Can a Man Use Self Defense Against a Woman in a Domestic Violence Case?

October 20, 2014,

What happens if you are forced to defend yourself against your domestic partner and she callsSelf%20Defense.jpg the police on you? Is self defense a legal justification for the use of force, even if you’re a man and your domestic partner is a woman? In California, the answer is yes.

California prosecutes domestic violence aggressively, but the violent party isn’t always a man. The law recognizes that women can be guilty of domestic violence, and if you are in fear of imminent bodily harm or of being unlawfully touched, you can use force to defend yourself.

If you are forced to defend yourself against your wife or girlfriend’s physical assault, and she then calls the police on you, you can assert that you acted in self defense.

What Elements Constitute Self Defense in California?

According to California Criminal Jury instructions (CALCRIM 3470) 1 use of force is justified if

  • You reasonably believed you were in immediate danger of being injured or touched unlawfully
  • Immediate use of force was necessary to defend yourself, and
  • You didn’t use more force than was necessary to defend yourself from the attack.

Further, if you’ve been threatened or harmed by your domestic partner in the past, you may be justified in acting quicker and with more force to ward off another attack.

I Was Taught that a Man is Not Supposed to Hit a Woman

It’s true that it is always a better option to leave before an argument gets violent, whether you are arguing with a woman or a man. But once somebody threatens you with violence, you have a right to stand your ground and defend yourself until the danger has passed, even if you also have an opportunity to retreat.

What Happens if the Other Party is Injured?

If you were in imminent danger and you acted in self defense, it’s possible that your spouse will be left with a bruise or other injury. If you used reasonable force to defend yourself, self defense is justifiable even if she sustains an injury. A jury may consider any or all of the following:

  • What she did to threaten you or put you in fear of harm
  • How much force was necessary to ward off the attack
  • Whether she has a violent history

What if I was Defending Someone Else?

If another person, like a guest in your home or one of your kids, was in imminent danger of attack from your domestic partner, you have a right to use force to defend them. The same rules apply as if you were defending yourself.

Call the Criminal Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today

If you or a loved one has been charged with domestic violence, you need to talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. At Wallin & Klarich, our attorneys have over 30 years of experience successfully defending people facing domestic violence charges.

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

Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5425 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.

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Will You Still Be Charged with Hit and Run if You Return to the Scene? (California Vehicle Code 20001, 20002)

October 13, 2014,

If you are involved in a car accident, you might panic and leave the scene. You may have been in shock when you got into the accident and thought your best option was to get away from the area. After the shock wore off, you probably realized you made a mistake.

You should never leave the scene of an accident, but if you do, you should return immediately. Our attorneys wish to share with you why you should never flee the scene of an accident.

What is Hit and Run?

Hit and run is defined as leaving the scene of a car accident in which property damage, injury or loss of life occurred.Hit%20%26%20run%202.jpg

California Vehicle Code 200011 governs hit and run where serious injury or death results. You are legally required to stop your car immediately and assist any injured parties if you are involved in an accident.

California Vehicle Code 200022 governs accidents where property damage occurs but there is no physical injury. Under this law, you must stop your vehicle at the nearest safe location without impeding traffic if you are involved in an accident.

Consequences of Hit and Run

CVC 20001 is a wobbler offense, meaning you could be charged with a felony or a misdemeanor depending on the seriousness of the injury and other factors of your case. If you are convicted of misdemeanor hit and run causing injury or death, you could be sentenced to up to one year in jail and fined up to $10,000.

If you are convicted of a felony violation of CVC 20001, you could be facing up to three years in jail and fines of up to $10,000.

If you are accused of hit and run under CVC 20002, you will be facing a misdemeanor offense. If convicted, you could be facing up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

What Happens if I Left the Scene of an Accident and Returned?

Nobody can predict how they’ll respond if they’re hurt or scared. Even a reasonable person can make the mistake of leaving the scene of an accident. If you are involved in a collision and leave the scene, it is not too late to avoid the harsh consequences of a hit and run conviction by returning. The fact that you returned to the scene could be a mitigating factor that the court will take into consideration during your case. This could lead to a lesser sentence if you are convicted.

Additionally, returning to the scene of the accident could help create a defense that you were looking for a safe place to pull over. Your attorney can argue that you left the scene of the accident only to find a safe place to stop, but returned when you failed to find somewhere closer to park.

Call Wallin and Klarich Today if You or a Loved One is Facing Hit and Run Charges.

If you are accused of leaving the scene of an accident, your next step should be to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney right away. At Wallin & Klarich, our skilled attorneys have been successfully defending clients facing hit and run charges for over 30 years. We know how to prepare a winning defense strategy that will help you achieve the best possible outcome in your case.

With offices located in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Orange County, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney 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.

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What Happens When the Police Fail to Preserve Evidence?

October 8, 2014,

It’s a Saturday night and you get picked up by some of your friends. You have no idea that they were involved in a robbery just 20 minutes earlier. A few minutes later, police pull the vehicle over and you are arrested in connection with the robbery even though you are unaware it took place.

This would be very frustrating for you, especially if the cops have access to video surveillance footage that proves your innocence. Luckily, a skilled attorney may be able to prove to the court that law enforcement did not make an effort to preserve evidence in your case and the charges against you could be dropped, as proved by a recent Court of Appeals case.

Police Fail to Obtain Video Evidence in Robbery Case (People v. Alvarez)

In 2012, Jose C. was leaving Downtown Fullerton when he was robbed of his gold chain. He followed the alleged robbers until he could flag down a police officer along the route. Law enforcement stopped the men, identified as Daniel Alvarez, Jr., Michael Cisneros and Juan Renteria. Jose C. confirmed Renteria robbed the chain while Alvarez and Cisneros backed him up.
The gold chain was recovered about 50 feet away from the area. Cisneros insisted he had nothing to do with the robbery and asked the senior officer on the scene to check any security footage available. The officer said there were no cameras in that location. All three men were convicted of violating California Penal Code Section 211 and 212.5. However, the officer was wrong about the video cameras.

According to court records, a security camera was set up in the parking lot where the robbery took place. Footage from the camera system typically was saved for two to two-and-a-half weeks. Officers could request to view the footage by phone or email, but law enforcement officials failed to do so in this case.

What Did the Court Decide?

On appeal, the court dismissed the case of Alvarez and Cisneros because the police and prosecution failed to preserve evidence that had the potential to prove their innocence. Because Renteria was convicted of committing the actual act of robbing the chain, his conviction was affirmed.

The court concluded that the police had committed a violation of the defendants’ constitutional rights when they failed to disclose potentially exculpatory evidence. The Fullerton police were aware of the potential usefulness of the footage and the policies regarding the security cameras, but still did nothing. This means that they acted in bad faith and Alvarez and Cisneros were not given due process.

What Does the Decision Mean for You?

The court’s decision protects your right to due process in a criminal case and your presumption of innocence until proven guilty. If there is any potential evidence, the police and prosecution are required to make an effort to obtain that evidence so that it can be shared with your attorney.

What do you think of the court’s decision? Should the police have made an effort to recover any video footage? Do you think law enforcement would have made an attempt to obtain the footage if they knew it would prove the men guilty? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Ever Wonder Where the Judge Was When You Were Waiting for Your Case to be Called?

October 6, 2014,

As you sit anxiously in the, crowded, gloomy courthouse waiting for your case to be called, you glance at your watch. 30 minutes pass, then another 15, and then another, but still, no sign of the judge. Maybe he’s stuck in traffic, or maybe his car broke down. Whatever the reason for his tardiness, it must be for a valid reason, you naively think to yourself as the day continues to pass you by.

While all of these possible explanations for a judge’s tardiness appear to be reasonable, select individuals at the Orange County and Kern County Superior court may have found themselves waiting excessively for an entirely different reason - not because of an issue with their judge’s car, but rather, an issue with his morality.

Two California Judges Involved in Sex Scandal with Women Inside Their Chambers

Orange County Superior Court Judge Scott Steiner and Kern County Superior Court Judge Cory Woodward were punished by The Commission on Judicial Performance after they both admitted to having sex with women inside their respective chambers. 1
In 2012, Steiner had sexual intercourse with two women in his chambers, one, a former intern and the other, a practicing attorney within Orange County. Both women were also former law students of his at Chapman Law School. In addition to the sexual violations, Steiner also contacted the local district attorney’s office to secure a job for the intern – a direct violation of ethical rules.

From approximately July 2012 to May 2013, Woodward engaged in sexual intercourse with his married courtroom clerk and passed sexually overt notes to her while court was in session. According to the Commission on Judicial Performance, Woodward also refused to reassign the clerk despite multiple requests by coworkers. He also lied to the court’s chief executive when asked about the nature of his relationship with the clerk.

“When people in power relationships are engaging in sexual conduct with people they supervise, there is always a concern of impropriety” said Charles Geyh, an ethics expert and professor at Indiana University Maurer School of Law. 2

While the judge’s inappropriate conduct was hard to believe, the judges’ punishment (or lack thereof) came as an even bigger surprise to the general public and legal community alike.

Judges Who Admitted To Inappropriate Sexual Conduct Allowed to Remain on Bench

After a lengthy process, the state’s judicial watchdog agency chose to only censure both Steiner and Woodward, rather than to seek the removal of the judges. Many critics feel as if a public censure is far too light of a punishment as the judges continue to be allowed to sit on the bench.

Those opposed to the moderate discipline say that the judges’ behavior does not demonstrate the necessary qualities to serve within the court system. “In both cases, the incidents demonstrate that the judge involved lacks appropriate personal boundaries that are required for any individual to serve as a judge in my opinion” said former San Francisco County Superior Court Judge Katherine Feinstein. 3

Stanford Law School professor Deborah Rhode expressed similar sentiment, adding, “the justice system is predicated on the assumption that all participants be truthful in their professional dealings.”

It is important to note that there is no procedure in California that calls for the temporary suspension of judges, which other states have.

How Does Wallin & Klarich Feel?

The decision to publicly censure the judges for their shameful behavior rather than to expel them was absurd. The men deserved a much harsher punishment than they received and a public censure is nothing short of a slap on the wrist.comment.jpg

Canon One of the California Code of Judicial Ethics clearly states, “A judge shall uphold the integrity and independence of the judiciary.” 4

Engaging in sexual intercourse with former students and employees is one thing, but to do so inside your chambers, merely yards away from individuals who are in court facing allegations that they broke a law themselves? It is safe to assume that neither the integrity nor the independence of the judiciary were on the forefront of the judges’ minds while they were in their chambers with those women.

According to court documents, Woodward and Steiner’s saving grace was their recognition of wrongdoing and the fact that they appeared to be apologetic for their actions.

What Do You Think?

Do you think the judges should be able to remain on the bench after engaging in such behavior? Or, do you think a public censure is a fitting punishment for their actions. How would you feel if you had to wait for a judge while he was in his chambers having sex with a colleague? Let us know in the comment section, we would love to hear from you.

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2. [Daily Journal – “Discipline of judges who had sex at work questioned” September 26, 2014]

3. [Id.]

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Even Lawyers Need to Be Careful What They Post Online

October 1, 2014,

Remember the days of asking a celebrity for an autograph? If you spotted a Hollywood actor or famous musician, you had to find anything they could sign. Those days are gone. Autographs have been replaced with photos, and every celebrity is asked to stop and take a selfie that will be posted online for the world to see.

However, altering digital photos is now easier than ever. While everyone is on a quest to post the most epic celebrity selfies, some will use deceptive measures to do so. Recently, a California attorney was called into question for photos posted on her law firm’s website that seemed to be doctored to give the appearance that she was pictured with famous clientele.

When Ultimate Selfies Turn Out to Be Ultimate Lies

Attorney Svitlana Sangary mingled with the likes of President Barack Obama, George Clooney, Kim Kardashian and Morgan Freeman … well, at least it would appear that way from the photos posted on her law firm’s website.
According to a recent 18-page opinion written by State Bar Court Judge Donald F. Miles, “many, and perhaps all” of the photos were altered by overlaying photos of Sangary over pre-existing images of the celebrities. However, this was not just another social media mistake made in good fun.

Sangary and her law firm were using the images to promote their services. Using doctored photos to advertise future work constitutes false advertising. Miles said the “deceptive” images were designed to “deceive and mislead the public.”

Lowering the State Bar

Although many social media users who post altered photos only do so as a joke, Sangary’s fake celebrity interactions were taken very seriously by the California State Bar. Investigators originally contacted her about the images in December 2012, but the photos were still posted on the firm’s website two years later.

Sangary also previously failed to return a client file and did not cooperate during two disciplinary investigations. Factoring in her previous issues and her failure to respond to the finding of her altered images, Miles recommended to the Supreme Court that Sangary be suspended for six months. A decision from the Supreme Court is pending.

Always Be Careful What You Post Online

You don’t have to be a lawyer to make mistakes when posting online. This incident illustrates how important it is to think twice before sharing something online, whether it is an altered image or an innocent comment.

There have been many recent instances in which persons were arrested for a crime because they admitted to it on social media or simply forgot to log off of Facebook. 1 Even if you are not involved in a criminal act, it is important to know that your online activity will never be erased. Keep in mind that your virtual footprint is public for the world to see forever, and your online activity can be used as evidence against you at any time.

Innocent Prank or Deceiving the Public?

Sangray’s actions were determined by a judge to be deceptive and confusing. Do you agree with the judge’s ruling? Were Sangray’s altered photos a simple joke or were the images meant to deceive perspective clients? Do you think she should be punished for her actions?

At Wallin & Klarich, we value your opinion. We want to hear from you. Please leave a comment below with your thoughts.

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Could Taking a Photo of Certain Children Land You in Jail? (California Penal Code Section 11414(a))

September 26, 2014,

When people think of life in Southern California, one word often comes to mind: celebrities. The camera finds them sitting in the stands at Lakers, Kings, and Dodgers games. They are fixtures on the local news broadcasts every night. Our friends and families relate stories about who they ran into at the local shopping mall, or who they saw while they were out getting lunch. Even in an area where entertainment is a huge business, celebrity sightings always seem to capture our interest. paparazzi.jpg

For whatever reason, the public has a thirst for images of celebrities behaving like the rest of us. TMZ, Us Weekly, and the like are hugely successful media outlets that pay good money for photos of celebrities doing the most ordinary of activities. Entertainment reporter Stephanie Dubois summed it up this way: "As long as there are readers willing to pay to see ... their favorite celebrities in all their lesser glory, there will be editors willing to pay paparazzi whatever it takes to get the story." 1

Where there is that interest, there also lies a tension between the right of famous people to have a private life away from the public’s eye and the right of the press to make a living covering celebrities in the name of news. The tension in this fight is over when and where the paparazzi can operate, and what the freedom of the press guaranteed by the First Amendment allows them to shoot. On that front, California has taken steps to restrict the paparazzi when it comes to shooting photos of the ultimate prize in celebrity coverage: photos of a celebrity’s child.

California Gets Tough on Paparazzi

Under California Civil Code Section1708.8, the paparazzi can be sued for damages if they trespass onto private property for the purpose of taking photos, videos, or audio recordings, whether by physically entering the property or through the use of equipment such as a telephoto lens or a microphone. 2 However, due to recent efforts from actresses such as Jennifer Garner and Halle Berry, California now has a tougher law that can make a paparazzo’s photographing of the children of celebrities a criminal act. 3

In 2013, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law SB 606, which amends California Penal Code Section 11414(a) to read:

“Any person who intentionally harasses the child or ward of any other person because of that person’s employment shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment.” 4

The basic idea is that if a person photographs a child because of the type of work that the child’s parent does (for example, an actor or singer), and in so doing the person “seriously alarms, annoys, torments, or terrorizes” the child, that person has committed a crime that could cost them $10,000 and a year in county jail. 5

Though the word “celebrity” is found nowhere in the text of the law, it is clear that by making the crime depend upon the occupation of the child’s parents, the law targets photography of the children of people whose careers put them into the public eye.

Clashing with the First Amendment

The First Amendment guarantees that the government cannot interfere with our right to a free press. 6 However, this does not mean that this freedom is unlimited because the court has determined that under certain conditions, the right of the press can be limited. 7

The potential problem with California’s law is that it may be too vague to be enforceable. How can a person tell whether taking a photo of a child will “seriously alarm” the child before they take the photo? The Supreme Court has frowned on laws that restrict the kinds of stories the press can cover, 8 and on laws designed to “chill” the freedom of the press by causing a fear of legal trouble as a result of covering a story. 9
Under California’s law, the crime for which a paparazzo could be charged would be based on the unpredictable reaction of the child, which would certainly cause the paparazzo to have to think twice about snapping the picture. Because there is no way to tell what the reaction will be, and because what constitutes alarming a child is a vague standard, this could be viewed as either a prior restraint or a law that “chills” free speech.

California’s anti-paparazzi law also suffers from another problem. It states that the act that offends the child must be one that “serves no legitimate purpose.” 10 There is an argument to be made that these kinds of photos serve a legitimate purpose because millions of people consider the photos to be newsworthy (in other words, a matter of legitimate public concern). Under California law, the prosecutor has to prove that the facts published were not a matter of legitimate public concern. The courts consider three factors when deciding whether facts are of legitimate public concern:

  • The social value of the facts published;
  • The depth of the intrusion into ostensibly private affairs; and
  • The extent to which the plaintiff voluntarily assumed a position of public notoriety. 11

Under this standard, most facts about celebrities and public officials are considered matters of legitimate public concern.

Though many people may find the paparazzi to be distasteful and not part of the “legitimate” media, those people do not get to decide that the paparazzi should receive any less constitutional protection than the rest of us. After all, this law could apply to any of us. Most of us are just a click of the camera button on our smartphone away from being photographers ourselves.

Share Your Feedback with Us

We at Wallin & Klarich would like to hear from you about this topic. Should California’s government enact a law making the photographing and selling of children of celebrities a crime? What are some of the reasons you see that would make this either a good or bad idea? Please feel free to leave your comments below.

1. [Keith D. Willis, Paparazzi, Tabloids, and the New Hollywood Press: Can Celebrities Claim A Defensible Publicity Right in Order to Prevent the Media from Following Their Every Move?, 9 Tex. Rev. Ent. & Sports L. 175 (2007), quoting Stephanie Dubois, “Stars' Run-Ins with Paparazzi Show Lessons Unlearned,” bsf 151 (last visited Mar. 7, 2007). ]
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5. [Id.]
6. [Though the First Amendment applies to the federal government, it has been applied to the state governments through the Fourteenth Amendment.]
7. [For example, the Court ruled in Branzburg v. Hayes that a reporter could be ordered to reveal the identity of a person who violated federal law to obtain the information that the person gave to the reporter. Branzburg v. Hayes, 408 U.S. 665 (1972).]
8. [New York Times Co. v. United States, 403 U.S. 713, 91 S. Ct. 2140, 29 L. Ed. 2d 822 (1971)]
9. [Branzburg v. Hayes, 408 U.S. 665 (1972).]
10. []
11. [Capra v. Thoroughbred Racing Association, 787 F.2d 463, 12 Media L. Rep. 2006 (9th Cir.), cert denied, 479 U.S. 1019 (1986).]

Will Reducing Penalties for Non-violent Crimes Help California?

September 22, 2014,

With the November election approaching, prosecutors and defense attorneys are turning their attention to a ballot measure that will reduce penalties for some non-violent, non-serious offenses. Although it is gaining traction with the public, prosecutors are split over Proposition 47.

According to an August field poll, the proposition has 57% support, which means it could be voted into law barring significant changes before November. However, that is not expected to change as opposition has failed to raise funds and has remained quiet.1 Here is what you need to know about Prop 47.

What Will Prop 47 Do?

Proposition 47 is appropriately being called the “Reduced Penalties for Some Crimes Initiative.” If passed, the proposition would reduce six non-serious, non-violent crimes from felonies and wobblers—which could be prosecuted as felonies or misdemeanors depending on the circumstances of each case—to misdemeanors.
The crimes being reclassified include drug and theft offenses. Most notably, crimes involving the possession of illegal drugs for personal use would always be charged as misdemeanors, regardless of what type of drug it is and how much of the drug the defendant possessed. Additionally, writing bad checks, shoplifting, receiving stolen property and theft of property worth $950 or less would be reduced to misdemeanors.

If Prop 47 passes, persons who commit these crimes would face a maximum of one year in county jail rather than three years in jail and a felony on their criminal record. It would also apply to convicted offenders already serving time for these offenses, allowing these individuals to petition for resentencing. Offenders who have completed their sentences would be eligible to apply to have their convictions reduced to misdemeanors on their criminal record. Anyone who has a prior conviction for certain violent or registerable sex crimes would not be eligible to have their sentences reduced under the proposed law.

What Effect Would Prop 47 Have?

Proposition 47 would have a profound impact on California and the treatment of individuals convicted of certain crimes. The state would save hundreds of millions of dollars each year. Sentencing fewer convicted people to shorter sentences could reduce overcrowded jail populations by thousands, according to the California Budget Project. 2

The goal of the measure is to stop spending so much of the state’s money on sending inmates to jail and redirect the funds towards the treatment of low-level offenders. The money saved by the state would be used for substance abuse treatment and support for mentally ill offenders. In the long run, treating these individuals rather than sending them to jail or prison will help reduce the chances that they will re-offend once released from custody.

Why You Should Vote Yes on Prop 47

California punishes persons convicted of non-serious offenses too harshly and does not prepare them to be released from custody, which could lead them to re-offend and wind up back behind bars. It is time for the state to stop focusing on punishing these individuals and offer mental health and substance abuse treatment instead.

If the measure is passed in November, the state will save hundreds of millions of dollars and convicted individuals will finally get the treatment they need. That is all the reason necessary to vote yes on Prop 47.

What do you think about Prop 47? Will you be voting yes on the measure in November? Wallin & Klarich welcomes your opinion. Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.

1. ["Prosecutors split on soft-on-crime measure” Daily Journal. Sept. 18, 2014.]

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You Must Be Mentally Competent to Be Sent to Jail in California (California Penal Code Section 1368)

September 19, 2014,

In order to be sent to jail or prison in California, you must be deemed mentally competent, the California Court of Appeals ruled recently. If you are mentally incompetent and cannot understand the charges being filed against you, you must first receive treatment to attempt to be deemed competent.

Recently, a defendant on trial for numerous sex crimes was determined to be mentally incompetent, and therefore unable to stand trial. Pursuant to California Penal Code Section 1370.1(b), if a person has been deemed mentally incompetent to stand trial, the trial must be suspended until the individual has attained mental competency. 1

The reason for this is because it violates a person’s constitutional rights to a fair trial if individuals cannot comprehend the charges being filed against them. The criminal case cannot continue until the defendant is deemed mentally competent.

Mentally Incompetent Defendant Spends Years in Jail

The California Court of Appeals recently decided a case involving a man who spent two years in county jail without receiving treatment for his mental incompetency.

Pursuant to the law, the defendant was recommended to the Porterville Developmental Center in the city of Porterville. It was determined that the Developmental Center was properly equipped for the individual’s mental needs, but he was rejected based on safety concerns. 3%20strikes.jpg

The individual was then referred by the Department of Developmental Services to use an outside vendor who would provide him with mental help while he remained in county jail. However, this was not allowed under PC 1370.1, which states that an individual is required to be placed in a treatment center, not a county jail.

With no suitable place for the defendant to go and not other options, he remained in county jail.
The defendant spent two years in a county jail facility and did not receive the proper treatment throughout his incarceration. The treatment that he was not provided would have helped him attain competency and ultimately allowed him to resume his criminal trial.

How Did the Court of Appeal Rule?

The Court of Appeal held that the defendant’s rights to due process had been violated and granted his request for habeas corpus relief.

They explained that the defendant was kept in custody for two years without any treatment, which was unreasonable. Moreover, failing to comply with the statute, which required the defendant to be provided with treatment that would help his mental capacity and allow his criminal case to continue, was in violation of the law.

Call the Criminal Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today

If you or a loved one has been unconstitutionally incarcerated without due process, you need to speak with an experienced attorney right away. At Wallin & Klarich, our skilled attorneys have been protecting the rights of defendants for over 30 years. We have experience dealing with a wide range of serious cases and we can help you obtain the best possible result in your case.

We have offices in Orange County, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, Torrance, Riverside, West Covina, Victorville, Ventura, San Diego and Sherman Oaks. There is an experienced Wallin & Klarich attorney near you no matter where you work or live.

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

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Domestic Violence Conviction Will Now Result in Lifetime Firearms Ban

September 17, 2014,

According to a recent California Court of Appeals ruling, anyone who is convicted of domestic violence in California will receive a permanent federal lifetime ban on possessing a gun. Under the ruling, you could be barred from possessing a gun for any offensive touching during a domestic violence incident, even if it did not cause physical injury. 1

The decision surrounds the case of a man who was convicted of misdemeanor battery against his wife. Years later, the man attempted to buy a gun but was turned down due to his domestic violence conviction.

Firearms Ban Applies to Non-Violent Attacks

In 1996, Scott James, of Tulare County, plead no contest to misdemeanor battery under California Penal Code Section 242. He was placed on probation for two years.

James applied to be a reserve deputy sheriff in 2008 but was denied after a background check was performed and James learned the State of California considered his 1996 conviction to be a domestic violence conviction. In 2011, he attempted to purchase a firearm, but his application was denied on the same ground:  he had previously been convicted of a domestic violence offense.canstockphoto5364621.jpg

Claiming that the crime he admitted to did not involve violence and did not cause physical injury on the victim, James sued.

Citing a U.S. Supreme Court case from May of this year that clarified a 1996 law extending the federal firearms ban to those convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence, the Court of Appeals ruled that the ban on firearms possession applies to all spousal battery cases.

Before 1996, federal law only applied the ban to felonies, but spousal battery cases are often prosecuted as misdemeanors. The recent Supreme Court ruling said that the ban should not only apply to anyone who injures their spouse, but could also apply to anyone convicted of a misdemeanor depending on each state’s definition of the crime.

Protect Your Second Amendment Rights

The court’s unnecessarily harsh ruling steps on the constitutional rights of citizens and defines domestic violence too broadly. Crimes that do not actually involve violence should not be classified in the same way as crimes that involve physical injury.

While this case will undoubtedly make its way to higher courts, including potentially the U.S. Supreme Court, you now risk losing your Second Amendment rights if you commit a non-violent offense. The ruling means that you will need to fight domestic violence charges against you vigorously if you want to protect your Second Amendment right to own a firearm.

Call the Domestic Violence Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today

If you are accused of a domestic violence crime, it will have a lasting impact on your life and you could lose many of your legal rights. That is why it is crucial that you contact an experienced domestic violence attorney immediately. At Wallin & Klarich, our skilled attorneys have over 30 years of experience successfully defending our clients facing domestic violence charges. We can help you achieve 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 attorney available to help you no matter where you work or live.

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

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As Ray Rice Gets Scratched From Roster, I Continue to Scratch My Head

September 13, 2014,

RayRice27.jpgPhoto by Keith Allison Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

For those of you who have been able to stick to FM radio, mute your televisions, and avoid the water cooler in recent weeks, former Baltimore Ravens Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice has been indefinitely suspended by the NFL, and everyone is talking about it.

Rice, who was originally suspended for two games for punching his then-fiancé Janay Palmer in a New Jersey casino elevator, had his punishment enhanced to an “indefinite suspension” by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after TMZ Sports released full video of the incident to the public.

While public opinion seems to be in favor of Ray Rice losing his job, I am personally in disbelief and can’t help but think, is everyone blind to what the NFL and media is doing here?

Aside from Rice, there are 14 other currently active NFL players with a history of alleged domestic violence, and not one was suspended indefinitely. Additionally, the NFL was allegedly told by Rice in an interview before the video was released that he punched his wife. Why did the NFL wait until the surfacing of video evidence to act?

The answer is simple--the media is now highlighting “domestic violence” as the cause of the month.

In light of this influx of unwanted media attention, the NFL is being forced to please the public and in doing so, the league has made Ray Rice its scapegoat.

Should the NFL Punish Rice for a Criminal Offense?

As an experienced criminal defense attorney in Southern California, I have represented those accused of domestic violence for over 30 years and have handled over 5,000 cases. When a plumber or a teacher or an electrician commit domestic violence and have no prior record, they do not lose their job.
When persons found guilty of committing domestic violence in California are punished by the court, they are typically put on probation. They are then usually ordered to complete a 52-week anger management counseling course and forced to pay a fine or do community service. It is very rare that they go to jail for a first offense. Instead, they are ordered to remain away from their spouse or significant other for a period of time, and are then allowed to return home. If they do not violate their probation, the matter is closed.

The plumber may return to work after he is bailed out of jail. Teachers can go back to teaching their students. The electrician may even be working in your home within a few days of his or her arrest.

Is it the NFL’s responsibility to fire players for committing the same crime that thousands of other people do every single day? Of course not.

The NFL’s True Goals

The NFL cares about one thing, and that is the NFL’s image. Upholding the squeaky-clean image will allow team owners to continue to make millions of dollars.

In the eyes of the NFL, throwing the villainous Ray Rice under the bus will convince the world that the league holds the same anti-domestic violence beliefs as the public, and will not give those that commit domestic violence a second chance.

Please do not misinterpret this testament as indifference toward domestic violence. Domestic violence is a serious and horrendous crime. Often, if a perpetrator does not get treatment and learn from his or her mistake, they will cause future harm. But, it is not the role of the NFL to decide what punishment Ray Rice should receive for his action. That is why we have a court system. The court system decides what fair punishment is and how to try to avoid this conduct in the future, not the employer.

The media needs to tell the truth. Ray Rice is being used by the NFL to give the appearance that the league is taking a harsh stance against domestic violence. Let Rice deal with his punishment through the court system. Give him a chance to go through anger management. Give him and his new wife a chance to recover and move on from this horrible incident.

The NFL is in the game to make millions and could care less about punishing its players, and it’s not the job of the NFL to punish players. We have a court system for that purpose.

Are Communications Between an Inmate and his Lawyer Confidential?

September 12, 2014,

Generally, communications between a defendant and his lawyer are supposed to be confidential. However, recent reports suggest that prosecutors have been increasingly intercepting emails and telephone conversations between imprisoned defendants and their attorneys. The DA has blamed alleged security concerns to justify this interference. This raises serious issues as to whether this practice violates a defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to counsel.

Should prosecutors be able to intercept conversations between inmates and their attorneys?

The general rule is that defendants in custody have no privacy rights. However, criminal attorneys argue that they are entitled to confidential time with their clients. Without that time and privacy, it becomes very difficult to prepare for trial when the client is in custody. Defense lawyers feel that prosecutors are intruding on the sacred attorney-client relationship by limiting the ability to freely and confidentially communicate with their clients in custody.
Prosecutors argue that they have legitimate reasons to monitor inmate emails and telephone conversations. Most often, prosecutors and jail officials cite significant security risks and challenges related to sophisticated drug smuggling operations and intimidation of witnesses.

The Supreme Court has held that once a defendant’s right to counsel has attached, government intrusion into the attorney-client relationship violates the Sixth Amendment. To prove this, the defendant must show a realistic possibility of prejudice caused by the intrusion. Although there may be legitimate reasons for monitoring inmate communications, it is concerning to have a legal system in which prosecutors have unregulated access to defendants in custody. Such indiscriminate access jeopardizes the sacred attorney-client relationship. So the question remains, does privileged attorney-client communication in custody really exist?

Give us your feedback

At Wallin and Klarich, we encourage feedback from our clients and our readers. Tell us what you think. Do you think prosecutors should be able to interfere with attorney-client confidentiality when defendants are in custody?

Court Rules Your Silence Can Be Used Against You

September 10, 2014,

You are arrested for hit and run and the police have you in the back of their car. You are at the scene of the accident, and the alleged victims are also at the scene. You are probably worried about the potential consequences you face and how it will affect your life. However, the California Supreme Court thinks that you should also express worry about the victims.

In a recent decision, the state Supreme Court ruled that if you do not ask how the victims are doing, this lack of empathy can be used against you if your case goes to trial, even if you are not asking because you are invoking your Fifth Amendment rights.

When Silence isn’t Golden (People v. Tom)

Richard Tom, a San Mateo man, was involved in a car accident in which an 8-year-old girl was killed and her sister was injured. During a two-hour gap between when he was detained and when he was read his Miranda Rights, Tom remained silent.Hit%20%26%20run%202.jpg
At trial, prosecutors told the jury that Tom’s silence displayed a “consciousness of his own guilt.” Tom was later convicted for vehicular manslaughter, in part due to the fact that he requested to leave the scene of the accident without asking how the victims were doing.

A Court of Appeals reversed Tom’s conviction, but the Supreme Court disagreed. The decision means that if you remain silent after your arrest but before officers inform you of your Miranda Rights, that silence can be used as evidence against you.

What to Do if You are Arrested after a Car Accident

This ruling proves the importance of knowing your rights if you are arrested. If you are placed under arrest at the scene of a car accident, it is critical that you do the following:

  • Immediately tell every police officer present that you wish to exercise your right to remain silent and you will not be making any statements
  • Use a smartphone or recorder to record the statement and inform the officer you are taping the conversation to preserve your rights

If you simply sit quietly without clearly stating that you are exercising your right to remain silent, the prosecution can introduce as evidence that you did not ask about the victims, which will make you appear heartless and guilty.

What Wallin & Klarich Thinks

The appalling decision interferes with the rights of citizens and allows the prosecution and police to play games with people after they have been placed under arrest. It has always been assumed that people have an absolute right to remain silent, and that silence has never been allowed to be used as evidence against you in court.

The courts have consistently maintained that you have a constitutional right to say nothing. However, this ruling unnecessarily changes that. If you do not make an unambiguous assertion of your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent, your silence can be used against you.

Call the Criminal Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today

If you are being accused of hit and run, vehicular manslaughter, or any serious crime, you need to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. At Wallin & Klarich, our skilled attorneys have over 30 years of experience successfully defending clients accused of these crimes. We can help you navigate the complex legal process and understand 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 attorney available to serve you no matter where you work or live.

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