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June 2011 Archives

Technology Taking On New Role in Los Angeles Peeping and Stalking Cases

The Los Angeles Times reportsa 20-year-old computer technician is accused of using computer software to spy on women undressing in their Orange County homes.

The arrest comes on the heels of the case of a San Dimas man accused of planting a camera inside the bathroom of a Glendora Starbucks and stalking a female college student.
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People accused of peeping and stalking have increasingly turned to technology to further their crimes. But as legislators catch up with technology, they will continue to increase penalties for using computers and online networks in crime. Orange County Criminal Defense Lawyers, however, are prepared to defend any type of stalking case.

Computers can be accessed remotely and an innocent person can find themselves facing criminal charges for something they didn't do. That's why hiring an experienced Internet crimes attorney in Laguna Beach, Fullerton or Anaheim is crucial to a defendant's chances.

In the current case, the 20-year-old man is accused of planting software on college students' computers that brought up an error message that said "You should fix your internal sensor soon. If unsure what to do, try putting your laptop near hot steam for several minutes to clean the sensor."

This error message led several women to take their computers with them into the bathroom when they showered, according to police. It allowed the suspect to record on his computer the women undressing through their web cameras without their knowledge.

Police said a forensic specialist examined hundreds of files after obtaining a search warrant for the man's computers to discover evidence against him. With more victims coming forward and the man already facing 12 charges based on six victims, he could be looking at serious consequences.

According to California Penal Code 647, a person who peeps into a person's house or uses video equipment to record a person undressing has committed disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor. It is punishable by more than a month in jail without the possibility of probation, in some instances.

But California Penal Code 502, the California Comprehensive Computer Data Access and Fraud Act, is punishable by up to three years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

These types of crimes are gaining more and more scrutiny as people's personal lives are being disrupted and sometimes exposed without their consent. So, not only are they charges that can call for jail time and fines and fees, but they also can ruin reputations, cost jobs and harm friendships. That's why it's important to fight the charges.

While some people feel the urge to explain the charges away, that typically won't work. Don't make any statements if you face these types of charges. Making a statement to detectives can only hurt your chances of beating the charge in court. And don't consent to a search of your property. Make police prove to a judge they have a right to search your home, computers, vehicle and property through a search warrant. If you are suspected of charges, call Orange County Criminal Defense Lawyers so we can advise you on your rights.

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The People v. J.H. and V.V., Juveniles, Shows Need for Strong Los Angeles Defense Lawyers

The California Supreme Court case of two juveniles caught throwing a cherry bomb at a hill that set off a large-scale brush fire was recently decided by the The People v. J.H. and V.V. Juveniles -- Justices found they had committed arson.

Some people believe that being arrested as a juvenile is a "free pass" that won't ever affect a person in the future. But that's not always the case. Orange County Criminal Defense Lawyers have seen where teens facing criminal charges are denied acceptance into colleges and universities and can't get good jobs because of juvenile records. Serious traffic offenses remain on your record in adulthood and other crimes can be considered during sentencing, even into adulthood.
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In the case recently decided by the state's high court, the two juveniles were 17 in 2008 when they were on a hill behind a residential street in Pasadena. One of them lit a large firecracker, which the other threw onto the brush-covered hillside. The explosion caused a five-acre fire fire that came within 60 to 75 feet of a residence.

After being spotted by neighbors and arrested by police, each gave statements to detectives, telling them they had planned on lighting the fireworks to blow them up to make a lot of noise, not thinking the area would ignite. They said they aimed for a concrete area, not the grass.

A juvenile court found both had committed arson, though they didn't intend to set anything on fire, and placed them on home probation. But separate appellate courts made different rulings on the case. In one of the teen's cases, a court found the intent to commit arson wasn't present in the case, while a different panel of judges ruling on the other teen found that it was.

The Supreme Court affirmed the case of the teen whose appellate court found that he had committed arson and reversed the judgement of the other teen, whose appellate court found that he didn't commit arson.

What this shows is that even three years after a juvenile incident, the case can still linger in the criminal justice system and affect a teen charged with a crime. While the identities of the teens are labeled as their initials, with the Internet and large amount of news media in California, it is always a risk that the names of juveniles charged with crimes will get out and be exposed.

That can lead to unwanted attention to a juvenile, which can cause them problems in the future. Even a charge of throwing a firecracker has the ugly distinction of being called an "arson," which looks terrible if a potential employer or university admissions representative sees it. Certain juvenile crimes can disqualify teens from serving in the armed forces or other civic programs.

These charges must be fought aggressively and it's also important to note that in California, teens can be charged as adults in certain situations. It is imperative that an aggressive defense lawyer be hired to ensure that the teen faces juvenile charges rather than adult charges because of the potential penalties, exposure to the public and lasting ill effects in the future.

Continue reading "The People v. J.H. and V.V., Juveniles, Shows Need for Strong Los Angeles Defense Lawyers" »

Orange County Man Arrested in DUI Crash That Killed 14-Year-Old Cheerleader

A 26-year-old man is being held on $1 million bond on charges of murder and DUI causing great bodily injury in the recent death of a freshman cheerleader at Irvine's Northwood High School, the Orange County Register reports.

There's no doubt that DUI in Orange County can be a devastating and potentially fatal crime. But in many DUI cases where driver's re-offend, the initial charges can be very important. Hiring an experienced Santa Ana DUI Lawyer is vital in such cases. Too often, when a driver involved in a serious or fatal accident is accused of being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, he or she is faulted for the crash with little or no investigation. An experienced law firm will take a look at the facts and may even consult with accident reconstruction experts. It's vital that an aggressive defense be prepared against both the DUI charge and the allegation that you were responsible for the accident. If either can be disproven, you will not be convicted of the most serious charges associated with a serious or fatal drunk driving crash.
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In the Irvine case according to news reports, the 26-year-old was drinking with his girlfriend the evening before the crash and took a cab to a friend's house. There, he got the truck he had left at the house and drove his girlfriend to get food.

According to prosecutors, he made an illegal left turn against a red arrow at Culver Drive and Irvine Boulevard, hitting the driver's side of a sedan carrying four girls and a parent. The 14-year-old was killed and a friend critically injured.

Prosecutors say the man appeared disoriented, smelled of alcohol, had slurred speech and had trouble keeping balance. the District Attorney's Office said his blood-alcohol level was .20, more than twice the legal limit of .08.

And because he had previously pleaded guilty to driving under the influence and other charges, he was aware that killing someone while driving under the influence can result in a murder charge. Because the man has several previous alcohol-related charges and convictions on his record, it's possible prosecutors have sought the most serious charge in our criminal justice system. he faces a maximum of 20 years in prison, the newspaper reports.

This shows why fighting a DUI charge for a first-time offender is critical. Breathalyzer results are inherently unreliable and in many places, including Southern California, charges are being dropped because the results come out incorrect. And those results should always be vigorously challenged by a qualified DUI attorney. Field sobriety testing is almost always done in DUI investigations and sometimes officers aren't property trained in how to perform these tests.

There are many aspects of a DUI case than can be challenged and exploited, but it requires the experienced skills of a seasoned attorney to determine which areas can be challenged and how best to go about doing it. And a DUI conviction can mean loss of driving privileges, which can bring great hardship on a person who drives for a living or must drive to get to work. Fighting these charges is imperative.

Continue reading "Orange County Man Arrested in DUI Crash That Killed 14-Year-Old Cheerleader" »

OC Driver Charged in Fatal DUI Accident in February

An Orange County man faces charges of murder and DUI, charges that can put him in jail for 21 years to life based partly on his prior convictions, The Los Angeles Times reports.

This tragic story shows how important defending a first-time DUI offense is in California. Santa Ana DUI Lawyers have seen countless cases where a prior conviction, even many years earlier, leads to increased penalties in the future. Aggressively defending the first case can lead to a better resolution in the future.
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In February, a Placentia man allegedly crashed his SUV into a Toyota after driving through a red light in Laguna Niguel. According to authorities, the man lost control of the vehicle and drove it onto a sidewalk, where it struck and killed a woman and her dog. Two people in the Toyota were injured.

According to the news report, the man had two previous DUI convictions, from October 2007 and May 2008, and was on probation at the time of the crash. Police believe the man was under the influence of more than a dozen drugs at the time of the crash. The article states that the man pleaded guilty to both of the prior charges and had to complete a 180-day drug and alcohol program and an 18-month multiple offender alcohol program.

"He was aware of the consequences," said a district attorney's office spokeswoman. "He had just received education that what he did could result in murder."

Obviously, the case is a tragedy. But it's possible that the driver might have avoided such a serious charge had he not pleaded guilty to the previous DUI charges. Had one of those charges been beaten at trial or had a successful plea deal been made to reduce the charge to reckless driving or another less-serious charge, it may have saved him decades in prison, which he now faces.

DUI in Orange County is a serious charge and should be defended aggressively. Dealing with a criminal charge may be frightening, but the charges can be beaten. You should also note that you only have 10 days from an arrest to request a hearing with the California Department of Motor Vehicles to contest your driver's license suspension.

California DUI laws are strict and can require thousands of dollars in fines and fees, DUI school, ignition interlock devices and even jail or prison time. Be smart and fight the charges. Trust experience.

Continue reading "OC Driver Charged in Fatal DUI Accident in February" »