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Concealed-CarryCalifornia gun laws are extremely complex and can be difficult to understand. You have the right to own firearms, but that doesn’t give you the right to take a gun wherever you please.

A new California gun law answers one question regarding your gun rights: Do you have to lock your gun in the trunk if you leave it in your car?

California Passes Secure Gun Law (PC 25140)

Senate Bill 869 passed last year and went into effect on Jan. 1, 2017. The bill adds California Penal Code Section 25140 to California law. Under this new law, you must secure a handgun inside a vehicle before you leave the vehicle unattended.

The handgun must be locked in the trunk of the vehicle, locked in a container with the container placed out of view, or locked in a container that is permanently attached to the vehicle and not in plain view, such as a glove box. This means any person authorized to carry a concealed weapon permit must secure and conceal their firearm in their vehicle, including law enforcement officers.

Violating this law could result in an infraction punishable by a fine of up to $1,000.

Why Did SB 869 Pass?

The passage of this new law is a result of several high-profile incidents where a gun was stolen from the vehicle of a law enforcement officer and then used to kill another person. Last year, a gun stolen from the car of a Federal Bureau of Land Management ranger was used to kill a 32-year-old woman. Two months later, a 27-year-old man was killed by someone using a gun that was stolen from the car of a Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement Officer. Continue reading →

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The legality of firearm possession for people who have committed crimes in California is often a difficult issue. If you have been convicted of certain crimes, not only are you subject to California’s laws restricting gun possession, but you are also subject to a strict federal law – the Lautenberg Amendment (18 U.S.C. 922(g)(9)) imposes a lifetime ban on gun ownership by any person who has committed a “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.”battery_convicts_firearm_possession.html

This is easy to understand if you have a felony conviction: If you are convicted of any felony, regardless of your age or whether the conviction was in California, you are subject to a lifetime ban on gun possession under California Penal Code section 29800.1

However, with misdemeanors, the ban is less clear. California law also applies a lifetime ban on firearm possession to certain misdemeanors involving the use of a firearm, such as misdemeanor domestic violence crimes, assault with a firearm, or having two convictions for brandishing a firearm. This ban is consistent with the federal law.

Adding to the confusion is this: Under California Penal Code section 29805, California has a 10-year ban on firearm possession by anyone convicted of any of 40 different types of misdemeanors.2 Among those is the crime of misdemeanor battery.

While California’s Court of Appeal ruled in 2013 (Shirey v. Los Angeles County Civil Service Commission) that people convicted of misdemeanor battery under California Penal Code section 242 are not prohibited from possessing firearms under the federal law,3 a more recent ruling by the United States Supreme Court has cast doubt on the prospects of gun possession for people convicted of misdemeanor battery.

United States v. Castleman and the Meaning of “Physical Force”

In 2014, the Supreme Court upheld a lifetime ban on firearms for a man who had a misdemeanor conviction under a Tennessee domestic violence law for “intentionally or knowingly cause[d] bodily injury to” the mother of his child. He had successfully argued in lower courts that his conviction for firearm possession was invalid because his prior conviction did not require proving he had violent contact with the victim, which was required under the law.4

The court in Castleman changed course, holding “that the requirement of ‘physical force’ is satisfied, for purposes of §922(g)(9), by the degree of force that supports a common-law battery conviction.”5 The court reasoned that the general policy behind the Lautenberg Amendment supports “grouping domestic abusers convicted of generic assault or battery offenses together with the others whom §922(g) disqualifies from gun ownership.”

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confess_police_interrogation_witness_evidence-300x200In a fair criminal justice system, the guilty are punished and the innocent are set free. Unfortunately, our system is not always fair, and innocent people sometimes go to prison for crimes they did not commit. In 2015, 149 people were exonerated nationwide for crimes they did not commit. In 27 of those cases, the person was convicted based on a false confession.

That is why the California legislature, in conjunction with the Northern California Innocence Project, pushed for a law that requires the interrogation of anyone suspected of committing murder to be recorded electronically. This means that if you are charged with murder, California Penal Code Section 859.5 allows the court to exclude any evidence of your statements if no video and audio recording is made and presented.

“Custodial Interrogations”

For electronic recording to be required, the interrogation must be a “custodial interrogation.” This means that a law enforcement officer is questioning you at a fixed place of detention where a person in your situation would not feel free to leave. In this situation, the police must advise you of your rights to remain silent and to have legal counsel present.interrogation_investigation-300x200

Essentially, this law applies if you have been arrested on suspicion of committing murder. If you have not been arrested or are stopped on the street to answer a few questions, the recording law does not apply.

The Exceptions to the Law

California Penal Code Section 895.5 lists a number of exceptions where the police are not required to record your interrogation. These exceptions include:

  • When recording is not feasible because of exigent circumstances;
  • You tell the police that you will not speak unless the interrogation is not recorded;
  • The interrogation took place in another state where recording is not required;
  • The officer reasonably believed the interrogation could jeopardize the safety of a confidential informant, law enforcement officer, or you;
  • The officers had no reason to suspect you of a murder and only became aware of it during the course of the questioning, after which a recording was then made; or
  • The recording device malfunctioned despite reasonable efforts to maintain it

If a recording is not made, the law enforcement officer who conducted the interrogation must document the reasons for the failure to make a recording. The prosecution must present these reasons to the court.

What If the Recording Was Not Made Without Good Reason?

If the court determines that the interrogation should have been recorded and it wasn’t, there are a few things the court can do that could help you fight these charges. The court can do any of the following: Continue reading →

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social-media-300x225Visiting the doctor can be an intimidating experience, especially when your doctor is using complex medical terms that you don’t understand. So, when your doctor calls you to give you medical results or advice, you may feel compelled to record that conversation so you can be certain of what the doctor told you.

However, what you do not realize is that recording your doctor without his or her permission is a crime in California.

Confidential Recordings (PC 632.01)

Under California law, it is illegal for you to intentionally eavesdrop or record a confidential communication without the consent of all the parties involved in the communication. Previously, this law did not include conversations with doctors or medical professionals.doctor-300x200

However, Assembly Bill 1671 went into effect Jan. 1, 2017. This law defines communication with healthcare providers and state-licensed medical professionals as “confidential communications.” The law amends California Penal Code Section 632. Under this law, you could be convicted of a crime if you record a medical professional without his or her consent with the intent to disclose or distribute the communication.

If you are convicted of violating PC 632.01, you could face severe consequences. You could be sentenced to up to three years in state prison and fined up to $2,500.

The Purpose of AB 1671

You may be wondering why it is against the law to record your doctor without his or her consent. The bill stemmed from the publishing of confidential videos that were recorded during an investigation into Planned Parenthood’s reported involvement in selling fetal parts. Sensing that patients and clinical staff needed their confidential interactions to be protected, Los Angeles Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez introduced the bill. Continue reading →

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Never Pay BailTypically when a person is arrested and sent to jail for a crime in California, their reaction is to hire a bail bondsman to bail them out. The bail bondsman will usually charge a statutory fee of 10% of the bail amount. This means that if you or a loved one is incarcerated for a crime where the bail is set at $100,000, you will pay a fee to the bondsman of $10,000. This fee is non-refundable, meaning that you will never get any of that money back even if the case is dismissed.

So, what is one way to avoid paying large sums of money when you or a loved one is in jail and facing a hefty bail amount? You need to call an experienced criminal defense attorney to assist you. Doing so before hiring a bondsman can benefit you in the following three major ways:

1. Lowering the Bail Amount

In some cases, if you are arrested, a skilled criminal defense attorney can contact the “judge on duty” and request that you or a loved one be released. If the request is granted, you will be released from custody without having to post bail, or you may be released on a lower bail amount. If this occurs, you will save thousands of dollars in bail bond fees.

2. Attorney-Referred Bail Services

If you hire Wallin & Klarich before contacting a bail bondsman, you are entitled to a 2% reduction in the bail bond fee, this is called attorney referred bail services. In a case where the bail is $100,000, you will save $2,000 by hiring our law firm before contacting a bail bondsman.

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Khairullozhon Matanov could have said nothing. Instead, the 24-year-old taxi driver voluntarily told police what he knew about his friends Tamerlan and Dhzokhar Tsarnaev, the two brothers who set off bombs near the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon. He told police he had dinner with the Tsarnaev brothers the night of the bombing, but lied about some of the other aspects of his relationship to the brothers. Matanov changed his story about facts such as whether Tamerlan Tsarnaev lived with him and his family, and when they last prayed together.

Erasing Internet HistoryWhile lying to the police can lead to charges of obstruction of justice, Matanov’s real troubles did not begin until he went home after speaking with the police. When he got home, he got on his computer, opened up his Internet browser, and erased the history of his searches and page views. That simple act – one that countless people do on their computers every day – could have resulted in Matanov receiving up to 20 years in federal prison.1

Fearing that he could spend decades in prison, Matanov accepted a plea agreement with federal prosecutors. In exchange for pleading guilty, the prosecution recommended that Matanov serve 30 months in prison.

The Scandal That Changed the Law

Matanov is facing charges of destruction of evidence under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, a 2002 law that Congress passed in response to the corporate accounting scandals by companies such as Enron. The scandals involved “cooking” the books to hide billions of dollars in debt and failed enterprises. Once the truth about the failures came to light, investors lost billions as the companies’ stock prices fell.

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All lawyers have an ethical responsibility to vigorously advocate for their client. In California, a lawyer must put his or her client’s interest above all—even if a client admits guilt. This is because a lawyer never knows if the client is being coerced, protecting someone else close to them, or is not of right mind when admitting guilt.

Innocent Until Proven Guilty

attorney client privilegeEvery American citizen has the constitutional right to a presumption of innocence; that means you are innocent unless the prosecution can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty of the crime for which you’re charged.

Your defense attorney’s role is to weaken the prosecution’s evidence against you. If the prosecution has not met their burden of proof, then they have not done enough to justify convicting you of a crime.

When the founding fathers drafted the constitution, they realized that it was better to let a hundred guilty persons go free than to imprison one innocent man for crimes he did not commit. This is because freedom and liberty is held most dear. That is why the prosecution’s burden to prove that you are guilty rather than your criminal defense attorney’s burden to prove that you are innocent.

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Facebook criminal caseIf you are like most people who use Facebook, you probably enjoy reading about the good things that happen in the lives of your social circle, and you probably share the same type of information, photos and videos. In fact, a recent study found that the majority of social media users screen the photos they post online and only post photos in which they seem “socially desirable.” The study also found that social media users “are unlikely to capture shameful, regrettable or lonely moments with a camera.”1

Yet these same purposefully positive posts can be used as evidence against you in court. Because most people only post photos in which they appear happy on social media, it could hurt their case if they claim they are unhappy.

Emoticons and Birthday Wishes May Be Used Against You

Don’t think that photos and status updates are the only thing that can be used against you as evidence. All those birthday wishes from friends, family members, co-workers and people you are connected to may hurt your case as well. You may also want to stop using smiley face emojis.

Take for example, the case of a woman who was injured when her chair collapsed at work. The woman sued the manufacturer of the chair, claiming the collapse caused her to suffer a serious back injury that confined her to her home and caused her to suffer a loss of enjoyment of life. The manufacturer checked out the woman’s social media profiles and found that the woman regularly used smiley emoticons, indicating the woman was happy.2

Continue reading →

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You may reason that, since your children have drunk alcohol with friends, they would be a lot safer if they did their drinking at home. But cities have created social host ordinances prohibiting adults from providing alcohol to minors, even in their own home.

Minors Consume AlcoholJeff Lake, father of 18-year-old Olivia Lake, was arrested recently for throwing a Playboy-themed party in Poway, Calif. to celebrate Olivia’s 18th birthday. There were reportedly “up to 200 teens” in attendance when the police arrived at the party. Many of the teens were allegedly drinking and, in keeping with the Playboy Mansion theme, scantily clad.1

Lake was charged with violating a Poway social host ordinance. If he is convicted, he could face up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.2

Many California municipalities have enacted social host ordinances to discourage underage drinking. Studies have found that although law enforcement has cracked down on liquor sales to minors, many underage drinkers obtain liquor at home or at a friend’s house.

California Social Host Ordinances

Social host ordinances in California generally hold the adult in charge of the premises responsible if underage persons are allowed to drink on the premises and the adult:

  • Knows or should have known the drinking is taking place, and
  • Fails to take reasonable action to stop it

Social host ordinances do not generally allow the police to enter your property without a search warrant. However, if police discover that underage drinking is taking place on your property, they can give you a citation or arrest you.

Penalties vary based on each city’s ordinance. If you are cited for a first offense infraction in Laguna Beach, you will have to attend a parent education class. In Poway, where Jeff Lake was arrested, you could face up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

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Elder Abuse CaliforniaAs of 2011, there were more than 100,000 residents in California nursing homes, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. If a recent study is to be believed, nearly half of these residents have experienced elder abuse.1

In fact, the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) reports that a study conducted in 2000 in which 2,000 nursing home residents were interviewed revealed 44 percent of those residents say they had been abused and almost all reported either being neglected or seeing a resident neglected.2 Only one in 24 incidents of elder abuse are reported, according to the Gerontological Society of America

California Elder Abuse Laws (California Penal Code Section 368(c))

Under PC 368(c), anybody who causes or allows an elderly person to suffer unjustified physical and mental pain is guilty of elder abuse. The law says that caregivers or custodians of elderly people must follow normal standards of care when caring for and treating the elderly. Those who willfully fail to do so, or those who act in a criminally negligent way when doing so may be charged with elder abuse.

Continue reading →

About Wallin & Klarich

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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.