5 Things To Do - And Not To Do - If You Are Pulled Over By Police

April 16, 2014,

Being pulled over by the police is not a pleasant experience. Even if you have nothing to hide, you can become anxious or agitated in the situation, which could lead to a confrontation with the police officer or even an arrest. Here are five things to do – and not to do – if you are pulled over by the police.

1. When you hear a siren blaring or emergency lights flashing, pull over to the right as soon and as safely as possible.
Pulling over in a timely manner will most likely calm an annoyed or angry officer and let him/her know that you are aware of the situation.1It also gives you a better idea of where the officer says you committed a traffic violation if you need to go back to the area to dispute speeding, an illegal turn or any other offense.2

2. Be prepared for the police officer.

After you pull over safely, roll down your window all the way, turn off your engine and place your hands on the steering wheel. If it is dark or hard to see, you may want to turn on your car’s interior light.

3. Do not reach for papers until the police officer asks you to.

By this time, you’re expecting the police officer to ask you for your driver’s license and car registration. But don’t rummage through the glove compartment or reach into your pocket or purse just yet – wait until the police officer asks you.3The police officer may suspect you are reaching for a weapon or are attempting to hide contraband.4Wait until the police officer gives you specific instructions so he/she does not have reason to suspect anything.

4. Do not give a police officer a reason to search you.

A police officer cannot search your vehicle unless he/she has probable cause to search your vehicle.5“Probable cause” is a reasonable belief that something illegal is or was taking place in your car.6
If a police officer sees drugs, alcohol or other contraband in plain view or sees you trying to hide something or throw something out, the officer has probable cause to legally search your car.

If a police officer has a reasonable suspicion that you are armed and dangerous, he or she can have you step out of your car and frisk you (pat you down).

Remain calm, cool, collected and do not exhibit any suspicious behavior.

5. Be respectful of the police officer.

Do not be hostile or show attitude to a police officer. Let the police officer speak first. Address the policeman or policewoman as, “Officer.” Do not insist on having the officer tell you why he/she pulled you over. canstockphoto0239995.jpg
If the officer asks you whether you think you violated a traffic law, you should never admit that you did so. Either decline to answer the question or tell the officer you do not believe that you violated the traffic law in question. Of course you should never wilfully lie to a police officer as that can result in a misdemeanor offense. However, if you do admit to violating traffic laws, the police are trained to write your statements on the back of your ticket. Those statements could be used against you in court if your matter goes to trial.

If a police officer acts as if he/she may not give you a ticket if you cooperate, do not fall for this tactic. The officer may be trying to get you to admit that you committed a violation.

Call Wallin & Klarich Today

If you or a loved one is facing a criminal charge after being pulled over by law enforcement, it is critical that you speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney. At Wallin & Klarich, our attorneys have over 30 years of experience handling all types of criminal charges as a result of traffic stops in Southern California. Our attorneys will fight to get you the best possible outcome in your case.

With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich Southern California criminal defense attorney near you no matter where you work or live.

Call us today at (888) 280-6839 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.

1. [Police Stops: What to Do If You Are Pulled Over, http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/police-stops-when-pulled-over-30186.html]
2. [Ibid. 1]
3. [Ibid. 1]
4. [Ibid. 1]
5. [When can police search your car?, http://www.flexyourrights.org/faqs/when-can-police-search-your-car/]
6. [Id. 5]

Smile, You’re on Red Light Camera

April 14, 2014,

Picture this: You are driving down the street, your favorite song is on the radio and you’ve caught the attractive girl to your left staring at least two and a half times. “Nothing can bring me down,” you naively think to yourself as you continue to fly through intersection after intersection, almost forgetting that your brake pedal even exists. You see a yellow light ahead, but decide to keep driving through the intersection. Just as you reach the intersection, the light turns red. Then, suddenly, you see a bright flash from a street camera above and your perfect day is over faster than you can say, “But it was still yellow!” canstockphoto15163362.jpg

If you are a Californian and have experienced a similar situation to the one discussed above, you are not alone. Many unfortunate individuals who have been snapped running a red light and ordered to pay a fine upwards of $500 have attempted to appeal their citation. Depending on the city in which you were photographed, you may or may not be exempt from paying this hefty fine.

People v. Khaled

In 2010 in Orange County, Tarek Khaled argued in appellate court that photographs that appeared to show him driving through a red light were inadmissible for two reasons:

  • The testifying officer did not actually witness the incident that allegedly took place and;
  • The testifying officer was not personally responsible for setting up the camera.

The court held that the photographs taken by the red light camera-which included the date, time and how long the light was red-were inadmissible because the individual who entered that information into the system was not present in court to testify.

Furthermore, the officer that was testifying did not have any personal knowledge of how the automated data was collected. He also did not have knowledge of whether or not the camera was functioning properly at the time of the alleged incident. Under the Fourteenth Amendment you have the right to confront your accuser but when your accuser is a machine, this becomes impossible.1It is for these reasons that the evidence of the traffic violation in this case was thrown out and the case dismissed.2

People V. Goldsmith

In March of 2009 in Los Angeles County, Carmen Goldsmith was sent a ticket after a red light camera photographed her failing to stop at a red light. Goldsmith unsuccessfully challenged her citation in a trial court and was fined $436. She then appealed her case, arguing that courts had previously overturned two local red light cases but the appeal was ultimately denied.3

This week, Goldsmith’s case will be heard before the California Supreme Court in Los Angeles. The outcome in her case will set the precedent for the rest of the state, either rendering red light camera evidence inadmissible once and for all, or allowing these types of traffic tickets to continue to be prosecuted.

How the California Supreme Court Ruling will Impact Californians

If the California Supreme Court rules in favor of Ms. Goldsmith, in order to be convicted for a red light camera violation, the prosecutors will need to use substantial resources. Currently in many cities within Southern California that still use the cameras, an employee of the camera system contractor must appear in court as a witness in order for the evidence to be deemed valid. Traffic_4.jpg

The ruling will also have an impact on the cities that are deep in debt and depend on the revenue brought on by the red light citations for funds. According to court papers, the city of Santa Ana’s red light camera system alone generates citations to nearly 2,000 drivers a month, which at a cost of around $500 a ticket, translates into as much as $12 million a year in revenue.4

Tell us What You Think

Do you think people should have to pay a fine if a red light camera catches them running a red light? What do you think about the court ruling in People v. Khaled or People v. Grossman? Will the roads be safer or more dangerous if red light cameras are eliminated? The attorneys at Wallin & Klarich want to know!

Wallin & Klarich can Help You Fight a Red Light Ticket

The attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have over 30 years of experienced helping clients successfully defend their red light ticket cases. The attorneys at Wallin & Klarich are knowledgeable about the law and will work to present the best possible defense in your case. We understand that any criminal charge against you can be stressful and are here to help.

With offices in Orange County, Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina, Victorville, Torrance and Sherman Oaks, we can help you no matter where you work or live. Call Wallin & Klarich today at (888) 280-6839. We will be there when you call.

1. [ http://criminal.findlaw.com/criminal-rights/the-6th-amendment-s-confrontation-clause.html]
2. [http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2014/04/with-californias-red-light-cameras-are-pictures-admissible-evidence/]
3. [Id.]
4. [http://wtfrly.com/2013/12/11/motorists-fight-to-put-a-stop-to-red-light-cameras/#.Uz8Msnnn-Uk]

Did Actor James Franco Entice a Minor for Sex on Instagram?

April 11, 2014,

35-year-old actor James Franco, famous for his roles as the gay lover of Harvey Milk in the feature film “Milk” and the villain Harry Osborn in “Spiderman 2” and “Spiderman 3,” has gotten himself into a sticky situation. He may have just added “creepy old dude” to the long list of credits next to his name.

Recently, Franco met a 17-year-old teenager named Lucy, a Scottish girl on vacation with her parents visiting New York City. The girl took an Instagram video of the actor, who was signing autographs outside the theater of his Broadway show. Franco says in the video “you gotta tag me.” She did. james%20franco.jpg

Franco and the teenager went on to exchange messages on social media and text messages later that night, when the conversation turned flirtatious, perhaps solicitous. Was he thinking about having sex with the teenager?

In their text messaging, which the girl made public, Franco asks about her age (she admitted that her 18th birthday was several weeks away) and whether she was interested in seeing him.
The most damaging of all was this exchange:

Franco: “Can I see you?”

Lucy: “As long as you are James Franco.”

Franco: “I am. You’re single? What’s the hotel? Should I rent a room?”

When the girl asked Franco to prove his identity, he sent her a selfie.

Had Franco been chatting up the 17-year-old girl in California, he may have violated Penal Code Section 288.4, California’s law prohibiting online enticement of a minor for unlawful sexual purposes.

What is Online Enticement of a Minor? (Penal Code Section 288.4)

California Penal Code Section 288.4 prohibits a person from arranging a meeting with a minor under the age of 18, or with someone believed to be a minor, if the meeting is:

  • Motivated by a unnatural or abnormal sexual interest in children; and
  • For the purpose of engaging in lewd or lascivious activity.

The California legislature enacted the law in 2006 in response to public outcry over sexual predators caught in sting operations recorded for the popular television series “To Catch a Predator.” The law is intended to reduce the potential risk children face from anonymous and illegal online requests for sex.

What is the Punishment for Arranging a Meeting with a Minor for Sex?

If James Franco were ever convicted of arranging a meeting with a minor for lewd and lascivious purposes in California, he would be facing:

  • Up to one year in jail; and/or
  • A maximum $5,000 fine.

The crime is charged as a misdemeanor provided the perpetrator does not already have a sex offense conviction on his or her record. If so, the offense is punishable as a felony, carrying:

  • 16 months, two or three years in prison; and/or
  • A fine of up to $10,000.

Worst of all, a conviction for enticing a minor for sex requires lifetime registration as a sex offender while residing, working or attending school in California.

What if Franco Had Actually Met the Teenager at the Arranged Meeting Place?

The penalty for violating Penal Code Section 288.4 increases significantly if the person who arranges the meeting with a minor actually goes to the intended meeting place.

If Franco had gone to a hotel room in California at or about the time he had arranged to meet 17-year-old Lucy, he could have faced felony charges carrying up to four yearstext%20messaging.jpg
in prison (Penal Code Section 288.4 (b)) in addition to lifetime sex offender registration.

Upon his release to supervision in the community, Franco would be subject to the following mandatory parole conditions for at least 3 years:

  • 24-hour-a-day satellite tracking with a GPS device strapped to his ankle;
  • Weekly treatment in a certified sex offender management program;
  • Polygraph testing;
  • Unannounced monitoring of his computer(s) and any other internet-capable devices;
  • Warrantless searches of his person and property by any law enforcement officer;
  • A nightly curfew; and
  • No contact with any children under the age of 18.

As a sex offender, he could have also faced:

  • A state-mandated restriction prohibiting him from residing within 2,000 feet of schools and parks where children regularly gather;
  • Local community laws further restricting his residency and/or presence at certain public facilities and private businesses designated as “child safety zones”; and
  • Publication of his name, address and photograph on California’s online sex offender registry.

Could James Franco Be Criminally Charged for His Instagram Scandal?

Franco made a risky and foolish decision to flirt with someone he knew, or at least believed was under the age of 18. However, he and the girl were in New York City when they exchanged flirtations via Instagram.

The State of New York establishes the age of consent at 17. Which means Franco would not have broken New York law even if he did have sex with the teenage girl, provided that she had willingly participated in sexual activity with him.

If he had been in California, Franco’s act could have ended up becoming his worst role ever. He would have risked being criminally charged with violating California’s law prohibiting online enticement of a minor for a lewd and lascivious purpose.

If he were convicted, Franco would probably never be asked to host the Academy Awards again. His acting career would be ruined.

He could have ended up playing the part of Registered Sex Offender for the rest of his life.

Contact Wallin & Klarich if You Have Been Accused of Enticing a Minor for Sex

If you or someone you care about has been accused of an unlawful sex crime such as arranging a meeting with a minor for lewd or lascivious purposes, you should speak with one of our experienced criminal defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich right away.

Our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have over 30 years of experience successfully defending our clients facing the severe consequences of a registerable sex offense. We may be able to argue for a reduction or dismissal of the charges against you. We may be able to negotiate for a sentence that helps you avoid serving jail or prison time. Our priority is to help you achieve the best possible result in your case.

With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, our skilled and knowledgeable sex crimes defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich are available 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week to make certain all of your rights are protected. You don’t have to go through this alone.

Call us today at (888) 280-6839 for a free telephone consultation. We will get through this together.

1. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:James_Franco_(Cropped).jpg]
2. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Texting.jpg]

When Police Don’t Need a Warrant to Search You

April 9, 2014,

The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides you protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. Law enforcement must obtain a search warrant that is signed by a judge before entering your private property. The judge may only provide a search warrant if the police have shown:

  • It is more likely than not that a crime has taken place; and
  • Items connected to the crime are likely to be found in a specified location on the property.

When a valid search warrant is issued, the evidence from the search can legally be used against you in trial. But do the police always need a warrant to search you or your property? There are several situations in which they have the right to search you without a warrant.

Let’s take a look at California v. Greenwood (108 S. Ct. 1625, 56 USLW 4409, 100 L.Ed.2d 30), in which law enforcement conducted a search without obtaining a warrant…

Is Going through Your Garbage an Unreasonable Search and Seizure?

Investigator Jenny Stracner of the Laguna Beach Police Department suspected that Billy Greenwood was selling illegal drugs from his home. She asked that the neighborhood trash collector bring her his garbage so she could search it for evidence of drug trafficking.

In Greenwood’s garbage, Stracner found drug paraphernalia and evidence of marijuana and cocaine use. Stracner presented this evidence to a judge so she could obtain a warrant to search the inside of his home. The warrant was granted and more evidence of drug trafficking was found.

Was it illegal or unreasonable for the investigator to search Greenwood’s garbage? The Supreme Court believed it was not. The court argued that it is common knowledge that garbage left on the side of the street is accessible to the public. By putting your garbage on the side of the street, you are accepting that the trash collector, animals and scavengers can take it. Therefore, this was not considered a violation of the Fourth Amendment.

When is a Search Warrant Not Necessary?

The Greenwood case shows us that police do not always need a warrant to conduct a search. Here are some other situations in which a warrant is not necessary:canstockphoto12570221.jpg

  • You have voluntarily given police consent to search you and you were not pressured or tricked into agreeing to the search;
  • The police officer spotted something illegal in plain view and had the right to be in the place when he spotted it;
  • The area within your immediate control was searched while you were being legally arrested; and
  • Following a legal arrest, police searched your residence because they feared a dangerous accomplice was hiding in the area.

You may not be protected by the Fourth Amendment in any of the above circumstances. Police can legally conduct a search without a warrant if consent has been given, the search is made in connection with an arrest, or they have a reasonable fear of imminent danger. More importantly, the evidence from these searches can be used against you in any court hearings involved with your case.

Call the Criminal Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today

If you are facing criminal charges and the police have searched you with or without a warrant, it is important to seek legal guidance. The evidence found during the search will have a major impact on the outcome of your case. With over 30 years of experience, the attorneys at Wallin & Klarich are extremely knowledgeable about issues of police searches and illegally obtained evidence.

With offices located in Orange County, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, Torrance, Riverside, West Covina, Victorville, Ventura, San Diego and Sherman Oaks, our skilled attorneys are available to help you no matter where you work or live.

Call us today at (888) 280-6839 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.

Sleeping on the Job – What if Your Attorney Falls Asleep During Trial?

April 7, 2014,

A recent decision by the United States Court of Appeals (Murray v. Shriro D.C. No. 2:03-CV-00775-DGC) gives us a look into what can happen if your attorney dozes off during the course of a trial.

Dean Morrison and Jacqueline Appelhans were found shot to death in the home they shared in Arizona. Brothers Robert and Roger Murray were indicted for first-degree murder and armed robbery. An Arizona jury convicted them of these charges.Gen%2028.jpg

The brothers appealed their conviction to the Ninth District United States Court of Appeals. One of their grounds for appeal was that they had ineffective counsel because their attorney slept through significant portions of the trial. The court rejected this appeal because neither of the brothers complained of their lawyer falling asleep during the course of trial. The court also felt that the lawyer’s sleeping did not interfere with his ability to participate in the case.

According to the Murray brothers, it appeared their attorney was dozing off at times during the trial. They said he would often close his eyes during witness interviews and jail visits. The court even acknowledged seeing him appear to fall asleep during trial. However, when the district court reviewed the trial transcript, they felt that he was very involved in the proceedings. As a result, the brothers were not granted a new trial. 1

Was This Decision Fair?

Absolutely not. The brothers’ requested a new trial because they felt that the attorney slept through “substantial portions” of trial. The Court of Appeals disagreed because they felt that the trial transcript did not show this.

Murray’s attorney may have been dozing off, and even closed his eyes at some point during the trial, but he was very active in the case, according to the court. The transcript showed that he was actively questioning witnesses and objecting to testimony. 2

But the Court of Appeals’s reasoning does not paint the whole picture. A criminal trial can have many different moving parts with complex details. Just because the trial transcript shows that the attorney was active during some of the more significant parts of the trial, does not necessarily mean he did not miss key details by nodding off.

The court’s decision shows that your attorney may be allowed to fall asleep during your trial but he cannot miss “substantial points” of the trial. It also shows how difficult it can be to get a new trial after being convicted of a crime. After all, if your attorney falling asleep in the middle of trial isn’t enough, then what is?

How You Can Get a New Trial if Your Attorney Fell Asleep

Fortunately, this can be grounds for a new trial, depending on the circumstances of your case. It can be difficult, but you need to be able to prove a few things:

  • Your attorney fell asleep during your trial;
  • By falling asleep, your attorney missed a “substantial portion” of trial; and
  • If your attorney did not fall asleep, the outcome of your case would have been different. 3

Your counsel’s inability to represent you in your case has to be very extreme. Simply having a “bad lawyer” is usually not enough to get you a retrial. Proving that the outcome of your case would have been different if not for your attorney’s sleeping is crucial to your appeal. That is why it is critical to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to fight for you in court.

Call the Criminal Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich

Although the Sixth Amendment guarantees you an attorney in your criminal trial, we understand that you may not have been effectively represented. Certain actions by your attorney may be grounds for getting a new trial. If you feel that you or a loved one has been wrongly convicted because of ineffective counsel, let our experienced criminal defense attorneys help you prove this to the Court of Appeals.

With offices located in Orange County, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, Torrance, Riverside, West Covina, Victorville, Ventura, San Diego and Sherman Oaks, our skilled defense attorneys are here for you no matter where you work or live.

Call us today at (888) 280-6839 to speak with one of our attorneys for free. We will be there when you call.

1. [ http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2014/03/17/08-99013.pdf]
2. [ http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2014/03/17/08-99013.pdf]
3. [ http://www.nytimes.com/2002/06/04/us/inmate-whose-lawyer-slept-gets-new-trial.html]

What are Cops Allowed to Do if They Pull You Over?

April 4, 2014,

Getting pulled over by the police can be a nerve-wracking experience. You can become anxious, tense and may not be able to think with a clear head. Not knowing your rights when a police officer pulls you over could lead to an unauthorized search, arrest and criminal charges.

If you have been arrested for a crime after your car was searched by the police, it is important to have a Wallin & Klarich attorney who can review your case to make sure the search was legal and we can fight the charges against you.

Police Need Probable Cause to Search Your Vehicle

During a traffic stop, police need probable cause to search your vehicle. “Probable cause” is a reasonable belief that something illegal is or was taking place in your car.1.Examples of probable cause include the sight of drugs or alcohol in plain view, the smell of drugs or alcohol or if the person admitted guilt to a crime. In these cases, the police would likely have probable cause to search your vehicle and make an arrest.Gen%2042.jpg
Traffic violations like speeding, having a broken tail light or having expired vehicle registration tags are not considered probable cause for police to search your vehicle.2However, if the police pull you over for a traffic violation and see or smell drugs or alcohol, they may have probable cause to search your vehicle.

Your car can be searched if a police officer has reason to suspect you are involved in a crime. 3A police officer may have probable cause to search your car if the officer sees blood in your car, or you or another person in plain view have a black eye or other visible injuries.4

How to Handle a Search Request from a Police Officer

If you are pulled over by law enforcement, police are allowed to have you step out of your car and frisk the outside of your clothing for weapons, if they suspect you are armed. However, if they request to search your car with no probable cause, you have the right to verbally state your refusal to consent to a search. Many people do not know they have the right to refuse a search request from a police officer. The police are not required to tell you about your right to refuse.5

By simply stating, “Officer, I do not consent to this search,” you exercise your Fourth Amendment right to refuse search requests. The officer may phrase the search request as a command (e.g. “You don’t mind if I have a look in your car.”) or ask follow up questions (e.g. “What do you have to hide?”), but it is important to simply state your refusal (repeating it if you have to) and not answer any other questions.6

Refusing a search request from an officer is not an admission of guilt nor does it give an officer the right to search your car or detain you. If an officer searches your car and finds illegal items despite your refusal, an experienced criminal defense attorney can file a motion to suppress the evidence in court.

Call the Criminal Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich

If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges based on a potentially illegal search, it is critical that you speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. At Wallin & Klarich, our attorneys have over 30 years of experience successfully handling cases involved search and seizure rights. Our attorneys will fight to get you the best possible outcome in your case.

With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney near you no matter where you work or live.

Call us today at (888) 280-6839 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.

1. [When can police search your car?, http://www.flexyourrights.org/faqs/when-can-police-search-your-car/]
2. [Ibid.]
3. [If The Cops Pull You Over, These Are Your Rights, November 22, 2013, http://www.businessinsider.com/what-rights-do-you-have-when-pulled-over-2013-11#ixzz2wN5y0A79]
4. [Id.]
5. [Ibid. 1]
6. [Ibid. 1]

So You Think You are Okay Having a Public Defender Representing You?

April 2, 2014,

After being charged with a crime, you are often faced with making the decision between asking for a public defender to represent you or hiring a private attorney for your case. Although the cheaper option of a public defender may sound appealing at first, it is crucial that the attorney you hire is responsible, reliable and has the time to make your case a top priority.

We recently read a story about a Los Angeles Public Defender that caught our attention.

L.A. County Public Defender Arrested for being Drunk in Public

Early Wednesday morning, it was reported by the San Mateo County district attorney’s office that Los Angeles County public defender Monica Marie Jenkins was at the San Francisco airport waiting to board her flight to Los Angeles. Jenkins was allegedly so intoxicated that airport officials denied her access onto the plane. When airport personnel suggested that she sober up and catch a later flight, Jenkins reportedly refused and demanded to be taken to jail. At that point, her wish was granted and the police were called.Drunk%20in%20Public%20-%20Obstructing%20Street.jpg

The LA Times reported that, according to the prosecutors, as Jenkins was being arrested she began screaming profanities, threatened to sue the officers, and kicked a police officer, all while performing an acoustic version of “Rock Around the Clock” for the rest of the airport to enjoy.
Once in the police car, the San Mateo County District Attorney's office reported that Jenkins asked an officer to give her cocaine.

Jenkins was charged with five misdemeanor counts related to public drunkenness, resisting arrest and assault on an officer. She has pleaded not guilty to the charges and was released on her own recognizance. Jenkins is scheduled to return to court in July.1

Public Defenders vs. Private Attorneys

The incident involving Ms. Jenkins is of course an isolated event and clearly not indicative of how all public defenders or private attorneys act. The vast majority of public defenders will not be accused of criminal conduct. It does however shed light on how important it is that you hire an attorney you can trust and know that he/she will work around the clock to get you the best possible result in your case.

However, when you or a loved one has been arrested, you have only one chance to decide who the best lawyer to represent you is.

Do you want an experienced criminal defense law firm fighting for your freedom or do you want to be represented by a public defender?

Many public defenders are being asked to represent far too many people accused of crimes on a daily basis. If you are represented by a public defender there is a good chance on the day your case is in court that the public defender assigned to your case may also be assigned to defend many other people. In some cases that can be as many as 20 or more people in one day.

Compare that to having an experienced private criminal defense lawyer represent you. Often, a private attorney will:

  • Be in court on your case and your case ONLY.
  • He will have been able to meet with you in his office (or if you are in custody, in the jail) to discuss your case.
  • He will have likely have been able to go over the police report with you line by line.
  • He will understand your defenses.
  • He will understand your background and will have had the time to properly prepare your case.

When you are facing the possible loss of your freedom and employment don’t you deserve the type of quality representation you can receive from a private criminal defense law firm?

Wallin & Klarich Cares about Your Case

Wallin & Klarich has successfully represented thousands of clients who have faced a variety of charges in California for over 30 years. At Wallin and Klarich, our private attorneys will make your case a priority and will stop at nothing to defend your legal rights.

With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich defense attorney near you no matter where you work or live.

Call us today for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.

1. [http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-la-public-defender-arrested-airport-20140321,0,1150844.story#axzz2wvEdF59g]

Obama Administration Endorses Lower Federal Drug Sentencing Guidelines

March 31, 2014,

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has endorsed a proposal that would lower federal sentencing guidelines for defendants convicted of certain non-violent federal drug crimes. The proposal reflects the Obama Administration’s support for reducing mass incarceration in the United States.

The United States incarcerates a greater proportion of its population than every other country in the world, except for the tiny archipelago nation of Seychelles. U.S. prisoners account for 25% of the worldwide prison population, yet the United States represents only 5% of the overall world population. It is clear that US laws and regulations have become more strict over the years. Consequently, our prison population has risen 700% since 1970.

How Many People Are in U.S. Custody?

Here are some current facts about the total U.S. prison population, according to the Washington Post:

  • More than 2.4 million people are currently incarcerated in US prisons;
  • That's more than four times the amount of those incarcerated in 1980;
  • More than one in 100 American adults is behind bars;
  • About 14 percent of those in prison are held in federal prison;
  • The single largest contributor in the increase in the federal prison population since 1998 is longer sentences for drug offenders.

Effect of Sentencing Guideline Proposal

According to current federal sentencing guidelines, someone convicted of a crime involving 500 grams of powder cocaine could expect to receive a prison sentence between 63 and 78 months depending on additional factors. That’s about 5 to 6 ½ years. Bail.jpg

If approved, the Attorney General’s proposal would reduce the average sentence for a federal drug defendant by 11 months. The expected sentence for that person would drop to a range of 51 to 63 months, according to an estimate provided by the Justice Department.

"Certain types of cases result in too many Americans going to prison for too long, and at times for no truly good law enforcement reason," the Attorney General told the U.S. Sentencing Commission.

One in 28 U.S. children has a parent behind bars, Holder reported. "This focused reliance on incarceration is not just financially unsustainable. It comes with human and moral costs that are impossible to calculate," he said.

The U.S. Sentencing Commission’s seven member panel could vote on the proposal as soon as April after it finishes considering public comments on the issue.

What Does This Mean for Drug Offenders?

The Obama Administration’s proposal would not affect past cases. Convicted drug offenders already in federal prison would not be eligible for a reduction in their sentences. Additionally, the changes represent only about a 17% drop in sentencing. Furthermore, the proposal only affects federal and not state drug crimes. State prison and jail populations would be unaffected.

If the proposal is adopted, the federal prison population would fall by about 6,550 inmates over five years, according to Department of Justice estimates. There are about 216,000 federal inmates. This is a reduction of a mere .03%, which hardly makes a dent in the federal prison population, much less the overall U.S. incarceration rate.

But it’s a start.

By reducing prison terms for certain drug offenses, the federal government may be beginning to realize that mandatory minimum sentencing laws, a hallmark of criminal justice legislation in the 1980’s and 1990’s, may be to our nation’s detriment. Recently, political support for longer prison sentencing has weakened in Congress.

What Does Wallin & Klarich Think?

This proposal, which appears to have some bi-partisan support, is a solid step in the right direction. And there is more encouraging news seemingly to come.

Currently, democrats and republicans in the Senate are co-sponsoring legislation that would cut some mandatory minimum sentences in half. Federal criminal sentencing guidelines are notoriously out of sync with reason or practicability and have considerably worsened over the past forty years.046_2013-08-20_Wallin__amp__Klarich__46_.JPG

Punishing wrong-doing doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game. In fact, supporting a prisoner’s reintegration back into society is both logical and practical. Studies have shown that emotional stressors can and often do trigger reoccurring offenses. Rehabilitation efforts that provide guidance and tools to help ex-cons succeed after leaving prison may substantially reduce this emotional stress.

Reducing the minimum requirement for long prison sentences of certain drug crimes is the first and best place to draw away from this trend of mass incarceration that has resulted in enormous financial, human and moral costs.

Wallin & Klarich Can Help You Fight Federal Drug Charges

If you or someone you know has been accused of a federal drug-related offense, contact our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich today. You need an attorney experienced with the federal court system to make certain all of your constitutional rights are protected.

Hiring an experienced federal drug crimes defense attorney from Wallin & Klarich is your best chance to avoid the serious consequences of a federal drug conviction. Even if the government lowers sentencing for your offense, you may still face a lengthy prison term and substantial fines. We may be able to reduce your charges and get you released to probation or have your case dismissed altogether.

With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have over 30 years of experience defending thousands of Southern California residents charged with state and federal drug crimes. We will aggressively fight to help you get the best result possible in your case.

Call us today at (888) 280-6839 for a free telephone consultation. We will get through this together.

How Will Los Angeles’ E-Cigarette Restrictions Affect You?

March 28, 2014,

On March 4, the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to ban electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, in workplaces and public areas like parks and beaches. Gen%2010.jpg
The law also bans e-cigarettes in adult establishments like bars and nightclubs. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is expected to sign the measure into law in the coming days. Los Angeles’ e-cigarette laws will soon become as restrictive as its cigarette smoking laws, making the city’s e-cigarette laws some of the toughest in the country.

E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices in which a flavored liquid solution is heated to produce a vapor that is inhaled. The solutions do not contain tobacco products and no smoke is produced. However, the health effects of e-cigarettes are uncertain. Research has not yet shown whether secondhand vapor emissions from e-cigarettes are harmful to others.

Why Los Angeles Chose to Ban E-Cigarettes

The unanimous 14-0 city council vote came after several councilmen shared their personal experiences with tobacco and nicotine products. Council President Herb Wesson stated, “I will not support anything - anything - that might attract one new smoker."1 Wesson’s sentiments, echoed by opponents of e-cigarettes, illustrate the fear that young people who get hooked on the nicotine in e-cigarettes may then turn to conventional cigarettes and other tobacco products.

The belief that e-cigarettes is within the definition of tobacco products is what is driving the law, as Jonathan Fielding, the director of the Los Angeles Department of Public Health, stated, "We don't want to risk e-cigarettes undermining a half-century of successful tobacco control.”2

What This Means for E-Cigarettes in Los Angeles

Like conventional cigarettes, e-cigarettes are now banned from restaurants, bars, nightclubs, enclosed workplaces, public parks and public beaches.

E-cigarettes are allowed in “vaping lounges,” where people can try various e-cigarette flavors like chocolate and fruit. They can continue to be sold in smoke shops, though Los Angeles prohibits the sale of e-cigarettes to those under the age of 18.

As a rule of thumb, it is important to treat e-cigarettes as if they are conventional cigarettes in the city of Los Angeles. Smoking cigarettes or e-cigarettes in prohibited places in Los Angeles is an infraction punishable by heavy fines. For example, smoking in an outdoor dining area in a restaurant carries a fine of $500.

Wallin and Klarich Wants to Hear Your Thoughts

At Wallin and Klarich, we are interested in hearing your feedback regarding the new Los Angeles E-cigarette laws. Do you agree or disagree? Are these law to restrictive or are not restrictive enough?

1. [ Los Angeles approves sweeping e-cigarette restrictions, March 4, 2014, http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-los-angeles-ecigarettes-ban-20140304,0,4359853.story#axzz2v2l8Iboh]
2. [Id.]

How Pointing a Laser Pointer Can Lead to Serious Prison Time

March 26, 2014,

Laser pointers are useful tools for professors in the classroom and fun for people to play with outdoors. We may think of them as harmless in everyday life, but if they are used irresponsibly, they have the potential to cause serious damage. In a recent federal court case, a California man was sentenced to 14 years in prison for pointing a laser pointer at a police helicopter.1

In 2012, Sergio Patrick Rodriguez was accused of pointing a high-powered green laser 13 times more powerful than a conventional laser pointer at a Fresno Police Department helicopter that was responding to a call to a children’s hospital.2 Rodriguez was charged with aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft and attempting to interfere with the safe operation of an aircraft, both felony crimes.3juevnile%20law.jpg

In March 2014, Rodriguez was found guilty of both charges and sentenced to 14 years in federal prison, among the longest sentences for such a crime.4 A federal conviction for aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft usually results in a maximum five-year sentence. However, the sentence was increased due to Rodriguez’s significant criminal record including numerous probation violations and gang affiliations.5

Pointing a laser at an aircraft can blind pilots and lead to crashes. It is important to be aware of proper procedure for handling things as simple as a laser pointer. If you or a loved one is facing a charge of pointing a laser pointer at an aircraft, it is important to have a Wallin & Klarich attorney who will fight for you.

Aiming a Laser Pointer at an Aircraft – United States Code 18 Section 39(a)

You can be charged with aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft at a state or federal level. The serious nature of Rodriguez’s arrest and past criminal record led to his being charged at the federal level.

Under U.S. Code 18 Section 39(a), it is unlawful to knowingly aim the beam of a laser pointer at an aircraft in the jurisdiction of the United States, or at the flight path of such an aircraft. A conviction for aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft is a felony punishable by up to five years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Aiming a Laser Pointer at an Aircraft – California Penal Code Section 247.5

You can also be charged with aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft at a state level. Under California Penal Code Section 248, it is unlawful toGen%2039.jpg willfully and maliciously discharge a laser at an aircraft, whether in motion or in flight, while occupied.

Aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony in the state of California. A misdemeanor conviction for aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft is punishable by up to one year in county jail and a $1,000 fine. A felony conviction is punishable by 16 months, two years or three years in state prison and a $2,000 fine.

Aiming a Laser Pointer at a Person – California Penal Code Section 417.25

It is a crime to aim a laser pointer at a person in a threatening manner with the specific intent to cause a reasonable person fear of bodily harm under California Penal Code Section 417.25. A conviction under Penal Coe Section 417.25 is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in county jail.

Aiming a Laser Pointer at a Peace Officer – California Penal Code Section 417.26

It is a crime for a person to aim a laser pointer at a peace officer with the specific intent to cause the officer apprehension or fear of bodily harm and know that the person at whom he or she is aiming or pointing is a peace officer under California Penal Code Section 417.26. A conviction for aiming a laser pointer at a peace officer is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in county jail.

Call Wallin & Klarich Today

If you or a loved one is facing a charge of aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft or person, it is critical that you speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney. At Wallin & Klarich, our attorneys have over 30 years of experience in handling all types of felony cases at a state and federal level in Southern California. Our attorneys will fight to get you the best possible outcome in your case.

With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich Southern California criminal defense attorney near you no matter where you work or live.

Call us today at (888) 280-6839 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.

1. [Man Who Pointed Laser at Plane Gets 14 Year Sentence, March 10, 2014 http://www.myfoxla.com/story/24937177/man-who?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter]
2. [Ibid]
3. [Ibid]
4. [Ibid]
5. [Ibid]

California Prisoners Released, Changing Meaning of “Life Without Parole”

March 24, 2014,

Over the past three years, California’s prison system has seen major changes. Since taking office as governor of California in 2011, Jerry Brown has been responsible for 82 percent of parole board decisions. The result has been dramatic for prisoners facing life without parole.

Governor Brown has worked with the courts to address the issue of prison overcrowding. To manage the prison population, his office has looked at the strict parole requirements that have kept many individuals in prison for increased amounts of time.

Now the courts have ruled that prison officials must consider more than the inmate’s crime when making parole decisions. The inmate’s behavior and record while incarcerated now weigh into the decision making process for granting or denying parole. Prison officials also must take into account the volunteer work that the inmate has done while incarcerated. Governor Brown then has the ability to approve or disapprove of the board’s decision.Gen%2038.jpg

Prior to Governor Brown, Governor Schwarzenegger had only authorized the release of 557 lifers during his six-year term. Governor Davis before him only released two over a three-year period.

Since new rulings on parole were made in 2008, 3,000 inmates with life sentences have been released. Governor Brown has been behind 1,590 of these decisions since taking office in 2011. A state record of 670 inmates qualified for parole and were released in 2012 and 590 were released in 2013.

Of these 3,000 lifers released, over 80 percent are said to have been in prison for murder.
Governor Brown has approved the vast majority of these releases as the state and court battle to amend the lengthy prison crowding crisis that has only gotten worse over time.

What This Means for Current Inmates

Over the past twenty years, the number of inmates serving life sentences in California state prisons has grown from 9,000 to 35,000. This has created a major dilemma for state officials as prisons have become overcrowded. “Life without parole” has thus taken a new meaning.

The changes that now guide parole decisions, with Governor Brown’s approval, mean that inmates serving life without parole actually have an opportunity to receive a second chance. With good behavior and a solid track record for volunteer work inmates may be able to show that they have been rehabilitated and are no longer a threat to society.

Even with these new rules for considering parole, California inmates convicted of murder can still expect to spend an average of 27 years in prison. Recently, Governor Brown also blocked parole for 100 inmates that the board felt were ready to be released. He cited the case of James Mackey, a former football player who was found guilty of shooting his victim with a crossbow and then strangling him. Brown felt that Mackey has not “sufficiently owned up to his crime,” and should not be released.

Mackey’s situation shows the importance of maintaining good behavior while incarcerated. It also shows how Governor Brown will be valuing those inmates who have taken responsibility for their crimes and made an effort to show that they wanted to be rehabilitated during their time in prison.

A Step in the Right Direction

The California State Prison system serves a much greater purpose than simply housing people who have been convicted of crimes. It must also take strides toward rehabilitating these inmates and giving them the opportunity to one day contribute to society in a positive way.Gen%2023.jpg

The new rulings, and Governor Brown’s decision-making, show a step in the right direction. State officials now think about much more than an inmate’s past crime when considering parole. Weighing in their behavior, volunteer work, and accountability for their crimes shows that the state is trying to make constructive changes while also solving the overcrowding issue.

A Stanford University study also shows that inmates serving life sentences who have been granted parole between 1990 and 2010 actually commit new crimes at much lower rates than other inmates who are serving lesser sentences. This might help ease many people’s fears when it comes to releasing these inmates.

Call the Criminal Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today

If you or a loved one is currently serving a life prison sentence without parole, it is important to speak with an experienced attorney who can guide you through the difficult task of qualifying for parole. The attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have been successfully serving those clients facing life sentences for over 30 years.

With offices located in Orange County, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, Torrance, Riverside, West Covina, Victorville, Ventura, San Diego and Sherman Oaks, Wallin & Klarich has an established reputation of providing its clients with round-the-clock support in Southern California.

Call us today at (888) 280-6839 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.

Ninth Circuit Rules Probation Conditions Can Be Modified After Release (U.S. v. Bainbridge)

March 20, 2014,

When a defendant is convicted and ordered to serve a period of probation, the court, not a government agency, sets conditions of probation. This is true whether the accused is prosecuted in a state or federal court. Only parolees have their conditions of release administratively set by the Department of Corrections.

Generally, court-ordered probation conditions must reasonably relate to the crime for which the defendant is convicted and are not modified unlessGen%208.jpg
a person violates his or her probation or something else happens which gives the court a reason to change the conditions

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which includes retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, ruled recently that a defendant could have his conditions of supervised release modified after he was released from federal prison to impose a sexual deviancy evaluation, even though sexually deviant conduct was not an element of his crime. Furthermore, the government was excused from proving any changes in the defendant’s circumstances warranting the new condition.

The unanimous decision has far-reaching implications for defendants being released from custody and essentially permits the government to add conditions after-the-fact even though the defendant has done nothing further to warrant them.

U.S. v. Bainbridge (Case No. 13-30017, 9th. Cir., March 6, 2014)

Defendant Gerald Lynn Bainbridge pleaded guilty to assault with intent to kidnap in 2006. He admitted that he and a co-defendant were driving a motorhome in Idaho when they stopped to offer a ride to a disabled woman walking down the road. When she was inside the vehicle, the men shoved her onto the bed and bound her hands behind her back. Bainbridge’s co-defendant then raped her while the defendant drove the motorhome away.

Bainbridge also admitted to sexually assaulting the woman. In a plea agreement, he accepted a 97-month sentence and three years of supervised federal release. The U.S. District Court judge who sentenced him ordered a special condition of his release that he register as a sex offender.

However, the judge decided not to impose any other sex-offender related conditions, although the judge left open the possibility for the probation department to address that issue “at a later time” by requesting a modification of his conditions.

Bainbridge served his prison term and began serving his supervised release. His probation officer then filed a motion with the sentencing court to modify Bainbridge’s conditions to include the following:

  1. That he “participate…in an evaluation for sexual deviancy” at which he must “agree to waive any right to confidentiality…;”.

  2. That he “successfully complete any course of treatment related to his offense…;”

  3. That he “participate in polygraph testing…to monitor his compliance with treatment conditions and supervised release;” and

  4. That Bainbridge minimize his contact with minor children.

Although the government had not alleged that the defendant had violated his probation conditions, the sentencing court granted the government’s request for a sexual deviancy evaluation. The court said the evaluation was necessary in order to determine whether the probation officer’s other requested modifications should be imposed.

On appeal, Bainbridge objected to the district court’s approval of the sexual deviancy evaluation, arguing that the court abused its discretion because it lacked jurisdiction to modify his conditions absent a “change in circumstances,” according to his interpretation of Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure 32.1 and federal law (18 U.S.C. § 3583(e)(2)).

Did the Ninth Circuit Appeals Court Rule?

The federal panel rejected the defendant’s argument and affirmed the lower court’s decision. The court held that “[a]lthough it may be ‘inefficient to omit important conditions and later, upon further reflection, petition the court to incorporate such conditions, the relevant statutes and rules do not prohibit this practice’” (Citing United States v. Davies, 380 F. 3d 329 (8th Cir. 2004)).canstockphoto12054738.jpg

Thus, the sentencing court may grant modification of the defendant’s conditions of supervised release, even though he did not violate his conditions, nor had his circumstances changed in another way.

The court reasoned that “[a] condition of supervised release does not have to be related to the offense of conviction because the sentencing judge is statutorily required to look forward in time to crimes that may be committed in the future by the convicted defendant” (Citing United States v. Blinkinsop, 606 F. 3d 1110, 1119 (9th. Cir. 2010)).

The panel concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion by requiring Bainbridge to undergo sexual deviancy evaluation as a condition of his supervised release.

Was This a Fair Decision?

This is a very disappointing and dangerous ruling. Essentially, the Ninth Circuit has held that probation conditions that were agreed to during plea bargain negotiations can be modified at the government’s discretion and without cause.

Basically, this ruling gives the government – a probation officer or a prosecutor, for example – a second crack at getting probation conditions imposed that it neglected to request prior to a defendant’s guilty plea.

Indirectly, the federal panel has crippled a defendant’s ability to make an informed, intelligent decision regarding the consequences of pleading guilty. This decision has serious implications on a defendant’s constitutional right to be treated fairly throughout a criminal case.

What Does This Decision Mean For You?

A defendant who accepts a plea bargain should be able to rely on promises made during plea negotiations without fear that the conditions will change, unless he or she does something else in the future to warrant a change.

Disturbingly, this decision casts doubt on whether a defendant can ever rely on the word of a court official. Unofficially, the Ninth Circuit has said that a signed plea agreement may be invalidated whenever the government chooses.

If you are facing criminal charges, you should be aware of this decision before you agree to a plea bargain, particularly one with probation or supervised release conditions. We strongly advise that you consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney early on, so you can make informed decisions on whether to plead guilty or go to trial.

Unlike a jury verdict, which may be appealed if mistakes that were made can be shown, it can be very difficult to withdraw a guilty plea if you feel your rights were violated after the plea was entered.

What do you think about this decision and how it affects your rights? Please share your thoughts.