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Recently in Felony Charges Category

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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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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Boykins v. State Brings up Major Fourth Amendment Issue in Santa Ana Drug Cases

A recent Georgia case brings to light issues that must be applied to Santa Ana drug cases as well.

Whether drug possession or drug sales in Orange County, these charges can be enhanced based on a multitude of factors. For one, the criminal history of the defendant can play a role in what charges the state brings against a suspect. If there have been many or serious convictions for drug sales in the past, it's possible the charges will be shifted to federal court, where the penalties are often tougher.
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If guns are used or found during a police search, if children are nearby and factors such as the type of drug and quantity are all things that go into determining what charges a person could face. All charges related to drugs are serious.

But because of the government's decades-long ongoing "War on Drugs," more and more law enforcement resources are going into undercover operations, sting operations and overall enforcement of drug laws.

The zeal of officers to make arrests can sometimes cause problems and it happened in Boykins v. State. In this case, a man pulled his vehicle up to a woman in a high-crime area and police observed the act. When officers pulled up, the man drove off.

Officers asked the woman if she knew the man and she said no and they suspected prostitution. They followed the man to a nearby apartment complex and pulled behind him. When asked for identification, the man said it was in his apartment, but he gave them his name and date of birth.

Officers found he had an outstanding warrant, handcuffed him and put him in custody. An officer then searched his car, finding cocaine in the center console. Before trial, his lawyers sought to suppress evidence from the officer searching the vehicle.

The only evidence presented by the state was the testimony of the arresting officer, who said that the driver exited the vehicle when he was being questioned about his identification. All before the search, the man was arrested, handcuffed and put in the other vehicle.

Previous court decisions have allowed police officers to search vehicles if they believe the suspect is close enough to reach in and pull something out. But it is limited. The Georgia Supreme Court overturned the case, ruling that the state failed to show why this should be an example of when a "rare" case where a warrantless search should be allowed.

This is an example of the criminal justice system upholding a defendant's rights. Police have rules and the court is a checks and balance system for law enforcement. When they break the rules, and a defendant's rights are violated, there are consequences. Police have problems in cases every day. Allow a Santa Ana criminal defense lawyer to uphold your rights if you are charged with a crime.

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Aleman v. Village of Hanover Park Shows Careless Police Work Can Ruin Lives

A recent case out of Illinois shows that when police are careless in their investigative techniques, a person's life can be flipped upside down and ruined.

In the case of Aleman v. Village of Hanover Park, it appears that is what has happened. And poor police work can happen anywhere, including Santa Ana and other areas of Southern California.
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Cases of murder in Fullerton are serious offenses that require the best representation possible. In many cases of homicide, police have a good idea who committed the crime. In others, however, they have no good evidence and fish for a confession.

Our Santa Ana criminal defense lawyers believe the latter is what happened in this horrible case. And, sadly, it led to a man being arrested, branded forever as a killer even though charges were later dropped after it became obvious the police didn't do their jobs right.

According to court records, Rick Aleman ran a day care and although it had only been operational for five months when the incident in question occurred in 2005, he had five children of his own. One of the children he watched was an 11-month-old boy.

On the September date in question, the boy's mother dropped him off that morning and the boy was lethargic and feverish. Not long after the boy was dropped off, he began gasping for air and collapsed. The man attempted CPR and called 911. The boy was rushed to the hospital via ambulance. He died four days later.

Not long after the ambulance was called, police were called to the house and asked the man and his wife to come to the police department. He was placed in an interrogation room for 45 minutes and asked if he could come back in an hour. He was told he couldn't and that he was under arrest.

Some five hours later, police finally entered the room and they told the suspect he had the "most information" to offer after they had spoken to many people about the incident. He said he wanted to call his lawyer, which should have stopped the questioning right there based on the man's rights.

But officers instead filled out a waiver of Miranda rights for the man to sign and told him he could call his lawyer, but he wanted him to sign the waiver of his rights. The man called his lawyer, during which an officer picked up the phone and talked to the attorney. The lawyer said the defendant would be invoking his right to remain silent, which the court ruled didn't count as an invocation of his rights because the man had to do it himself.

The man said he wanted to go home, but officers said he wouldn't be able to go home unless he talked to them. He asked to speak with his lawyer again and the police let him. He asked the lawyer to come to the station, but officers told him he needed to sit down and talk to them. The man said his lawyer gave him the right to talk, which the court wrote would be foolish.

After four hours of talking to the man, police told him doctors had said that he must have shaken the baby to cause its injuries. The man feebly confessed. He was initially charged with aggravated battery of a child. Later, he was charged with first-degree murder.

What didn't come out initially was that the mother had a criminal history, a past of violence and had been known to strike her child and say she wanted to kill him. Also what wasn't revealed was that a medical examiner ruled initially it was "highly unlikely" the man caused the injuries, but an investigator later lied to her, saying he was "behaving normally" when he arrived and she changed her opinion. Once learning the truth, she reinstated her first opinion.

The mother was barely investigated and one investigator told the mother not to speak to any other detectives about the case, despite his knowledge of her past and threats against her son. Within a year the charges were dropped, though the mother was never charged. The officers are the subject of a civil lawsuit filed by the man.

Continue reading "Aleman v. Village of Hanover Park Shows Careless Police Work Can Ruin Lives" »

Self-Defense or Intentional Assault in Black Friday SoCal Pepper Spraying?

Shoppers in Southern California made news already this holiday season in a bad way when a woman at a Wal-Mart north of Los Angeles was accused of pepper spraying other customers on Black Friday, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Retailers have been pumping consumers with advertisements in newspapers, online, on television and through the mail for weeks. Many decided to forgo the 5 a.m. store openings on Friday and opted instead to begin shopping Thanksgiving Day, some as early as 9 p.m.
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In this case, it's unclear whether the woman may have acted in self-defense, which often is a defense for a charge of battery in Santa Ana.

People sometimes get assault and battery confused. Assault involves not necessarily intending to injure someone, while battery requires a person to strike or injure another person through some action. The charges are somewhat intertwined, which can be confusing.

In this case, if the woman is found, it's possible she could be charged with assault or battery. As our Santa Ana criminal defense lawyers well know, the difference between the charges means a difference in possible penalties. It's also clear that self-defense is a very real defense in this case.

According to the newspaper's account, police reported "pandemonium" when a video game display offering $60 games for $30 was unveiled to people who began shopping at this particular Wal-Mart when it opened for Black Friday sales at approximately 10 p.m. Thanksgiving Day.

In the problems that ensued, one woman allegedly pulled out a can of pepper spray and sprayed about 20 consumers who were nearby. Police have said at first they thought she was just angling to get the best deals, but now they think she may have acted in self defense.

After reviewing video surveillance and interviewing more than a dozen witnesses, police are reconsidering whether or not criminal charges should be filed. They hope to speak to another 10 witnesses. One witness told the paper that at about 9:55 p.m., people started shoving and pulling the plastic off the pallets of video games, which led to a stampede. On video, people can be heard saying "I'm being trampled, I'm being crushed."

Police hope to work out a plan for major shopping events to ensure that people are kept safe. But this isn't the first example of problems on Black Friday. A few years ago, a Wal-Mart employee in New York was trampled by mobs of people rushing into the store. In the San Francisco Bay area, a person was shot by would-be robbers as they walked to their cars. Last week in Arkansas, fights broke out over $2 waffle irons.

The bottom line is that if you are charged with a crime in Santa Ana, you need legal representation. If the emotions of a big sale got the best of you and you made a one-time mistake, you must have a lawyer by your side to help guide you through the complex and fast-moving criminal justice system.

Continue reading "Self-Defense or Intentional Assault in Black Friday SoCal Pepper Spraying?" »

In State v. Allen, Santa Ana Murder Charges Collapse on Judge's Misconduct

A murder defendant in Maryland went to trial twice and was convicted of robbery and murder. On appeal, he was granted a new trial because the judge told the jury that the defendant had been convicted of murder and robbery before and the jury found him guilty.

The appeals court reversed the felony murder conviction, agreeing that when the judge told jurors of the man's prior convictions, it essentially established the elements of murder for jurors to convict him.
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Murder charges in Santa Ana are the most serious on the books. That's why, in California, a person can be sentenced to death or life in prison. When a person has been killed, and a defendant's freedom is on the line, everything must be handled with great detail.

In this case, it appears the judge made a mistake. Because of what's on the line, an experienced Santa Ana criminal defense lawyer must be hired to defend a person facing this tough charge.

In State v. Allen, Allen had been tried and convicted on charges of robbery and murder.

The case stemmed from a 2001 argument between two men that led to a fight. The defendant demanded that the victim drive him home after they met at the victim's home. The victim refused and the defendant took his keys and said he was going to drive himself home. After stabbing him with a knife, the defendant drove off, but crashed the car and was arrested.

During the first trial, the judge told jurors that they could find him guilty of felony murder whether or not they found that he intended to rob the victim before or after the murder. An appeals court found robbery as an "afterthought" can't be an underlying felony to support a conviction and death penalty case. The man was granted a new trial.

At the new trial, the defendant was once again wronged by the criminal justice system. This time, a judge told jurors in 2008 that the man had previously been convicted of second degree murder and robbery in connection with the incident. He told them they were there to determine if the man is guilty of first-degree murder.

The judge also told jurors, over objection from the defense, that he had already been convicted of robbery. By telling jurors the man had already been convicted of robbery -- the charge needed to prove felony murder -- he essentially had sealed the case for jurors. They convicted the man of felony murder.

Collateral estoppel in the criminal justice system means an issue can't be litigated twice after it's already been determined. In this case, the appeals court agreed that because the judge's instruction to jurors paved the way for them to convict, that the defendant should get a new trial, again.

Continue reading "In State v. Allen, Santa Ana Murder Charges Collapse on Judge's Misconduct" »

People v. Vang Highlights Need For Aggressive, Attentive Santa Ana Criminal Defense Lawyer

In People v. Vang, a man was convicted in San Diego of assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury in connection with an attack in 2008.

The issue on appeal was whether Vang's judge should have allowed an expert to answer questions from a prosecutor that were thinly disguised as hypothetical questions that referred to facts in this case. The expert was commenting about whether Vang's crime was gang-related. Testimony revealed he is a member of the Tiny Oriental Crips street gang, according to court documents.
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In cases of alleged gang violence in Santa Ana, prosecutors will likely try to prove that a person is affiliated with a street gang, and that the act they are accused of committing was tied to that gang.

If they can prove it, a defendant can be sentenced to many more years in prison. But as an experienced Santa Ana criminal defense attorney well knows, this may not be as easy as it seems. Police and prosecutors must find people who are willing to testify under oath that the defendant is a member of a gang. Police testimony may not be enough.

The victim received a call at his home from a caller whose voice sounded familiar. He met up with Vang and they started walking down the street so they could "hang out." As the 20-year-old rounded a corner, he was struck in the back of the head from behind. He lost consciousness.

A San Diego police detective witnessed the beating and broadcast what he was seeing. He testified that he saw four men in the vicinity and three began beating the fourth and he fell to the ground. Two picked him up and beat him more.Two then backed away and a third hit the victim with a stick or pipe in the head. A second officer arrived and witnessed the beating as well.

Four defendants were arrested nearby, but the stick that the detective said he observed was never found. The victim was hospitalized and interviewed. He said he may have been attacked for disassociating himself from the gang or for overhearing something he shouldn't have.

At trial, an expert was called in by the state to show the case was gang-related. A detective was allowed to testify as an expert, testifying that the gang occupied a certain portion of the city as its territory and mainly included Laotian members. He opined that the defendants and victim were members.

The problem came in when he was allowed to answer hypothetical questions from the prosecution. Over objection from the defense, the judge allowed the detective to answer questions about a "young baby gangster." On redirect examination, the prosecutor took it a step further and asked questions based on the facts of the case in "hypothetical" form and then asked the detective if he felt the case was gang-motivated.

The detective again said he felt it was gang-related. The defendant was convicted and sentenced to six years in prison. His co-defendants got four years, 12 years and probation.

The Supreme Court of California, after reviewing a court of appeal ruling that the judge erred in allowing the testimony, found that the appellate court was right in finding error, but the panel of judges doesn't believe the error would have changed the course of the verdict. Therefore, it allowed the sentences and verdicts to stay in place.

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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.
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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.

Continue reading "Davila v. State: Parent Kidnapping Can Happen in Orange County Too" »

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.
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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.
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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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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.
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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.
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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.

Continue reading "Santa Ana Police Make Seventh Arrest in Connection With Crime Spree" »

DMV Worker Charged With Fraud in Fullerton Over Cash-For-License Scheme

A Fullerton DMV worker was arrested recently and charged with 19 counts of altering public documents and 19 counts of fraud for allegedly issuing driver's licenses after falsifying computer records, The Orange County Register reports.

Charges of fraud in Fullerton and throughout Orange County can range in meaning and possible penalty. Falsifying documents for profit, billing for medical services not provided and other examples of lying for profit.
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For anyone charged with fraud, hiring an experienced Santa Ana Criminal Defense Attorney is necessary because the state is likely to utilize as many resources as necessary in order to secure a conviction. Especially at a time when our economy is in big trouble, allegations of money being stolen is a big deal. The loss of money can hurt private businesses as well as public entities, and therefore law enforcement and prosecutors are likely to seek big penalties if a person is convicted.

In this case, the 37-year-old woman is accused of taking $23,000 from 12 people to alter their driver's license records between June 10, 2009 and April 27, 2010. She allegedly changed records to show they each passed the written and driving tests to obtain commercial drivers licenses and issued them permits.

According to prosecutors, none of the dozen drivers passed the tests, some which were safety-related, including proper techniques for driving semi-trucks, using specialized brakes and puling double trailers. Officials have revoked the 12 licenses.

The state says the drivers were referred to the woman through other people, who have yet to be identified. It's unclear how the money was allegedly split between the woman and the people who made referrals. The state is using the drivers as potential witnesses against the woman.

Therein lies a big issue with the case. The prosecution has decided not to file charges against the drivers in this case, who allegedly paid money for licenses, which is against the law. This brings up a big issue with the credibility of these potential witnesses.

In any case where there are co-defendants or co-conspirators who make an agreement with the state to testify against another person, their credibility must be questioned by an aggressive Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney. They have something at stake if they don't say exactly what the state wants them to say.

If a co-defendant who was once charged makes a deal with the state to prove specific details, even varying slightly from the testimony they agree with the state to give can ruin their deal. Usually, a plea deal severely lessens the amount of time they can serve in prison, if they were otherwise convicted.

The stakes may be even higher for those who aren't charged. These people face no charges, but if they don't cooperate or tell a story contradictory to what others who are cooperating with the state say, they could all of a sudden be stuck with a jail mug shot and arrest rap sheet.

All of these details must be presented to a jury by an experienced Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney. The weaknesses of the state's witnesses must be revealed in order to make sure a defendant's rights are upheld.

Continue reading "DMV Worker Charged With Fraud in Fullerton Over Cash-For-License Scheme" »

UC-Irvine Bike Thefts Lead to Five Arrests

Five people have been charged with allegedly stealing bicycles on the University of California-Irvine campus, The Orange County Register reports.

Bicycles are essential for many college students, especially with tuition costs and gas costs skyrocketing recently, so having them stolen can be a major burden. Those caught for what some may consider a prank may face surprisingly tough penalties. Many forms of theft in Los Angeles, from shoplifting to grand theft, can carry life-altering penalties for those convicted. But mistaken identities or lack of proof can cause many innocent people to suffer. That's why hiring a Santa Ana Criminal Defense Attorney, who has years of experience defending clients must be mandatory.
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In this case, five people -- ranging in age from a juvenile to a 36-year-old man, were arrested by UCI police officers recently. None of those who were arrested attend the university, however. They are charged with suspicion of bicycle thefts.

Police say that about 135 bicycles have been reported stolen from campus since the beginning of the calendar year and investigators believe repeat offenders may be responsible.

The 36-year-old suspect, the article states, has has previous run-ins with campus police. The man was arrested for stealing a bike in September and was convicted of grand theft and sentenced to 90 days in jail. In April, he was arrested again and was convicted of petty theft with a prior.

The most recent arrest happened on August 9, when he allegedly was caught removing a $950 bike from a rack outside a building. He has pleaded not guilty to felony grand theft and misdemeanor possession of burglary tools and contempt of court.

If the article is correct about the suspect's criminal history record, he may face a tough time in court. While a person's criminal history can't be held against them at trial for an unrelated charge, it can be used against them at sentencing. In fact, it is factored into the types of charges they may face in the future and how much time they could possibly serve in prison for the current charge.

And as charges pile up for defendants, the current charge must be aggressively defended. In cases of theft, which range in penalties typically based on the value of the alleged stolen goods, mistaken identity is common as an eye witness picks a person out of a photo display or police lineup, when they had nothing to do with the crime.

Many people charged with theft crimes in Orange County are arrested riding in a vehicle that has stolen goods or are otherwise accused of receiving stolen property. But proving the person stole the goods if no one saw them take the property can be an obstacle for the state and an advantage for the defense.

These charges, like all criminal cases, must be met with skepticism. Because, like everyone else, police officers make mistakes. This can be particularly true of university police departments. They get pressured from the top to make arrests, especially if a crime spree is happening in a neighborhood that's getting news media attention. While they sometimes act with good intentions, they also sometimes go over-the-top in their pursuit of criminals and can arrest the wrong person. Make sure experience is on your side if this happens to you.

Continue reading "UC-Irvine Bike Thefts Lead to Five Arrests" »

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.
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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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