What Is A Ramey Warrant And How Is It Different From An Arrest Warrant?

April 7, 2014

In very simple terms, a Ramey Warrant is an arrest warrant that is obtained by a police agency by going directly to a judge and bypassing the district attorney.

Typically, in order for a police agency to get a warrant, they must submit a report to the District Attorney and, if the District Attorney feels there is enough evidence to file the case, the police agency can request that the case be filed and at the same time, an arrest warrant issued. This is referred to as a “Walk-through Warrant.” However, with a Ramey Warrant, the officer may skip the district attorney and go directly to a judge. The police agency must submit a declaration, along with a report, to the judge setting out their reasons for requesting that the judge issue the warrant. If the Judge believes that there is probable cause, and sufficient evidence that this person has committed a crime, then the judge will issue the warrant. These types of warrants are often requested and processed after regular business hours.

So why would a police agency choose to get a Ramey Warrant instead of just the traditional arrest warrant? Well for one reason, it is faster. The police agency may not want to wait for the District Attorney's Office to review the paperwork, which they have submitted. So, they bypass this and go straight to the source. However, most commonly, this is done when a police officer feels that he may not have enough evidence for the district attorney to actually file the charges. He doesn’t want to take the chance that the district attorney will reject the case. So, if he can get a judge to issue a Ramey Warrant, he can then arrest the person and question them with the hope of obtaining enough information and sufficient evidence to present it to the District Attorney for filing. Basically, the officer’s hope is that, once they have the individual in their possession, they will get what they need to make their case and end up with the sufficient evidence needed to get the case filed.

These types of warrants are of course legal but are fairly rare. One situation that may cause an officer to choose to go with a Ramey Warrant might be that they have previously tried to file cases against an individual but the district attorney keeps rejecting it for lack of sufficient evidence. The strategy then becomes to arrest the person, and obtain as much sufficient evidence as possible through questioning, lineups, and other investigatory techniques. However, if the individual refuses to talk, and provides them with nothing, then the officer must either file the case as is, or release the individual.

For someone who has been arrested via a Ramey Warrant, having this knowledge may make the difference in a case being filed and the agency being forced to release the individual, provided the arresting agency was unsuccessful in obtaining the information they needed.

If you would like to know more about arrest warrants, or any other criminal legal matter, feel free to contact Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney William Weinberg at 949-474-8008 or at www.williamweinberg.com.

Sealing And Destroying Your Juvenile Court And Arrest Record

April 1, 2014

Why Should I Seal My Juvenile Record?

Although you may have successfully completed your probation, having a juvenile record can have a negative effect on your life going forward. It may become an issue when you are trying to get a job or get into a college. Having your record sealed can help you get a fresh start without the fear of your past coming back to haunt you.

What Is A Juvenile Record?

Your juvenile record encompasses all documents, orders and reports in your juvenile court file. This also includes any documents that relates to your case in the possession of the Department of Justice, the Probation Department and law enforcement.

What Does It Mean to Seal Your Records?

Once your records have been sealed, all documents/records in the possession of the Court, the Probation Department, The District Attorney, the Police and Sheriff’s Department and the Department of Justice will be closed and sealed. The court proceedings will be treated as though they never took place. All of these agencies must answer: “We have no record of that matter” if they are asked about a sealed record. You may also legally say that you have never been arrested, charged or convicted, for the matter that has been sealed. What many people are surprised to learn is that a juvenile conviction or adjudication, is not a criminal conviction. So, even if you have not sealed your record, you can answer no if asked if you were ever convicted of a crime. This however can be tricky because, if the record is not sealed, and they some how are able to see it, they may view this as you being untruthful.

It is important to note that employers that conduct background checks may be able to access juvenile records that contain felony adjudications.

Who Can Get Their Records Sealed?

Anyone can seal his or her record if:

1) You are at least 18 years old and have completed probation, or you are younger than 18 but at least five years have passed since your last arrest or discharge from probation.
2) You have not been convicted of a felony or of any misdemeanor involving a crime of “moral turpitude” since your last arrest or discharge from probation.

Note: A conviction is an adult criminal designation, so this means that you cannot have any felony convictions or misdemeanor convictions involving moral turpitude in criminal (adult) court. If you do, you may not be able to seal your juvenile record.

3) You can show the court that you have been “rehabilitated.”
4) Your case started and ended in juvenile court.
5) You do not have an open civil suit regarding the actions that caused your juvenile record.

What Is A Crime Involving Moral Turpitude?

Moral turpitude crimes are crimes that reflect dishonesty or a deep lack of concern about what society views as right or wrong. This involves things such as fraud, theft, sex and drug-related offenses, and offenses involving great bodily injury are considered to involve moral turpitude.

As earlier stated, sealing your record is not automatic once your juvenile case ends. You must petition the court to have your records sealed.

If you would like to know more about sealing your juvenile record, feel free to contact Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney William Weinberg at 949-474-8008 or at www.williamweinberg.com.

Southern California Criminal Arrests At Popular Beaches

March 12, 2014

There are some who believe that as the weather warms up, there is an increase in criminal behavior. This however may be due to the increase in the number of interactions that people have with one another during the warmer months. Warmer weather can bring together potential wrongdoers, victims, and belongings all in the same place.

Southern California, with its beaches and warm weather, is a very popular vacation destination. Even for those who live in Southern California, the beaches become a popular place for people to hang out and party during the summer months. Orange County California is especially known for this due to the beautiful beaches and Orange County attractions.

Orange County law enforcement agencies are very well aware of this and employ officers specifically to watch the beach communities, making sure that things don't get too out of control. They will be busy writing tickets and making arrests for disturbing the peace, drunk in public and disorderly conduct throughout the summer.

In 2011, a new law was approved that made loud or unruly gatherings a crime, which can result in fines up to $3,000.00. This will apply to property owners where such behavior is taking place.

Many law enforcement agencies plan for summer months by adding more law enforcement presence to help with the increase of people and activity along the beaches. In some areas, the agencies have all-terrain vehicles, which patrol the beaches.

There are some experts who believe that there is an increase in violent crimes when the temperature is very hot. They believe that there is an increase in street violence, muggings, assaults and battery. Although they believe that it's not just the temperature that influences the increase in crime, it is the combination of temperature and people getting out of their homes and interacting with one another.

Summer break from school and college is another possible reason for the increase in violent crime. Some experts believe that juveniles are move likely to commit crime, in general, and thus, when they are not in school, they get into trouble. It has further been shown that homicides in Los Angeles are the highest during the summer months of July and August but are almost as high during December and January.

Whatever the reason, law enforcement does provide extra resources in these high crime areas as well as efforts to shorten response time to calls for service.

Theft is another crime that seems to be more prevalent during the summer months. People begin to bring out and leave out valuables such as bicycles, lawn furniture, etc. This creates, and even invites more opportunities for criminals to commit theft.

Whether it's the heat, the vacation mind-set or the interaction between people that influences the spike in crime, be aware that law enforcement are out there, watching and waiting. So, if the Southern California beach partying scene results in an arrest, be sure to contact an attorney who is experienced in criminal defense to ensure the best possible outcome.

Battery On A Police Officer

March 5, 2014

As a criminal defense attorney practicing in Orange County, California for more than 20 years, I have represented many individuals charged with battery, as well as battery on a peace officer. The legal definition of battery is: "Any willful and unlawful use of force of violence upon the person of another." We often hear the term "battery" in conjunction with the term "assault". However, they have different meanings.

In California, "Assault" is defined as an intentional attempt to physically injure another or a menacing or threatening act or statement that causes the other person to believe they are about to be attacked. So notice that I said "intentional attempt". You do not have to have had actual physical contact with another person to be charged with assault. Just the threat of physical harm can get you arrested if that person believes that you are serious. A failed attempt to hit, kick or strike someone is also considered an assault because you had intent to hit but missed. Unlike "Assault", "Battery” requires some form of physical contact. A conviction for battery could result in a fine of $2,000.00 or jail time up to six months, or both.

When we talk about battery on a police officer, the charge becomes much more serious. Police Officers fall within a protected class, which, including peace officers includes custodial officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, lifeguards, security officers, and others who fall within this "protected class". If convicted of battery on a peace officer, the penalties can include State prison for up to three years.

Battery on a Peace Officer is a wobbler meaning it can be filed as either a felony or a misdemeanor. The circumstances surrounding the battery will determine how the case is filed. When a battery is committed against a peace officer who is engaged in the performance of his or her duty, the fine can be up to $10,000.00, county jail up to one year, or up to three years in State prison.

Battery on a police officer is something that gets charged a lot in California. Unfortunately, what may have started out as a simple stop or even a simple arrest escalates and turns into an additional charge of battery on a peace officer. Here is an example of how a simple stop, or attempted questioning by a peace officer could escalate into a battery charge: Let's say a young man is walking down the street and a police officer pulls up along side and asks him to stop because he wants to ask him some questions. The young man, knowing he has marijuana in his pocket, runs in an attempt to get away. He is chased by the officers, tackled to the ground and handcuffed. During the tackle, the young man resists and it turns into a scuffle. If during that scuffle, the police officer is hit, kicked, spit on, or in any way physically touched by the young man, it then becomes battery on a police officer. So while the young man initially had no intention of hitting the peace officer or in any way harming him, the police officer may say that he resisted and in doing so, in an attempt to get away, committed battery upon him.

Other common situations where battery on a peace officer often occurs is where there are big crowds of people like concerts and sporting events. These are situations where people are often arrested and charged by mistake. When police go into a crowd to break up fighting and enforce crowd control, police officers often get spit on, hit, kicked, pushed, etc. Often times officers will arrest those closest to them assuming they are the individual(s) who committed the battery on them. This is common in that at these types of venues, people are typically of the same age range and dressed similarly and so mistaken identity is very common. Mistaken identity is a typical, and very good defense in these types of situations.

Another good defense is that the battery was an accident. In the same scenario as above, when officers go into a crowd, if someone is grabbed by a police officer from behind, the individual has no idea who is grabbing them and throws their arms up or back in an attempt to get the person off. If the officer is hit, the individual could be charged with battery on a peace officer. The defense is of course that it was an accident and there was no intent to hit the officer.

While I believe that there are good, honest police officers, unfortunately there are those officers that are not trustworthy and who will lie or exaggerate circumstances in order to make their case. Because I know this to be true, there are situations where I may make a motion to the court to order the police department to turn over a copy of that particular police officer's personnel records. These records can reveal information that the officer has had several complaints of excessive force or lying and/or exaggerating the truth. When a police officer gets up on the witness stand, in his uniform, and gives a statement about what happened, it is human nature to believe the officer. So if I believe that a particular officer is lying or exaggeration the truth, getting a copy of his personnel file becomes very important.

In situations where the evidence is clear and none of the above-discussed defenses are going to help, it is very important that the Court and District Attorney get to know the person behind the battery charge. Helping the Court and District Attorney get to know the good, important things about that person can help when it comes to negotiating a plea deal.

Anyone who has been arrested for Assault on a Peace Officer should consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney. There are defenses and a good attorney will look very closely at the evidence to get the best possible outcome.


Sexual Battery Charges and Defenses

February 24, 2014

California Penal Code Section 243.4 defines sexual battery as the non-consensual touching of the intimate part of another for sexual arousal, sexual gratification or sexual abuse. It can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending upon the circumstances.

Some people may find this hard to believe but, even a slight pat or slap on the butt of another could result in a charge of sexual battery. It would most likely be filed as a misdemeanor but any type of charge for sexual battery looks bad.

There was a time when a man slapping a woman or girl on her behind may have been considered, in some weird way, an act of flirtation. But now, if that person was a stranger or even if they weren’t, if the person being slapped on the bottom is offended by the act, she/he would be within their right to file a police report.

For example, if you were out at a night club, drinking and dancing and you meet someone who you believe you hit it off with, if you start to get too touchy/feely, that person may become offended and you may end up being arrested. In this situation, you may have a defense in that you had been drinking and dancing with this woman, you two were flirting back and forth and maybe you felt that a little touching here or there would be okay. Well, the other person may not feel that way but, your attorney may be successful in convincing the District Attorney, before the case is even filed, that it was a misunderstanding or miscommunication.

The difference between a misdemeanor and a felony filing lies with the way in which the victim(s) were touched against their will. As an example, if it were alleged that someone restrained his victims from leaving a room or an area in which the battery occurred, this would elevate the charge to a felony.

Unlike misdemeanor sexual battery, if convicted of felony sexual battery, you face formal probation, 2, 3 or 4 years in State Prison, a maximum $10,000.0 fine and registration as a sex offender.

A misdemeanor conviction may result in informal probation, county jail time rather than state prison and the fines are much less. $2,000.00 is the maximum fine, unless the accused was your employer and then the maximum is $3,000.00. However, even a misdemeanor conviction may require registration as a sex offender.

Being convicted of sexual battery can have life long consequences. An experienced criminal defense attorney, specializing in sexual abuse cases, will be familiar the possible defenses available to this type of charge. Some defenses may include insufficient evidence, false allegations and consent, or the reasonable belief that there was consent.

Anyone who has been accused of sexual battery should seek the advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney who is familiar with the Courts in the County in which the case is pending. An attorney who practices in the County where the case is filed should have a good understanding of how each individual court operates, the Judges, Clerks and District Attorneys. This will increase the chances of a favorable outcome for the client.


What Is The Difference Between Embezzlement And Theft

February 20, 2014

What is embezzlement and how is it different from a theft charge? Put in very simple terms, embezzlement is basically stealing from your employer. The distinction between embezzlement and theft is the term “entrusting”. It is the way in which the theft was committed. The Penal Code defines embezzlement as the unlawful taking of something from another that has been entrusted to you.

As an example, you work for a company in which part of your responsibility is to take in payments, make bank deposits and generally keep track of money coming in and going out. When your employer hired you they did so with the trust and understanding that you would perform these duties responsibly and truthfully. Because your employer trusted you, you were given access to the bank account, check books, and may even be authorized to sign on the account or issue checks. This is “entrusting” you to do the right thing. They obviously would not have hired you if they felt otherwise.

Penal Code 484 is defined as: “Every person who shall fraudulently appropriate property that has been entrusted to him/her is guilty of theft”. Because of the position of trust, it is considered more serious than a theft. The consequences if convicted will depend upon specific facts surrounding the theft. The value of the theft will determine whether the case is filed as a felony or a misdemeanor. This is called a “wobbler” and when deciding how the case will be filed, the district attorney will take into consideration the value, the circumstances of the theft and your criminal history, if any. If the way in which the theft occurred was highly sophisticated, showing lots of planning and deceit, the district attorney will be more likely to file the case as a felony. However, if you hire an attorney prior to the case being filed, during the district attorney’s review stage, your attorney may be able to convince the district attorney to file the case as a misdemeanor if it looks like they may be on the fence about it. A good defense attorney will present you in the most positive light as possible, giving the district attorney details about you and your life that may result in a misdemeanor filing rather than a felony. This is why early intervention is so crucial in these types of cases.

In order for the prosecution to be successful in proving their case, they must prove that you had a relationship of trust with your employer and that you were “entrusted” with certain property in the course of your employment. They must also prove that it was your intention to deprive your employer of certain property by taking it and using it for your own benefit. So a good defense may be that you were actually entitled to the property or that you really believed that you were. If that were the case, then there would be no criminal intent. Also, there is also the chance that you are innocent and that there is some sort of mistake or misunderstanding. So, regardless of how guilty you may look, hiring a good criminal defense attorney to go through all of the evidence, and with your help, looking for inconsistencies or mistakes, could mean the difference between some sort of guilty plea and a dismissal of the case.

Filing a Petition To Seal And Destroy Arrest Records

February 10, 2014

Penal Code Section 851.8 provides that a person who has been arrested or detained and is determined to be factually innocent may petition the law enforcement agency or court having jurisdiction over the matter to provide for the sealing and destruction of the record of that arrest. Petitions concerning arrests may be filed for up to two years following the arrest filing date.

So, what exactly does this mean? Simply put, it means that if you were arrested and, according to the law should not have been, you may petition the court to destroy all records of the arrest.

A good example of a wrongful arrest would be if you were arrested for having a Vicodin pill in your possession and you repeatedly explain to the officer that you have a prescription for Vicodin but the officer arrest you anyway, rather than taking the time to find out whether or not you are telling the truth. The case is then submitted to the District Attorney. Once the District Attorney is made aware that you do in fact have a prescription for Vicodin, the case is rejected but the arrest is there to stay.

As you can imagine, being wrongfully arrested would be extremely traumatic. But then to find out that the arrest shows up every time you apply for a job or any type of state licensing, is not just traumatic but extremely damaging. Perspective employers may be reluctant to hire someone who has an arrest on their record. Imagine having to explain that you were wrongfully arrested every time you fill out an employment application or have a job interview and then having to wonder whether or not your perspective new employer believes you.

Unfortunately, this is very real. People are wrongfully arrested all the time. Police officers often arrest now and ask questions later and then release without filing charges. Even if the arresting agency releases you with a “detention only” letter, the arrest stays on your record and follows you wherever you go. This is why the Petition to Seal and Destroy Arrest Record is invaluable. Getting an order from the court to seal your arrest records means that the police reports, fingerprints, booking photos and all records of the arrest are destroyed. And equally as important, you can then legally answer “no” when asked if you have ever been arrested.

Even if it goes as far as the case being filed, if there is no conviction that person may petition the court for a finding that the he or she is factually innocent of the charges for which the arrest was made. Once the court grants the petition, the arresting agency is ordered to destroy all records of the arrest.

Filing a Petition for Factual Innocence or Petition to Seal Arrest Records isn’t as easy as just submitting a piece of paper. There are procedures that must be followed and documents that must be attached to the Petition. Basically, you must prove to the court that you are “factually innocent” and should never have been arrested in the first place. Hiring an attorney who has had success filing these petitions, and knows what the Court is looking for, will increase your chances of success.


Domestic Violence Charges Misdemeanor or Felony

February 3, 2014

When I get a call from someone who has been arrested for domestic violence, they often tell me that they were arrested for “Felony” domestic violence. What they don’t understand is that arresting agencies typically will call it a felony at the time of arrest, but it is up to the District Attorney whether or not they will file it as a felony or a misdemeanor.

As mentioned above, domestic violence can be filed as either a misdemeanor or a felony. When the district attorney is deciding how to file the case, they will look at the circumstances surrounding the incident, the relationship between the accused and the “victim”, the criminal history, if any, of the accused and the severity of the injuries, if there were any.

One of the more common arrests for domestic violence is for Penal Code 243(e). It involves battery upon a spouse, co-habitant, etc. This is a misdemeanor domestic violence charge. Another more common charge for domestic violence is Penal Code Section 273.5. This is a “wobbler” and can be filed either way. Arresting agencies typically will arrest a suspect for felony 273.5 but once it reaches the district attorney, will be reduced to a misdemeanor.

Penal Code section 245 is one of the more serious domestic violence charges. This is a criminal charge that is considered a serious and violent felony and not limited to domestic violence cases. A conviction of this charge could result in a strike and could increase the sentence in the present case, as well as any future cases. Even though this is a felony charge, it can be reduced to a misdemeanor.

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for someone to be falsely accused of domestic violence when in fact it was just an argument that escalated and got out of control. Especially where alcohol is involved. For example, a common situation might be that a couple, who have been drinking get into an argument. Due to the consumption of alcohol, both parties are not rational and the argument escalates. One party decides to take the keys and leave. The other party tries to stop them from leaving by trying to take the keys away. As they are struggling over the keys, one party falls to the ground. Now, if the police get called out, the story will be told this way: “My boyfriend and I got into an argument. I tried to leave but he stopped me and tried to grab the keys from my hand and when I wouldn’t let go he pushed me to the ground. But, the real story is that he tried to stop her from leaving because they had been drinking and she was about to get into her car and drive off, while intoxicated.

Another scenario that I have come across is where an argument starts, my client attempts to leave and the woman he is arguing with tries to stop him from leaving by holding on to him. The male pushes her off of him so that he can leave, and she falls to the ground. My client leaves and drives away. Because the woman was so emotional and/or angry, she called the police and reported that he had pushed her down following an argument. Next thing he knows, he’s being arrested for domestic violence.

Many times, those types of cases become “he said/she said” and, if there are no visible marks on either party, the District Attorney will reject the case as it is just one word against the other.

But, any time there are visible marks on a person, the police agency will always arrest and the District Attorney will more likely than not, file the charges. Depending upon how serious the injury is will determine whether it is filed as a misdemeanor or a felony.

If you would like to know more about domestic violence and the consequences of being convicted of a domestic violence charge, visit my domestic violence site.


Analysis of Recent Drug Trafficking Where 670 Pounds of Cocaine Seized at the Border in San Clemente

January 27, 2014

Border Patrol officers in San Clemente intercepted $6.7 million of cocaine at a freeway checkpoint last week when a man claiming to be a U.S. citizen was stopped. The 54-year-old man was nicely dressed in a suit and tie and driving a relatively new automobile but there was something about him, or the car, that caused the border agents to be suspicious.

If anyone has ever gone through one of these border checkpoints, you know that most of the time you are just waived through. Occasionally you are stopped briefly and asked where you are coming from, where you are going, and if you have any produce in your car. Apparently this is all they need to decide whether or not they want to investigate further. The Border Patrol agents at checkpoints can stop and question anyone even if there is no reason to believe that there are any illegal aliens inside. The United States Supreme Court determined this. It was further ruled that the Border Patrol agents “have wide discretion” to request that the car, and the occupants, pull over to another inspection area for further questioning.

In this particular situation, when the man told the officers that he was a citizen, apparently they were suspicious and ran a record check. This revealed that he was actually a Mexican national and arrested him. This was all they needed to be able to then search his car. The search revealed several large cardboard boxes in both the backseat and trunk of the car. The large cardboard boxes in the back seat may have been what brought attention to the man and caused suspicion. It was discovered that 53 packages of cocaine were inside the boxes, which was estimated to weigh approximately 670 pounds. On the street, that would be worth around $6.7 million.

At first glance, it appears that this man is in very serious legal trouble. Because the border patrol agents have such “wide discretion”, there is not much to challenge in the way of illegal stop or search. However, under other circumstances, were he not stopped at the border checkpoint, there would need to have been a reason to stop him in the first place. Further, after stopping him, there would then have to be probable cause to search the car. The officers would need probable cause to pull over and then eventually search the car. If it could be proven that the officers had no probable cause to stop and then search, the evidence would have to be thrown out due to the illegal stop and search.

Let’s look at this situation another way. What if this man needed to get to the United States to visit a sick relative but had no car. A friend of his offers to let him borrow his car if he will take a few boxes to a family member of his in the United States. The man agrees and is later stopped and arrested for drug smuggling. There are a couple of defenses that may be raised. One being that he had no knowledge of what was in the car. He assumed it was just something his friend wanted to be taken to a family member and didn’t even think twice about questioning what it was. In that situation, as well as no knowledge, there would have been no intent to transport or sell the drugs.

Illegal search and seizure, police misconduct, entrapment, mistake in identity are all defenses that might be explored in a case like this. Unfortunately for the man who was stopped at the border, these defenses may not apply. However, lack of knowledge and intent should certainly be explored.

Transportation of drugs, which simply means moving them from one place to another, regardless of the distance, is a felony. However, transporting drugs over the border is a federal offense and is handled at the federal level.

If you would like to know more about the consequences and punishments to drug trafficking or possession of narcotics for sale, please visit my page on drug related offenses.


Receiving Stolen Property Laws In California

December 16, 2013

Penal Code Section 496 makes it a crime to knowingly buy, sell, receive conceal or withhold property that has been stolen. The key word here is "knowingly". In order for the prosecution to prove that a crime has been committed, they must be able to prove that you knew that the property was stolen when you receive or took possession of it.

To explain a little further, in California, the state must essentially show that the person receiving the property knew, or reasonably SHOULD have known, that the property was stolen. So, if someone buys something that has a value of $5,000.00 but was able to purchase it for $250.00, this would be a "red flag" and may provide evidence for the prosecution that the person knew or "should have known."

So what are some of the ways the prosecution can prove someone knew that the property was stolen. Obviously, confessions or statements at the time of the arrest or when being questioned would help the prosecutions case. But, where there is no confession or incriminating statements, the prosecution relies on the circumstances surrounding the arrest. Suspicious activities may include:

1. That you helped to conceal the stolen property;
2. As mentioned above, the price was way too low;
3. Any identifying marks or numbers on the property have been scratched off; and
4. Cash was used to purchase the property.

There are defenses to receiving stolen property which your criminal defense attorney should consider and may include the following:

1. One of the more obvious defenses is that you didn't know that the property was stolen and that you believed that you were legitimately purchasing the item or property.

2. A less common defense would be that you believed that the property or item already belonged to you.

3. Another defense may be that you didn't know that you possessed the property. To explain, maybe someone else placed the stolen property in your car, home or room without your knowledge in order to conceal it.

These defenses must be accompanied with a "good faith belief". In other words, while it may have been obvious to someone else that the property was stolen, you, in good faith truly did not know or believe it to be so. A jury will determine whether or not you acted in good faith based upon all the circumstances surrounding the acquisition of the property and the circumstances surrounding the arrest.

It's important to note that if you unknowingly receive stolen property but later find out it was stolen, you may still be charged with the crime unless you return the property to the owner or police. Further, if you knowingly receive or purchase the stolen property and then decide later to return it, you may still be charged with the crime of receiving stolen property.

Receiving stolen property can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. This is referred to as a “wobbler” and how it’s filed will depend upon the circumstances and your criminal history.

A conviction of misdemeanor receiving stolen property may result in up to 1 year in county jail and a $1,000.00 fine. A felony conviction may result in 16 months or two or three years in state prison and up to $10,000.00 in fines.

Consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney in the county in which the case is pending should always be the first step if you have been arrested or accused of this or any criminal activity.


California Credit Card Theft

December 9, 2013

California credit card fraud encompasses several acts of fraud, including credit card theft. The following is a list of specific acts:

1. PC 484e Stolen Credit Card
2. PC 484f Forging Credit Card Information
3. PC 484g Fraudulent Use of Access Card or Account Information
4. PC 848h Retainer Credit Card Fraud
5. PC 484i Counterfeiting Credit Cards
6. PC 484j Publishing Credit Card Information

Penal Code section 484e, which is the code section for stolen credit card, prohibits the selling, transferring or acquiring a credit or debit card of another without their consent. This also includes credit card information.

It may surprise you to know that the card or card information does not have to have been used in order for you to be charged with a crime. All that is required is that you were fraudulently in possession of the card or card information, and that you intended to use it. Further, even if the card is expired, you may still be charged with a crime. If the card was once issued legitimately but is now expired, does not relieve the person in possession of the card from prosecution.

This type of charge is typically charged as Grand Theft and is a wobbler, meaning it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. The District Attorney, when deciding whether to charge it as a felony or misdemeanor, will take into consideration the details of the specific incident, and any criminal history of the accused.

If convicted of PC 484e, the penalties, depending upon whether a felony or misdemeanor, may include the following:

1. A conviction for felony 484e may include probation and up to one year in jail, or, if the circumstances were more serious, could include 16 months, or two or three years in state prison. A fine of $10,000.00 may also be imposed with a felony conviction.

2. A conviction for misdemeanor 484e may include up to one year in County Jail and a maximum $1,000.00 fine.

In some circumstances, being in possession of someone else's credit or debit card or card information, may be filed as a petty theft. This may be applicable in a situation where you somehow acquire and keep the card or card information with the intent to use, transfer or sell the information but end up not doing so. This may fall under California Petty Theft Laws. The punishment for a conviction of petty theft is up to six months in County Jail and a $1,000.00 fine.

As noted above, there are several instances that may result in a violation of California’s credit card laws, which accounts for the different punishments that may be imposed. However, most credit card frauds are prosecuted and punished as forgery or theft offenses. The amount associated with the theft will determine whether the punishment will be for grand theft or petty theft.

There are legal defenses to credit card theft; some may include: 1) There was no fraudulent intent; 2) There is insufficient evidence to support the allegations; and 3) There is some mistake in the identity of who actually committed the theft or use of the stolen card(s).


Choosing A Criminal Defense Lawyer

November 25, 2013

Being arrested and facing criminal charges is a traumatic experience but choosing the right lawyer can minimize the stress and anxiety one suffers while moving through the process toward a resolution. When trying to decide which lawyer is right for you, there are a few things to consider when making a decision.

1. Choose an attorney who is familiar with the local courts. Every courthouse in every county has it's own procedures. I have been working out of the same courthouses for more than 20 years and have developed professional and trusting relationships with court staff, which is very valuable for an attorney when it comes to strategy. My more than 20 years of criminal law defense work in Orange County, has allowed me to create relationships with judges, district attorneys and court staff, as well as the knowledge of how each particular courtroom works. Knowing who to talk to has afforded me opportunities to get the most positive outcome for my clients.

2. Choose an attorney who will maintain close personal contact with you. Facing criminal charges can throw most peoples lives into a spin and the anxiety can be at times overwhelming. Being able to talk to your attorney when you are feeling most vulnerable is invaluable and can make the whole process a little less stressful.

3. Choose an attorney who will get involved before charges are filed. There are situations where an attorney's early intervention may prevent charges from being filed. Hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney, who is willing to try to pursue an arresting agency and/or the district attorney from filing charges, can make a huge difference in a person's life. Convincing the reviewing district attorney to listen to your side of the story or giving them information they may not know, may result in the prosecution rejecting the case. The same goes for the police officer or detective trying to decide whether or not to submit the case for prosecution, Maybe there is information they don't have but would alter their decision regarding whether or not to submit the case. Although, more often than not charges do end up getting filed, early intervention may produce information that was not previously known and can give an attorney a "head start" on investigation.

I will evaluate your case with as much information as I am provided, and give my opinion and/or advise regarding your options and what to expect throughout the process. An open dialogue helps me with the defense of your case as well as provides you with access to me whenever questions come up.