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If you spend any amount of time online (and we know you do because you are reading this article), you are undoubtedly familiar with Internet “trolls.” These are the people who, empowered by the anonymity of the Internet, seemingly only enjoy life when they are making someone else’s life miserable. internet%20trolls.jpg

Trolls usually operate by reacting to an online opinion post or comment of someone by deliberately posting offensive or inflammatory replies. The goal is to push the buttons of the other person, and the troll gleefully watches as their target becomes upset. In extreme cases, trolling gradually evolves into something worse: cyberbullying, which often involves severe harassment, and even threats of death or serious bodily injury against the other person or their family.

In the United Kingdom, Parliament has decided to take a stand against Internet trolls. A new law has been proposed to amend the 1988 Malicious Communications Act. At the time it was passed, the Malicious Communication Act created a six-month sentence for persons who intentionally send indecent or grossly offensive messages and threats. 1 The law, passed before the age of social media and online comment sections, will be updated to include messages sent through electronic means, and will increase the maximum jail time to two years.

Continue reading →

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Assault with a deadly weapon is one of the most serious crimes in California. Under California Penal Code Section 245, you could face up to four years in jail and $10,000 in fines if you are convicted of felony assault with a deadly weapon.

That is why it is important that you hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer if you are facing assault with a deadly weapon charges. Your assault lawyer will understand the what successful legal defenses may apply to your case.

Our skilled attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have been successfully defending clients accused of assault with a deadly weapon for more than 35 years. Here are some of the defenses we have used to successfully defend our clients who were facing assault with a deadly weapon charges:

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Hate crimes have recently become a persistent issue across the country. As the number of crimes based on race, religion and sexual orientation rises, many minorities are feeling unsafe in their homes and communities. To combat this growing problem, a California lawmaker has introduced a new piece of legislation that would create a registry to list all those who commit hate crimes.arrest_criminal_record-300x200

What is a Hate Crime?

A hate crime is a criminal act committed against another person that is motivated by the persons:

  • Disability
  • Gender
  • Nationality
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Sexual orientation
  • Association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics

If you commit a crime against someone due to any of the above motivations, the sentence for your crime could be enhanced.

California Hate Crimes Registry

Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra (D-San Fernando Valley) recently introduced Assembly Bill 39. AB 39 would work similar to California’s sex offender registry. The Department of Justice would keep a public database listing anyone convicted of a hate crime. If passed, this proposed law would create a hate crimes registry. It would publicize the names of any criminals convicted of a hate crime and list for what crimes they were convicted.

Currently, the Attorney General directs local law enforcement agencies to submit an annual report to the California Department of Justice regarding hate crimes that have occurred in their jurisdictions. These statistics include the number of hate crimes committed, the types of offenses the hate crimes were, the number of victims and suspects, and any information relating to how the cases were prosecuted.

An Increase in Hate Crimes

The Department of Justice released data showing that the number of hate crimes in California increased by 10.4 percent in 2015. Incidents involving religious bias increased 49.6 percent, while incidents involving hate crimes against Hispanics and Latinos increased 35 percent. The number of hate crime victims increased 10.4 percent.

Bocanegra cites these results as one of his primary reasons for proposing a hate crime registry. He also said that current events, including the election of Donald Trump’s as president, has increased the amount of intolerance in local communities. Bocanegra hopes that his proposed legislation will send a message that violence, especially the kind rooted in bigotry, won’t be tolerated. Continue reading →

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The 2017 legislative session is underway and California lawmakers have introduced a flurry of proposed laws. Many of the proposed laws could have a major impact on the California criminal justice system and how certain crimes are punished. From marijuana Breathalyzers to a new crime registry, here are six recently proposed laws that could affect you.california_flag_law_senate_building-300x200

  • Reclassifying “violent crimes” to get around Prop. 57

In an effort to help ease overcrowding in California jails and prisons, lawmakers proposed Proposition 57. This law, which was passed by voters in the Nov. 8 election, increased opportunities for those convicted of non-violent felonies to receive parole and “good behavior” benefits that decrease time in custody.

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california_flag.jpgIn 2016, California Governor Jerry Brown signed nearly 1,000 pieces of legislation into law. Many of these new laws went into effect Jan. 1, 2017. Here are eight new California laws you need to know about.

  • No More Bullet Buttons (PC 30515, 30900, 30680)

Assault rifles, semi-automatic pistols and other guns that did not have fixed magazines and instead could be reloaded by using the tip of a bullet or other tool are banned in California. With the passing of Senate Bill 880 and Assembly Bill 1135 in 2016, owners of these guns will need to register the weapons with the Department of Justice. Failing to do so could result in a sentence of up to 364 days in county jail and a $500 fine.

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The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures. This means that police cannot search you or your property without a warrant or probable cause.smartphone_cellphone_apps_text_sex

So what happens if law enforcement officers violate this protection? Is there anything you can do if police illegally searched you and you were convicted of a crime based on the evidence they found? A recent California Supreme Court decision proves that you should never give up on your case if your rights were violated.

Can Police Search You During a Traffic Stop?

The case (People v. Macabeo, 2016 DJDAR 11973) involved a man who was riding his bike in Torrance. Under Vehicle Code Section 21200, bicyclists in California must follow the same rules of the road as drivers. So when the man rode past a stop sign without stopping, he was stopped by police officers.

This traffic violation is a minor infraction, but the officers treated it like a serious crime. They patted down the man and found his cellphone. Without his consent, the officers went through the man’s phone and discovered images of child pornography.

The man was arrested and charged with child pornography possession. However, the defendant felt that his Fourth Amendment rights were violated when police searched him during a routine traffic stop. Did police have a reason to search him without first obtaining a warrant?

Police Can’t Search Your Cellphone without a Warrant

Based on the belief that the search he was subjected to was illegal, the man appealed the denial of a motion his lawyer had brought to suppress the evidence in trial court. However, the Second District Court of Appeal upheld the lower court’s decision. Many people would give up after this, but the defendant and his appellate lawyer took the case all the way to the California Supreme Court. Continue reading →

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In 2015, the number of violent crimes in California rose by 10%. Although the overall crime rate remained lowest in the decade, the number of crimes in California rose after a steady two years of decline.Judge-300x145

According to a report released by the state attorney general’s office, the number of violent crimes was up in all major categories of violent crimes when compared to 2014. For example, the number of aggravated assault and robbery cases increased by more than 8%, whereas the number of homicides increased 9.7%. The number of hate crimes in California also followed the same trend, showing an increase of 10.4%. Many of these cases involved religious bias, with anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim incidents on the rise along with incidents against Latinos.

The number of total property crimes climbed by 8.1%. The number of motor vehicle thefts also showed an increase. However, the number of burglaries dropped.

Despite an increase in the number of violent crimes, the number of overall violent and property crime rates were lower per 100,000 last year than those recorded in 2010. The number of overall violent and property crime rates remained drastically lower than the peak crime rates recorded in the 1980s and 1990s.

Statistics show that more than 4,000 people were murdered in 1993, whereas the number decreased to 1,861 people murdered statewide in 2015.

Similarly, the number of homicides recorded across California in 2009 reduced below 2,000 for the first time since 1974. The number has remained below that number since.

A breakdown of the number of homicides recorded in 2015 are given below:

Nearly 83% of victims in homicide cases were male. A large percentage of these victims were killed by friends and acquaintances, which was recorded at 47%. Additionally, 15% of victims were killed by their spouse, parent, or child, whereas approximately 31% of the victims were killed by strangers. More women were murdered by their spouse, as compared to men.

A large portion of homicide victims were Latino, which constituted 43% of cases. This was followed by 28.4% black, followed by 21.3% white victims. Approximately 29% of homicide cases were gang-related.

70% of these homicide cases involved the use of firearms. Continue reading →

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Law enforcement agencies, including FBI and the local sheriff use various methods and strategies to spy on individuals whom they suspect are committing crimes. Most of the methods used to spy on these individuals is with the help of digital trails these people create every day.Jail-Bars-and-Cuffs-300x225

You might think that this is a violation of the privacy of an individual and that such a search cannot take place without a warrant from a judge. However, the thing to note is that there are plenty of legal ways for law enforcement to snoop on digital trails created by individuals. For example, they can obtain your personal emails from Google with the help of a subpoena. The person being spied on is not even notified. Similarly, they may also contact AT&T to obtain your text messages. Police can also use other methods to track you without a warrant. Some of these methods are listed below:

Access to your phone records

Police can get courts to sign off on a subpoena to access your phone records. In order to obtain a subpoena, law enforcement must show the data they are searching for is relevant to a criminal investigation. Once the court has issued the order, police can get phone records without a warrant. Going through a list of phone numbers is not considered an unreasonable search and seizure.

Tracking your location

A lot of cellphone carriers provide authorities with the location of a customer’s phone for a small fee. They track the exact location of a person’s phone using cell towers, or they can use the GPS feature available in most smartphones. In 2011 alone, major cell carriers responded to more than 1.3 million requests from law enforcement for cellphone locations.

IP addresses on computers

Email providers such as Yahoo and Google collect huge amounts of data that give the location of email users through their IP addresses. A warrant is not needed to access the IP address of an individual, but it is needed if police wish to actually access the emails of an individual.

Access to emails

Law enforcement will need a warrant to be able to access your recent emails. However, they can obtain access to older emails with only a subpoena. In the first half of 2012 alone, Google received 7,969 requests for email data. Other email providers also receive thousands of subpoenas for email information.

Access to email drafts

Accessing draft emails is easier for investigators than getting access to recently sent emails. Stored electronic data, including emails and texts, are protected under the law, but there is less protection for email drafts. Continue reading →

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With constantly advancing technology and the increasing number of internet users, the number of internet crimes committed has also increased in recent years. Internet users engage in various activities daily, and some of these activities could unintentionally lead to criminal charges. Some people use the internet to commit crimes intentionally, and many of these crimes don’t even make it to the headlines. The normal internet user is not even aware of the different kinds of crimes that can be done electronically, and that’s why they may become victims of internet crimes. Some common internet crimes committed are listed below:Sex Offender Registries

Spoofing or Phishing (Business and Professions Code Section 22948.2)

Spoofing or phishing is the act of accessing a computer without authorization and sending multiple email messages in order to deceive the recipient. False information may be sent to the recipients who then become victims of this kind of internet crime. Anyone arrested for this crime can face a possible jail sentence of three years for a first offense. If the sender is also spamming for commercial gain, they may face up to five years in prison.

Extortion or Blackmail (PC 524)

When someone uses the internet to cause damage with the intent to extort money or something of value from another person, it is referred to as blackmailing. The hacker or person engaging in such activity may be threatening the victim to expose confidential information about them in exchange of money. Offenders can face hefty fines and a maximum sentence of up to five years in prison.

Prostitution (PC 647(b))

When someone tries to coerce, engage, or entice another individual into prostitution, they may face up to 20 years in prison.

Criminal Copyright Infringement (18 U.S.C. Section 2319)

Infringing a copyright or distributing someone’s work for financial gain on a computer network can carry a possible sentence of three years in prison. The penalty and consequences will double for repeat offenders.

Child Pornography (18 U.S.C. Section 2252)

Using the internet to transmit child pornography carries a minimum sentence of 5 years, up to a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Electronic Harassment

When someone anonymously uses the internet to threaten, abuse, harass, or annoy someone, they could face criminal charges that carry up to two years in prison. Continue reading →

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When you use your cellphone, you probably expect the information on it to stay private. You certainly don’t think that others will be able to access your private messages, account information and location unless you let them. However, law enforcement agencies sometimes use devices called Stingrays to gain access to cellphones. Is this legal?cellphone_smartphone_text_sext-300x169.jpg

What are Stingrays?

Stingrays are devices about the size of a suitcase that act as cellphone towers. Law enforcement agencies use these devices to trick phones in the area into connecting to them. By doing so, Stingrays are able to gain access to information on the cellphones.

For instance, cellphones store text messages, emails and location data of the user. All of this information is available to Stingrays in real time. These devices are powerful enough to connect to phones through walls and document this information, and interfere with or record phone calls. Police can use a Stingray to search for criminal suspects, shut down a phone before evidence can be deleted, and attempt to locate missing persons.

Stingrays have been a valuable tool for police during investigations. In 2012, the FBI used a Stingray device to catch a suspect in a mail and wire fraud investigation. However, there have been some questions raised recently about letting police use these devices without first obtaining a search warrant.

New Policies Regulating the Use of Stingrays by Law Enforcement

The use of Stingrays by law enforcement has been a controversial topic. Agencies were previously allowed to use these devices without issue. However, a recent policy change by the Department of Justice requires law enforcement officials to obtain a warrant before they can use a Stingray device.

Under this new policy, law enforcement agencies must regularly delete data collected through Stingray, bit data that could prove a suspect’s innocence must be maintained. 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.