s requests were denied, mine were granted. Why …

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Vandalism Charges Dismissed

It took over a year, but I finally civilly compromised another vandalism case. My client and his friends were out smashing mailboxes, light fixtures and even a couple car side view mirrors. The third and final victim finally cashed my check and signed off on the civil compromise. What does this all mean to my client? It means no probation, no fine, no jail or trash pickup duty, no driver’s license suspension and no conviction. That’s right: a conviction for vandalism can cost you your driver’s license for at least a year. How did I do this? Under California Penal …

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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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How to Deal with Criminal Protective Orders in Domestic Violence Cases

How to Deal with an Emergency Protective Order or Criminal Protective Order in Domestic Violence Cases If you have been arrested for domestic violence there is a good chance there will be an emergency protective order issued immediately after your arrest. There will most likely be a Criminal Protective Order which will follow you during the pendency of your criminal case and during probation, should you be convicted of a crime. An Emergency Protective Order is a short term order, normally valid for 5 to 10 days, issued by a judge based upon a declaration of police saying that some …

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Twenty Years of Criminal and DUI Defense

Yesterday was my twenty year anniversary practicing law. May 28, 1996, I was sworn in as a lawyer, meaning that I was officially able to start “practicing” law. It seems appropriate that my swearing in occurred in a courtroom in Van Nuys, California. Since that time, I have appeared in court in Van Nuys courtrooms more than other courthouse. But what does 20 years of criminal and DUI defense mean to you, the potential client? Quite simply, I’ve been doing criminal and DUI defense for a long time now. I am successful and I am good at what I do. Some lawyers …

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How to Avoid Posting Bail in California Criminal/DUI Cases

How to Avoid Posting Bail Not everyone has to post bail in order to secure their pre-trial release from custody. Just yesterday I walked a woman into court after a warrant was issued for her arrest. She was charged with DUI with a prior, a special allegation of having a blood alcohol concentration over .20, one out of time prior (over 10 years old) and she was the cause of a three car traffic accident. The amount of the warrant was $60,000. The client wanted to walk into the nearest police station and post bail. That would have cost her …

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Reducing and Expunging Criminal Convictions

The Importance of Reducing and Expunging Convictions I get a lot of questions these days about expunging convictions, reducing felonies to misdemeanors, sealing records and even certificates of rehabilitation and pardons. Definitions First, there are a lot of legal terms I just used. These terms apply only to California and California state court convictions. Expungements under Penal Code Section 1203.4: When probation is granted in a case and it is successfully completed for the entire term then probation naturally expires. After probation expires, or upon early and successful termination of probation, we may ask the court to let us withdraw …

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Now is the Right Time to Post Bail

One of the common questions in my business is: Should I bail him/her out? My answer is always the same – It depends. There are some basic rules of thumb I employ when deciding to advise bailing out a client. Now is the right time to post bail when: The client will be deported if he/she is not bailed immediately. The client will earn more money while out on bail than the cost of the bailbond. The client will lose a good job that he will be able to keep if he bails out. The client has children or dependants …

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Beware of the Habitual Deuce Offender (H2O) Unit

You likely didn’t notice several plain clothed cops hanging around outside of court in Van Nuys or San Fernando. They may have a cop radio hidden in a pocket or under a newspaper, but they can be spotted by the trained eye. Several officers from LAPD’s Valley Traffic Section have been working for years under a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety. The grant funds a 5 man team to police “habitual traffic offenders”, including DUI offenders and people driving while their licenses are suspended. The team is part of the Valley Traffic Division’s DUI task force. They …

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Innocent Unless and Until Proven Guilty Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

I have been working in and around the criminal justice system for well over 25 years. I started out working for a small state police agency, I worked for a local prosecutor, and I sat as a volunteer judge and have been practicing law for just short of 20 years now. Working in the criminal justice system, we see a lot of really bad stuff. This has an effect over time of making us someone hardened to the serious conduct that we deal with and the real world effects that the conduct has on its victims. I often find myself …

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Suspect Couldn’t Escape Police with his Pants Around his Ankles

Yes, I know…We are all innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. But I couldn’t help myself, which is about the same thing Ryan McClain likely told police when he was arrested for indecent exposure in Long Beach, California. City police stepped up patrols in the area of Cherry Avenue and Third Street after receiving multiple complaints of a man masturbating outside an apartment house. Subsequent investigation led to the suspects name and identifying information and ultimately gave rise (no pun intended) to an arrest warrant. McClain likely could not escape pursuing police officers as he had …

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Avoiding the Stress of the Trifecta

It’s hard to believe that summer is over, the kids are back in school and fall is upon us. Actually it’s my favorite time of year because Halloween is approaching and shortly after that we have what is known in my business as the “Trifecta”. No, it’s not a horse race; it’s the three big holidays in a row, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. I think the name came from someone in AA or NA or some such program who realized that the family pressures of the holidays are often cause for substance abuse, spousal abuse and general family strife. …

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Simple Advice When Searching for a Criminal or DUI Defense Attorney

Happy Labor Day, or Not Simple Advice When Searching for a Criminal Defense or DUI Lawyer I woke up this morning, happy to not to have to shave, put on a suit and drive to court somewhere in Southern California. Although I know I will have to pay for the holiday somehow, I can enjoy today as any other day off: I get up later, I leisurely read the newspaper, sip my coffee and there it is, staring at me in black and white, another DUI checkpoint snares several unlucky drivers. I guess these folks didn’t read my last post about how to …

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A Good Lawyer Knows the Law, A Great Lawyer Knows How to Negotiate

When I graduated from law school about 20 years ago one of my friends thought they would be funny and bought me a new coffee mug that said: “A good lawyer knows the law, a great lawyer knows the judge”. I am a good enough lawyer to know that there may be some truth to this old saying. However what I have found after two decades of practice is that knowing people is good, but knowing how to talk to people is what is so great. Attitude is everything in my business. Every lawyer has their side for which they …

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Don’t Evade Police When you are Drunk or Don’t Have a License Don’t Evade Police When you are Drunk or Don’t Have a License

I hear a lot of similar stories when it comes to clients being arrested for evading law enforcement. Why didn’t you stop? I was scared because my license was suspended or I was scared because I had been drinking are the most common answers that I hear. One of my favorite stories was several years ago from a client who was riding his motorcycle southbound on the 101 Freeway from Santa Barbara to Long Beach. CHP cars and a helicopter started following him shortly after he entered Ventura County. They clocked him at over 140 miles per hour and it …

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“I thought the Bulletproof Vest Would Work” is not a Good Defense

Friday night in Northern California 3 young men appear to have been extremely bored as one the men put on a “bullet proof vest” and another man shot him in the chest. Sadly the vest did not stop the bullet and the young man died. Authorities suggested that the man may have lived if emergency personnel were called earlier. The question now is whether one or both of the young men will be charged with crimes and if so, what crime or crimes? This does not sound like a murder case to me but let’s take a closer look. First, murder is …

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Posting Cash Bail in California Criminal Cases

If I Google the word “bail” or “jail” or “arrested”, I get thousands of returns for bail bondsmen throughout the state of California and across the country. Very quickly I can figure out that if I need to post bail, the most common way to do it is to call a bail bondsman. I pay them a fee of about 10% (sometimes less) for them to post the bond and I secure my freedom. I liken this to buying an insurance policy. We buy insurance in case there is some sort of big trouble in the future and if such …

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How Criminal and DUI Defense Lawyers in California Get Paid

The majority of lawyers in the country charge for their services on an hourly basis. The lawyer speaks to the client, discusses the case and takes a “retainer”, or advance funds, and bills against the retainer for his work. When the retainer gets used up, the lawyer asks the client for more money. Here in California, things are a bit different for criminal defense and DUI defense attorneys. Here, almost all criminal lawyers charge flat fees for their services. I’m not sure why this is, but that’s the way it’s been for the 20 years I’ve been practicing and I …

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Don’t Run People Over With Your Car

It may seem like common sense, but we really shouldn’t run people over with our cars. Unfortunately there seems to be a lot of this going around lately and not just by Suge Knight. Using a car as a weapon is often a crime. This type of conduct would normally be charged as Assault With a Deadly Weapon under California’s Penal Code Section 245. It could even be consideredattempted murder or even worse if someone dies. There is only a legal defense if you are using reasonable and necessary force to defend yourself or another from an immediate threat. Furthermore, if you hit …

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How Can You Benefit From Proposition 47?

A man was arrested recently for the felony charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm in violation of Penal Code Section 29805. The gentlemen was convicted of a felony drug offense over ten years ago. Police got a tip from another felon that he sold a gun to his buddy. The buddy was another convicted felon. Upon investigating the tip, police found the gun under the felon’s bed and arrested him. The felon was referred to a lawyer and hired the lawyer to defend him. The lawyer who was hired took the client’s money and waited for the case …

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Don’t Hire a Lawyer You Find on the Internet

That’s right, I said don’t hire a lawyer you find on the internet. Why, you ask? There is an old saying: “Don’t believe everything you hear”, or in this case, everything you read. Lawyers hire marketing professionals to build their websites, write articles and optimize the sites so that the sites can be “found” by search engines. Reviews can be faked and put up on websites to promote unscrupulous attorneys. Upon calling the lawyer’s offices, sales representatives often field calls in an attempt to “close” leads as soon as possible and often without the client either meeting the lawyer or …

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Fisherman Get Fed, Poachers Get Busted

I read the news every day. I search out articles about people being arrested almost as often. Sometimes what I find makes me sad, sometimes I find it interesting and sometimes I get downright mad. When I read yesterday about the three men in Ukiah who were caught with 59 abalone at their home, I was pleased as punch. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife were conducting surveillance on the men who illegally harvested the abalone with SCUBA gear. Officers followed the suspected poachers to their residence where they were found with the shelled abalone, scuba gear and their …

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Posting High Bail and Using the Public Defender

Kevin Hogrefe is Out on $500,00 Bail and Using the Public Defender Kevin Hogrefe posted bail of $500,000.00 and appeared at his arraignment out of custody yesterday in Ventura Superior Court. He was ordered as a condition of bail to wear and GPS tracking device and a skin monitor for alcohol. He appeared in court with a Ventura County Deputy Public Defender, Justin Tuttle. I happen to be a fan of the Ventura County Public Defender’s Office. I think the vast majority of these lawyers are hard working, well trained defense attorney who are practicing their trade in a very tough county. …

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Are You Really Innocent Until Proven Guilty?

Innocent Unless and Until Proven Guilty Beyond a Reasonable Doubt Being arrested can be a terrible experience. You can deprived of your liberty, you could be embarrassed, it cost money to post bail to get out of jail and in the case of certain famous athletes, you could lose your job. The NHL or the NFL can do what they like with their players or do what they wish to their players. Each organization has rules in place to deal with situations that occur. Should a player get arrested, the organization has a policy about how to deal with the player. Just …

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Your Rights When the Cops Show Up

Understanding Your Rights When the Cops Show Up “I was completely cooperative with the cops…Won’t that help me?” “Don’t I have to answer their [cops] questions?” “I told them [cops] the truth, how can they use that against me?” These are three very common statements at my office. I hear them all the time and I have been hearing the same questions for decades. My answers are still the same, no, no and absolutely. Do you know your Miranda Rights? “Well, yes” is usually the answer. Anything you say can and will be used against you in court. We have …

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Deputy LA City Attorney Arrested for Child Porn

A Deputy Los Angeles City Attorney was arrested Thursday for possession and distribution of child pornography. He was taken into custody at his home in San Pedro, California by Los Angeles Police Officers. The man, 57 year old Christopher Richard Garcia, works for the City’s “Airport Division” located at Los Angeles International Airport. Garcia was licensed to practice law in 1986 after graduating from Harvard Law School. According to the State Bar of California, Garcia has never been subject to any disciplinary action by the Bar and has been practicing law since he was licensed. Garcia is currently out of jail …

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What Happens After You Get Arrested?

This weekend was the Budweiser Made in America Music Festival in downtown Los Angeles. Between Saturday and Sunday there were about 60 people either arrested or given a ticket to appear in court. What happens now? If one is given a citation or ticket to appear in court at a later date, then usually in three to 8 weeks they will be required to go to court to face either misdemeanor or infraction charges. If someone is physically arrested for a misdemeanor or a felony then they often have to post bail in order to get out of jail and …

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Do Good DUI Lawyers Take Payment Plans?

Lots of lawyers take payment plans. I often joke about one lawyer who I still see in the Metropolitan traffic court who has bright orange stickers on his client files that say: “Payment Plan” in bold letters. How tacky and offensive is that? In any event, you get arrested for DUI, usually because you were in a fight with your significant other, had a bad day at work, or recently got some other type of bad news in your life. Then, to add insult to injury, you get arrested and now you need to come up with a large bunch of money …

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How Do I Know When it is Time to Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer?

If I got arrested for some serious charge, like murder, I would likely want to hire a lawyer. But what if I am got driving on a suspended driver’s license? Do I need to hire a lawyer then? What if I am just under investigation for doing something wrong? Let’s say my boss thinks I stole a bunch of money at work. Do I need to hire a lawyer then? Can’t I just wait and see what happens? Maybe I can just “throw myself on the mercy of the court?” After all, I’m guilty, shouldn’t I just plead guilty?” So, …

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What I Like About Being a Criminal and DUI Defense Lawyer in Ventura

I was licensed to practice law in May of 1996. The day after I got licensed I made my first appearance in criminal court as a lawyer. It’s been 18 years and I am still running…from court to court, that is. While a lot of my criminal defense and DUI defense work is in Los Angeles County, early on in my career I was lucky to have a cousin loan me my first office in Chatsworth. While that seemed to me to be a strange location for a law office, cousin, Brent Vallens always made it work for himself and …

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Operation High End Busts 17 For High Ticket Auto Theft

Operation High End Busts Auto Theft Ring In Los Angeles I hate to sound negative, but shouldn’t a 4 year, hundred officer, multiple agency car theft investigation yield more than 12 arrests over 21 stolen cars? Apparently, agents from the California Highway Patrol, Department of Insurance, Los Angeles Police Department and the Franchise Tax Board investigated a ring of people who falsified financial information to steal new cars from cars 18 different car dealers. The suspects then (allegedly) sold the cars or staged auto accidents with the stolen vehicles. The accident claims were then submitted to various insurance carriers in the hopes …

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Poaching Doesn’t Pay

Here in Southern California we don’t hear a great deal about poaching unless we are in a delicatessen. Here we poach egg and maybe some fish, but poaching is a serious crime in other parts of the state and the country. Also a crime is possessing a fraudulent fishing license, especially after your own license has been revoked for the rest of your life. That’s what happened to Nai Choy Saelee, a 30 year old man from Sacramento. Back in 2010 his fishing license was revoked for life after he was convicted in a Sacramento county court for poaching and …

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Man Arrested for Stabbing Nurse at Torrance Hospital

A 38 year old man from Santee, California was arrested Sunday after he allegedly stabbed a nurse at a Torrance hospital. Authorities suspect that he may have been distraught about the haircut he recently received. His booking photo may be viewed on the link below: http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/Nurse-Stabbed-at-Torrance-Hospital-255951301.html The suspect, Thomas Robert Fredette, was arrested shortly after the stabbing the area of Carson street in Torrance. Fredette was said to have entered the hospital, gone around a weapons screening area and approached a group of hospital employees. Fredette then grabbed one of the nurses and stabbed her in the ear with an unknown sharp …

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Man Arrested After Nurse is Critically Injured in Stabbing

A 26 year old man from Los Angeles was arrested last weekend after he allegedly walked into Olive View UCLA Medical Center in Sylmar, California and stabbed an on duty nurse multiple times with a knive. The nurse, whose name was not released was critically wounded and was being treated for her injuries at a local trauma center. The man, identified as Romero Carnailla, was said to have run into the hospital, approached the nurse who he didn’t know and stabbed her several times in the torso. Police and hospital security located the man after they heard the victim screaming in the …

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Man Arrested for Dog Cruelty in El Segundo

In what appears to be a premeditated case of doggie homicide, a Sherman Oaks, California man was recently charged with animal cruelty after he allegedly ran over the dog owned by his estranged wife. Michael David Parker was arrested in January on felony charges of animal cruelty and his case was recently filed after investigators were able to get their hands on some surveillance video. The video allegedly shows Parker taking the Chihuahua to the alley behind the owner’s home and placing the dog on the ground. Parker is then described backing his car up and intentionally driving over the dog, killing …

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Couple Arrested After 4 Year Old Found Wandering in Casino Parking Lot

Yesterday two Santa Maria residents left their 4 year old daughter sleeping in their car as they went off to gamble at the Chumash Casino. After the girl woke up, she appears to have gotten out of the car and started walking around the casino parking lot, in search of her parents. Casino security was notified. Security personnel called the sheriff’s department who located the girls parents, Petra Zaragoza and Bulmaro Reyes. The two parents were promptly arrested on charges of felony child endangerment and booked at the Santa Barbara County jail. Charges such as child endangerment generally carry special punishments which …

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Burglary Suspects Arrested Hitchhiking in Camarillo

Two men were arrested yesterday in Camarillo after they were scene trying to hitchhike in the area of Ventura County between Camarillo and Moorpark along Santa Rosa Road. They were “spotted” by an off duty sheriff’s deputy who reported their presence to additional authorities. Sheriff’s units converged on the two men who were suspects in an earlier residential burglarywhich lead to the suspects leading police on a long chase through extensive open land in the area. The two men were last observed in the area of Leisure Village in Camarillo. I suppose the 19 and 21 year old African American men …

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Angry and Arrested for Burglary in Hollywood

Los Angeles Police arrested a man in Hollywood Tuesday after he (allegedly) smashed the window of a police car, stole a computer and walked away. The incident took place about one in the afternoon in the area of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland. Multiple witnesses saw the incident and at least one videotaped the man in his brazen daytime activities. The suspect was described as “very angry” as he took what appeared to be a metal pipe and smashed the window of the unoccupied police car. The man, who was not identified by police, was arrested shortly thereafter and faces charges …

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Rapper Arrested After Search of Justin Bieber’s House

Xavier Domic Smith, a 20 year old rap artist was charged with multiple felonies in Los Angeles County on Friday. Smith, also known as “Lil Za” was recently arrested when sheriff’s deputies executed a search warrant a Justin Bieber’s gated Calabasas home. Sheriff’s officials indicated that as a result of the search they recovered MDMA, also known as ecstasy and Oxycodone, a strong prescription pain medication in the possession of Smith. Smith was taken into custody and not immediately charged as he posted bail shortly after his arrest. While in sheriff’s custody at the Lost Hills, sheriff’s station, Mr. Smith is said …

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Two Ventura County People Arrested for Bath Salts

Two people were arrested last week in Simi Valley, California after investigators found Methylone with an estimated street value of over $400,000 at the homes of Aaron Lieberman age 23 and his girlfriend Samantha Brand, 22, both residents of Ventura County. Ventura County Sheriff’s officials suspect that the two suspects were the source of most of the ecstasy and bath salts being supplied to the East side of Ventura County including Simi Valley and The West side of Los Angeles County including the San Fernando Valley. Typically known as bath salts, the drug has become increasingly popular in recent months as it has been …

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Botched Hi-Jack Attempt Yields 12 Tons of Pot

Tustin police officers recently stumbled upon 24,000 pounds (that’s right) of marijuana after the driver of a big rig truck called 911 telling the operator that he thought he was being hi-jacked. The truck driver said that two men in a van tried to pull him over and flashed some sort of badge. The driver said the men looked a little shady so instead of pulling over he pulled into the parking lot of a business and called the police. Tustin police officers arrived to find the attempted robbers gone upon their arrival. Further investigation revealed about 12 tons of marijuana secreted …

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How Do I Find a Good Criminal Defense or DUI Lawyer In Los Angeles?

Many of my new clients find me through internet searches. Someone gets arrested – either a friend or a relative or the client him or herself and then the inevitable happens – we look for answers on the internet. Google is often the answer to all of our problems. “What do I do when I am arrested for DUI”, “How do I find a good criminal defense lawyer in LA or Van Nuys or wherever the case is”. One of my favorite searches is: “How much does it cost to hire a good criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles?” Answer to …

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Two LAX Workers Arrested for Explosive Devices

Two Los Angeles International Airport workers were arrested within two days of each other after several dry ice bombs reportedly exploded at locations inside the airport property. First arrested was Dicarlo Bennett a ground service worker for a company called Servisair. Two days later, Bennett’s own supervisor, Miguel Angel Iniguez, was arrested. Bennett was arrested for actually blowing up the so called “dry-ice” bombs, while Iniguez was arrested after a suspected dry ice bomb was recovered without exploding. Both men face up to six years in state prison. Both men face charges which do not allow probation or suspended prison …

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Veteran LAPD Officer Arrested for Assault

Alesia Thomas, a mentally infirm mother of two dropped her children off at a local LAPD station last year. Several officers were sent to Thomas’ home to investigate why. One of those officers is believed to be 48 year old veteran police officer Mary O’Callaghan. According to local news reports, there is LAPD video of this 19 year veteran cop kicking the handcuffed Thomas multiple times in the groin and stomach areas. Thomas was said to be handcuffed and in leg restraints when the alleged beating took place. At some point during the incident, Thomas is described as having lost …

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Don’t Lie to the Cops, Especially in Ventura

Don’t lie to the cops, especially not in Ventura County. A Simi Valley, California man was arrested when the police came to his home in response to his 911 call. The man told the 911 operator he had been shot and was locked in his bathroom. It turns out that Simi resident Herbert Alvaranga had simply gotten into an argument with his wife and wanted the cops to get there as soon as possible. Herbert must have recently moved to Simi from Los Angeles. Alvaranga was taken into custody after police assessed the situation and determined that no shots had …

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Odom’s DUI Arrest in Los Angeles Raises Interesting Issues

Lamar Odom was arrested two days ago for DUI. It’s already old news so why am I writing about it now? The reason is because his arrest poses some interesting issues that frequently come up in DUI cases. First, misdemeanor DUI is charged under two different vehicle code sections in California: 23152 (a) and 23152 (b). The first is an allegation of driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs or a combination of the two. The second count is an allegation of driving while one’s blood alcohol concentration is .08 or above, regardless of impairment and with no allegation of drugs. When …

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Stolen Van Contained Family Dog Too

A homeless man was arrested yesterday in Studio City after he stole a minivan that was left running in the area of Ventura Boulevard and Whitsett. Nobody seemed to care about the van being stolen. What got the community up in arms was the fact that the van had the Mateo family dog sleeping in the back. It was a hot day in the Valley and the owner said he had stopped to pick up his wife and child at a local store. Mateo left the dog in the car with the engine running and the air conditioning on. It …

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Topless Activist Jailed and on Hunger Strike

Topless Activist to Die in Jail? Not Likely. Phoenix Feeley is in jail in Monmouth County New Jersey for not paying a fine she was assessed back in 2008 after she was cited for going topless in a lakeshore area. Who is Phoenix Feeley you ask? And why is this lawyer in California blogging about her? Feeley is described in the media as a “topless activist”, although my career counselor never gave me that category as a potential career choice. Maybe she didn’t think I had the body for it. In any event, Phoenix refused to pay her fine and …

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Really, We Are Part of a Collective

Ventura County Law Enforcement arrested three men from kern County after they were discovered tending to a 55,000 plant marijuana operation in the Los Padres national Forest located in norther Ventura County near the small town of Ojai. This was very near the site where a record setting bust took place last year. That grow was discovered by hikers while this was discovered by a night surveillance operation by the Ventura County Sheriff. Along with the three men, police found a handgun, growing supplies and about one pound of finished marijuana. One of the three men posted bail while the …

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Riverside County Woman Gets 17 Years for DUI Crash Killing 3

A Riverside County resident was just sentenced to 17 years in prison after pleading guilty to three counts of gross vehicular manslaughter resulting from a DUI traffic collision early last year. Tenina Calhoun of Moreno Valley had been out with friends celebrating her birthday when she got behind the wheel of her SUV and, while speeding down the road, lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a tree. 5 occupants were ejected from the vehicle and three of them died. Calhoun had been charged with three counts of second degree murder as a result of the drunken traffic accident and in a plea …

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Ex NBA Star Gilbert Arenas Arrested With Load of Illegal Fireworks

Former NBA star Gilbert Arenas was in trouble with the law, again, after getting pulled over by CHP for speeding at 2:30 in the morning. Officers discovered Arenas was driving on a suspended license and then searched his truck to find a bed full of illegal fireworks which were promptly confiscated by the cops. The moral to this story might be: Don’t get caught speeding at 2:30 a.m. while on a suspended license if you have a truckload of illegal fireworks with you. Arenas was issued a citation to appear in court after the LAPD bomb squad came out and gave …

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Arrest Made in Battery of Transgender Woman

A 21 year old man was arrested for allegedly beating a Barista from a local Los Angeles restaurant. The twist here is that the severely beaten victim was said to be a transgender individual who was the target of a hate crime. Nicol Shakhnazaryan was said to be one of your young men who perpetrated this crime. The three other suspects are still at large even after a large reward was said to be offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of these suspects. Nicol was picked out of a surveillance video tape taken near the location of the incident. …

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What To Do When The Police Come Knocking At Your Door

Don’t I have to let the police in the house when they ask? Or, don’t I have to come outside when the police ask me to? I have been hearing these questions for years. My answer has always been the same, “No”. We do not have to talk to the police when they come to our door. We do not have to open the door for the police. If we do, we are subjecting ourselves to what we commonly refer to as a consensual encounter. This means that we are volunteering to talk to the police. Please don’t do this. …

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Miranda and Your Right to Remain Silent

Many of us are familiar with the term “Miranda rights”. Some of us can even recite all or at least some of the Miranda warnings from memory after hearing them countless times in television shows or movies. You have the right to remain silent. If you give up the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you in court. You have the right to speak with an attorney before any questioning. If you desire to speak with an attorney and cannot afford one, one will be appointed for you. Do you understand your rights? …

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LA Sheriff’s Deputies Charged With Lying About An Arrest

After two Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputies were charged with the crime of filing false police reports after they lied about a drug arrest how come the same sheriff’s department is conducting further investigation about the incident? The man arrested by the deputies has since been set free and the two deputies, Robert Lindsey and Charles Rodriguez have been relieved of duty without pay. FYI, the without pay part does not sound good for these two. The two deputies were arrested Thursday, I assume by other sheriff’s deputies, and booked in lieu of bail to be posted by each of …

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Supreme Court Says No Drug Dogs at The House Without Warrant

In the second Supreme Court case in a year to involve drug sniffing dogs, the Court held that the cops need a search warrant in order to bring drug dogs onto your porch. The Court went on to say that not just inside the house, but the “curtilage” of the home should be free from law enforcement searches without a warrant. Curtilage is anything connected to the home or closing associated with the home like the porch or garage areas. The ruling came after Miami-Dade police and Federal agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration started watching a home where they …

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Nitrous Task Force Arrests Ten Plus Guns and More

A task force of Federal Agents and Sheriff’s Deputies set out on a quest to bust illegal sales of nitrous oxide in a 15 month investigation. The results were ten arrests and the seizure of 13 guns, several magazines and some illegal ammunition. The task force in Los Angeles and surrounding counties was intended to combat the increased abuse, often by minors, of nitrous oxide which can be purchased lawfully at auto parts stores. Dubbed, “No laughing matter” the investigation was said to be the largest law enforcement action ever conducted to deal with nitrous abuse. I understand that nitrous …

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MS-13 Gang Members Arrested in Food Truck Extortion

20 gang members were arrested after a police raid suspected MS-13 gang members of extorting money from food truck operators. Operation “Protecting The Dream” has been an LAPD task force aimed at protecting blue collar food truck operators from the heavy handed tactics of organized crime. MS-13 or Mara Salvatrucha – 13 gang members have been charging “rent” to food truck operators for at least five years according to ABC news reports in recent days. The Los Angeles Police Department has been investigating complaints that gang members charge fees of between $30 and $100 per month per truck and require …

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Three charged in Killing Westlake Church Deacon Outside His Church

Two more people were arrested and charged with the murder of a local church deacon after a shooting erupted outside the Westlake area church. One man and two women have been arrested and charged with murder of Andres Ordonez after Ordonez and several other parishioners allegedly confronted vandals spray painting the walls of their church. After Ordonez contacted the individuals, another person was said to have emerged from a car and began shooting at the victims, killing Ordonez and wounding another person. Pedro Martinez, Ivy Navarrette and Janeth Lopez have all been arrested and charged with murder as well as …

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Bath Salts and Marijuana Dispensaries Don’t Mix

Three men were arrested in Ventura County after an extensive undercover operation led police to believe a couple of local medical marijuana dispensaries were selling illegal “bath salts”. Bath salts, as they have become known are said to be a manufactured drug that has a composition similar to methamphetamine and offers some psychedelic effects to its user. The drugs were allegedly being sold right out of the dispensary without any need for a prescription or other medical recommendation. Ventura County District Attorney Greg Totten went public this week after his office and local law enforcement completed their investigation. Totten warned the …

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Nudity Protesters Arrested in San Francisco

4 naked protesters were arrested this weekend in San Francisco after they failed to comply with police orders and put their clothing back on. That’s right, naked during the winter in San Francisco. I think their movement may get more support in San Diego, but what do I know. In any event, the Huffington Post reports that three men and one woman were arrested in the buff after the police gave them fair warning to dress themselves and they refused. One man was report to have been wearing a mesh thong and the other three were totally nude. Personally, I …

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Moorpark Man Arrested for Illegal Dentistry

A 40 year old man From Moorpark, California was just arrested for practicing dentistry without a license. Ventura County Sheriff’s deputies and investigators from the state dental board executed a search warrant at the home of William Escobar to find his bathroom converted to a dental exam room. Officers said they investigated Escobar for about a month before obtaining the warrant. Why it took that long it beyond me, but upon entering his home police said they found a dental chair, medication, needles, material to perform orthodontics and more. It seems “doctor” Escobar recommended that one of his patients have …

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Hit and Run Driver Causes Huge Fire Damage in Sun Valley

A driver hit an electrical transformer in Sun Valley, California yesterday. The crash caused the transformer to blow up and started a fire in a large commercial building in the North San Fernando Valley. The collision caused a power failure to the entire Burbank Airport as well. The fire took hours and over a hundred firemen to put down. The driver was not located as of the next day. I am certain a serious investigation is under way to locate the driver. If you have questions about hit and run or any other criminal law or traffic law matter, please …

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Son of Ventura County Judge Arrested in Seal Beach

Arturo Gutierrez III was arrested in Seal Beach yesterday after allegedly trying to meet an under age female for sexual purposes. Art is a well known young criminal defense attorney in Ventura County and the son of the Honorable Arturo Gutierrez II, a retired Ventura County Judge and former veteran deputy public defender in Ventura County. It is alleged that Art Junior was caught up in a police task force who were investigating the online chat of a juvenile female in Orange County. She was said to have been communicating with several different men and the task force took over …

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How Much Does it Cost to Hire a DUI Lawyer in Los Angeles?

I just got off of the telephone with a woman who was arrested for Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol (DUI) in Malibu, California. She told me that she was pulled over for weaving and arrested for DUI. She submitted to a breath test and blew results of .13. We went on to talk about her drinking patter, criminal history, licensing status, citizenship status, any several other issues which tell an experienced lawyer whether this case has aggravating factors associated with it. We continued to talk about the Department of Motor Vehicle’s (DMV) Administrative Per Se (APS) hearing and what …

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“But Officer, I Only Had Two Drinks”

The number one response to law enforcement when someone is pulled over for driving under the influence is to tell the police you only had two drinks. Sometimes it’s true, but often times it’s not so true. When clients come into my office to meet with me for a DUI consultation, I often say things like, “my wine glasses are 23 ounces, how large are your glasses”? At this point, clients are often more forthcoming as to the actual amount of alcoholic beverages they consumed the day of their arrest. Even if a client has a fairly accurate recollection of the …

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A Dark Night for the Black Sabbath Motorcycle Club

The Black Sabbath Motorcycle Club President was killed in a drive by shooting late Friday night. Clyde Major Thompson Jr., also known as Wild Dogg, 51, was repairing a motorcycle at the club’s San Diego clubhouse, when he was gunned down. The shooter is described as a young black man wearing a black hooded jacket and black shirt. The motive is unclear. Police are searching for the suspect. The Black Sabbath Motorcycle club formed in 1972 by seven African American men who liked to ride motorcycles on Sundays. San Diego is considered the “mother chapter”. Since forming the club has …

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Heroin abuse on the rise in Simi Valley

Heroin use is on the rise in Ventura County, with a spike of cases found in Simi Valley. The prevalence of heroin addiction is often connected to prescription pain medications. Due to easy access of obtaining a prescription for opiates such as OxyContin, we are seeing a higher demand for heroin on the streets, which offers the same high, only more intense and at a much cheaper price. 75% of heroin overdoses that occurred in Ventura county from January 2010-March 2012 were found to be white males between the ages of 16-30 years of age. Simi Valley residents have responded …

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Effective Use of Polygraph Examination in Criminal Defense

Many people are familiar with polygraph machines or polygraph examinations. Some people are even aware that their scientific value is sometimes questioned and the admissibility of examination results in court is highly limited. Why then would a criminal suspect or defendant submit to a polygraph examination? First, I would only submit a client to a polygraph under certain, very controlled circumstances. Second, I never submit any client to a law enforcement polygraph and never in an environment that is not controlled by me. Finally, I try to avoid polygraph examinations prior to reviewing all police reports regarding any particular investigation. …

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Jeffrey Vallens quoted on National Federation of Independent Businesses Website

Known as “The Voice” of small businesses in America, The National Federation of Independent Businesses is a major player in the news and events for small business in The United States. Please visit their site at www.NFIB.com and read where they heavily quoted Mr. Vallens in their recent article about fraud in the workplace. If you have questions about criminal fraud, theft or any other criminal defense matter, please contact Jeffrey Vallens: (818) 783-5700 or (888) 764-4340 or email me at: vallenslaw@yahoo.com or visit my sites: www.4criminaldefense.com or www.westlakecriminaldefense.com

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Cost to Hire a Good Criminal Defense Attorney in Los Angeles?

But I just spoke to another lawyer who said he would take my case for $1,500. How come you want $2,500 (Or more)? These are words that I hear a lot. I try not like to say things like “You get what you pay for” so I will simply explain why you shouldn’t hire the cheapest lawyer around. I will also explain why it may cost a little more to hire the right lawyer for your criminal defense case in Los Angeles. First, most lawyers have overhead or expenses associated with running their own businesses. I have an office, a …

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Finding the Right Criminal Defense Attorney in Los Angeles

How do you find the right criminal defense lawyer in your community? You do what everyone else does when you want something: You sit in front of your computer and you do a search — most of the time it is through Google. Great. I do my search for “Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer” and I get page after page of people I still don’t know. Some are advertisements and some are “natural results”. This does not help me. Shall I just pick one? Where do I go from here. My answer is still the same as it was one …

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Jackie Lacey for Los Angeles County District Attorney

Jackie Lacey is running for District Attorney in Los Angeles County. I hope all Los Angeles County residents get out and vote for Jackie. She is clearly the best qualified candidate for the job. She has been a prosecutor with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office for her entire career. She worked her way up to the number two position in the office under the guidance of Steve Cooley. She is endorsed by District Attorney Cooley and almost every other organization that gives endorsements for District Attorney. Read more about Jackie. Please get out and vote. But don’t just …

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Trial in Killing of Riverside Police Officer off to a Rough Start for the Defense

Riverside Police officer Ryan Bonaminio was killed by gunshot wounds in November of 2010. The suspect in the crime, Earl Ellis began trial today. The opening statement by his defense attorney caused me some great concern for the outcome of his case. The Los Angeles Times reported that Mr. Earl’s defense attorney conceded the death by gunshot wounds and the fact that it was committed by Earl. The defense conceded that the death was a murder but disputed the allegation that it was premeditated. A first degree murder of a police officer carries a potential death sentence. The approach of …

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Pill Pushers Beware, The DA’s Office and the DEA may be Watching You

I was recently contacted by the Los Angeles Area Drug Enforcement Administration or DEA. Special Agents on a task force dealing with physicians over-prescribing pills called me because they wanted to talk to one of my clients. My client, who is under doctors care for chronic pain, has been getting prescription pain medication for many years. Although my client has done nothing wrong, DEA agents are investigating my client’s doctors in an effort to determine if certain doctors are over-prescribing drugs. Many of us are familiar with the recent trial of Dr. Conrad Murray. However, we may not be aware …

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It’s a Bad Time for Police Officer Defendants

If you are a police officer in California, it seems as if it is a bad time for you to commit crime. In two separate trials in as many months two different police officers were recently convicted of murder in Los Angeles County. In what is dubbed a “cold case” murder, former Los Angeles Police Department detective Stephanie Lazarus was convicted of beating and shooting the wife of a man for whom she had a love interest. Her defense contended that crime scene evidence was tainted, however, this did not stop the jury from quickly reaching a verdict of guilt. …

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Spy Plane Coming To Lancaster, California

The Lancaster City Counsel just approved a spy plane to conduct aerial surveillance over Lancaster ten hours per day and seven days per week. The images captured by the occupied plane will supposedly be transferred directly to the Sheriff’s Department and viewed by assigned deputies in the station. Comments regarding the surveillance plane are mixed at best. Some residents, including the City Mayor, R. Rex Parris are happy about the crime fighting potential the plane may have. The ACLU has other concerns. Why should honest people who are not breaking the law be subjected to surveillance by the cops and …

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Hiring an Expert Criminal Defense Attorney

How do you know that the lawyer you are hiring is an expert at criminal defense? There are a lot of highly competent lawyers in our community. How do we know that the lawyer we pay is the right lawyer for the job? We can start by checking his references on certain legal web sites. For example, Avvo or Justia list attorney profiles and attorney complaint as well as reviews by clients and by fellow lawyers. Read the reviews. If most of them aren’t good, you should probably be looking in another direction. Has your lawyer ever been quoted by the media …

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Should Your Client Testify at Trial?

In the wake of the Conrad Murray trial, there has been a lot of talk in the media about the strategy of the defense in a criminal trial. To many people’s surprise, Dr. Murray elected (it’s ultimately his choice) not to testify in his own defense. Many people question why he did not testify. In Dr. Murray’s case, he is represented by two highly skilled criminal defense attorneys. I met Michael Flanagan some 15 years ago when I took his multiple week DUI defense program offered through The University of Southern California’s Law School. Mr. Flanagan and his partner, Charles …

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Finding a Good Criminal Defense Lawyer in Los Angeles

I am constantly asked how a potential client can find a good criminal defense attorney. My answer is often the same: Meet with the lawyer whenever possible; Do you feel comfortable with the lawyer? Be worried about any lawyer who promises the world or any lawyer who tries to scare you to death. Make sure you meet with the actual lawyer who will be handling the case. Make sure you are not meeting with a salesman or paralegal or any other such person who is not going to be your lawyer. Remember, if the lawyer does not have time to …

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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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Medical Marijuana Is Not A Crime

Many years after the voters in California passed an initiative to allow legal use and possession of marijuana, the federal government still does not see it our way. The Compassionate Use Act allows authorized persons with medical needs and a doctor’s recommendation to have, use and even cultivate marijuana for personal use or for use as a caregiver or within specified group. I got a call just this Friday from a woman charged with possession of under an ounce of marijuana. She was on a federal military base and had the marijuana (with a valid CA prescription) on the base. …

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$2,500 or More to Hire a Competent Criminal Defense Attorney

One of the first questions that a prospective client asks me is always about cost: How much will it cost to hire a criminal defense attorney like you? My answer is always the same: I have an office policy minimum and I don’t get on any case for less than $2,500. The fees go up from there depending upon severity of the case, prior criminal history, court location and other factors. Like all things in life there are exceptions to the rule. Driving on a suspended license cases or traffic tickets would likely cost less money. Likewise, there are reasons …

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DUI Arrests Were Up This Labor Day Weekend

The California Highway Patrol reported that DUI arrests were up significantly from last Labor Day Weekend. Not only were DUI arrests up, but fatal accidents were up as well, says the CHP. Last year only one fatal accident was reported during the first two days of Labor Day Weekend, but this year there were six reported fatal accidents. In addition DUI arrests were up to 1,008 from 990 last year. The CHP reported that there had been a downward trend in DUI arrests and fatal traffic collisions over the last few years. Sadly, this year has shown an increase in …

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29 to Life for a $20 Theft…Another Failure of the Justice System

A Riverside County man was tragically sentenced to 29 to life in prison for shoplifting less than $21 worth of merchandise from a Home Depot Store in the Lake Elsinore area. Yes, he had an extensive criminal history. Yes, he was on parole for at least one prior felony conviction. Yes, he has had strikes “stricken” before. And yes, it should have happened again. According to the local media, Scott Hove, 45, of Riverside County, was previously charged with a third strike offense in Riverside County. In that case, he was charged with drug possession. The District Attorney argued to …

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Increase in Crime Likely Under State’s New Plan

Due to the State budget crises, California plans to start moving low-level, nonviolent offenders from over-crowded prisons to the over-crowded jails run by the State’s 58 Counties. Recently, Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca submitted a plan to begin the prisoner transition from State Prison to LA County Jail. Clearly this is a plan that is destined for failure. LA County’s jail system is already amongst the largest municipal jail system in the world. It is already overcrowded, understaffed and the conditioners there are, in a word, disgusting. How then does Sheriff Baca expect to accommodate more inmates from the …

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Practicing Medicine Without a License is a Crime

A staff member at a West Hollywood plastic surgery clinic was caught in the act of practicing medicine without a license. After getting complaints from the State Medical Board, investigators fromthe agency starting watching a clinic at Sunset medical Tower on Sunset Boulevard very closely. When the Board inspectors went to the facility what they found was scary. As staff member at the doctor’s office was not only diagnosing patients’ medical conditions but was administering laser treatment to patients. According the the local media, the owners of the clinic are manny and Pie Calayan, neither of whom are medical doctors …

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LAPD Officers Sue City Over Traffic Ticket Quotas

10 Los Angeles Police Department Officers from the West Traffic Division sued the City of Los Angeles alleging that the LAPD has a traffic ticket quota that the officers must meet. The officers alleged, among other things, that they were being punished for refusing to obey quota requirements set by their superiors. Other allegations included denial of overtime and other benefits for not going along with the quota’s. The suit also alleges that traffic officers were given negative performance reviews based upon their failure to issue enough tickets and meet their superiors quotas. Setting quotas for issuance of traffic tickets …

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Los Angeles County Judge Found Not Guilty in Alleged Bribe

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Harvey Silberman was found not guilty yesterday. The judge was indicted in 2008 for allegedly violating a State Election Code. He was accused of bribing another candidate in an effort to get her to step out of the race. In trial, two witnesses testified against Silberman. They were working on his judicial campaign at the time the alleged crime occurred. Silberman’s attorney argued that the witnesses lied about their stories in an effort to get better “deals” from the prosecutor. The two had pled guilty to misdemeanor in order to avoid trial on felony …

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Jailhouse Informants May Need to Find a New Job

California’s jailhouse informants may soon need to find a new source of income and benefits. The State Legislature just passed a bill prohibiting convictions in criminal cases which are based entirely upon the uncorroborated testimony of jailhouse informants. Governor Brown is expected to sign the bill into law in the near future. Jailhouse informants are inmates in jail or prison who testify for the prosecution in criminal cases. They often do this in exchange for some sort of payment or other benefit. A benefit could include a lesser sentence in a criminal charge which the informant is facing him or …

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Judges Cannot Increase Sentences in Order to Send Inmates to Rehab

The Supreme Court says that judges cannot give longer sentences to convicted felons just so they may be sent to a rehabilitation program in custody. In a 9-0 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court stated that judges could not increase a defendant’s sentence just so the Federal Bureau of Prisons could fit them into their 500 hour drug treatment program. It has long been known that an inmate who participated in the Fed’s 500 hour in custody drug treatment program could earn time off the end of their sentence for successfully completing it. For this reason and hopefully for treatment purposes, …

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Playing With Firecrackers May Get You Burned

Playing with firecrackers can get you burned in California. After a juvenile court commissioner found that two teens didn’t intend to set a forest fire, he sent them home on probation. Apparently the Los Angeles County District Attorney was not happy with the result and appealed the conviction or the sentence. The California Supreme Court found that willful and malicious conduct in throwing a cherry bomb on a brush covered hill is sufficient for a finding of arson. This is very significant in the California criminal justice scheme. Arson is not only a strike offense for purposes of California’s Three …

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Get Busted in L.A.

California Governor Jerry Brown recently signed legislation that will cause thousands nonviolent felons to serve their time in county jails instead of state prisons. Here in Los Angeles County, that will likely mean a great deal to the inmates. Here in Los Angeles County we typically see inmates in county jail serving only a small percentage of their given sentence. For Felonies it is common that my client serve a third of their sentence or even less in some cases. Other counties differ greatly from Los Angeles. Just next door in Ventura County, inmates typically serve 66% of their sentences, …

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How Much Should It Cost to Hire A Criminal Defense Attorney

I regularly get calls from potential clients who do not wish to give out any case-specific information and want to get a “quote” over the telephone for the cost of my criminal defense services. It is difficult to quote a fee without knowing the specific facts about a particular case. When I speak to a potential client who just wants a quote over the phone, my first question is usually, “Do you have a minute or two to speak with me about the facts of your case?” The answer is often yes, in which case I am able to obtain …

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LAPD’s Metropolitan Detention Center Opens

Say goodbye to Parker Center and say hello to the new and expansive (and expensive) Metropolitan Detention Center.  This is not to be confused with the other Metropolitan Detention Center that is operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons.  Is is possible that someone at LAPD could have come up with a different name for their new 84 million dollar jail facility that sat vacant for the last two years? The jail is finally opened and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck is already having to defend his actions to pull some 90 patrol officers off of their field assignments to help …

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Jurors Step Up to Nullify Marijuana Laws

Here in Los Angeles people have long had a liberal view of illegal drug use.  In recent years we have seen our state’s marijuana laws become more and more liberal as well.  Not all other states take the same view toward unlawful drug activities like personal use and sale of small amounts of drugs. As people’s views toward drug use tend to liberalize, a phenomenon occurs within the court system.  It becomes increasingly difficult to find twelve jurors who will hold a defendant accountable for certain minor drug crimes.  Most people think of the term “drug dealer” as someone who prays on the …

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Holiday DUI Arrests Increase Over 2009

DUI arrests both locally and across the state increased this year from last year. The CHP reported that the number of people arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol drugs or both increased significantly from 2009 to 2010. The number of DUI related collisions was the same as last year and happily, no fatal collisions were reported this year or last year in Ventura County. Sadly, the CHP reported there were nine people killed during Thanksgiving weekend in DUI related collisions. Let’s be smart out there. Don’t drink and drive. Use a designated driver, take a taxi or even rent a limo. …

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To Bail or Not to Bail…That is the Question

If you are reading this then you already know the question, so what is the answer? With the average bail in Los Angeles County set at over $20,000, it will cost you or someone close to you a lot of money to secure your freedom. Bail is set by law in California and regulated by the State Department of Insurance. Bail fees are set at ten percent for most cases and can be eight percent in certain circumstances. This means that if your bail is set at $20,000, your cost to post a bail bond will be around $2,000.00. Before …

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Officer’s Subject to Discipline for Seeking Justice

Tesitify or face discipline says LAPD Deputy Chief David Doan.  LAPD issued a new directive telling officers not to request the dismissal of traffic tickets where they had no independent recollection of the events of the ticket.  Does the Deputy Chief of LAPD really need to tell his officers that they should take notes to help aid their memory of past events?  I suppose that’s better than him telling them to simply make stuff up when they are testifying. Testimony in court is really quite simple.  Tell the truth.  If one cannot remember a past event, then they should simply …

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Another California Politician Indicted

California Senator Roderick Wright from Los Angeles County was just indicted on charges of perjury and voter fraud stemming from his Senatorial race and voter registration in 2007.  He also is alleged to have voted fraudulently in 5 subsequent elections as well. At least we know he is out there voting.  Also, it seems that his co-workers in politics have nothing but good things to say about his work as a politician. The LA Times reports he was indicted by a grand jury and is facing multiple felony charges based upon signing documents under penalty of perjury which say he lives in his senatorial district when …

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Crimes Involving Dangerous Drugs Most Likely to Cause Deportation…How Can Deportation be Avoided?

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security recently reported that the top reason for “removing” or deporting immigrants is based upon their being detained for crimes involving “dangerous drugs”. these crimes involve the manufacturing, sale or distribution and even possession of illegal drugs. Dangerous drug crimes caused the deportation of almost 30 percent of all people deported in 2009. Next to dangerous drugs came traffic offenses which accounted for 16 percent of deportations and then came other violations like illegally entering the country of smuggling of other immigrants into the country which accounted for over 15 percent of deportations. Statistics maintained by …

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Car Wash Owners Learn That City Attorneys Play Hard Ball

Two Los Angeles area car wash owners were just sentenced to a year in the Los Angeles County Jail and will have to pay hundreds of thousands in fines after they were convicted of multiple criminal counts of theft, conspiracy, and labor code violations.  Additionally, brothers Benny and Nissan Pirian must keep their books up to date and open for inspection by local, state and federal agencies. The Pirian brothers were charged with over 170 criminal charges stemming from their treatment of car wash employees.  Evidence indicates that employees were ordered to come in early, stay late, denied breaks and rest …

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Fake Condoms, Barbie Dolls and Purses Can Mean Prison and Heavy Fines

Prosecutors in New York just sent a Chinese born American citizen to federal prison for 37 months for importing and selling millions of dollars worth of counterfeit Trojan brand condoms. 4.3 million counterfeit condoms were recovered in the 6 year investigation which lead to the conviction. Prosecutors indicated that condoms were tested and found to be defective and leak, burst or otherwise not be spermicidally lubricated as the authentic version should be. Court documents indicate that condoms were imported from China and packaged under several different names in the Trojan line. The products were then sold as authentic to both wholesale and …

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Deputy Convicted for Bringing Drugs into Jail

Former Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Peter Paul Felix was just sentenced to four years in state prison for bringing drugs into the very jails that he was charged with protecting.  He must have done it for the money, right?  As a deputy with two years on, Felix was probably going to make close to $100,000, in the full year he left the Sheriff’s Department.  With a salary like that, the idea of supplementing one’s income by a few thousand dollars does not seem to warrant the risk losing your job or going to prison.  Why then would Deputy Felix …

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Two Men Executed by Hanging in Japan

On a more serious note, two who were previously sentenced to death by courts in Japan were hanged last week.  The executions spurred serious animosity by citizens rights groups including Amnesty International.  Here I go again:  Was it the death or the method of death that spurred the debate? One man was convicted of setting fire to a jewelry store which ended up killing six people.  The other fellow strangle a woman and stabbed a man to death to end up on death row. Japan is one of the few remaining industrialized countries which still employs the death penalty.  I must …

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Proposition 19 to Legalize Marijuana is Losing Ground

Proposition 19, California’s initiative to legalize the possession, growth and use of marijuana by people over 21 is losing ground according to the latest Field Poll.  The latest poll shows that more potential voters are likely to oppose it than support it. The poll goes on to show that the division appears to be on ethnic lines.  While more white voters support the legalization, black, hispanic and asian voters tend to be against it. Let’s wake up our pot smoking friends and get on the move.  Maybe we should offer brownies to people if they show us their “I voted” stickers.  For the …

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Orange County Man Charged In Extortion of Sexually Explicit Images

Luis Mijangos, a paraplegic man from Orange County was arrested and charged with multiple counts of violating federal laws as he extorted sexually explicit images from women and girls in the Southland.  Federal authorities allege that he utilizes software to gather photos or video from the victims.  He then emails the victims and threatens to expose the photos publicly. Interestingly, instead of asking for money, he asks his victims to send him additional sexually explicit photos and video.  It appears that many of his victims did what he asked.  When authorities searched Mijangos’ home they found dozens of videos from …

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Defense Attorney Busted at Criminal Court Building

Beverly Hills attorney Michael Inman was arrested yesterday after he allegedly brought heroin and methamphetamine into a courthouse lockup facility in downtown Los Angeles.  Inman was held for felony charges and bail was set at $190,000. The location of the arrest which is within the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center, or CCB as it has been known for years, houses hundreds of inmates who are attending court hearings in the massive courthouse.  Sheriff’s officials say that a drug dog that was there to check inmates for narcotics alerted on Mr. Inman after which Inman was found to be in possession of black tar …

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Criminal Record Causes Denial of Visa for Chris Brown

Singer Chris Brown was recently denied a visa for travel to the United Kingdom because of his criminal history.  As a result of the visa denial, Brown’s tour had to be postponed.  As a result of postponing his tour, Brown is out a lot of money. What does this have to do with me, you ask?..After all, I’m a U.S. citizen…It’s not like I’m going to get deported or something, right?.. Criminal defendants are effected by their cases in more ways than they know.  Not only can non-citizens be deported, they may also be denied re-entry into the country or …

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Miranda Rights Trimmed by US Supreme Court

The United States Supreme Court just, or should I say unjustly, ruled that crime suspects must affirmatively invoke their Miranda rights in order to afford themselves the protections under the landmark decision in Miranda vs. Arizona.  What this means to the average Joe is that instead of simply refusing to speak, a defendant, who is in the custody and law enforcement and subject to interrogation, can no longer simply remain silent.  He or she must now say something like “I want to talk to my lawyer”, or at least, “I don’t want to speak to you”, in order to stop …

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Ralphs Grocery Stores Charged with Multiple Counts of Overcharging

The Los Angeles City Attorney charged Ralphs grocery stores with multiple counts of overcharging their customers.  The Los Angeles County Department of Weights and Measures recently conducted an undercover investigation of Ralphs Grocery Stores and Ralphs failed miserably.  As a result, Los Angeles City Attorney Don Cocek filed multiple charges against Ralphs for overcharging their customers. By the way, this is not the first time this has happened. Here is how it works:  The store gets caught overcharging and criminal charges get filed.  Nobody goes to jail, but the store agrees to plead guilty and pay a fine for the violations.  In the last …

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Another Bling Ring Defendant Enters a Plea

Another “Bling Ring” defendant plead no contest to the residential burglary of actor Orlando Bloom’s home.  Alexis Neiers, who the media describe as a reality star, had previously denied knowledge of the burglary indicating she was present but too intoxicated to know what was going on.  I’m glad her defense attorney didn’t try to sell that to a jury. She appears to have pled no contest to residential burglary, which is a strike under California’s Three Strikes Law.  Her sentence appears to be as follows:  Two years state prison, imposed and suspended,  three years of formal probation, 180 days in county jail, …

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Inmate Abuse Reported at Los Angeles County Jail

In an article that could hardly be characterized as “news” a local newspaper reported that according to a report by the American Civil Liberties Union, there is abuse at Los Angeles County’s Men’s Central Jail. Frankly, I thought this was common knowledge. Seriously though, the ACLU wrote a report covering a twelve month period of time from 2008 to 2009 based on weekly visits to the jail and reviewing numerous inmate complaints. Complaints ranged from assaults by to deputies to more complicated schemes involving other inmates taking direction from deputies. As a criminal defense attorney I understand what a difficult …

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Ban on Orange County Marijuana Dispensaries Upheld by Federal Judge

Earlier today a Federal Judge dismissed a lawsuit by three Orange County, California residents who contended that a total ban on marijuana dispensaries in certain cities in Orange County violated the American’s With Disabilities Act. Federal District Court Judge Andrew Guilford indicated that marijuana cannot be prescribed under the ADA, thus, the Act did not apply to marijuana. As such, the parties bringing the action were not likely to win at trial and the case was dismissed. It seems to me that an argument under the Equal Protection Clause might have been more successful. For example, it would likely be found …

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Actor Randy Quaid Booked for Santa Barbara Felony

Actor Randy Quaid and his wife Evi were booked Monday on felony charges of defrauding an inkeeper in Santa Barbara County. They were each released after posting $100,000 bail. My first thought after reading about Mr. Quaid is that times must be tough for him too. However, if he and his wife both posted $100,000 bail, that means they likely payed a bail bondsman 10 percent of that amount or put up the whole amount themselves. It seems to me that they might have been better off paying the hotel bill to begin with. That is, assuming they really owed it. Defrauding …

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Finding Competent Attorneys in Your Area

Do you need or do you know someone who needs to find an attorney in their area? One of the best ways to find an attorney is by referral. If you are looking for a lawyer in a field other than criminal defense, or if you are looking for a lawyer outside of Southern California, feel free to call me or send me an email and I will do my best to help you. Because I have been practicing law in Southern California for over 15 years, I have a lot of resources and contacts to find quality lawyers and other …

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Convicted Murderer Seeks Death by Firing Squad

Convicted murderer Ronnie Lee Gardner is facing the death penalty in an Utah state prison. He is asking that his death sentence be by way of a firing squad. I had a few questions after hearing this story. What country are we in anyway? And what type of person makes up the firing squad? In 2010, even in Utah, what sick individual signs up for the job of firing squad member? Personally, I have never seen that entry on a job description: Member of firing squad. I have never been asked in a job interview: Would you be willing to be …

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Suspected Shooter at Valley Restaurant Arrested

Nerses Galstyan, the suspected April 3rd shooter at the Hot Spot Restaurant in Valley Village was arrested yesterday without incident.  He was apprehended by a federal fugitive task force in the State of Washington.  Galstyan is suspected of shooting 6 men, 4 of whom were mortally wounded. After the shooting, Galstyan was indicted by a federal grand jury on weapons charges including dealing firearms without a license.  He is alleged to have participated in the sale of firearms to an informant working for the Federal Alcohol, Tobacco,  Firearms and Explosives Agency.

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Task Force Arrests 23 for Hemet Police Attacks

A task force arrested 23 people regarding recent attacks against the Hemet Police Department and city property in Hemet, California.  Police suspected a white supremacist group was to blame for recent attacks in the city.  The attacks included burning city vehicles and setting up several dangerous booby traps at police facilities. A task force was set up with local, state and federal officials who executed searches at dozens of locations to seek out suspects in the crimes and to make arrests on unrelated charges including weapons and narcotics. Apparently, law enforcement is still conducting an investigation regarding the attacks and is still …

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4/10/10 A Day to Celebrate With a Doctor Visit

April 20th has long been a day that has been celebrated by marijuana smokers and 2010 seems to be no exception. I recommend that the day be celebrated by a visit to one’s doctor who can provide the 4/20 aficionado with a medical recommendation for the lawful use of marijuana. Marijuana has long been thought to be medically beneficial for a variety of ailments. I you are one suffering from almost any medical condition, you might seek a doctor’s recommendation for marijuana. Once you receive such a “prescription” then it is truly time to celebrate. However, until then, smoking marijuana …

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Sex Offender Plead Guilty to Life Without the Possibility of Parole

San Diego, California sex offender John Albert Gardner plead guilty to killing two girls and attempting to rape another. He will be sentenced to life in state prison without the possibility of parole. I believe that Gardner was instrumental in helping police recover the body of one of his victims. For this, the prosecution agreed to spare his life and not seek the death penalty for his crimes. Gardner is set to be sentenced on June 1, of this year. I would expect to hear statements from the families of the victims at that hearing. This should be a highly emotional hearing. …

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Blackwater Boys Won’t Have Their Toys

Several former high ranking “officers” of Blackwater Worldwide were indicted on weapons charges last week. In what was described as a “Straw Purchase”, Blackwater personnel allegedly financed the purchase of automatic weapons for a small sheriff’s department. The weapons were supposed to be stored at Blackwater’s facilities, but owned by law enforcement. Blackwater has denied the allegations. Generally speaking only military and law enforcement personally can own or possess automatic weapons. There are limited exceptions to this for holders of specific federal firearms licenses or antique weapons. Otherwise, civilian personnel can only own semi-automatic weapons. Personally, I think that most …

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Charges Rejected Against La Habra Police Officer

The Orange County District Attorney has declined to file criminal charges against a La Habra City police officer who crashed into and killed a husband and wife who were on their way to hear their daughter sing in a church musical. Sources say that the California Highway patrol investigated the crash. The officer was said to be on her way to assist in the pursuit of a parolee. The CHP estimated her speed at 62 in a 35 mile per hour zone. CHP investigators recommended that criminal charges be filed against the officer but the District Attorney’s office declined. The …

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Taser Abuse

A police officer and a former police officer were recently indicted for civil rights violations stemming from wrongful use of their taser guns. The incidents happened in 2004 and 2005 in the City of Desert Hot Springs, California. If my math is correct that is about five to six years ago. My first questions is, why did it take so long to file charges against these two men? In recent years, many of us have noticed that almost all of our local law enforcement officers are now carrying Taser devices on their belts. In days past, Taser devices were limited …

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Dog Beater Gets 45 Weekends in Jail

A dog beater in Riverside got sentenced yesterday to three years of probation 90 days jail to be served on weekends, community service hours and anger management classes. Glynn Johnson of Riverside is a former Assistant Los Angeles County Fire Chief who was convicted of animal cruelty which apparently stemmed from a neighbor dispute over some noise problems. Weekends in jail and anger management classes seem appropriate under the circumstances, however, it seems absurd to sentence a dog beater to community work with animals. Maybe the judge could have thought that item through a little more clearly. In the end …

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Who Says Crime Doesn’t Pay?

My client was charged with residential burglary and grand theft stemming from a classic bunco scam where she and two co-defendants convinced their victim they could “clone” his money.  The victim handed over 1.6 million dollars in cash.  The defendant’s took 1.3 million in cash and left the victim holding his withdrawal receipt in his hand. I was able to get probation for my client…that’s right, probation.  Now my question is:  Does crime pay?  The cash was never recovered. Call me, maybe I can help.  (818) 783-5700 or email me at vallenslaw@yahoo.com.

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Victory in Newhall

I just walked a client into court in Newhall/Santa Clarita.  He bench warranted several months ago.  His public defender told him he would be going to jail for ninety days.  He walk out of court and never went back.  He came to my office and hired me on Friday.  The case was for driving on a suspended license with a prior and probation violation for the same thing.  My client is also not a U.S. citizen cannot get a driver’s license and has already been deported after his last case. I walked out of court with my client and an …

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Doctor gets 5 years for slamming on brakes in front of bikes

I couldn’t help but notice the LA Times today which had a long article about the Doctor in LA who pulled in front of two bikes and slammed on his brakes.  He just got sentenced to 5 years in state prison.  That’s gonna suck.  I would rather share the road with a couple bicycles than share a cell with a guy named Bubba.  Maybe the doctor, and many of us for that matter, can learn a lesson from my 3 year old boy.  “Take a deep breath and count to ten”.  I don’t care what the bikes were doing (and …

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Finding the Right Lawyer

Finding the right lawyer can be a difficult job. It used to be considered unprofessional for lawyers to advertise. Those days are gone. Lawyers spend a lot of time and money looking for new clients by advertising. It used to be that the best way to find a lawyer was by being referred by someone else who used that lawyer and was happy with their services. This has not changed. The best way to find a lawyer is from someone you know who has used that lawyer, or by someone you know who knows that lawyer. It seems like whenever I …

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Don’t Miss Work and Don’t Go To Court

Not every case result can be spectacular.  However, I can perform a valuable service for each and every client. Today I went to court for RC.  He had a DUI in the South bay and he blew breath results of .14 and .15.  RC was pulled over for making an illegal turn and weaving.  His breathalyzer machine was in proper working order.  I am sorry to say I was not able to get the charge dismissed, but I was still able to help my client out a great deal. RC owns and operates his own business.  He works six days …

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Probation for Three Pounds of Cocaine, two loaded guns and one pound of Marijuana

I just came from court in Burbank where I achieved a fantastic settlement for JC.  JC was pulled over and found to have several thousand dollars in cash and 26 baggies of cocaine in his car.  There were also four cellular phones with one wringing off the hook. Police convinced him to let them search his house where they found three pounds of cocaine, one pound of marijuana and two loaded handguns.  Did I mention that both of JC’s children (ages 1 and 3) were at home? Result?  Probation and 180 days in county jail.  Another good day, and another …

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Thorough Investigation Wins Criminal Cases

When I first meet with a client (AH) to discuss his case, I never know what the outcome of the case was going to be. I usually have an idea of a likely outcome, high hopes for a positive outcome and the client’s idea of a desired outcome. What I do know is that many criminal cases require investigation by the defense. This usually requires utilizing an experienced private investigator. One of the problems with hiring a good PI is that they are expensive. Client’s often often don’t have or don’t want to spend extra money to pay the PI, …

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News You Can Use About Expunging Criminal Convictions

TO EXPUNGE OR NOT TO EXPUNGE? THAT IS THE QUESTION. The answer is yes. But, why? You have put your small lapse in judgment behind you. Yes, you were convicted of a crime. It might have been a misdemeanor or felony, and you successfully completed the entire period of probation. You have heard people talk about expunging your record. Maybe your lawyer mentioned it. Maybe someone else said something about erasing or sealing your criminal history. Here in California, we can only seal arrest records for juveniles after they turn eighteen and are crime free. As for adults, there is no …

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