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Fixing California's Bail SystemThe average bail for criminal defendants in California is $50,000 – five times higher than the national average. The bail system is meant to create an incentive for defendants to return to court and make it more difficult for potentially dangerous defendants to leave jail. After a defendant posts bail, he or she will be reimbursed if the case is dropped or results in a verdict of not guilty. Most defendants use bail bonds, in which a bondsman pays the bail in exchange for a fee. However, bail reform advocates say that the system disproportionately punishes low-income defendants. The likelihood of leaving jail after criminal charges is more dependent upon the defendant being able to afford bail than the risk he or she poses. As a result, California jails are overcrowded with people who are awaiting trial but have not paid their bail.

Reform

Bail schedules determine the assigned bail for each criminal charge, but the bail amount for the same charge can vary by county. Some California county courts are trying to combat jail overcrowding by lessening or eliminating bail for some defendants. Proposed state legislation would fundamentally change the bail system for all California courts. The bill would eliminate the county bail schedules and instead determine the need to jail a defendant based on his or her:

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What Distinguishes a Felony DUI from a Misdemeanor DUILast week, many community members in Bakersfield, California, were incredulous after the local district attorney announced that a high-profile case would not include charges of felony driving under the influence of alcohol. The suspect had supposedly been legally intoxicated when his vehicle hit and killed a bicyclist. However, he is being charged with the lesser misdemeanor DUI. The case illustrates the intricacies when deciding between misdemeanor DUI and felony DUI charges in California. Felony charges may require proving negligence and causation, as well as intoxication.

Misdemeanor vs. Felony

Misdemeanor DUI charges commonly occur when a defendant is suspected of being intoxicated after a routine traffic stop. A person can have as many as four DUI convictions within a 10-year period before facing felony DUI charges. However, a DUI charge can be upgraded to a felony if someone is injured or killed as a result of the DUI. There are several types of felony DUI charges involving injury or death:

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California DUI attorney, California defense attorneyYou may have heard through the social grapevine of a “zero tolerance” DUI policy in California. Although one is in place, it is not applicable to all situations or all drivers. A zero tolerance policy indicates that if you are caught driving with any measurable amount of alcohol in your body, you can face serious charges. State laws and officers are harsh on DUI, but they are not quite so severe as to say no drinks for anyone who drives, which eliminates a social hour after work or a drink at a ball game. To alleviate fears and rumors, let us discuss what the zero tolerance policy is all about.

Underage Drinkers

The zero tolerance policy does not change by any traditional California laws for those over the legal drinking age. Instead, it is an extension of the regulations. First and foremost, the zero tolerance does impact underage drinking and driving. Instead of normal drinking limit, those who are underaged must have less than a 0.01% blood alcohol concentration (BAC), which happens to be the smallest amount of alcohol that a breathalyzer will detect. Even commercial drivers do not have these strict of standards, as their limit is 0.04% by state law.

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San Jose drug charge defense attorney, new drug lawsCannabis is now legal within the state of California, for the most part. Although the passage of Proposition 64 made recreational use of marijuana legal in the California state law books, there are still hurdles to overcome. For instance, how will it affect your employment? Can your boss tell you that you cannot do something that is legal by law? How can you purchase cannabis without earning a drug charge? You may be surprised by the answers.

Your Boss’ Word is Law, at Work

Outside of your place of employment, it is legal to wear clothing suited to your tastes and you can sport the hair color and style of your choosing. It is also completely legal to have piercings and tattoos and speak however you wish, so long as you are not infringing upon the rights of another individual. However, in the office, you may be required to wear khaki pants, a dress shirt, and close-toed shoes. Additionally, you may be required to have your hair pulled neatly away from your face and only wear one earring in each ear. This idea is no different from the legality of marijuana in the workplace. California law still maintains that each place of business reserves the right to remain drug, tobacco, and alcohol-free, including cannabis, if they so choose.

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Posted on in DUI

California DUI attorney, California defense lawyerIt is no secret what teens do when they go off to college: they study and socialize. Socialization frequently leads to alcohol consumption, often perceived as a necessary part of the integration period. Many college students are over the age of 21, which is the legal drinking age. However, there are many more within the 17 to 21-year-old age bracket, and if these students are consuming alcohol on a regular basis, trouble may be imminent. However, regardless of age, a DUI conviction has the potential to wreak havoc on educational opportunities.

San Jose Colleges and Universities

Were you aware that San Jose is home to 63 colleges and universities? Of course, you have heard of the larger options, but there are a significant amount of smaller establishments geared toward higher learning. Students go to learn and socialize - sometimes too much socializing. In one study, approximately 56 percent of students admitted to drinking within the last month. Researchers believe that alcohol is to blame for some of the trouble within the college-aged community, which is why many of these educational facilities have policies in place to reduce inebriation. A few statistics include:

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California defense lawyer, California criminal attorneyIf you reside in California and perhaps plan on entering a life of crime as your primary career path, it may be important to understand the consequences of your actions and have an experienced criminal defense attorney on speed dial. Under the California Penal Code, the punishment level of crimes fall within these three categories.

Felony

Under California law, this category is the most heinous of criminal accusations. Although California forgoes the typical ranking systems often supported by other states, these following acts of criminal activity fall under the felony narrative.

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Posted on in DUI

California DUI attorney, California defense lawyerThe blitz of public service ads (PSA) developed by the Ad Council and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) emphasizing that buzzed driving is drunk driving flooded the airwaves throughout this past holiday season. Statistically, the need for increasing the awareness of this epidemic is strengthened as every day 28 people in the United States die due to an alcohol-related vehicle crash. Driving while under the influence (DUI) not only takes away a life too soon but the related damages contribute to a cost of $52 billion per year.

The series of hard-hitting PSA’s ran in conjunction with the holiday season beginning on December 26 through December 31. It was a timely effort since social drinking is heightened throughout the holiday season. The markets the PSA’s were distributed heavily was strategic by focusing on the ten states that could benefit most from the message due to the high rate of alcohol-impaired driving and DUI fatalities:

  • California,
  • Florida,
  • Georgia,
  • Illinois,
  • New York,
  • North Carolina,
  • Ohio,
  • Pennsylvania,
  • South Carolina, and
  • Texas.

This campaign, better known as the “Project Roadblock” initiative marks its 13th year in production as local broadcast stations donate airtime to relay the message of the dangers of driving while under the influence even at low-level alcohol consumption.

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Posted on in DUI

California defense attorney, California criminal lawyerAs per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the national average of those admitting to driving while under the influence of alcohol ranks at 1.9 percent. The CDC reports this type of data on a state-by-state basis with California falling slightly below the national level with 1.8 percent of the population admitting to driving while under the influence of alcohol.

Study after study reports heavily on the effects of driving while under the influence of alcohol, but what about those opting to drive while under the influence of cannabis?

Currently, in California, it is illegal to drive while under the influence of any type of mind altering substance as legislated under the California Vehicle Code 23152(a) but with the passing of Proposition 64 this past November new challenges are now facing California law enforcement.

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California defense attorney, California DUI lawyerSan Jose, the third largest city measured by population in California offers history, entertainment, and breathtaking landscapes. Nestled in the heart of Silicon Valley, San Jose has it all, including a very high rate of traffic-related fatalities. Unfortunately, this Southern California town also boasts a high number of driving under the influence (DUI) violations as it ranks in the top ten of cities with the highest drunk driving arrests and accidents, but San Jose law enforcement is fighting back.

To decrease the number of such accidents, San Jose has allotted extensive funding to such programs as sobriety checkpoints. The police department’s traffic enforcement unit periodically conducts publicized checkpoints to screen for those driving under the influence.

San Jose vigilance on drunk driving is so intense that the city council recently asked law enforcement if perhaps they were being a bit overzealous in their attempts to combat this problem.

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California defense attorney, California white collar lawsFirst provided a definition in 1939, white-collar crime has evolved to cover a wide range of fraud schemes. Mention the act and perhaps Martha Stewart or Bernard Madoff may come to mind.

In 2001, Ms. Stewart was found guilty of four counts related to her obstruction of a government investigation into the sale of ImClone Systems, Inc. stock. Although criminal charges of insider trading were not entered, Ms. Stewart was charged and prosecuted for lying about the reason for her sale of stock.

Fast forward to 2009 and perhaps one of the most notorious white-collar crimes ever. Bernie Madoff, known as a Wall Street pioneer, orchestrated the largest financial swindle in American history and knowingly admitted to his sons that his entire business was a masterful Ponzi scheme. His white-collar deception financially destroyed rich and poor alike and he is currently serving a 150-year sentence in a federal prison.

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Posted on in California Laws

California defense attorney, California criminal lawyerWhile incidents of theft do not often make the front page news, theft is still one of the most common misdemeanors that occurs in the United States every year. There are actually several different types of theft, all that ladder up to the blanket charge, though each type may carry different punishments and sentencing, based on the severity of the crime, the circumstances, and the person’s past record.

The most basic type of theft is also known as larceny. This is defined as the unlawful taking of property that does not belong to the person in question — that is, taking something from another person or entity without that person’s permission, or with the intent of that person not knowing. The vast majority of theft cases are considered larceny. The law defines “another entity” as either a person or a place. Simple shoplifting is considered larceny, for example. If the value of the stolen item is considerable, the charge may be elevated to grand theft, which will result in more severe punishments. Grand theft auto is larceny of a moving vehicle.

Identity theft is another common type of theft — the rate of which is continually increasing as personal information, usually stored online, becomes easier and easier to obtain. Using anyone’s personal information, including a credit card number or debit card at an ATM, is considered identity theft, if the other person did not grant express permission to do so. Because identity theft can be so damaging to the victim, charges of identity theft are sometimes considered a federal crime. This can result in long jail sentences and the confiscation of any property allegedly obtained with stolen funds.

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San Jose criminal defense attorneyFor those who may be unfamiliar, there are currently 26 states, including California, that have adopted the Three Strikes and You Are Out law. California first adopted this sentencing provision in 1994 as an effort to reduce the number of felony convictions per person by imposing significant sentencing consequences for each felony conviction up to three.

On November 6, 2012, some 18 years later, California proposed an amendment to the law which became known as Proposition 36 to California voters. The proposition was passed and amended the original legislation in two ways:

  • Requirements for sentencing of a third strike offender was now set to 25 years to life if the offender was convicted of a violent felony with two or more previous strikes; and
  • The allowance of those offenders already serving a third strike sentence to petition the court for a reduction of this sentence down to a second strike eligibility.

As violent crime is on the rise across the United States one may believe that the Three Strikes and You Are Out law is necessary but the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) remains in disagreement.

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San Jose juvenile crime defense attorneyThere are many slang terms to describe a young person heading down the wrong side of a long, hard road. Dependent upon your age, misguided youths may have been branded as greasers, hippies, punks, hoodlums or slackers, but what exactly describes the life of a juvenile delinquent?

Joseph A. Wickliffe, course developer and instructor of several units instituted by the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute studied and later shared, in lesson format, the reasons why many juveniles commit crimes.

Looking for Answers

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San Jose criminal defense attorneyOver the past few years, California has upped the ante with new legislation for those choosing to drive while under the influence or DUI.

In 2010, California legislated changes to the existing DUI laws which included the installation of an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) to deter repeat offenders from driving if their alcohol content is over the legal range. The following year, the state expanded the authority of the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to immediately suspend operating privileges for drivers suspected of a DUI and for longer periods of time.

Although there are additional California laws addressing the issue of driving while under the influence there is little guidance regarding possible long-term DUI consequences. So what happens to the many otherwise conscientious drivers with a previously clean driving record who are now facing the fallout of a DUI conviction? For those who find themselves within this category, even after all the legal ramifications have been satisfied, a DUI conviction can undermine many future opportunities and quality of life.

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San Jose DUI defense attorneyA new bill, recently passed by the California State Senate, seeks to increase the penalties for all drivers convicted of a DUI by enforcing the installment of an interlock device. Currently being piloted in four counties – Alameda, Tulare, Los Angeles, and Sacramento – the measure is now being sent to the Assembly for consideration. If passed, this new law could impact the lives and driving rights of more than 200,000 drivers each and every year.

What Is an Interlock Device?

An ignition interlock device (IID) is a lot like a breathalyzer test, but it is connected to the ignition of your vehicle. Before you can start your car, you have to blow into the mouthpiece. If the device detects a blood alcohol concentration above the preprogrammed limit, the ignition remains disabled and you are unable to start your car. The device also requires that you periodically complete what is known as a “running retest” while driving. This requires that you blow into the device at random intervals while driving. If you fail the running retest, the device will not shut off the engine, but it will record the event and cause your vehicle to alert the authorities.

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Posted on in DUI

San Jose criminal defense attorneyIf you have been charged with or arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in California, you are likely aware of the long road ahead to have all of your driving privileges reinstated so that you can move forward with your everyday life and routines. Fortunately, with the help of a qualified lawyer, you can navigate the process more easily.

License Suspensions

Under California state law, an officer is required to immediately forward a completed license suspension notice to all relevant agencies when a person is arrested for DUI, including to the Department of Motor Vehicles. The DMV will immediately conduct a review of the suspension, including a review of any blood or chemical test results and an examination of the revocation order. If the review proves that the arresting officer followed all necessary protocol—and that the person was, in fact, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs—the agency will approve the suspension. Once the charge passes this review, a person will be required to appear in court before a judge if he or she is interested contesting the suspension or revocation of his or her license.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_drug-crimes-defense.jpgDrug charges carry serious consequences, no matter who you are. If you are an immigrant, drug charges can have even more dire effects, potentially resulting in deportation or the revocation of papers or work permits. This is true even even if you are a permanent legal resident, depending on the severity of the charge. If you are charged with a trafficking aggravated felony or an offense involving a controlled substance, for example, you may be subject to deportation.

Risk of Deportation

In general, however, if you are not a legal permanent resident, you can potentially be deported regardless of the severity of the drug charge. Any type of drug charge—or other criminal behavior—can be considered grounds for deportation and the revocation of immigration status and papers. For example, if you are convicted of any type of an offense of a federally-scheduled drug; if you are convicted of a possession-only charge; if you are convicted of possession with intent to sell; or if you are convicted of the sale of distribution of a drug; you are eligible for deportation, regardless of your legal immigration status.

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license suspension, San Jose DUI defense lawyerAfter you are arrested and charged with driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI), the arresting officer may confiscate your driver’s license. The license will remain confiscated—out of your possession—throughout the entire revocation or suspension period. The period of revocation or suspension is determined by the DMV, upon conducting an administrative review. If the review concludes that your license should, in fact, be suspended for a period of time, you may contest the decision by requesting a hearing.

This is, of course, best done with the assistance of a qualified criminal defense attorney. The request for this hearing must be filed within 10 days of receipt of the suspension or revocation notice. If the hearing is unsuccessful and your driving privileges are rescinded, you will have to pay a $125 reissue fee to the California state DMV in order to have your license reinstated after the period of suspension has ended.

Temporary Licenses

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domestic violence, spousal battery, San Jose domestic violence lawyerWhen you have been accused of or charged with domestic violence, it is critical that you understand the charges so you can combat them effectively. There are several different types of domestic abuse, ranging from relatively low severity to extremely violent. In some cases, a person may be charged with domestic abuse without ever physically hurting someone—sometimes cases of harassment, alienation, or forbidding a domestic partner, spouse, or family member to live an independent life can be cause for charges of domestic abuse as well. The most common type of domestic violence charge—at least in common understanding of the crime—is criminal spousal abuse. In fact, however, there are two main types of criminal spousal abuse. One is corporal injury to a spouse, and the other is spousal battery.

Spousal Battery

Spousal battery is the lesser charge of the two, and usually results in a misdemeanor case. Note that this may also be considered domestic battery; the simple difference is the marital status of the couple involved. While this is frequently a misdemeanor charge, it can result in jail time, the length of which depends on the severity of the injuries sustained by the battered spouse or domestic partner. A misdemeanor battery charge usually results in a 30-day jail sentence, though this is merely standard by practice, not in law. If you have never faced such a charge before, your sentence will likely be less. In some instances, you may even only be sentenced to serve probation.

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drugged driving, proposed law, San Jose marijuana DUI lawyerBetween the legalization of medicinal marijuana and the push for recreational legalization, police officers and state officials are looking for a way to better detect who might be driving while under the influence. Their hope is a handheld electronic device that would automatically detect the presence of various drugs, including marijuana, on a saliva swab. The real question is whether or not they could successfully pass such legislation and if it would, in fact, give them the evidence needed in a courtroom.

When and How the Swab Would Be Used

As the law currently stands, convictions for driving under the influence of marijuana – even medical marijuana – are rather subjective since blood tests are unable to determine the last episode of use. As such, prosecutors and law enforcement use a battery of circumstances, including presence of marijuana in the bloodstream, driving patterns, failed field sobriety tests, and physical appearance.  In contrast, a swab test focuses on recent drug use, typically within approximately 24 to 72 hours with marijuana.

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