September 2011 Archives

United States v. Burleson Highlights Need For Strong Motion to Suppress in Orange County Felony Cases

A recent case out of New Mexico shows how important hiring an experienced Santa Ana criminal defense attorney who has filed hundreds of motions to suppress can be to a defendant facing a serious criminal charge.

A motion to suppress occurs when the police have gone too far in attempting to get evidence to seek a conviction against a suspect. This can happen when officers mislead judges into signing a search warrant to allow them into a home or business for instance, or if they don't follow procedures and protocols in interrogating a suspect.
These motions should be handled by an experienced lawyer who has represented many clients who have been treated unfairly by police officers. This particular motion is difficult because the burden of proving the misconduct is on the defendant. In most situations, the motion is filed by defendants facing serious felony charges, including murder in Orange County.

In the case of the United States of America v. Carl Roy Burleson, he and two friends were walking down a New Mexico street when a Roswell police officer stopped them.

The stop seems legitimate -- the officer said they were walking in the middle of the street. The officer was also suspicious because one of them was carrying an unleashed dog and there had been a rash of pet thefts recently. The area had also experienced property crime, including a shooting, in recent weeks and it was late at night.

After stopping the three people, the officer was satisfied the dog wasn't stolen, but rather they were worried the dog would run off if it walked on its own because they didn't own a leash. The officer testified he didn't intend to cite them for walking in the middle of the street.

But the issue hinges on the officer's actions after that, during which he asked them for their names and identification. When the officer checked whether they had outstanding criminal warrants, Burleson's name came back with an active warrant.

Upon arrest, he told the officer he had two guns and ammunition on him, which the officer found after handcuffing him. He then was arrested on a charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Once his attorney began looking at the case, he filed a motion to suppress the gun and ammunition evidence, stating that the officer had little reason to do a warrants check on three individuals who had been cleared of wrongdoing.

After a hearing, the judge agreed and granted the motion, meaning the gun and ammunition evidence would be tossed out. Essentially, the charge would be dropped if that evidence didn't make it into trial.

But prosecutors appealed the judge's decision, and the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals recently took up the case and made a ruling. The panel of judges reversed the judge's decision, surprisingly, ruling that the officer had a right under "officer-safety concerns" to run a warrants check.

While the officer didn't testify that he was worried about his safety, the judges interpreted that being in a bad neighborhood and stopping three people while he was by himself constituted his right to check for warrants to determine if they were known criminals.

It seems to be a stretch for judges to OK a warrants check when no criminal activity is alleged simply because they say an officer could possibly be intimidated. It's unclear at this point whether the man will appeal that ruling.

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Santa Ana Police Make Seventh Arrest in Connection With Crime Spree

Police recently arrested a seventh person they suspect is a gang member and have charged him with attempted murder as part of a slew of criminal activity in Orange County, The Orange County Register reports.

The 21-year-old now faces charges of suspicion of attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder, carjacking and evading police. Six other people -- ages 17 to 23 -- face identical charges. Police suspect the seven are involved in a recent carjacking at a gas station as well as a street shooting the day before.
Gang activity in Orange County is always a hot-button topic and police and prosecutors know that if they can prove a person is involved in a gang, s defendant can face much tougher penalties if convicted.

Often, theft crimes -- such as grand theft in Anaheim, burglary and robbery charges -- are committed in groups, but that doesn't mean they are a gang. An experienced and dedicated Santa Ana Criminal Defense Attorney knows how to make sure the police don't confuse non-gang activity with a gang activity and try to increase the penalties.

According to authorities, the first incident involved two men driving up to two bikers and opening fire, hitting each in the legs. Each biker is a suspected gang member as well, the newspaper reports.

In the second incident, four men approached a man pumping gas when one pulled out a gun and demanded the gas pumper step away from the vehicle. The four suspects took the vehicle.

Police say that victim was not a gang member and that they apprehended three of the four from the carjacking incident. Those suspects led them to the three people involved in the first incident. The six-minute car pursuit ended with the driver of the truck crashing into two other vehicles.

In cases with multiple defendants, their testimony must be questioned by an experienced Anaheim criminal defense lawyer. First off, co-defendants who take a deal from the state have more than enough motivation to say what the prosecutor wants to hear.

If they provide "facts" that help the state go after the most culpable defendants, they are highly valuable to the state. And if those facts vary from a pre-arranged plea agreement, sometimes the state can pull the plug on the plea deal and go after them for violating the agreement.

Every co-defendant is always looking out for himself once they get arrested. Few truly dedicated co-conspirators will actually go down with the ship and keep quiet as not to implicate their buddies. Once the case gets into the criminal justice system, all bets are off. And because of this reality, the words of these state witnesses must be especially scrutinized in light of their questionable merit.

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Orange County Defense Attorneys Defending Labor Day Weekend DUI Arrests

Imagine if it was your job to sit along the roadside in a vehicle and watch other vehicles drive by. And imagine doing that for eight hours, plus likely overtime, for several days straight.

You could understand if by the end of the shift you might get tired and perhaps a little sloppy in your attention to detail. And yet over the Labor Day weekend, 262 DUI arrests in Orange County were made, a 40-percent hike from 2010 numbers.
One can't possibly think that 40 percent more drunk drivers were on the roads this year compared to last. So that means either Orange County law enforcement dedicated more time to DUI investigations or they were so overzealous that some people's rights were trampled en route to them setting record arrest numbers.

It requires a certain amount of skepticism to reveal the real truth sometimes. And that comes in handy when defending drivers who have been arrested for DUI in Orange County. As an experienced Santa Ana DUI Defense Attorney for decades, I have seen it all from law enforcement and prosecutors. And it's that experience I bring to each individual case. Trust experience when you are fighting for your rights.

According to The Orange County Register, sheriff's deputies made 262 DUI arrests, which was up from 187 arrests last year. Through a joint effort of state and local law enforcement agencies, officers arrested 856 people from August 19 to September 5. During the same time period last year, 665 arrests were made. Sheriff's officials said one DUI-related fatality was reported in Anaheim, when a 25-year-old San Dimas man died after he lost control of his vehicle and landed in a flood-control channel. Agencies received a grant to conduct the stepped-up patrols, the newspaper reports.

Most people understand DUI to mean driving under the influence and that can mean drugs or alcohol. "Under the influence" means the driver has a blood-alcohol content of .08 or higher. A person with a blood-alcohol content below .08 is not considered legally drunk.

But while the charge is easily the most common that Americans face, in California, the penalties are severe. It may be classified as a misdemeanor, but the possible penalties rival many felony charges as politicians have sought to impede on individuals' rights in order to boost their own campaigns.

In California, the penalties are as follows:

• Imprisonment in a county jail for at least 96 hours, with at least 48 straight hours, and
up to 6 months
• Driver 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

Again, while only a misdemeanor, a person must be sent to jail, which is not a pleasant place, have their driver license suspended, and make payments for DUI school, fines and fees. Additionally, there are costs associated with having an ignition interlock device installed on the person's vehicle. The interlock device won't let the vehicle start unless the driver blows and registers a blood-alcohol level below .08.

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Seal Beach Man Faces $300,000 Foreclosure Scam Fraud Charges

A Seal Beach businessman now faces 34 counts of fraud and elder abuse in Orange County for allegedly scamming six people out of $300,000.

Real estate fraud in Anaheim is a hot topic these days as the country's housing market has utterly collapsed. Houses that were worth millions at one point have dropped by as much as 50 percent.
As the troubles continue, many investors have looked for someone to blame. They have lost their savings, their retirement or even their play money, but nonetheless, they have lost and now they want someone to blame. Many times, these investors file civil lawsuits and sometimes they complain to the state that their non-guaranteed investment opportunity went south and is somehow a scam.

For those who organize investment opportunities and ended up with something that didn't go as planned, they are often left with a target on their back and facing charges. But these people mustn't lay down, but rather fight the charges head-on by hiring an experienced Orange County Criminal Defense Lawyer.

Police say they arrested the man after an eight-month investigation. They say he enticed investors into an opportunity of buying foreclosed homes in Los Angeles; the deal sought quick returns on their investment after rehabbing and reselling them.

Investigators allege he e-mailed investors updates about the properties, sent them deeds of ownership and said he was investing the profits into new investments. But when the investors demanded their money, he stopped communicating.

Police say the man only purchased one house, for $292,000, and it later went into foreclosure itself. They say the properties he described in communication with investors were real but that he never owned them.

When real estate fraud arrests like this one are made, investigators almost always say that the alleged perpetrator "promised investors" high returns on their investments, as if that is so bad. Think about every sales call you've ever gotten or any opportunity to make money that has come around. Who would start an investment opportunity sales pitch with "We may or may not make money under my plan?"

It's just not realistic. Every investment opportunity is planned out to make money, but there are factors that can make the investment not pan out. It's just like the stock market -- it's far from guaranteed and it's a gamble.

What must be done in these complex cases is an attorney must be able to review financial records of the accused and have access to every relevant document to put together a strong defense to the charges. The moment a person learns they are being investigated or suspect something is up, they must consult with an experienced Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney.

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