St. Paul, Minn has a new bill that may someday make it’s way to California. It is called the criminal records expungement bill. The bill will allow those convicted of misdemeanors and some low-level felonies, to get their criminal records sealed.

The idea behind the new law is designed to help people go forward with their lives and help with potential jobs and housing. There are many companies who have policies against hiring people with a criminal record, even if that record is 20 years old. The mistakes people make when they are young follow them around for the rest of their lives and in many cases, prevent them from getting good jobs.

During the signing ceremony, a woman spoke of how two misdemeanor convictions, when she was 18 and 20, have derailed her getting hired with good companies. Even though she has changed her life and worked her way through college, her criminal background continues to hold her back. She earned a marketing degree but lost out on good jobs once a background check was done.

It is not benefiting society as a whole to hold people back who have worked hard to better their lives, only to be turned down due to past mistakes. While it is understandable that the are certain convictions that will and should prevent people from holding certain jobs, minor misdemeanor convictions should be expunged and/or sealed to allow those who have bettered their lives, a second chance.

St. Paul, Minn. is paving the way for other states to begin to consider doing the same. The way it would work is as follows:

Those looking to seal their records would have to first complete probation and then to go through a waiting period of two to five years, depending on the time of crime. But it’s not automatic.

After the waiting period ends a person may petition the court for expungement. The judge will also have an opportunity to hear from victims and prosecutors before ruling on whether to seal the criminal records in question.

Law enforcement agencies, prosecutors and judges will still have access to the sealed records. Companies that specialize in culling criminal records and selling them to employers for background checks would be required to removed sealed records from their databases.

There is much more to the bill but the just of it is to help people move forward past their mistakes and become good citizens within their communities. This new law does appear to have strict guidelines to protect the individual, the public and businesses, but it is definitely good news for those who will qualify and who will take advantage of the new bill. Those who have convictions that are 10, 15, 20 and even 30 years old are still being held back from reaching their full potential even though they have paid for their mistakes. This bill will help those who have been denied access to good jobs, good housing and even acceptance to graduate schools due to their past convictions.

The crime of kidnapping is defined as the use of force or fear to take a person and move him or her, a substantial distance. If convicted of kidnapping, the penalty can be up to 8 years in State Prison, or more if:

1) The victim was injured or abused;
2) If the victim was a child or;
3) if the kidnapping was done to facilitate another crime.

There are certain elements to the crime of kidnapping. They are:

(1) The kidnapper took, held, or detained another person by means of force or by instilling reasonable fear;
(2) Using that force or fear, the kidnapper moved the other person or made the other person move a substantial distance; and
(3) The other person did not consent to the movement.

Kidnapping is considered a serious Felony and is a “Strike Crime” under California’s “Three Strikes Law”. However, there are defenses to kidnapping. For example, a person is not guilty of kidnapping if he/she reasonably and actually believed that the other person consented to the movement. The prosecution has the burden to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant did not believe that the other person consented to the movement.

Consent as a defense to kidnapping is discussed in more detail below. If the other person consented to go with the defendant, the defendant is not guilty of kidnapping. Consent is defined as:

(1) The person freely and voluntarily agreed to go with or be moved by the defendant;
(2) The person was aware of the movement, and
(3) The person had sufficient maturity and understanding to choose to go with the defendant.

Again, the prosecution has the burden of proving, beyond a reasonable doubt, that consent was not given. (It is important to note that consent may be withdrawn. If at first the person consented to go with the defendant but later changed their mind, the defendant is guilty of kidnapping if after the other person withdrew consent, the defendant committed the crime outlined above.)

Other defenses may include:

1) The alleged movement was insufficient to be considered a kidnapping. As indicated above, the victim has to have been moved from one place to another but what constitutes “movement”. The movement has to have been substantial. It cannot be just a slight distance. However, there are several factors that will determine whether the movement was enough to constitute kidnapping. The actual distance moved is one factor. Also, did the movement increase the risk of harm to the victim and, was the movement enough to, or with the intent to, prevent the “kidnapper” from being caught.

2) You may have been present but, did not participate in the kidnapping; and
3) Mistake in identity.

Two graduates of an exclusive Pennsylvania prep school were charged with operating an extensive drug ring that dealt cocaine and marijuana to students at high schools and colleges in an affluent part of Philadelphia, authorities said on Tuesday.’
These two young men reportedly led the effort to create a “monopoly” on drug sales in the area and used high school students to deal drugs at their local schools. They are being accused of using the schools to create drug addicts and using their privileged connections to move the drugs through the suburban neighborhoods.

It is being reported that the young men referred to the drug network as the “main line take over project” which employed students from five of the local high schools and three colleges, to distribute cocaine, marijuana, hash oil and ecstasy. It is also being reported that the two young men, the leaders of the operation, expected the “sub-dealers” to meet quotas at the schools they were assigned to sell to.

Investigators reportedly discovered text messages and other communications in which the young men discussed the business. Other evidence such as guns, large sums of cash and drugs were also discovered when the two were finally arrested.

Drug trafficking or possessions of narcotics for sale is a very serious felony under any circumstance. But, what makes this particular situation potentially more serious is the sophistication with which the two men ran the operation. Further, they employed high school kids in affluent areas to help grow their business.

The fact that these men probably have no prior history or criminal record will help them but, the seriousness of the crime and how it was carried out, make it a complicated defense and will require at attorney with extensive criminal defense experience, specifically in defending drug charges.

The defense team in this situation will need to dig into the personal lives of these two and try to determine at which point their lives shifted from being students and lacrosse players at a college prep high school, to drug dealers. Looking for “triggers” that may have started this may help in their defense. Also, painting a picture to the district attorney and judge of who these men were prior to this will also play an important role in their defense. Forcing the prosecution to get to know the person(s) other than the individuals now being charged with drug sales. When a case comes to the District Attorney, they see the “criminal” and what they have done or are being accused of doing. They know nothing else about this person so it is important for the defense attorney to help the prosecution get to know the other person and not just the “criminal”. Helping the court to realize that these individuals are people who will benefit from drug programs and counseling rather than jail or prison. That allowing them to enter drug/counseling treatment will not only benefit these individuals, but it will benefit the taxpayers and the general public also. When you have a situation like this, where the family may be able to provide the resources to help them, rather than taxpayers footing the bill for jail or prison, it is a win-win situation for all.

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

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

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.

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.

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 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.

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.