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Articles Posted in Sentence Modifications

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While visiting his parents on break from the University of Pennsylvania, 19-year-old Blaze Bernstein, who identified as gay, was reportedly stabbed more than 20 times and left to die in a park in Lake Forest. Samuel Woodward has been charged with Bernstein’s murder, which authorities believe may have been motivated by Bernstein’s sexual orientation, and has plead not guilty.

In response to this crime, California lawmakers have introduced a bill that would create sentence enhancements for murder when the crime is motivated by the victim’s sexual orientation or gender.

Proposed Sentence Enhancements for Murder Based on Sexual Orientation or Gender (Senate Bill 971)

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Recently, Orange County became the first county in California to implement court-ordered treatment for the severely mentally ill. The new law is based on Nevada’s “Laura’s Law,” in which Laura Wilcox, a Nevada woman, was shot and killed by a mentally ill man in 2001.1

The Orange County Board of Supervisors’ unanimous passing of the law was influenced by the death of Kelly Thomas, a mentally ill homeless Fullerton man who was beaten to death by police officers in 2011.2

gavel.jpgOrange County will allocate $4.4 million of funds per year to provide assessment and treatment for an estimated 120 people under the Mental Health Services Act. The Orange County Board of Supervisors is also expected to allocate additional funds to hire up to four staff members in the public defender’s office and one in the county counsel’s office to manage legal issues associated with the program. The board plans to carefully track the outcomes of patients in the program to ensure its effectiveness.3

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U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has endorsed a proposal that would lower federal sentencing guidelines for defendants convicted of certain non-violent federal drug crimes. The proposal reflects the Obama Administration’s support for reducing mass incarceration in the United States.

The United States incarcerates a greater proportion of its population than every other country in the world, except for the tiny archipelago nation of Seychelles. U.S. prisoners account for 25% of the worldwide prison population, yet the United States represents only 5% of the overall world population. It is clear that US laws and regulations have become more strict over the years. Consequently, our prison population has risen 700% since 1970.

How Many People Are in U.S. Custody?

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When making sentencing calculations, courts must take into consideration presentence custody credits. First, a court must consider whether people are eligible for “conduct credits” based on their good conduct during presentence incarceration. Second, California Penal Code Section 2900.5 also provides for credits for time served. Under Section 2900.5, “persons who remain in custody prior to sentencing receive credit against their prison terms.” There is however an important limitation: the presentence custody must be attributable to the conduct that led to their conviction.

While this statutory rule appears rather straightforward, its application by California courts has revealed many hidden complexities. The California Supreme Court has gone as far to state in its opinions that a “credit determination is not a simple matter.” The only sure consensus among California appellate courts is that Section 2900.5 is very difficult to apply.

People v. Jacobs and Presentence Credits

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When a criminal defense lawyer accepts the responsibility of defending a person in court, he or she has a duty to investigate and present mitigating evidence that would assist in the defense. An investigation into the facts of the conduct is just part of the process. The lawyer should also investigate the accused background and character which could lead into areas of emotional or mental disabilities, which could result in a person being less culpable.

To establish that a lawyer has provided representation which is considered to be ineffective assistance, the defendant must demonstrate both a deficient performance and prejudice. This means the level of representation fell below a level an objective standard of reasonableness.

If you are accused of a capital crime then your lawyer should conduct an investigation into your social history and background. Moreover, there should be an inquiry into the mental health of a defendant as well. Lastly, proper representation would include an investigation into the history of the defendant’s substance abuse, if any.

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When an accused violates probation many times and a judge finally has had enough and imposes a 30 days jail sentence, how much time does the law require a person to do?

The answer under California law is 15 days of actual time, or 50% of the sentence imposed.

So how does Lindsay Lohan check into the Los Angeles County Jail and check out a few hours later with her 30 days jail sentence completed?

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Medical Parole- Adds Pen. Code § 2065, and adds Title 2.3 (commencing with § 3550) to Pen. Code Part 3.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger approved a measure which will allow state prisons to release comatose and physically incapacitated inmates on medical parole. Starting in 2011, the new law will give the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations the authority to grant medical parole to an inmate who is permanently incapacitated with a medical condition that renders him/her permanently unable to perform activities of basic daily living and requiring 24-hour care.

The option for medical parole includes a screening process to ensure that public safety is not jeopardized by the release of the inmate. Any release would have to be approved by the State Board of Parole Hearings. Prisoners sentenced to death or life in prison without the possibility of parole do not qualify.

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Can my Criminal Defense Attorney Help me Serve my Jail Time in Home Detention?

The answer to this will depend on whether you make the sound decision to retain the legal services of a knowledgeable, reputable and experienced criminal defense attorney in California at Wallin and Klarich.

Voluntary Home Detention Programs are generally available to low-risk defendants committed to jail, or defendants participating in a work furlough program. These defendants may participate in a home detention program during their sentence instead of confinement in county jail. (See Pen C §1203.016).

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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.