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Nearly 10 years ago, a law that was passed in California made it illegal for people to use their cellphones to read, write, and send text messages while driving. It was found that over 80% of vehicular crashes and accidents involve distracted driving, and lawmakers wanted to do something to address this issue.1Text and Drive 2

Since then, cellphone use has drastically increased, and distracted driving continues to be a major problem. Users can snap pictures, browse the internet and play games all on their smartphones. So why is it only illegal to send texts while driving? A new California is expanding the texting while driving law.

No Phones Allowed While Driving

Cellphones have become much more complex since California’s texting while driving law went into effect. Due to this, California lawmakers felt the need to update the language of this texting-and-driving law to reflect how people currently use smartphones.

Assembly Bill 1785 was introduced earlier this year to add a section to the texting and driving law under California Vehicle Code Section 23123.5. California Governor Jerry Brown recently signed the bill into law.

This new legislation makes it illegal for anyone to operate a smartphone or any phone with their hands while driving a vehicle. This means it does not matter if you were sending texts, playing Pokemon Go, or using Tinder – all of these actions are illegal. The law will go into effect January 2017.

When the law goes into effect, drivers in California will be prohibited from holding a phone while behind the wheel. However, there will be some exceptions. The use of a phone or smartphone is allowed if the device is mounted to the vehicle’s dashboard or windshield, and if the driver is activating or deactivating a feature of the phone that requires a single swipe or tap of their finger.

Punishment for Using Your Phone While Driving in California

The punishment for violating this law remains the same as it did for texting while driving. A first offense is punishable by a fine of $20. While this number seems small, being cited for texting while driving will actually cost you a lot more. With additional fees and penalty assessments associated with your violation, you will wind up paying around $165 for breaking this law. Continue reading →

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An ongoing scandal involving the Orange County District Attorney’s Office has led California lawmakers to pass a new law. Beginning at the start of 2017, prosecutors who falsify or withhold evidence in a criminal case could be charged with a felony.evidence1

So, what does this new law mean for you?

Felony Charges for Prosecutors Who Withhold Evidence

California Governor Jerry Brown recently signed a law that will make it a felony for prosecutors in the state to tamper with or hide evidence that could disprove the guilt of a defendant. Any prosecutor who violates this law faces up to three years in state prison.

Altering or hiding exculpatory evidence was previously a crime, but it was only a misdemeanor, which carries significantly lesser penalties.

In addition, the California State Bar proposed a new ethical rule that requires criminal prosecutors to disclose exculpatory evidence in a timely manner. The California Supreme Court must approve this rule before it can go into effect. However, doing so would line the State Bar’s rules up with other states, so it is not expected to face opposition.

If it is adopted by the California Supreme Court, violating this ethical rule would result in state bar discipline. This means prosecutors who willfully fail to turn over evidence could face the suspension or revocation of their license to practice law.

Why Pass This Law Now?

Assemblywoman Patty Lopez (D-San Fernando), who introduced the legislation, said the bill was drafted in an effort to reduce misconduct in criminal cases and prevent wrongful convictions. It was not a specific response to the events occurring in the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, but Lopez acknowledged those events helped move the bill forward.

The Orange County District Attorney’s Office was removed from the prosecution of alleged mass murderer Scott Dekraai in 2015. The judge who made this decision said it was due to the district attorney’s failure to turn over evidence, which the judge considered repeated violations of Dekraai’s rights.

The Orange County District Attorney’s Office has also recently faced additional allegations of violating the rights of defendants through the misuse of jailhouse informants.

How Does This Law Affect Me?

This new law is a big win that protects the rights of criminal defendants in California. While some unethical prosecutors may still attempt to violate the law and State Bar rules, being subject to felony charges should prevent many prosecutors from committing misconduct by withholding or falsifying evidence. Continue reading →

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Wallin & Klarich, A Law Corporation is proud to announce that the Southern California Defense Blog has been nominated for best legal blog of the year by The Expert Institute.

The Southern California Defense Blog has been selected as one of the best blogs in the criminal defense law category in the annual contest by The Expert Institute.

Now, the best legal blog will be awarded based on a voting system. Anyone can cast a vote for any of the nominees for the best legal blog by visiting the voting page on The Expert Institute’s website.

The Southern California Defense Blog is a premier source of information regarding criminal defense topics and how they relate to southern California. On the site, you can find the latest legal news, including new and updated laws, and advice from skilled criminal attorneys with more than 35 years of experience. Continue reading →

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You may think fighting your traffic ticket seems like a waste. You may feel “a cop says I was speeding, and it’s going to be her word against mine,” so why bother?ticketsm

Wrong. Fighting a traffic ticket is always a good choice because you have the chance to have your fine dismissed and to prevent any points from being added to your record from the ticket. There is no additional penalty for contesting a ticket.

If you decide to fight your ticket in court, there are several ways to increase your chance at winning your case. Here are five tips that you should keep in mind when fighting your ticket.

  • Trial By Declaration

Suppose you are ticketed for running a stop sign. With minor traffic violations like this, you can request a Trial by Declaration in which you submit a written declaration on a form to the court. On this form, you will plead not guilty to the traffic offense, and explain the facts that you believe show you are not guilty.

When drafting your declaration, it is a good idea to consult with an experienced traffic attorney. You will be signing the form under penalty of perjury, so you cannot lie in your declaration. However, that does not mean you are required to admit that you are guilty. Your attorney can help you draft a statement that does not lie, but does not admit guilt.

The officer who gave you the ticket will be asked to submit his or her own statement about your offense. Based on a comparison of the two statements, the court may dismiss your violation or find you guilty. The good news is that California law allows you a second trial if you are found guilty. So, the trial by declaration is a good choice because it costs you no additional fines and it allows you two chances to beat your ticket.

  • Show Up!

In every court case, there are two ways to lose: not to show up or to show up late. Courts have a lot of cases to work through each day, and judges want to get through them as efficiently as possible.

Remember that a traffic ticket is a promise on your part to appear in court on a specific date. If you break this promise by not showing up, the judge can issue a warrant for your arrest for failing to appear, which can result in additional fines and a hold on your license. The court can also decide to try your traffic case without you. If you cannot appear, you should speak to an attorney about appearing for you.

  • Gather Evidence

Perhaps a construction crew that was working on the sidewalk obstructed your view of the stop sign. Maybe a vandal had stolen the stop sign and it was not there when the officer stopped you. These would be facts that explain why you rolled through the stop, and you are allowed to bring evidence of these facts to the court’s attention.

If you can, go back to the scene of your violation and take photographs that show these factors exist. Continue reading →

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child_arrested_minor_crimes_teen-300x200If you’ve ever heard the term “juvenile hall,” you know there is a difference between adult criminal courts and the juvenile justice system. But what really is the difference? Don’t minors convicted of crimes just go to a separate jail for people 18 and under?

In the past, minors who committed crimes were often sent to juvenile correctional facilities. However, the California juvenile justice system is now using different methods to help treat juveniles rather than incarcerate them.

Why the Juvenile Justice System Needed Change

It was reported that 10,000 minors occupied California correctional facilities in 1996. Studies concluded that juvenile facilities subjected inhabitants to inhumane conditions and violence. In addition, juvenile offenders who were released from custody had high recidivism rates.

To combat this, California lawmakers used the Juvenile Justice Crime Prevention Act (JJCPA) to establish funding for “programs that have proven effective in curbing crime among at-risk youths.”

By 2013, the number of minors in California correctional facilities had dropped to 700. So, what was different? Much of it was due to a change in how juvenile offenders were treated after entering the juvenile justice system. Due to the JJCPA, individual counties had a reliable source of funds to use on trying different methods for helping juvenile offenders.

Treatment Over Incarceration

Now that each county in California can receive funds to invest in programs for juvenile offenders, they are discovering that incarceration is not the best way to punish them. According to recent research, law enforcement agencies and county probation offices are using structured “evidence-based, cognitive restructuring” programs with a focus on social learning.

What exactly does that mean? Instead of simply holding juvenile offenders in custody and releasing them so that their criminal behavior can be re-triggered, the focus is on treating the youth so that they stop committing criminal acts. Continue reading →

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The Fourth Amendment protects citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures. This protection requires law enforcement to seek a warrant or to have probable cause in order to search you or your property. However, a new California law allows law enforcement to use a search technique on some people without the need for probable cause.police-interrogation-300x210

If you have been arrested for a crime in California, law enforcement has the ability to body scan you without probable cause. Does this new law violate your rights?

Bill Allowing Police to Use Body Scanners Signed

California Governor Jerry Brown recently signed Assembly Bill 1705 into law, making it legal for law enforcement to use body scanners on anyone who is arrested for a misdemeanor or infraction.

This new law essentially allows authorities to perform searches of anyone who is taken into custody without the need for probable cause. The law makes a specific exemption for pregnant women, and it requires that the person conducting the body scan be the same sex as the person being scanned.

Body scanners used by law enforcement work in a similar way to scanners used at most airports. They provide detailed outlines of the person who is being scanned. Like TSA at airports, law enforcement uses body scanners to locate any drugs or weapons being carried by the person being scanned.

Do Body Scanners Violate Your Rights?

Does the use of body scanners without probable cause violate your rights?

The American Civil Liberties Union and several prisoners’ rights groups think so. In opposing the bill, these organizations claimed the new law is a way to get around existing protections against invasive searches of offenders who are accused of committing minor crimes. Continue reading →

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In the criminal justice system, there is almost always a way for you to get a second chance. If you are convicted of a crime, you may be able to appeal your conviction. If your appeal fails, you may be able to appeal to a higher court. If you and your appeals attorney persevere, a decision may be made in your favor.California-Criminal-Appeals-300x257

You may think it is easy to give up on your case, but you should not. Thanks to the appointment of two new California Supreme Court justices, you may have a better chance than ever to win your appeal.

California Supreme Court Sets Aside Death Penalty Against Defendant

More than 20 years ago, a defendant was convicted of murdering a homeowner during a robbery and burglary. An accomplice admitted that he acted alone when committing the murder and stated that the defendant was not in the same room when the murder took place. However, the judge at trial excluded these statements as evidence.

On appeal, the California Supreme Court recently ruled that excluding this evidence was a prejudicial error, and set aside the death penalty for the defendant.

The case will now be reheard, and the defendant will get a new chance in court with the proper evidence admitted in his favor.

How did the defendant get his second chance more than 20 years after the incident took place?

There Has Never Been a Better Time to Appeal Your Case

All of the defendant’s previous appeals were denied, including one to the California Supreme Court last year. So, why was his conviction recently reversed?

The court ruled in favor of the defendant in a narrow 4-3 decision. This is mostly due to California Governor Jerry Brown, who recently appointed two new Supreme Court justices to the seven-member court. The two liberal justices join another who was appointed by Gov. Brown, and one of the new justices took over a seat vacated by a very conservative judge. Continue reading →

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California is taking a big step toward combating the growing 3D-printed gun market. 3D printing has rapidly gained in popularity over the last few years. People have used the technology to create anything from small model guns to working firearms. While people may create 3D-printed guns as a hobby, the lack of restrictions has caused lawmakers to address safety concerns.3d-printed-gun-300x225

Registration Required for 3D-Printed Guns

Governor Jerry Brown recently signed Assembly Bill 857 into law. It imposes new restrictions on guns that are created through the use of 3D printers or similar technology. Going into effect on July 1, 2018, the law requires anyone who creates a firearm through 3D-printing to apply for a serial number or other mark of identification through the Department of Justice, a process that also requires a background check.

The owner of the firearm must affix or engrave the serial number into the firearm within ten days of receiving it. Additionally, 3D-printed plastic firearms would be required to have a piece of stainless steel embedded into the plastic, making them impossible to pass through metal detectors.

Time for a Change?

Under this new law, failure to register a 3D-printed handgun is considered a misdemeanor and can result in a fine of up to $1,000 and up to 364 days in county jail. Failing to register any other type of firearm is also punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and up to six months in county jail. Having additional firearms is considered a separate offense.

Recent incidents of gun violence across the country are likely the driving force behind this new legislation. Many use 3D printing as a hobby but creating guns can be potentially dangerous. The lack of registration on 3D-printed guns, including how easily they could pass through traditional security measures, makes them hard to control and govern.

3D-printed weapons have the potential to be mass produced very cheaply, and lawmakers want to prevent California residents from distributing them without consequences. When this law goes into effect in 2018, it will put more restrictions in place to track who is creating guns and how they are being used. Continue reading →

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California’s stance on gun control is changing drastically. Several new laws that were recently passed place more restrictions on how guns and firearms are handled. Governor Jerry Brown recently signed these six new stricter gun control bills into law. Brown sees the new laws as a way to improve public safety while also protecting the rights of current law-abiding gun owners.

Restrictions on Ammunition

Concealed Weapon AttorneyTwo of the new laws involve restrictions on owning and purchasing ammunition. Senate Bill (SB) 1235 requires those who purchase ammunition for guns to undergo a background and driver’s license check. Purchasing ammunition would enter the buyer into a database that is monitored by the Department of Justice.

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“If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.” This expression is often used in reference to criminal cases in which someone accused of a crime wants to avoid being sent to jail. But what happens if you aren’t facing jail time? What can you do if you were cited for a driving violation and fined, but you can’t afford to pay the amount?

Will Your Driver’s License Be Suspended? (CVC 14601)

A traffic ticket involves harsher consequences than you see on your citation. If you were cited for a traffic violation, the amount you may have to pay in fines is likely much more than it may indicate on your ticket. That is because there are additional charges and fees associated with a traffic ticket. A fine of $100 could actually cost you about $500 when factoring in those additional court fees.ticketsm-300x200

For this reason, you may think that ignoring your traffic ticket may be the best thing to do. “This is way too much money to pay for such a little violation,” you may think. However, ignoring your traffic ticket could lead to even more serious penalties. The DMV can suspend your driver’s license if you fail to pay your traffic fines.

This means that if you were cited for having a broken taillight or issued a ticket for having tinted windows, you could potentially lose your driving privileges in California if you don’t pay the fine.

Is this fair?

Lawsuit Claims Driver’s License Suspension for Unpaid Fines is Unlawful

It would make sense for courts to have a system in place for those who cannot afford to pay the entirety of their traffic fines. Well, that is what the Western Center on Law and Poverty and USC Gould School of Law believe.

The two organizations recently filed a joint lawsuit against the Los Angeles Superior Court regarding what they are claiming is the unlawful practice of suspending the driver’s licenses of those who cannot pay traffic fines. Continue reading →

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.