October 2011 Archives

Medical Marijuana Dispensaries in Orange County Come Under Fire

Years after California lawmakers allowed marijuana for medical purposes, law enforcement is investigating and raiding many medical marijuana dispensaries statewide, including Orange County. Investigators say these operations are nothing but a front for drug dealing.

The fine line between drug dealing and growing medical marijuana in Santa Ana has proven to be difficult for dispensaries that are created to cultivate and distribute marijuana for medicinal purposes.
The problem in California is that while growing and selling marijuana for medical use is legal and governed by local towns, it is still illegal under federal law. Santa Ana medical marijuana defense lawyers have seen many people charged with a crime in mix-ups even though they have the legal right to smoke marijuana for medical reasons.

Despite California's forward-thinking in this regard, it has still led to many problems among those who have a right to use the drug for medical reasons. Therefore, a strong defense must be presented to clear up the confusion in these cases.

USA Today reports that officials are saying medical marijuana dispensaries are fronts to the illegal drug industry, and therefore they have begun raids to try to uncover illegal drug dealing. Marijuana is legal for medical use in 15 other states and Washington. D.C., as well but there are strict regulations.

The dispute between state and federal law has signaled the Justice Department to tell U.S. attorneys that they can prosecute dispensaries under federal drug and money laundering laws, a priority that has been increased in recent months.

Fox News reports that many believe this is a bad faith effort by the Obama Administration, which previously agreed to leave marijuana shops alone. With an election upcoming, some believe recent raids have a political motive. Many dispensaries have been given warning letters telling them to shut down or face prosecution.

Dispensary owners have been hoping federal investigators wouldn't stick their nose in California's business, but they have sat by idly since 1996, when the law was passed. Since then, the state and federal laws have been at odds, but the feds have largely laid back and taken a hands-off approach.

But it appears they have done an about-face and are now seeking to prosecute dispensary owners under federal laws that are designed to crack down on large-scale drug ring operations. Money laundering and racketeering operations were designed to cut out mob-like businesses that use illegal acts to make big money. Dispensaries are used for medical purposes, as dictated by the law.

This is simply a waste of time and money, but one that some politicians hope will look good on their resumes. It appears the famed "War on Drugs" goes on, even for drugs used to help the hurting.

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Davila v. State: Parent Kidnapping Can Happen in Orange County Too

In a recent Florida case, Davila v. State, attorneys challenged whether a parent could be charged with kidnapping. And in the case of Baby Lisa Irwin of Kansas City, investigators there have begun looking at the family more than two weeks after the child went missing from her home.
Parent kidnapping can and does happen anywhere in America, including California. Cases of kidnapping in Santa Ana for instance are often based on allegations that a person was taken against his or her will, and sometimes revolve around drug cases or debts that are outstanding. But as the name of the crime implies, the law is written to prevent a child from being taken against his or her will.

According to California Penal Code 207, a child under 14 who is forced out of the county, state or country is a victim of kidnapping. Whether based on coercion, seduction or monetary gain, a person who faces a kidnapping charge can be sent to prison anywhere from five years to life if convicted.

It is obviously a serious charge, which requires a highly qualified Santa Ana criminal defense attorney. With years of experience handling these complex cases, a lawyer will be able to sniff out when police have strong evidence and when they're working off "hunches." Especially in cases where children go missing, such as the Casey Anthony case, police may initially look at outside suspects, but often look internally very quickly.

Davila is a slightly different situation, though, as he was convicted of several charges going back to 2000. According to court documents, Davila was convicted of 36 counts of child abuse, three counts of false imprisonment, one count of child neglect, one count of child abuse, one count of attempted felony murder and three counts of kidnapping a child under 13.

According to testimony in the case, the boy was placed in a bathroom, tied at the hands and forced to lie in a bathtub for hours at a time. He was blindfolded and locked in the room and beaten when he got free, he said.

At issue was whether a parent could legally be charged with kidnapping in Florida and the Supreme Court said yes. Another case that has cropped into the national spotlight is the case of Baby Lisa, an 11-month-old baby who went missing Oct. 4 and hasn't been seen since.

For days, searchers looked for the child, The Kansas City Star reports, but found no traces. Police got tips that turned out to be useless leads. And recently, investigators obtained a search warrant for the house that allows them to look for evidence while banning the family from returning there.

They have now said the mother, who was home the night he baby disappeared, isn't cooperating. There were two older boys home as well and they gave statements initially, but now haven't been made available to police.

The situation is turning quickly as authorities likely are looking at the mother, who admitted to being drunk the night the girl was taken from her room. The husband returned home from a late-night shift to find his daughter missing at 4 a.m. that day. The mother said she saw her at 10:30 p.m. the night before.

Parent kidnapping charges tend to make big headlines, which also threatens the defendant's right to a fair trial. If police are going to make such strong accusations, they better have enough evidence to back it up. If not, an experienced Santa Ana criminal defense attorney will be looking for a not-guilty verdict.

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State v. Green Highlights Self-Defense Expertise Needed in Orange County Murder Cases

A case out of Georgia is a good example of why a well-presented self-defense theory can lead to a not-guilty verdict. The strategy could also be effective in a Santa Ana murder case .

In this case, a man died in 2008 when his femoral artery was punctured by a knife held by Deiran Green when the two men were engaged in a physical dispute. Green was indicted, but the charges were later dropped.
Self-defense is often difficult to prove, especially in situations where there are large gatherings of people and a fight breaks out. Santa Ana criminal defense attorneys have seen where witnesses often blame the defendant for the attack or some third-hand witness is allowed to testify that there was a problem between the defendant and victim and so it had to be planned.

Few people intend to go out and commit murder. When people are aware of the consequences -- life in prison or possible death by lethal injection -- they must be quick to re-consider a plot for murder. In many cases, "bad blood" does turn in a fight. But the fatal blow wasn't intentional, but rather the result of an accident.

That appears to be the situation here. Green was indicted for malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault and possession of a knife during the commission of a felony. But the facts of the case show he never should have been charged in the first place.

According to court documents, Green was renting a room in the home of a husband and wife. One day, he was using a butcher knife while preparing dinner. He was also talking with the wife, which apparently upset the husband, causing him to yell at the renter. The husband told the man to leave the house, and that he would receive a refund for whatever rent he had paid.

When the husband stormed off to get the refund money, Green held on to the knife, testifying he didn't trust that the man was just going to get money. When the man walked back up to Green in the kitchen, he grabbed Green's wrists and head-butted him. The knife hit the man's thigh and punctured his femoral artery, causing him to bleed to death.

The trial court found that Green didn't intend to stab the man, but that during the struggle, the knife entered his leg and that he was acting out of fear. The state appealed the ruling that dismissed the indictment.

But the Georgia Supreme Court upheld the decision, ruling that the attacker knew Green had a knife and that he acted totally irrationally by attacking him for talking to his wife. They said he had a right to be afraid of the man and held on to the knife as a threat to stop the confrontation.

Self-defense can be difficult when witnesses say the defendant acted aggressively. But the facts can be used to dispute state witnesses. This case shows that prosecutors will go to great lengths -- even when the facts are obvious -- to get a conviction. Make sure an experienced lawyer is standing by your side when you most need one.

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Fullerton Police Officers Plead Not Guilty to Murder Charges

A Fullerton police officer has been charged with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in the beating and Taser death of a schizophrenic homeless man, Reuters reports.

The political nature of this case has caused prosecutors to charge police with crimes related to the man's death. Riots have occurred, and some say it is to blame for an escalation of race relations issues in Southern California that have largely been unseen since the 1991 taped beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles police.
A case of officers being charged with a crime is difficult not only for prosecutors, but for the public to believe. No officer is perfect, yet most don't commit crimes on duty. They have a difficult job to protect and serve while facing dangerous people throughout California.

But murder in Santa Ana and throughout Orange County is a significant charge that requires a powerful defense. It is guaranteed that the officers charged in this case will not go down without a fight. They will need an aggressive and experienced Santa Ana murder defense attorney to uphold their rights.

The recent Reuters story reports that a 37-year-old officer had his $1 million bail posted by fellow officers so he could get out of jail. A co-defendant, a corporal on the Fullerton Police Department, also faces charges of involuntary manslaughter as well as excessive use of force. He was already been freed on $25,000 bail.

Prosecutors said the 37-year-old homeless man was beaten and repeatedly shocked with a Taser weapon during a confrontation with six police officers in Fullerton. The episode was caught on tape by locals with cell phones and by a bus depot surveillance camera, Reuters reports.

Both men have pleaded not guilty, the news service reports. The officer charged with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter faces 15 years to life in prison if found guilty. His co-defendant with the less serious charges faces up to four years in prison if found guilty.

Police officers are sometimes put in a precarious situation of whether or not to use force. It's easy for someone to judge after the fact what was "excessive" and what wasn't. But in the heat of the moment, officers sometimes have to make decisions that determine whether they or another person will live. Sometimes the use of force is deadly.

In this case, all the facts haven't been released. It's not completely clear what led to the beating or what the victim's actions were that prompted police to react the way they did.

It's obvious that politics and coverage by the news media play a big part in situations like theses. Prosecutors are almost forced to file charges when there is so much public outcry. And when they do, they are considered traitors by the thin blue line. If they don't, they're called co-conspirators by the public. It's really a lose-lose situation for them.

But at the end of the day, if they file charges, especially charges as serious as murder in Orange County, they better have proof. And the proof must be presented beyond a reasonable doubt. Otherwise, the defendants walk free.

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