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The Fourth Amendment protects citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures. This protection requires law enforcement to seek a warrant or to have probable cause in order to search you or your property. However, a new California law allows law enforcement to use a search technique on some people without the need for probable cause.

If you have been arrested for a crime in California, law enforcement has the ability to body scan you without probable cause. Does this new law violate your rights?

Bill Allowing Police to Use Body Scanners Signed

California Governor Jerry Brown recently signed Assembly Bill 1705 into law, making it legal for law enforcement to use body scanners on anyone who is arrested for a misdemeanor or infraction.

This new law essentially allows authorities to perform searches of anyone who is taken into custody without the need for probable cause. The law makes a specific exemption for pregnant women, and it requires that the person conducting the body scan be the same sex as the person being scanned.

Body scanners used by law enforcement work in a similar way to scanners used at most airports. They provide detailed outlines of the person who is being scanned. Like TSA at airports, law enforcement uses body scanners to locate any drugs or weapons being carried by the person being scanned.

Do Body Scanners Violate Your Rights?

Does the use of body scanners without probable cause violate your rights?

The American Civil Liberties Union and several prisoners’ rights groups think so. In opposing the bill, these organizations claimed the new law is a way to get around existing protections against invasive searches of offenders who are accused of committing minor crimes. Continue reading →

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In the criminal justice system, there is almost always a way for you to get a second chance. If you are convicted of a crime, you may be able to appeal your conviction. If your appeal fails, you may be able to appeal to a higher court. If you and your appeals attorney persevere, a decision may be made in your favor.

You may think it is easy to give up on your case, but you should not. Thanks to the appointment of two new California Supreme Court justices, you may have a better chance than ever to win your appeal.

California Supreme Court Sets Aside Death Penalty Against Defendant

More than 20 years ago, a defendant was convicted of murdering a homeowner during a robbery and burglary. An accomplice admitted that he acted alone when committing the murder and stated that the defendant was not in the same room when the murder took place. However, the judge at trial excluded these statements as evidence.

On appeal, the California Supreme Court recently ruled that excluding this evidence was a prejudicial error, and set aside the death penalty for the defendant.

The case will now be reheard, and the defendant will get a new chance in court with the proper evidence admitted in his favor.

How did the defendant get his second chance more than 20 years after the incident took place?

There Has Never Been a Better Time to Appeal Your Case

All of the defendant’s previous appeals were denied, including one to the California Supreme Court last year. So, why was his conviction recently reversed?

The court ruled in favor of the defendant in a narrow 4-3 decision. This is mostly due to California Governor Jerry Brown, who recently appointed two new Supreme Court justices to the seven-member court. The two liberal justices join another who was appointed by Gov. Brown, and one of the new justices took over a seat vacated by a very conservative judge. Continue reading →

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California is taking a big step toward combating the growing 3D-printed gun market. 3D printing has rapidly gained in popularity over the last few years. People have used the technology to create anything from small model guns to working firearms. While people may create 3D-printed guns as a hobby, the lack of restrictions has caused lawmakers to address safety concerns.

Registration Required for 3D-Printed Guns

Governor Jerry Brown recently signed Assembly Bill 857 into law. It imposes new restrictions on guns that are created through the use of 3D printers or similar technology. Going into effect on July 1, 2018, the law requires anyone who creates a firearm through 3D-printing to apply for a serial number or other mark of identification through the Department of Justice, a process that also requires a background check.

The owner of the firearm must affix or engrave the serial number into the firearm within ten days of receiving it. Additionally, 3D-printed plastic firearms would be required to have a piece of stainless steel embedded into the plastic, making them impossible to pass through metal detectors.

Time for a Change?

Under this new law, failure to register a 3D-printed handgun is considered a misdemeanor and can result in a fine of up to $1,000 and up to 364 days in county jail. Failing to register any other type of firearm is also punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and up to six months in county jail. Having additional firearms is considered a separate offense.

Recent incidents of gun violence across the country are likely the driving force behind this new legislation. Many use 3D printing as a hobby but creating guns can be potentially dangerous. The lack of registration on 3D-printed guns, including how easily they could pass through traditional security measures, makes them hard to control and govern.

3D-printed weapons have the potential to be mass produced very cheaply, and lawmakers want to prevent California residents from distributing them without consequences. When this law goes into effect in 2018, it will put more restrictions in place to track who is creating guns and how they are being used. Continue reading →

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California’s stance on gun control is changing drastically. Several new laws that were recently passed place more restrictions on how guns and firearms are handled. Governor Jerry Brown recently signed these six new stricter gun control bills into law. Brown sees the new laws as a way to improve public safety while also protecting the rights of current law-abiding gun owners.

Restrictions on Ammunition

Concealed Weapon AttorneyTwo of the new laws involve restrictions on owning and purchasing ammunition. Senate Bill (SB) 1235 requires those who purchase ammunition for guns to undergo a background and driver’s license check. Purchasing ammunition would enter the buyer into a database that is monitored by the Department of Justice.

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“If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.” This expression is often used in reference to criminal cases in which someone accused of a crime wants to avoid being sent to jail. But what happens if you aren’t facing jail time? What can you do if you were cited for a driving violation and fined, but you can’t afford to pay the amount?

Will Your Driver’s License Be Suspended? (CVC 14601)

A traffic ticket involves harsher consequences than you see on your citation. If you were cited for a traffic violation, the amount you may have to pay in fines is likely much more than it may indicate on your ticket. That is because there are additional charges and fees associated with a traffic ticket. A fine of $100 could actually cost you about $500 when factoring in those additional court fees.

For this reason, you may think that ignoring your traffic ticket may be the best thing to do. “This is way too much money to pay for such a little violation,” you may think. However, ignoring your traffic ticket could lead to even more serious penalties. The DMV can suspend your driver’s license if you fail to pay your traffic fines.

This means that if you were cited for having a broken taillight or issued a ticket for having tinted windows, you could potentially lose your driving privileges in California if you don’t pay the fine.

Is this fair?

Lawsuit Claims Driver’s License Suspension for Unpaid Fines is Unlawful

It would make sense for courts to have a system in place for those who cannot afford to pay the entirety of their traffic fines. Well, that is what the Western Center on Law and Poverty and USC Gould School of Law believe.

The two organizations recently filed a joint lawsuit against the Los Angeles Superior Court regarding what they are claiming is the unlawful practice of suspending the driver’s licenses of those who cannot pay traffic fines. Continue reading →

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California lawmakers are pushing several new bills that will address how the state punishes sex crimes. If passed into law, these bills will increase the penalties for sex crime convictions, especially those committed against minors and women.

Redefining Rape and Sentencing

Lawmakers have introduced Assembly Bill (AB) 2888, AB 701, and AB 29 in hopes of redefining rape and sexual assault and introducing a mandatory punishment for rape. AB 701 proposes that all forms of non-consensual penetration be considered rape. The bill was created in response to the Brock Turner sexual assault case where the Stanford student was sentenced to only six months in jail after being convicted of sexually assaulting a woman.

AB 2888 would ensure that sex crimes such as rape and sexual assault on a minor have mandatory minimum prison sentences. Under this law, courts would not be able to grant probation or prevent sentencing to those convicted of these crimes.

If passed, AB 29 would require anyone convicted of raping an unconscious person to serve out their full sentence with no time off for good behavior.

All of these bills have passed in the Senate and currently await a final vote.

Addressing Human Trafficking in California

Prostitution and human trafficking are additional targets of these proposed laws.

AB 1708 proposes a minimum fine and mandatory minimum jail time for anyone engaging in prostitution or paying for sex. The punishment would be up to six months in county jail and fines of up a $1,000. The bill will be voted on by the Senate at a later date.

In an attempt to shine a light on human trafficking, AB 1276 would allow child witnesses ages 15 or younger to testify in court. Minors will be able to give their testimony through closed-circuit televisions in a location outside the presence of a judge, jury, defendants, and attorneys. This would allow potential child victims to come forward with their story without the pressure of having to appear in court in front of many people. Continue reading →

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Ryan Lochte ChargesYou get into an argument with your roommate, and he decides to move out. After he leaves, you are still angry, so you call the police and make up a story about your roommate stealing your furniture. Can you go to jail for lying to the police?

At a bar with your friends, you get into a shouting match, and then one of your friends punches you. The cops are called, but you don’t want your friend to get in trouble, so you lie to them and tell them no punches were thrown. Is this a crime?

You are an Olympic athlete and you decide to go to a party in Rio with some of your teammates. You might stay out past team-mandated curfew and might cause damage to a local business. Afraid that you might be reprimanded by your coaches and country, you may say that you were running late because you were robbed. What could happen to you?

Did Ryan Lochte and His Olympic Teammates Commit a Crime?

U.S. swimmer and 12-time Olympic medalist Ryan Lochte and several other U.S. swimmers could be facing criminal charges in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for allegedly lying to authorities.

Continue reading →

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Persons convicted of sex crimes against children are often required to stay away from parks and playgrounds as part of their sentence. Someone in California who is convicted of drunk driving could be ordered to stay away from liquor stores. So, is it unconstitutional to order a man convicted of stealing from Home Depot to stay away from any Home Depot store?

If you are convicted of a crime and placed on probation, you will likely to have to follow many conditions that are related to your crime. But can a judge place any probation conditions on you that he or she pleases? When are probation conditions illegal?

Explaining How California Probation Works

Probation is a type of punishment for a crime in California that allows you to serve your sentence without being held in custody in jail or prison. You will be released back into the community, but only with the expectation that you follow certain terms and conditions. If you fail to follow any of these conditions or appear at any scheduled court hearing, you are considered in violation of your probation and this could lead to you being sent to jail.

Under California Penal Code Section 1203, judges have wide discretion when determining the terms of your probation. Judges can issue any term or condition of your probation as long as it relates in some way to the crime you committed.

Probation Condition Banning Man from Entering All Home Depot Stores Upheld

The California Supreme Court recently upheld a probation condition that banned a man who was convicted of shoplifting from entering any Home Depot store and adjacent parking lots. The man plead no contest to second degree burglary of $128 worth of merchandise from a Home Depot store, but appealed the probation term preventing him from going to any Home Depot stores and parking lots.

According to the state Supreme Court, the condition “was reasonably related to his crime and to preventing future criminality.” Furthermore, the court reasoned that the probation condition barring the man from entering any Home Depot did not implicate his right to travel. Therefore, the court ruled the probation condition was constitutional. Continue reading →

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Video games, increasingly looked at as a way to have fun by people of all ages, is quickly becoming a cause of concern in Orange County. Some residents of Orange County are using video games to transform their private homes into illegal gambling arcades, and in doing so, they could be facing serious consequences.

Rise of Slaphouses in Orange County

Many homes in Southern California have set up arcade video game machines that can seat as many as six people so that players can bet money, gambling for hours on end while often engaging in drinking and drug use. These homes are becoming known as “slaphouses” because of the loud sounds people’s hands make when slapping down on the game controls.

These slaphouses reportedly originated in Garden Grove, catering to the Vietnamese community who would play them in coffee bars. The machines are designed to switch easily from innocent games like Street Fighter or Pac-Man to potentially illegal ones like poker and blackjack. In 2011, Garden Grove outlawed these games in coffee houses, causing the shift to homes.

Being able to switch from a game of poker to an actual video game makes it easier for the owners of the machines to conduct illegal activity and shut it off if they fear the authorities are about to enter their home. Having the gambling take place in homes also makes it more difficult for law enforcement to discover where the illegal activities are taking place.

Consequences of Illegal Gambling in California (PC 330)

Gambling may seem like a common activity in places like Las Vegas. Your place of business might even bet on March Madness or a fantasy league. However, these slaphouses can make tens of thousands of dollars in one night. Continue reading →

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Recently, the nation was fixated on the light punishment for 20-year-old Stanford student Brock Turner, who received a sentence of only six months in jail after he was convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman.

Well, your Facebook friends and relatives weren’t the only ones paying attention to this case. It got the attention of California lawmakers, who are now attempting to redefine rape laws in the state.

The Definition of Rape in California

The Federal Bureau of Investigation defines rape as “penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”1

All but a few states have integrated this definition of rape with their own rape laws. California is among the few that has not, electing to define its own laws for rape.

In California, rape is defined as “an act of sexual intercourse” without consent, including where a victim may be unconscious or otherwise unable to give consent, under California Penal Code Section 261. This is the specific definition of rape in California, but there are separate laws for other acts such as sodomy, sexual assault and oral copulation.

This means convicted offenders could face lighter punishment for such crimes rather than the severe consequences of rape.

Will Rape Laws Change in California?

California assemblymembers Cristina Garcia and Susan Eggman have proposed legislation that would eliminate the state’s broad definition of rape and adopt the FBI’s definition. The bill has already passed the Senate Public Safety Committee and is being supported by many other assemblymembers.

Garcia and Eggman feel California’s broad definition of rape is problematic. Having different laws for similar crimes creates a system that hands down shorter sentences based on technicalities, such as the specific kind of sexual penetration involved.

Should someone who is charged with oral copulation face different consequences than someone accused of rape? The lawmakers feel the FBI’s definition of rape will clear up what it means to have “sexual intercourse” and make the definition of “rape” much more clear, even if it does change the state’s current definition. Continue reading →

About Wallin & Klarich

Wallin & Klarich was established in 1981. Over the past 32 years, our law firm has helped tens of thousands of families in their time of legal need. Regardless of whether our clients faced criminal or DUI charges, the loss of their driving privilege, or wanted to clean up their criminal record, we have been there to help them.