July 2011 Archives

Disneyland Area Fatal DUI Accident May Lead to Additional Charges

An accident recently near Disneyland resulted in three people being hurt and one being killed, The Orange County Register reports.

A charge of DUI in Orange County comes with it a stigma unlike many other crimes. A person charged with DUI often makes the newspaper or television newscast and can suffer damage to reputation, job loss and problems with family. And while some people believe that a person arrested for DUI has no defense, that's simply not true. An experienced Santa Ana DUI Defense Attorney will be able to assess all the facts of the case and determine which pieces of state evidence can be challenged. This is never more critical than when a serious or fatal accident occurs.
According to the news article, the accident happened in the early hours on the southbound I-5 freeway near Disneyland Drive in Anaheim. According to California Highway Patrol, a pickup truck was driving in the third lane "at a high rate of speed" when the 28-year-old female driver switched to the fourth lane and struck the left rear corner of a sedan.

The truck continued west, where it skidded off the main lanes and onto a steep dirt embankment. The driver then allegedly struck part of a bridge and rotated back across several southbound lanes, where it came to rest, according to the CHP.

The male passenger in the truck, also 28, died about three and a half hours after the accident at UCI Medical Center in Orange. The female driver of the truck was charged with suspicion of felony driving under the influence.

The passengers of the sedan were treated for moderate and minor injuries at Western Medical Center.

Cases of serious or fatal accidents can result in years behind bars. An experienced defense lawyer must build a two-prong defense. First by challenging the allegation that the driver was under the influence and then by contesting the assertion that he or she was responsible for causing the accident. If either can be disproven, a defendant will not be convicted of the most serious charges associated with a DUI accident.

In situations where a driver is suspected of a crime after a crash and they are being treated at a hospital, it's sometimes easier for law enforcement to obtain blood testing, which can prove that a person was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the crash.

But these tests can be dismissed if police didn't follow proper procedures. Same goes for field sobriety testing and breath testing. Any piece of evidence is subject to examination by the defense and can be tossed out with the help of an experienced Orange County criminal defense attorney.

In this case, because there was a death, prosecutors may attempt to charge the driver of the truck with vehicular manslaughter. According to the California Penal Code 191.5, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. If gross negligence isn't proven, vehicular manslaughter is punishable by up to 4 years.

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Man Charged with Hate Crime After Allegedly Hanging Noose at Santa Ana Gay Rights Building

A transient was arrested recently in Santa Ana for allegedly hanging a noose in the doorway of a Southern California gay rights organization last October, The Orange County Register reports.

Hate crimes have gained national attention since 1998, when Matthew Shepard was killed in Wyoming because he was gay. California lawmakers, like many other states, have dedicated punishment for crimes based on the victim's characteristics. But it's possible that police and prosecutors may not be able to prove these felony charges in Orange County. That's why hiring an experienced Santa Ana Criminal Defense Attorney is important.

According to news reports, the 45-year-old man was on parole for assaulting a police officer and narcotics violations. he apparently was homeless. Last October, a noose was found hung in the doorway of Equality California, an advocacy group that supports lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals. The organization worked out of an unmarked office in Santa Ana in a strip mall at the time.

Police said that DNA linked the suspect to the noose, police told the newspaper. The suspect allegedly admitted to putting the noose there, but didn't say why.

California Penal Code 422.6 makes it a crime to "by force or threat of force, willfully injure, intimidate, interfere with, oppress, or threaten any other person in the free exercise of enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him or her by the Constitution or laws of the United States in whole or in part because of one or more of the actual or perceived characteristics of the victim."

And "hate crime" is defined as discrimination based on disability, gender, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or association with a person or group of those characteristics.

But while many may consider this case open and shut based on the DNA, prosecutors must prove that a crime was committed based on hatred or to intimidate the workers. Simply placing a symbol on a doorstep could be considered trespassing. And if the building wasn't marked as the newspaper article suggests, it may be difficult to prove hatred was involved.

And in many types of cases involving people charged with tough-to-comprehend crimes and sometimes with people who are homeless, the mental state of the person can be challenged. If an attorney can prove the person doesn't understand the court system, what the penalties are and how everything works, they may be deemed incompetent for trial. That would halt the trial and lead to mental health treatment and possibly working out a sentence based on mental health treatment rather than prison time.

This is speculative, but it does happen in cases like this. While DNA may have linked the man to a piece of rope that was fashioned into a noose, according to police, his statement may have done him in.

Santa Ana Criminal Defense Lawyers advise clients not to make a statement to police. They are legally allowed to lie to suspects during interrogations and it is their sole job to get a confession. Ask to speak with an attorney before making any statements and don't waive your rights.

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3 Arrested, 1 Killed In Shooting at Marijuana Shop in Brea

Three people were recently arrested after a robbery turned deadly at a Brea marijuana shop, The Los Angeles Times reports.

While California's medical marijuana law has been revolutionary in the way that states treat the drug, it has increased the number of burglaries and robberies at collectives and dispensaries. And as this story portrays, the desire to get marijuana, likely for purposes of re-selling, can lead to serious criminal charges.
Murder in Orange County is the most serious crime a person can face and therefore, our Anaheim Murder Defense Attorneys are ready and prepared to defend a person with an aggressive and comprehensive approach to each case..

In the Brea case, a call came in to police about multiple gunshots heard at the Birchwood Village Apartments on East Birchwood Street. When officers arrived, a group of men were involved in a struggle and one man was down after suffering from gunshot wounds.

The 20-year-old was pronounced dead at the scene. An 18-year-old and 19-year-old were arrested as well as a third person, whose name wasn't released. Police believe the teens, including the man killed, were attempting to rob two men from a Los Angeles marijuana dispensary who were at the apartment complex to make a delivery to a supposed buyer.

The group allegedly confronted a driver and an armed security guard from the marijuana dispensary. The guard killed the 20-year-old after he allegedly pulled a gun.

Under California Penal Code 187, murder is the unlawful killing of a person. And under California's Felony Murder Rule, a person who is killed in connection with a felony (in this case, armed robbery), can result in murder charges against an accomplice.

For instance, say two men go into a convenience store to rob the worker of money in the store and in the process, the store owner pulls out a gun and kills one of the two men. The surviving robber could face a murder charge. Charges could also be filed if two people attempt to break into a person's house and the homeowner has a heart attack and dies.

It is a powerful law that can lead to serious murder charges. In California, murder is punishable by decades in prison up to life or even the death penalty. Sometimes, these charges can be reduced or disproven with the help of a veteran defense lawyer. Sometimes, political pressure or pressure from the media or public can make police and prosecutors use additional resources and take a hard-line stance in plea negotiations.

But hiring an experienced Orange County Criminal Defense Lawyer can be your best move. While every case is different, having an attorney with years of experience and dedication to your personalized case is the best way to fight these tough crimes.

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Fourth of July DUI Arrests Must Be Defended in Orange County

More law enforcement officers will be out this Fourth of July looking for speeders and seat belt violators, but they will also be putting heavy emphasis on DUI arrests.

The Orange County Register reports that while traffic is expected to be up throughout Southern California this Fourth of July holiday weekend, so, too, will be law enforcement presence. Officers will be looking for drunk drivers or suspected drunk drivers all weekend long.
That's why if you are arrested and charged with drunk driving, call our Orange County DUI Defense Lawyers immediately. Be polite to the officer, but don't make any statements. DUI in Santa Ana and throughout California is a serious charge that can cost you your job, your freedom and your rights to drive.

According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, there were 108 DUI arrests during the Fourth of July weekend in Orange County alone in 2010. There were 162 in Riverside County and 844 in Los Angeles County as well.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles reports that in 2007, there were 203,866 DUI arrests, most of which were misdemeanor DUI arrests. But there were also 6,264 felony DUI arrests that year.

California Vehicle Code 23152 defines drunk driving, which most people understand is driving a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol at or above the state's .08 limit for a person's blood-alcohol content.

But many people may not be aware of the penalties, even for a first-time offender who has one drink too many at a cookout this weekend:

  • Imprisonment in a county jail for at least 96 hours, with at least 48 straight hours, and up to 6 months
  • Driver's license suspension for six months
  • A fine of up to $1,000
  • Completion of a DUI school
  • Possible installation and costs associated with an ignition interlock device

But don't think that DUI charges can't be beat. An experienced Orange County DUI Lawyer will study your case and look at all of the officer's actions leading up to, during and after the arrest to see if procedures weren't followed.

We will challenge the results of a breathalyzer test because these devices are very unreliable. As the news media has reported in California and nationwide, prosecutors are having problems with the reliability of breathalyzers based on poor manufacturing as well as officers not properly calibrating them. These devices merely provide an estimation of a person's blood-alcohol level, not the actual reading.

Our lawyers will also look at whether field sobriety tests were properly conducted and whether the officer was trained in how to conduct them. Also, a defendant's physical limitations can be a factor in whether these tests are accurate.

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