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Earlier this year, under President Trump’s aggressive immigration policies, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents began keeping a watchful eye on people coming in and out of courthouses, seizing an opportunity to detain immigrants for possible deportation. ICE argued that courthouses made for a safe area to detain suspected illegal immigrants because the security measures at courts help remove the possibility of an armed confrontation.Illegal-Immigrants-300x145

In March, California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye wrote to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John Kelly asking their departments to cease the “stalking [of] undocumented immigrants in our courthouses to make arrests.”

In her letter, she made the argument that the threat of deportation prevents witnesses and victims of crimes from coming forward, which makes the communities in which they live less safe.

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The California Department of Justice recently released its annual report on crimes. For the year 2016, several notable trends were spotted. Here is a look at some of the important statistics in the report.California-300x145

Violent Crime Increased for the Second Year In a Row

In 2016, violent crimes, including homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assault, increased by 4.1 percent compared to 2015. There were 8,113 more violent crimes committed in 2016 than the previous year. This is the second year in a row in which violent crimes have increased.

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After you are arrested, the court will typically assign bail. Bail is a monetary payment made by the defendant in order to be released from custody while the case is pending. The money is held by the court as a way to ensure the defendant will show up to his or her court dates. The money will eventually be returned to you if you do not miss any of your court dates, but the process may take more than a year.Money_Jail_Handcuffs-300x145

This system has been in place in California for many years. However, there is growing sentiment that the California bail system unfairly punishes poor people. Now, California lawmakers have turned to Kentucky as a possible example of how to reform the bail system.

Is California’s Bail System Unfair?

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Dumped in a lake. Dissolved in acid. Fed to pigs. In movies and TV shows, murderers often find creative ways to dispose of one key piece of evidence: the victim’s body. In reality, disposing of the body may not prevent a murder conviction in California. Murder_4-300x240

Several people in California have been convicted of murder in cases where the body was never found. One of the most famous cases involved Donald “Shorty” Shea, who disappeared during the summer of 1969. Charles Manson, one of the most infamous serial killers, and two other men, Steve Grogan and Bruce McGregor Davis, were eventually convicted of Shea’s murder despite the fact that his body had not been found at the time of his conviction.

How Can It Be a Crime Without a Body?

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If you are accused of a crime, you may expect to lose certain rights. However, you may not expect law enforcement to seize your property and hold onto it for an extended period of time. Unfortunately, that is exactly what can happen to you under a new federal policy to increase asset forfeiture that has been implemented by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.badge_cop_police

What is Civil Asset Forfeiture?

Civil asset forfeiture is when law enforcement seizes the property of suspected criminals, including cash, drugs, guns and any other assets. The general rule regarding asset forfeiture is that the assets seized must have some connection to a crime. This tactic is meant to prevent criminals and criminal organizations from using the property to commit new crimes and fund illegal activity, as well as weaken criminal infrastructure.

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Capitol_building_California-300x145The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case that could change the future of sports betting. The court recently decided to hear arguments regarding the legalization of sports gambling.

It all stems from a New Jersey ballot measure regarding sports betting that was approved by voters. As a result, the state began setting up sports books, but the MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL and NCAA sued New Jersey under the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), a federal law that prohibits sports gambling outside of Nevada, Oregon, Montana and Delaware.

What Happens Next?

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Nobody wants to go to jail. You will have little opportunity to contact your family and friends, and you will not be able to move about freely or enjoy the daily activities of your life. However, residents of Orange County may have more reason to want to avoid jail time. According to a report published recently by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), conditions in Orange County jails are inhumane.santa-ana-jail-300x175

After a two-year investigation by the ACLU Foundation of Southern California, the organization reported troubling conditions in Orange County jails that the ACLU claims violate state regulations and the U.S. Constitution. The report found that inmates in Orange County jails are exposed to violent, abusive and unhealthy conditions, including a pattern of denial and indifference by jail officials.1

According to the ACLU’s Jails Project report, inmates in Orange County jails receive inadequate medical care, suffer abuse, and are exposed to persistent overcrowding and unsanitary living conditions.

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Hate-speech-300x168Gun control has long been a controversial topic, but the conversation has become even more heated with the rise of mass shootings and domestic terrorism. In an effort to balance gun rights with public safety, California lawmakers have introduced a bill that would prevent people who are convicted of hate crimes from owning guns.

Assembly Bill 785 – introduced by Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles) – would prohibit people who have committed a hate crime from possessing or purchasing a firearm for 10 years after their conviction.

Expanding Current Law to Hate Crimes

Under current law, you are prohibited from possessing or purchasing firearms if you are convicted of a violent misdemeanor or misdemeanor involving the use or threatened use of a firearm. However, Assemblyman Jones-Sawyer has pointed out that the law has an “absurd” loophole.

According to Jones-Sawyer, the list of misdemeanors classified under this law does not include PC 422.6, which makes it a crime to use force or threats of force to injure, intimidate or threaten another person based on that person’s race, ethnicity, religion, nationality, disability, gender or sexual orientation. Therefore, people convicted of this crime are not prohibited from possessing a firearm for 10 years.

AB 785, which is being called the Disarm Hate Act, would close that loophole. Jones-Sawyer says it will “help keep weapons out of the hands of those who have demonstrated a dangerous readiness to escalate bigotry into criminal threats and violence.”

Why Pass This Law Now?

Opponents to AB 785 worry that the language is so broad that it could apply to petty crimes. Jones-Sawyer believes this proposed law would help curb gun violence without infringing on the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens. Continue reading →

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Concealed-weapon-2-300x199In 2016, California voters allowed a number of laws that aimed to strictly regulate firearm and ammunition purchases within the state. One of those laws banned Californians from owning or possessing large-capacity magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.

The law was set to go into effect on July 1. However, just days before it officially became law, a judge blocked it. So, is it illegal to possess large-capacity magazines in California?

California Voters Pass Law Banning Large-Capacity Magazines

The sale of large-capacity magazines was banned in California in 2000, when voters elected to outlaw people from purchasing magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. However, the law did not completely ban large capacity magazines within the state.

A stipulation in the law allowed individuals who had already purchased large-capacity magazines before 2000 to keep them for personal use. Individuals who owned a firearm purchased before 2000 that can only be used with a large-capacity magazine also were exempt from the laws.

However, voters passed Proposition 63 in 2016. This law, which was set to take effect July 1, eliminated exemptions from the large-capacity magazine law and increased the maximum penalty for owning large-capacity magazines. Therefore, anyone who possessed or owned a large-capacity magazine would have been required to:

  • Transfer the magazines to federally licensed gun dealers,
  • Move the magazines out of the state,
  • Turn in the magazines to law enforcement, or
  • Destroy the large-capacity magazines

Judge Blocks Gun Magazine Law from Taking Effect

On June 29, days before the gun magazine law was set to take effect, U.S. District Judge Roger T. Benitez issued a preliminary injunction to block it at the request of attorneys representing the Nation Rifle Association (NRA). Continue reading →

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Internet_Social-Media_Computer_Cellphone-300x200It’s no secret how much President Trump loves taking his message directly to the public through his Twitter account. Recently, Trump’s account has started to block people who express opposition to his tweets. By blocking these people, it prohibits them from reading and responding to tweets from Trump’s account.

Do you have a right to see the president’s tweets? There is currently a legal battle pending as to whether it is a violation of the First Amendment for Trump to continue to block people from seeing his tweets.

Is Twitter a Public Forum?

The central question in this case is whether the president’s Twitter account is a “designated public forum.” Under the First Amendment, a designated public forum is a forum that is set aside by the government for the purpose of free expression. In such a forum, the government may only place limits on the time, place, and manner in which the speech is made, but cannot censor the content of speech without a compelling interest.

The Knight First Amendment Foundation is arguing that the president’s Twitter account is a designated public forum and blocking people from this forum is a violation of their First Amendment rights. The foundation is stating that since the president of the United States controls the account, the government therefore operates it for the purposes of public expression. By blocking access to the account to people who are critical of him, Trump is censoring the free speech rights of those who disagree with him, according to the Knight First Amendment Foundation.

The argument has some weaknesses. First, like other social media services, Twitter is a privately owned and operated service that allows anyone to sign up for an account and use it for free. Also like other social media services, users must agree to Twitter’s terms of service before they can use the site, which means that Twitter reserves the right to deactivate accounts that violate those terms. Thus, President Trump’s legal team could argue that Twitter is a private forum in which the president is but one of millions of participants, and therefore the content can be regulated. 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.