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Articles Posted in Crime Conviction

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confess_police_interrogation_witness_evidence-300x200In a fair criminal justice system, the guilty are punished and the innocent are set free. Unfortunately, our system is not always fair, and innocent people sometimes go to prison for crimes they did not commit. In 2015, 149 people were exonerated nationwide for crimes they did not commit. In 27 of those cases, the person was convicted based on a false confession.

That is why the California legislature, in conjunction with the Northern California Innocence Project, pushed for a law that requires the interrogation of anyone suspected of committing murder to be recorded electronically. This means that if you are charged with murder, California Penal Code Section 859.5 allows the court to exclude any evidence of your statements if no video and audio recording is made and presented.

“Custodial Interrogations”

For electronic recording to be required, the interrogation must be a “custodial interrogation.” This means that a law enforcement officer is questioning you at a fixed place of detention where a person in your situation would not feel free to leave. In this situation, the police must advise you of your rights to remain silent and to have legal counsel present.interrogation_investigation-300x200

Essentially, this law applies if you have been arrested on suspicion of committing murder. If you have not been arrested or are stopped on the street to answer a few questions, the recording law does not apply.

The Exceptions to the Law

California Penal Code Section 895.5 lists a number of exceptions where the police are not required to record your interrogation. These exceptions include:

  • When recording is not feasible because of exigent circumstances;
  • You tell the police that you will not speak unless the interrogation is not recorded;
  • The interrogation took place in another state where recording is not required;
  • The officer reasonably believed the interrogation could jeopardize the safety of a confidential informant, law enforcement officer, or you;
  • The officers had no reason to suspect you of a murder and only became aware of it during the course of the questioning, after which a recording was then made; or
  • The recording device malfunctioned despite reasonable efforts to maintain it

If a recording is not made, the law enforcement officer who conducted the interrogation must document the reasons for the failure to make a recording. The prosecution must present these reasons to the court.

What If the Recording Was Not Made Without Good Reason?

If the court determines that the interrogation should have been recorded and it wasn’t, there are a few things the court can do that could help you fight these charges. The court can do any of the following: 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.7_reasons_why_you_should_appea.html

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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Persons convicted of sex crimes against children are often required to stay away from parks and playgrounds as part of their sentence. Someone in California who is convicted of drunk driving could be ordered to stay away from liquor stores. So, is it unconstitutional to order a man convicted of stealing from Home Depot to stay away from any Home Depot store?Probation-300x145.jpg

If you are convicted of a crime and placed on probation, you will likely to have to follow many conditions that are related to your crime. But can a judge place any probation conditions on you that he or she pleases? When are probation conditions illegal?

Explaining How California Probation Works

Probation is a type of punishment for a crime in California that allows you to serve your sentence without being held in custody in jail or prison. You will be released back into the community, but only with the expectation that you follow certain terms and conditions. If you fail to follow any of these conditions or appear at any scheduled court hearing, you are considered in violation of your probation and this could lead to you being sent to jail.

Under California Penal Code Section 1203, judges have wide discretion when determining the terms of your probation. Judges can issue any term or condition of your probation as long as it relates in some way to the crime you committed.

Probation Condition Banning Man from Entering All Home Depot Stores Upheld

The California Supreme Court recently upheld a probation condition that banned a man who was convicted of shoplifting from entering any Home Depot store and adjacent parking lots. The man plead no contest to second degree burglary of $128 worth of merchandise from a Home Depot store, but appealed the probation term preventing him from going to any Home Depot stores and parking lots.

According to the state Supreme Court, the condition “was reasonably related to his crime and to preventing future criminality.” Furthermore, the court reasoned that the probation condition barring the man from entering any Home Depot did not implicate his right to travel. Therefore, the court ruled the probation condition was constitutional. Continue reading →

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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.