San Fernando Valley Criminal & DUI Defense Lawyers

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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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Victory Over California’s Opaque Police Privacy Laws In State Court

California is the only state that limits access to the personal files of law enforcement witnesses resulting in a lack of fair trials for accused individuals. Read this L.A. Time article about how I navigated around that block in federal court to ensure a favorable outcome from my client. “This L.A. sheriff’s deputy was a pariah in federal court. But his secrets were safe with the state.” Los Angeles Times, August 10, 2018.

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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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