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hit and run bikesA recent report shows that hit-and-runs involving vehicle-bicyclist collisions are on the rise in Los Angeles County. Between 2002 and 2012, more than 5,600 cyclists were injured and at least 36 cyclists died from hit-and-run related incidents, which is an increase of 42%. Of those incidents, 40% of cases involved minors under the age of 18 years old.1

An alarmingly high number of vehicles involved in hit-and-run incidents are never found and about 80% of hit-and-run cases go unresolved.2 Many times, law enforcement does not have strong leads and must rely heavily on eyewitness reports or the car’s license plate number. Due to the lack of closure for such cases, the organization Ghost Bike has begun paying tribute to bicyclists whose deaths resulted from hit-and-run collisions. Small memorials of bicycles fully painted white on city streets serve as a way for others to mourn and as a quiet statement in support of the right to safe travel for cyclists.3 Although the states make it appear as if you may never be arrested for hit-and-run, vehicle-bicyclist hit-and-run is a serious crime.

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In a recent California state court ruling, the First District Court of Appeal determined a the law that permitted police to gather a DNA sample from any individual arrested on suspicion of a felony was unconstitutional. On the other side of the country however, in Maryland, a very similar law was upheld by the high court, giving the police the right to collect DNA samples from anyone arrested in connection with a serious crime.

DNA samples unconstitutionalOn the surface, the two laws appear to be indistinguishable but upon further review, there are minor discrepancies that may clarify the reasoning behind each court’s decision.

California Law vs. Maryland Law

Under a former First District California ruling, those arrested for any felony were required to immediately submit to DNA analysis. The current Maryland law does not require a DNA sample to be processed until after the arrestee is officially charged with the particular crime. Furthermore, while the Maryland law mandates the automatic expungement of the DNA if the subject is found not guilty, the California law placed the burden on the arrested individual to pursue an expungement, which is not always guaranteed.

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Suge Knight

For the past 20 years, few men have cast a shadow over the music industry that looms quite as large as Marion “Suge” Knight’s. The former college football player and bodyguard is a co-founder of Death Row Records. Knight has been a driving force in establishing the West Coast rap scene, teaming with rapper/producer Dr. Dre to promote heavyweight artists such as Snoop Dogg and Tupac Shakur.

In the rap world, Knight is as famous as he is notorious; as respected as he is feared. His reputation is constructed partly from myths and conspiracy theories surrounding the murders of Shakur and rival rapper Notorious B.I.G., and partly from numerous run-ins with the law over the past 25 years.

In 1987, Knight pleaded guilty to charges of assault with a deadly weapon, and in 1990 to two separate battery charges. He later received probation and a nine-year suspended sentence for another weapon-related assault charge in 1992, a sentence that was later imposed after he was convicted of assaulting a rival gang member at the MGM Grand in 1996. Knight served five years in prison.1

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If you spend any amount of time online (and we know you do because you are reading this article), you are undoubtedly familiar with Internet “trolls.” These are the people who, empowered by the anonymity of the Internet, seemingly only enjoy life when they are making someone else’s life miserable. internet%20trolls.jpg

Trolls usually operate by reacting to an online opinion post or comment of someone by deliberately posting offensive or inflammatory replies. The goal is to push the buttons of the other person, and the troll gleefully watches as their target becomes upset. In extreme cases, trolling gradually evolves into something worse: cyberbullying, which often involves severe harassment, and even threats of death or serious bodily injury against the other person or their family.

In the United Kingdom, Parliament has decided to take a stand against Internet trolls. A new law has been proposed to amend the 1988 Malicious Communications Act. At the time it was passed, the Malicious Communication Act created a six-month sentence for persons who intentionally send indecent or grossly offensive messages and threats. 1 The law, passed before the age of social media and online comment sections, will be updated to include messages sent through electronic means, and will increase the maximum jail time to two years.

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Think of all the technological innovations over the last two decades that we use to stay connected to each other on a daily basis: computers, tablets, smartphones, and wireless Internet access. For many of us, it is difficult to imagine living without these conveniences. tablet.jpg

What if you had been asleep for the past 20 years? What would you think an “app” is? To you, a smartphone would look like something out of a science fiction movie, and it would be staggering to you if someone told you that an infinite amount of information could be accessed from a device that fits in your pocket. You would feel like a time traveler who had gone far into the distant future.

This is exactly what it would be like if you had just been released from prison after 20 years. Technologically speaking, prisoners exist in a state of suspended animation. Cut off from the world that has advanced leaps and bounds from the time they began their sentences, many prisoners have never seen the things the rest of us take for granted.

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Defense attorneys can be a creative lot, and that has often led to a cynical view of the legal profession. In 1978, San Francisco Supervisor Dan White murdered Mayor George Moscone and fellow Supervisor Harvey Milk. White had been known to be a fitness fanatic, but prior to4577789974_a5f85fb2b4_o.jpg the killings, had become depressed. His defense team presented testimony from a doctor that his diet consisting of Twinkies and other junk foods was evidence of his depression. The court found that his depression diminished his capacity, and instead of murder, White was convicted of voluntary manslaughter. The public outrage that followed led to the defense becoming known as the “Twinkie defense.” 1

In 2013, a Texas judge sentenced a teenager to probation for drunk driving after he was involved in an accident that killed four people and injured 11 others. His lawyer convinced the judge that his teenage client suffered from “affluenza,” a condition that prevented the teen from understanding the consequences of his actions because he had been spoiled by his parents’ wealth and privilege. 2

The End of the “Gay Panic” Defense

California has decided to put an end to one of these “creative” defenses. The “gay panic” defense allowed a defendant to claim as a defense to murder or assault that an extreme fear of gay, lesbian, or transgender persons was to blame for their violent outburst.

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Given the proliferation in use of high-tech portable electronic devices as well as wider access to the Internet, it probably does not surprise many that a number of teens and even children experiment with sexuality at a much younger age. Of course, some of these acts may be considered perfectly normal or natural. It is important to remember, however, that juveniles in Orange County may be charged with serious crimes for acts they commit without even knowing or understanding that they are breaking the law. For example, a juvenile may be charged with distributing child pornography for sending out sexually suggestive images with a text or a “sext.”
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The Juvenile Justice System

Anyone who is 17 years old or younger is considered a “juvenile” in the eyes of the law. California’s juvenile justice system is substantially different from the state’s adult justice system. This is because society recognizes the importance of treating our youth differently than adults. The emphasis in the juvenile justice system is on treatment and rehabilitation. The adult justice system focuses on punishing offenders.

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The consequences of having a California restraining order granted against you can be severe. If a restraining order is filed against you, it is of the utmost importance to retain the services of a qualified restraining order law firm to come to your defense. If you do not hire a law firm to defend you it is much more likely that the restraining order will be granted against you. If the restraining order is granted against you all of the following consequences may occur:

  • The restraining order will likely be filed with the California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System which means if a law enforcement officer stops you, the restraining order will show up on your record for up to 5 years.
  • If there is a restraining order violation you could face up to $1,000 in fines and up to one year in jail.
  • The restraining order can be enforced against you anywhere in the State of California by any law enforcement agency that canstockphoto10492514.jpg
    has been notified of your restraining order.
  • The court may order that you are excluded from your place of residence due to the granting of the restraining order.
  • Your ability to travel may be restricted.
  • You may be required to attend and complete a 52 week anger management or batterers program which is both time consuming and costly.
  • If the restraining order includes your minor children then this will impact the amount of time you can spend with your children and will likely mean your child support obligation will be increased.
  • You will have to immediately surrender any firearms that you own or that you may have in your possession.
  • If a domestic violence restraining order is violated the court may order that upon request, the person who receives the restraining order be allowed to tape record all conversations with the person who has the restraining order granted against them.

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The Department of Justice considers four types of crimes to be violent crimes. These crimes are: Gen%2039.jpg

  • Murder
  • Aggravated assault
  • Rape
  • Robbery

If you have been charged with committing a violent crime, you need to contact an attorney immediately.

Sentence Enhancements for Violent Crimes

Sentences for violent crimes can be severe and it is important for you to be aware of your legal rights. Sometimes, the court can enhance your punishment if you are convicted of a violent crime.

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Brandishing%20a%20Weapon%20-%20California%20Gun%20Laws%20-%20PC%20417.jpgPrior to legally purchasing a firearm in California, you must first abide by a series of rules and regulations. These guidelines were created to ensure that you act responsibly as a gun owner. Possessing a firearm may provide owners with a sense of security and well-being, but, as we know far too well, if a firearm is put into the wrong hands the outcome can be tragic.

A Los Angeles woman is learning this lesson the hard way as she becomes the first parent to be prosecuted for unsafely storing a firearm after her teenage son brought the gun to school. 1

LA Mother Faces Jail Time After Son Brings Gun to School

Last May, the son of 41-year-old Leah D. Wilcken allegedly brought a .45-caliber semiautomatic handgun with seven rounds of ammunition to Will Rogers High School in Van Nuys. 2 Once at school, Wilcken’s son showed the gun to a friend, who notified a school administrator who then informed the police.
Upon searching the student’s home the next day, police recovered a shotgun and four additional handguns. The guns, all unlocked and unsecured, were discovered in a dresser drawer, a kitchen cabinet and behind a dresser.

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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.