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You might not think lying about who you are is a big deal, but in California you can get into trouble if you falsely identify yourself in several ways. Simply lying to a police officer, and/or telling him or her that you are somebody else could get you arrested for committing a misdemeanor. Using a fake ID can lead to even more trouble.

If you manufacture, display, or possess a fake ID with the intent to commit forgery, you could be charged with a felony, depending on the circumstances.

Below are some of the more frequent ways you can get into trouble for misuse of and ID card.

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Bail_Bonds_bondsman-300x200Six out of ten. That is the number of people who are arrested and held on suspicion of committing a crime in California who never face criminal charges. This is because those wrongly accused of crimes can spend months and even years in custody while their case works it way through the criminal justice system. Despite ultimately being exonerated, there is still a significant cost paid by many of these people.

In an attempt to eliminate this inequity in our justice system, California lawmakers have introduced legislation that would drastically change the bail system in the state.

Does Bail Punish Poor People?

The bail system allows defendants to pay a certain amount of money to the court as a guarantee that they will show up their court hearings. In most cases, a person charged with a crime will seek the help of a bail bond company that will post the full amount of bail in exchange for a non-refundable fee (generally equal to 10% of the bail amount set by the court).

This means if bail is set at $50,000, the defendant can pay a bail bondsman $5,000 to be released from custody while the case is pending. If the charges are dropped or if the defendant is found not guilty at trial, the bondsman receives the $50,000 back from the court, but keeps the $5,000 the defendant paid him or her.

The current bail system punishes people who are not able to afford bail. That is why California lawmakers want to change how the courts calculate bail fees.

Income-Based Bail Amounts

Currently, the average bail in California is $50,000, and bail fees are based on the crime allegedly committed rather than the defendant’s ability to pay. A new bill working its way through the California legislature would eliminate bail in some cases and change the way it is calculated in others.

Under this proposed law, in cases where the person’s crime is one that is not serious or violent, home detention or monitoring devices could be used in place of monetary bail. In cases involving serious or violent crimes where bail fees would be required, the courts would be directed to use the defendant’s income as the basis for the amount of bail required.

Will the Bill Become Law?

The bill is not without its critics. The bail industry, victims rights groups and law enforcement agencies oppose the bill, saying that the proposed change will lead to more people failing to show up to court, and that it will cost counties more money to supervise individuals who are given a bail alternative. Continue reading →

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Orange-County-Courthouse-300x225California is gearing up for an immigration showdown with Washington.

A new bill, which recently passed through the State Assembly, seeks to provide a safe harbor for immigrants who are going to California courts. Under President Trump’s aggressive immigration policies, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents have detained undocumented immigrants for possible deportation at courthouses despite the fact that they were going to court as victims or witnesses to a crime.

If the bill passes, law enforcement officers would be prohibited from detaining victims and witnesses for immigration violations.

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customs-300x199Immigration has been a major issue concerning President Donald Trump’s administration. Since Trump took office, the number of immigrants detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents has increased, and there have been reports that federal agents have arrested people in courthouses.

Los Angeles has long held that it will be a sanctuary city for immigrants. LA Mayor Eric Garcetti emphasized this stance recently by calling for further protections for immigrants in the city.

Deportation Reports Impacting LA

At an event at the Lincoln Heights Youth Center Complex in East Los Angeles, Mayor Garcetti addressed alarming trends in the city. Garcetti noted that Los Angeles has seen fewer visitors at its city parks, libraries, art centers and senior centers recently. He believes the reason for this may be that families are staying home to avoid potential contact with law enforcement for fear of being deported.

There has also been a drop in the amount of reports of sexual assaults and domestic violence among the city’s Latino population, according to LAPD Chief Charlie Beck. While these facts cannot directly be attributed to the actions of the Trump Administration, the decline has not been seen in other demographics.

City of LA Supporting Immigrants

To address the deportation fears that many have, Garcetti signed an executive order called “Standing with Immigrants: A City of Safety, Refuge, and Opportunity for All.” This order prevents port and airport officials from being deputized as federal immigration agents.

The order builds on current LAPD immigration enforcement policies where law enforcement officers cannot check the immigration status of individuals in custody. Current policies also state that individuals cannot be detained longer than warranted per the request of federal deportation agents without a court order. Continue reading →

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jail_handcuffs_prison-300x199The Orange County District Attorney’s Office recently came under fire after it was discovered that prosecutors were using a secret program in which law enforcement would place informants in jail cells with defendants in order to convince them to unwittingly give up information that could be used against them in their cases. In some cases, the prosecution failed to turn over information to the defendants’ lawyers about the informants’ past work with police agencies, denying the defense a chance to call into question the credibility of the informants.

This unfair practice has drawn the attention of California lawmakers, who have proposed a new law that limits the incentives district attorneys can offer informants.

Paying for Information

Current law allows law enforcement or corrections officers to give informants $50 for their testimony, as well as incentives such as more lenient or reduced sentences, credit for good behavior, or a reduction of the charges against the informant.

However, the law placed no limit on the amount that could be paid to an informant for the information they provide toward the investigation of a suspected crime, which means that all the work prior to an informant’s actual court testimony can be compensated at an unlimited amount. For example, two members of the Mexican Mafia, Raymond “Puppet” Cuevas and Jose “Bouncer” Paredes, received a combined total of over $335,000 cash and other perks for providing information on dozens of cases over a span of four years.

A new law, Assembly Bill 359, is attempting to change that. While this bill would allow law enforcement to pay informants up to $100 per case, it would also apply to any information they provide during the investigation phase. The law would apply to members of any “prosecution entity,” which means the cap would no longer apply just to law enforcement or corrections officers. Prosecutors would still be able to offer incentives to informants, but the unlimited flow of cash would be cut off if this bill becomes law.

Currently, AB 359 has passed the Committee on Public Safety, which means the full assembly is set to take up the debate and vote on the bill in the next few months. Continue reading →

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Over the next few months, California’s juvenile justice system could undergo a number of important changes that would better protect minors facing criminal charges. Lawmakers have introduced eight bills that are designed to increase the minimum age for minors to face incarceration, provide additional constitutional protections, and prevent minors from facing life sentences without the possibility of parole.California-300x145

Here’s a look at some of the new proposed laws that could affect the California juvenile justice system:

Senate Bill 395 – The Right to Remain Silent and Have an Attorney Present

One of the biggest problems with the juvenile justice system is the number of false confessions made by minors. Minors are more prone to pressure and less likely to understand the consequences of confessing to a crime, and as a result, many juveniles are convicted of crimes they did not actually commit.

If passed, Senate Bill 395 will prohibit any minor charged with a crime from waiving their constitutional rights without first speaking to a juvenile criminal attorney. This means that a minor will no longer be able to waive the right to remain silent or have an attorney present during questioning until the minor first speaks to an attorney who can explain what it means to give up those rights.

Senate Bill 439 – Minimum Age of Prosecution

Currently, the law places any person under the age of 18 within the juvenile justice system. This means that children, no matter how young, can theoretically be placed in the juvenile system if they commit a crime. Senate Bill 439 proposes to change that by excluding children under the age of 12 from being placed in the juvenile court system.

Senate Bill 394 – No Life Sentence Without Possibility of Parole

In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court heard a case called Miller v. Alabama. In that case, the Supreme Court declared that sentencing a minor under the age of 18 to a life sentence without the possibility of parole is a violation of the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution, which forbids “cruel and unusual punishment.” SB 394 would bring California’s laws in line with that decision. Continue reading →

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What happens when you are convicted of a crime you did not commit? Would you serve out the sentence even though you know you were falsely accused? The reality is that you should never stop fighting for your freedom, and the best way to do that is to find an experienced criminal defense lawyer who will commit to fight for your exoneration.gavel_3-300x199

That is exactly what happened recently to a man who had already served 32 years in prison for murder. His conviction was overturned by a Los Angeles County judge. This is the latest proof that you should never give up on your case.

Murder Conviction Overturned after 32 Years

After being incarcerated for 32 years, Andrew Leander Wilson has been released from prison because he received “a constitutionally deficient trial,” according to his lawyers. The ruling comes after his lawyers showed that the testimony of a key witness for the prosecution was unreliable.

Wilson’s lawyers found many flaws in the testimony provided by the murder victim’s girlfriend, and they argued that she was willing to lie to police and had no credibility. They attacked her reliability by revealing facts about her personal history that were not presented at trial, including a history of alleged drug use and several violent incidents between Bishop and the victim.

The defense lawyers presented evidence that Bishop had previously stabbed her boyfriend during a fight and once attacked him so violently that his knee was dislocated. Additionally, they showed that Bishop had falsely accused another man of rape just a few months before testifying at Wilson’s trial.

The defense team also showed that Bishop had previously known Wilson, including babysitting his children in the past. Despite this, Bishop could not identify Wilson during several photo lineups. She finally correctly identified Wilson during an in-person lineup, but only after police showed her a photo of him.

“Had the evidence been produced to the defense, rather than seeing Bishop as a traumatized young woman who witnessed the tragic murder of her boyfriend, the jury would have heard that Bishop was a mentally unstable, emotionally volatile young woman…” Wilson’s lawyers said.

Why You Should Never Stop Fighting Your Conviction

Most people believe that false convictions are only overturned when DNA evidence is discovered that proves the defendant was not guilty of the crime. However, that is not true. As Wilson’s case shows, an experienced and dedicated post-conviction attorney could look at the facts of your case carefully and find ways to fight your conviction. This could not have happened without the committed lawyers who were willing to spend hundreds of hours to help do justice. Continue reading →

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Illegal-Immigrants-300x145If you witness a crime being committed, you will likely call the police or inform nearby authorities. While doing this, you may also decide to walk away from the area because you don’t want to get caught up in the middle of it. Both of these actions are natural, but recent reports suggest that informing police about a crime is not something that is happening among a certain group of people.

Latinos Less Likely to Report Crimes in Los Angeles

According to a report by the Los Angeles Times, the amount of reports of sexual assaults, rape and domestic violence incidents has decreased among Los Angeles’ Latino population.

Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said rape reports have dropped 25 percent, while domestic violence reports have dropped by 10 percent. Between January 1 and March 18 of 2017, Latino victims have reported 123 sexual assaults compared to 164 reports in the same timeframe in 2016.

Reports of spousal abuse in that timeframe dropped from 1,210 in 2016 to 1,092 in 2017. According to Beck, this decline in reporting was not seen among any other ethnic groups.

So, does this mean that crime is significantly down? No, but there is one major reason that is likely contributing to the decline in police reports among Latinos.

Fear of Deportation Leading to Less Reports of Crime

“Imagine a young woman, imagine your daughter, your sister, your mother not reporting a sexual assault because they are afraid that their family will be torn apart,” Chief Beck said at a recent event.

Beck and the city of Los Angeles are attributing the decreasing number of police reports amongst Latinos to a fear of deportation. With recent reports that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents are going into courthouses to detain immigrants, there is a growing sense of fear among the Latino population that interacting with law enforcement in any way could lead to deportation.

LA Mayor Signs Directive to Protect Immigrants

Los Angeles, like many cities in California, has a policy in place to prevent law enforcement officers from checking the immigration status of individuals in custody and from detaining these individuals longer than warranted without a court order under the request of federal deportation agents. Continue reading →

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Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents – both in uniform and in plain clothes – have recently made arrests inside of courtrooms or courthouses and just outside of court complexes, according to recent reports. ICE has gone so far as to detain an alleged domestic violence victim who showed up to court.1http://www.southerncaliforniadefenseblog.com/files/2017/04/ICE.Immigration.Arrest.Deportation-300x188.jpg

In response to these recent events, the California chief justice sent a letter to Donald Trump’s administration asking it to stop ICE agents from “stalking” courthouses to detain undocumented immigrants.

“Enforcement policies that include stalking courthouses and arresting undocumented immigrants, the vast majority of whom pose no risk to public safety, are neither safe nor fair. They not only compromise our core value of fairness but they undermine the judiciary’s ability to provide equal access to justice,” California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye said in her letter.

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Judge-Fs-HimselfThe expectation most people have is that a person who is arrested for a crime will be removed from the community and put in jail.

However, if you think about it, bail is exactly in line with one of the most fundamental principals of our criminal justice system: each person is innocent until they are proven guilty. This is why even after you are arrested for a crime, in many cases, you may have the legal right to be released from jail by posting bail.

The problem is that because of a quirk between the timing of bail and the potential time period in which a person might be charged with a crime, there was a possibility that some people would have to post bail more than once. However, on Jan. 1, 2017, a new law in California changed bail laws to reduce the chances that a person will have to post bail twice.

The Basics of Bail

Bail is meant to be a promise that you will show up in court for hearings and trial dates in exchange for your release. Typically, the law allows you to be set free from custody if you deposit a certain amount of money with the court. This does not mean you have to post the full amount out of your own bank account. You can work with a bail bondsman, who will post the full amount of bail in exchange for a non-refundable premium, which is generally 10 percent of the total bail amount.

There are two possible outcomes once bail is paid by a bail bondsman. If you fail to show up to court as required, the court can declare the bail to be forfeited, meaning the bail bond company (which works for an insurance company) will likely have to pay the county the entire bail amount. The threat of bail forfeiture means that the bail bond agent will want to ensure that you appear in court at all scheduled hearings.

The other outcome is that bail will be “exonerated” or returned to the bail bond agent. This happens when the case is terminated and you have mad all of your required court hearings. The bail may also be exonerated if the prosecution declines to formally charge you with a crime within a certain amount of time.

Why Would People Have to Pay For Bail Twice? (PC 1305)

Previously, California Penal Code Section 1305 required that if a defendant was not formally charged with a crime within 15 days of the arraignment, the bail would be exonerated. However, the prosecutor is not required to immediately charge you with a crime. In fact, many criminal cases are not filed by the prosecution for many months. You might not be charged yet because the prosecution is waiting for lab results to be returned in a drug case, or because the investigation needs to determine whether there is enough evidence to formally charge you with a crime. 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.