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January 2012 Archives

Two Arrests Made in Irvine Craigslist Robbery

Two men were recently arrested and charged with robbery after allegedly setting up a purchase on Craigslist, The Orange County Register reports.

The 24-year-old and 22-year-old now face felony charges in Irvine. Robbery is taking possessions from another person. Sometimes it can involve force or a weapon, which can enhance charges.
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An experienced Irvine defense attorney knows that a felony is not something to take lightly. While some people believe that they may be able to work out a favorable plea deal or beat the charges altogether, that's not always the case.

Some prosecutors are simply unwilling to negotiate and play hard ball. Others may be more willing to listen to reason, but you don't know who you're going to get initially. This can make a felony charge a real burden on a defendant. It's not always going to turn into a misdemeanor.

And many factors go into the decision of how to approach a case by prosecutors. If the defendant has an extensive criminal history or a criminal history in this type of crime, the state is unlikely to go easy on the person.

If the crime was violent or there were injuries or a traumatic effect on the victim, those are going to be two big aggravating factors that the prosecutor looks at before determining what charges to file and how to handle the case. Most of this is out of the control of the defendant.

But what is in their control is which lawyer they choose and if that experienced lawyer has the time to look through all the evidence and assess the weaknesses in the case. Every case has holes and it's just a matter of time until they are discovered.

In this case, according to the newspaper report, two men set up a meeting with a Huntington Beach man who was trying to sell his laptop on the popular website Craigslist. The victim told police that when he met the potential buyer at an Irvine park, the buyer reached into his coat to pull out what the man thought was a wallet, but instead it was a handgun.

The man demanded the laptop and then ran to a car driven by another man and they drove off. Detectives say they were able to identify the suspects and they spotted them driving a few days later. After the men spotted detectives following them, the driver began driving erratically and stopped to let the other man out of the vehicle.

The man was then pulled over and arrested without further incident. The passenger was arrested 10 minutes later, the newspaper reports. A gun was found in the vehicle. The laptop, which detectives said had been sold, was recovered.

Both men face charges of suspicion of armed robbery, petit theft and conspiracy. Both were booked into the Orange County Jail.

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Police Say They Have Arrested Santa Ana Serial Rapist

Police recently made some serious allegations in a Santa Ana sex crimes case by arresting a man they're telling the public is responsible for several local sexual assaults.

Being charged with a sex crime in California carries serious penalties, with possible prison sentences that can run into the decades. Defendants can also be stuck having to register as a sexual offender on state and national registries. Those listings can last for years or a lifetime, depending on the severity of the charges.
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Santa Ana criminal defense lawyers will question whether a person is actually a "serial" criminal because that is a difficult thing to prove. But law enforcement officers will sometimes jump to conclusions based on a weak string of evidence in trying to clear out many cases at once.

For instance, in Santa Ana burglary cases, detectives will look to see if there's a similar "style," or "description" of a person in different burglaries in the same neighborhood. If they end up arresting one person, they may try to pin several burglaries on that person.

But common sense tells us that most burglaries are done in a similar fashion -- using the same tools, looking for the most expensive goods for example. Usually, descriptions are so vague, anyone could be a potential match. But if police arrest a person and charge them with several crimes, they can mark those cases closed and move on, even if there is no conviction.

A similar thing can happen in sex cases. In this situation, ABC News reports, police have arrested a 39-year-old man from Baldwin Park whom they believe was targeting undocumented residents as well as prostitutes.

The man was charged after he allegedly raped a 23-year-old woman in December. The man allegedly followed her from a Christmas Eve party, forced her into a van, threatened her with a gun, knife and Taser, assaulted her and dumped her body on the side of the road and then tossed her clothing back to her.

Police say they have evidence from the clothing that connects the man to the crime. And after serving a search warrant on his home, detectives say they found guns and a Taser and other evidence they say links him to other victims. The police declined to elaborate on what the other evidence may be.

Because it's unclear what other evidence there is, it's tough to say how legitimate of a case there is. Simply owning guns or a Taser hardly is sound evidence to call a person a rapist. And often in traumatizing events, witnesses can't think clearly enough to get a good look at a suspect.

But if police suggest a person to them, they sometimes get in their head that that's the person, even if it's not. The fact that alleged victims may be undocumented or prostitutes won't help their credibility, unless there is iron-clad proof presented by the state.

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Anaheim Continues Ban On Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

City officials recently extended a ban on Anaheim medical marijuana dispensaries as leaders try to figure out how legal challenges to California's law will play out, The Orange County Register reports.

California's medical marijuana industry has come under fire from all sides in recent months, as federal prosecutors have threatened to bring charges against not only dispensaries and cultivators, but also the landlords who rent them space to do business. This has led to local officials becoming unsure about how to proceed. It appears Anaheim city leaders are also not sure how to move forward in the wake of the recent controversy.
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Our Santa Ana criminal defense attorneys are constantly following any news in the medical marijuana field in California because it affects many people. Many patients lean on this drug as a painkiller for debilitating diseases like cancer. Dispensaries and collectives operating within the bounds of state law get harassed by federal agents as well as local law enforcement, who try desperately to prove they are operating illegally.

Anaheim city officials recently unanimously approved keeping a ban on pot dispensaries through January 2013. Four speakers addressed council members at a recent meeting, urging them to strictly regulate dispensaries and tax them, but council members didn't listen and voted without comment to extend a moratorium.

Despite California voters -- and no doubt Anaheim voters -- asking that marijuana be legalized for medical use in 1996, the city has banned operations in city limits since 2007. The city's law was challenged by patients who said the law unfairly limited their rights based on the state law, the newspaper reports.

In August, a judge ruled that the city's law doesn't conflict with either the 1996 law passed by voters or the 2003 state law that allows for medical-grade marijuana to be used by patients. But the case is being appealed, so city leaders decided to wait another year before making any changes to medical marijuana in the city limits.

The city council's ruling doesn't prohibit grandfathered-in dispensaries from operating, but it puts an end to the addition of new dispensaries in the city. The city's action comes as major court cases revolving around medical marijuana are ongoing. In November, an appeals court ruled that the city of Riverside won a case that says cities can legally ban medical marijuana dispensaries. Another ruling stated that cities can't create laws that would regulate these businesses.

On top of pressure from federal authorities, this has become a difficult topic in California. While there is clearly a demand from medical marijuana patients, there is also backlash from city and county officials, who are trying to limit these. And then there are law enforcement officers, who try to make arrests, even when they're not justified. Those in the industry require strong legal representation if they are arrested or threatened with criminal action.

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Santa Barbara Doctor Faces Federal Drug Charges After Arrest

A Santa Barbara doctor was arrested recently after officials allege he violated federal drug trafficking laws and he is being held without bond, the Associated Press reports.

Agents have become more aggressive in their efforts to make federal drug arrests in Santa Ana and nationwide in recent months as prescription drug abuse has soared into the public eye. California and Florida are battling as the top two states dealing with the most abuse of the drug, which is a big money maker for drug companies as well as doctors who prescribe them to patients.
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But where is the line between doctor trying to help a patient and doctor putting patients at risk in order to make money? Our Santa Ana criminal defense lawyers would suggest that law enforcement officers, who likely have no training in medicine, might not be able to accurately make the distinction.

Yet many doctors, as well as drug distributors, patients and others involved in the medical field have come under scrutiny in recent months because of a frenzy of criminal investigations aimed at this field. Many are alleging that pharmacists are, in fact, operating "pill mills" where they distribute pills like candy after patients come in with prescriptions from doctors who are handing them out to anyone who asks.

Perhaps there are some bad apples in the bunch, but what this new craze has done is soiled the names of hard-working doctors whose aim is simply to help patients the best they know how. Sadly, many are stuck with criminal charges as a result of overzealous law enforcement officers.

In the recent case out of Orange county, the doctor faces federal drug trafficking charges after authorities accused him of over-medicating patients. He has been questioned, but not charged, in connection with at least one death of a woman he had been treating. Some women allege he traded drugs for sexual favors.

Hospital officials say they began keeping tabs on how many of this doctor's patients came in with prescription-based illnesses or overdoses. Other doctors say they notified the state's medical board in 2009, two years after police questioned the doctor in connection with the death of a 53-year-old woman.
Some officials are upset that authorities moved too slowly in attempting to arrest this doctor, but despite receiving complaints, it obviously took a long time for authorities to put together any type of evidence they believe will stand up in court. The doctor told the Los Angeles Times recently that if he didn't try to help patients, they would simply go to the street to get medications they needed. He told the newspaper he may have given some people too many prescriptions.

The doctor now faces up to 20 years in prison if he is convicted. But the government will have to determine that fine line between a doctor doing his job and trying to help patients or being negligent. The question of whether his prescriptions violate federal drug trafficking laws is one a jury will have to determine.

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