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If you are convicted of a crime and placed on probation, you will be required to follow certain terms and conditions of your probation. These conditions are often related to the circumstances of your crime.

So, what happens when the conditions of your probation are nearly impossible to follow? Can the court take away your right to use the internet and travel freely? This question was recently decided by the Ninth District U.S. Court of Appeals.

Court of Appeals Case

Joseph LaCoste plead guilty to federal securities fraud charges after being accused of illegally obtaining investments from his victims. He was sentenced to five years in prison followed by three years of probation.

LaCoste’s sentence was not all that unusual, but the conditions of his probation were very restrictive. Among other conditions, he was barred from using the internet without prior approval from his parole officer, and from residing in certain counties. Ultimately, the court threw out these conditions as being too broad and unrelated to his crimes.1

“A Fresh Start”

In sentencing LaCoste, the trial court found that he would often go on the internet to post disparaging comments about the people who fell victim to his crimes, spreading rumors about them and causing them additional emotional stress. The judge reasoned that because of his tendency to do this, he should not have access to the internet, and upon his release, he should not return to the communities where his victims resided.

In his remarks at sentencing, the judge told LaCoste that it would be better if he took the opportunity to make “a fresh start” so that the communities could heal.

Though he used the internet to mock and criticize his victims, the Court of Appeal found that the internet conditions were not reasonably related to the crime that he committed. The restriction barred him from any use of the internet, regardless of whether it was related to making remarks about his victims.

The appellate court saw this as too broad, and because of this, it deprived LaCoste of more freedom than was needed to prevent him from posting comments about those who complained about him. Continue reading →

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Davontae Sanford was 14 when he was sent to prison for murders he did not commit. When he was 23, another man confessed to those murders and his nine-year nightmare appeared to be finally ending.

Then, he got a bill from the court.

When it came time for his release, Sanford’s wrongful imprisonment resulted in just over $2,000 in court costs and fines that had yet to be paid. These fines and costs included fees for a public defender who represented him when he was charged with another crime while in prison. Word reached the corrections officers that Sanford had hinted he would hang himself. When those officers stormed his cell to prevent his suicide, he kicked one of the officers and spat on another, resulting in two years being added to his sentence. The court ruled that if he were to pay the fines, those years would be wiped from his sentence.

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California has some of the strictest gun control laws in the country. Recently, the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals made those laws more strict.

The court declared that California counties have the right to deny applications for concealed carry permits if the applicant cannot show “good cause” for needing to carry a concealed firearm in public. The ruling gives each county the power to determine what good cause means.

A Significant Victory for Gun Control

In its ruling, the court stated that the Second Amendment does not protect the right of a gun owner to carry a concealed firearm in public. Judge William A. Fletcher, writing for a 7-4 majority, wrote, “The Second Amendment may or may not protect to some degree a right of a member of the general public to carry a firearm in public. If there is such a right, it is only a right to carry a firearm openly.”

The court reasoned that because the Second Amendment does not protect the right to carry concealed firearms in public, any prohibition or restriction a state may choose to impose on concealed carry – including a requirement of good cause – is legally permissible.

Gun-control advocates are praising this ruling, in which the court overruled a 2014 decision that stated California could not outlaw both the open carrying of guns in public and carrying concealed weapons at the same time. In place of that decision, the court now says that California can restrict concealed carry permits if the person applying for the permit cannot point to a specific and compelling reason why he or she needs to carry a gun in public. Continue reading →

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It is against the law to carry a loaded firearm on your person or in your vehicle while in public under California Penal Code Section 25850.1 But what exactly does “on your person” mean? The definition of “on your person” was questioned in a recent Supreme Court case involving a man who was carrying a loaded firearm in his backpack.

Is it illegal to carry a weapon in your backpack? How does a backpack factor into concealed carry laws?

California Gun Laws and Backpacks

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Every weekday, you send your children off to school, trusting that they will behave themselves, and if they misbehave, the school’s administration will notify you immediately.

What you may not know is that in many cases when a minor is accused of committing a crime, the questioning of the minor begins long before his or her parents are notified of their child’s alleged wrongdoing. Does this violate a minor’s rights?

Juveniles Have Constitutional Rights

The U.S. Constitution and California law provide many of the same protections to minors that adults have when they are accused of committing a crime. Among these are procedural rights, such as the right to have advance notices of charges and the right to confront and cross-examine adverse witnesses.1 In addition, the Supreme Court has ruled that the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition of unreasonable search and seizures also extends to minors.2

Most importantly, a minor has Miranda rights, which include the right to remain silent and the right to the presence of an attorney during questioning.3 Continue reading →

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In California, prostitution is an act that many politicians and lawmakers are trying to better understand. As it stands, someone convicted of exchanging sex for money for a second time is punished with mandatory jail time. No matter the crime, jail time may greatly impact a person’s life and future in a negative way. But many lawmakers are seeking an alternative with a bill that could remove the mandatory sentencing for prostitution.

Bill Approved by Senate

Earlier this month, the California Senate voted to approve a bill that would end the state’s mandatory jail sentencing for repeat offenders who engage in prostitution. Under California’s current law, a second prostitution conviction is punishable by a minimum of 45 days in jail. A third or subsequent offense raises the time to 90 days.

It is also possible for the court to restrict the person’s driving privileges for up to six months if the act of prostitution occurs within 1,000 feet of private residences. Continue reading →

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Many people use social media networks like Facebook and Twitter to connect with friends, provide updates on our lives, and keep in touch with the world. Sometimes we forget that the information we publish on social media can be found by strangers. While it may seem harmless, it’s possible for that information to be used against warrant Facebook

If recent news in New Mexico is anything to go by, social media attacks won’t just be for celebrities and public figures anymore. The state is using social media shame to target judges who give “lenient” sentences for DUIs.

Shaming Judges for DUI Sentencing

New Mexico is enacting a program to pay staff members of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) to attend court hearings of judges known to be more lenient in DUI cases. The staff will send sentencing information to state officials, who will in turn post on social media about the judges and the sentences.

MADD, who already offers the service in other states, was given a two-year, $800,000 contract by New Mexico to attend hearings in counties with the most DUI arrests and DUI-related deaths.

The goal of this program is to identify the judges who fail to crack down on those with multiple DUI convictions.

Could Social Media Shame Affect Your Case?

This isn’t necessarily an uncommon practice. Police departments across the country post booking photos of DUI suspects on Facebook. It has been extremely rare that judges are the targets of these programs, but the program in New Mexico hopes to put more pressure and blame on judges, and this could become common in many states.

The issue with social media is that the message is not easy to control. People may launch an attack behind anonymous Twitter handles and harass these judges, defense attorneys and defendants in the case. Public figures have often seen personal information leaked online after becoming the subject of negative internet attention.

Continue reading →

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You lost your wallet, and therefore your driver’s license. Not to worry though; you’ve secured a ride with your friend for the night. On the way home, your friend’s driving catches the eye of a police officer, who orders your friend to pull over. Are you in jeopardy of being arrested because you do not have your ID?

You Have the Right to Refuse to Show Your ID

The U.S. Supreme Court has held that so-called “stop and identify” statutes, which require that you show identification to law enforcement officers when they ask, do not violate Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures, so long as the officer has a reasonable suspicion that the person is involved in criminal activity.1

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In California, there are many laws in place to help prevent and punish drunk driving. Despite the efforts of lawmakers and police officers, drunk drivers get on the roads and cause accidents, property damage, injuries and deaths. What else can officials do to prevent people from driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol?

A potential new method has been brought forward by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, who recently introduced a bill that would get bartenders involved in intervening with drunk driving.

How Bartenders Will Be Involved

Assembly Bill 2121, titled the “Responsible Interventions for Beverage Servers Training Act of 2016,” has been introduced by Assemblywoman Gonzalez to serve as another way to combat the amount of drunk drivers in California.

If made into law, it would require bartenders and servers of establishments that serve alcohol to complete a Responsible Interventions for Beverage Servers training course. If a person has had too much to drink, the server would be able to intervene.

Employees would also be required to complete the course within three months of being hired and then take the course again every three years after as a means of re-education. Training courses would include information on state laws and regulations, and how alcohol affects the body.1

The Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control would be required to publish a list of approved training courses and requirements on its website on or before Jan. 1, 2019. Applicants would receive a certificate or card indicating they have completed the course. Additionally, the training course would not have to cost the participant more than $15.

Could Bartenders Face Criminal Charges?

The proposed law introduces a way to require bartenders and servers to be educated on alcohol and its consequences, but it doesn’t discuss what could happen to bartenders who refuse to take the course or do not comply with the law. So could a bartender face criminal charges for not taking the course? What happens if a bartender does not intervene when a patron is going to drive while under the influence of alcohol? Continue reading →

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If a proposed set of bills is signed into law in California, it could drastically affect how many people are allowed to smoke tobacco and use vaping devices. The proposed laws are meant to address the amount of teen smoking in the state by raising the legal smoking age from 18 to 21, including e-cigarettes and similar products.

What Does This Law Do?

The proposed laws would include e-cigarettes in the Stop Tobacco Access to Kids Enforcement Act that keeps businesses from selling tobacco products to minors. In addition to raising the legal smoking age to 21 (active military members would be exempt), the law would not allow anyone to vape where smoking is prohibited, such as workplaces, schools and restaurants. It would also be possible for local governments to tax e-cigarettes like other tobacco products.

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.