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jail_handcuffs_prison-300x199The Orange County District Attorney’s Office recently came under fire after it was discovered that prosecutors were using a secret program in which law enforcement would place informants in jail cells with defendants in order to convince them to unwittingly give up information that could be used against them in their cases. In some cases, the prosecution failed to turn over information to the defendants’ lawyers about the informants’ past work with police agencies, denying the defense a chance to call into question the credibility of the informants.

This unfair practice has drawn the attention of California lawmakers, who have proposed a new law that limits the incentives district attorneys can offer informants.

Paying for Information

Current law allows law enforcement or corrections officers to give informants $50 for their testimony, as well as incentives such as more lenient or reduced sentences, credit for good behavior, or a reduction of the charges against the informant.

However, the law placed no limit on the amount that could be paid to an informant for the information they provide toward the investigation of a suspected crime, which means that all the work prior to an informant’s actual court testimony can be compensated at an unlimited amount. For example, two members of the Mexican Mafia, Raymond “Puppet” Cuevas and Jose “Bouncer” Paredes, received a combined total of over $335,000 cash and other perks for providing information on dozens of cases over a span of four years.

A new law, Assembly Bill 359, is attempting to change that. While this bill would allow law enforcement to pay informants up to $100 per case, it would also apply to any information they provide during the investigation phase. The law would apply to members of any “prosecution entity,” which means the cap would no longer apply just to law enforcement or corrections officers. Prosecutors would still be able to offer incentives to informants, but the unlimited flow of cash would be cut off if this bill becomes law.

Currently, AB 359 has passed the Committee on Public Safety, which means the full assembly is set to take up the debate and vote on the bill in the next few months. Continue reading →

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Over the next few months, California’s juvenile justice system could undergo a number of important changes that would better protect minors facing criminal charges. Lawmakers have introduced eight bills that are designed to increase the minimum age for minors to face incarceration, provide additional constitutional protections, and prevent minors from facing life sentences without the possibility of parole.California-300x145

Here’s a look at some of the new proposed laws that could affect the California juvenile justice system:

Senate Bill 395 – The Right to Remain Silent and Have an Attorney Present

One of the biggest problems with the juvenile justice system is the number of false confessions made by minors. Minors are more prone to pressure and less likely to understand the consequences of confessing to a crime, and as a result, many juveniles are convicted of crimes they did not actually commit.

If passed, Senate Bill 395 will prohibit any minor charged with a crime from waiving their constitutional rights without first speaking to a juvenile criminal attorney. This means that a minor will no longer be able to waive the right to remain silent or have an attorney present during questioning until the minor first speaks to an attorney who can explain what it means to give up those rights.

Senate Bill 439 – Minimum Age of Prosecution

Currently, the law places any person under the age of 18 within the juvenile justice system. This means that children, no matter how young, can theoretically be placed in the juvenile system if they commit a crime. Senate Bill 439 proposes to change that by excluding children under the age of 12 from being placed in the juvenile court system.

Senate Bill 394 – No Life Sentence Without Possibility of Parole

In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court heard a case called Miller v. Alabama. In that case, the Supreme Court declared that sentencing a minor under the age of 18 to a life sentence without the possibility of parole is a violation of the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution, which forbids “cruel and unusual punishment.” SB 394 would bring California’s laws in line with that decision. Continue reading →

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What happens when you are convicted of a crime you did not commit? Would you serve out the sentence even though you know you were falsely accused? The reality is that you should never stop fighting for your freedom, and the best way to do that is to find an experienced criminal defense lawyer who will commit to fight for your exoneration.gavel_3-300x199

That is exactly what happened recently to a man who had already served 32 years in prison for murder. His conviction was overturned by a Los Angeles County judge. This is the latest proof that you should never give up on your case.

Murder Conviction Overturned after 32 Years

After being incarcerated for 32 years, Andrew Leander Wilson has been released from prison because he received “a constitutionally deficient trial,” according to his lawyers. The ruling comes after his lawyers showed that the testimony of a key witness for the prosecution was unreliable.

Wilson’s lawyers found many flaws in the testimony provided by the murder victim’s girlfriend, and they argued that she was willing to lie to police and had no credibility. They attacked her reliability by revealing facts about her personal history that were not presented at trial, including a history of alleged drug use and several violent incidents between Bishop and the victim.

The defense lawyers presented evidence that Bishop had previously stabbed her boyfriend during a fight and once attacked him so violently that his knee was dislocated. Additionally, they showed that Bishop had falsely accused another man of rape just a few months before testifying at Wilson’s trial.

The defense team also showed that Bishop had previously known Wilson, including babysitting his children in the past. Despite this, Bishop could not identify Wilson during several photo lineups. She finally correctly identified Wilson during an in-person lineup, but only after police showed her a photo of him.

“Had the evidence been produced to the defense, rather than seeing Bishop as a traumatized young woman who witnessed the tragic murder of her boyfriend, the jury would have heard that Bishop was a mentally unstable, emotionally volatile young woman…” Wilson’s lawyers said.

Why You Should Never Stop Fighting Your Conviction

Most people believe that false convictions are only overturned when DNA evidence is discovered that proves the defendant was not guilty of the crime. However, that is not true. As Wilson’s case shows, an experienced and dedicated post-conviction attorney could look at the facts of your case carefully and find ways to fight your conviction. This could not have happened without the committed lawyers who were willing to spend hundreds of hours to help do justice. Continue reading →

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Illegal-Immigrants-300x145If you witness a crime being committed, you will likely call the police or inform nearby authorities. While doing this, you may also decide to walk away from the area because you don’t want to get caught up in the middle of it. Both of these actions are natural, but recent reports suggest that informing police about a crime is not something that is happening among a certain group of people.

Latinos Less Likely to Report Crimes in Los Angeles

According to a report by the Los Angeles Times, the amount of reports of sexual assaults, rape and domestic violence incidents has decreased among Los Angeles’ Latino population.

Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said rape reports have dropped 25 percent, while domestic violence reports have dropped by 10 percent. Between January 1 and March 18 of 2017, Latino victims have reported 123 sexual assaults compared to 164 reports in the same timeframe in 2016.

Reports of spousal abuse in that timeframe dropped from 1,210 in 2016 to 1,092 in 2017. According to Beck, this decline in reporting was not seen among any other ethnic groups.

So, does this mean that crime is significantly down? No, but there is one major reason that is likely contributing to the decline in police reports among Latinos.

Fear of Deportation Leading to Less Reports of Crime

“Imagine a young woman, imagine your daughter, your sister, your mother not reporting a sexual assault because they are afraid that their family will be torn apart,” Chief Beck said at a recent event.

Beck and the city of Los Angeles are attributing the decreasing number of police reports amongst Latinos to a fear of deportation. With recent reports that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents are going into courthouses to detain immigrants, there is a growing sense of fear among the Latino population that interacting with law enforcement in any way could lead to deportation.

LA Mayor Signs Directive to Protect Immigrants

Los Angeles, like many cities in California, has a policy in place to prevent law enforcement officers from checking the immigration status of individuals in custody and from detaining these individuals longer than warranted without a court order under the request of federal deportation agents. Continue reading →

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Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents – both in uniform and in plain clothes – have recently made arrests inside of courtrooms or courthouses and just outside of court complexes, according to recent reports. ICE has gone so far as to detain an alleged domestic violence victim who showed up to court.1

In response to these recent events, the California chief justice sent a letter to Donald Trump’s administration asking it to stop ICE agents from “stalking” courthouses to detain undocumented immigrants.

“Enforcement policies that include stalking courthouses and arresting undocumented immigrants, the vast majority of whom pose no risk to public safety, are neither safe nor fair. They not only compromise our core value of fairness but they undermine the judiciary’s ability to provide equal access to justice,” California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye said in her letter.

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Judge-Fs-HimselfThe expectation most people have is that a person who is arrested for a crime will be removed from the community and put in jail.

However, if you think about it, bail is exactly in line with one of the most fundamental principals of our criminal justice system: each person is innocent until they are proven guilty. This is why even after you are arrested for a crime, in many cases, you may have the legal right to be released from jail by posting bail.

The problem is that because of a quirk between the timing of bail and the potential time period in which a person might be charged with a crime, there was a possibility that some people would have to post bail more than once. However, on Jan. 1, 2017, a new law in California changed bail laws to reduce the chances that a person will have to post bail twice.

The Basics of Bail

Bail is meant to be a promise that you will show up in court for hearings and trial dates in exchange for your release. Typically, the law allows you to be set free from custody if you deposit a certain amount of money with the court. This does not mean you have to post the full amount out of your own bank account. You can work with a bail bondsman, who will post the full amount of bail in exchange for a non-refundable premium, which is generally 10 percent of the total bail amount.

There are two possible outcomes once bail is paid by a bail bondsman. If you fail to show up to court as required, the court can declare the bail to be forfeited, meaning the bail bond company (which works for an insurance company) will likely have to pay the county the entire bail amount. The threat of bail forfeiture means that the bail bond agent will want to ensure that you appear in court at all scheduled hearings.

The other outcome is that bail will be “exonerated” or returned to the bail bond agent. This happens when the case is terminated and you have mad all of your required court hearings. The bail may also be exonerated if the prosecution declines to formally charge you with a crime within a certain amount of time.

Why Would People Have to Pay For Bail Twice? (PC 1305)

Previously, California Penal Code Section 1305 required that if a defendant was not formally charged with a crime within 15 days of the arraignment, the bail would be exonerated. However, the prosecutor is not required to immediately charge you with a crime. In fact, many criminal cases are not filed by the prosecution for many months. You might not be charged yet because the prosecution is waiting for lab results to be returned in a drug case, or because the investigation needs to determine whether there is enough evidence to formally charge you with a crime. Continue reading →

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fight_assault_battery_gangsSocial media allows us to share the most compelling moments of our lives. All too often, those moments include fist fights and criminal activity. It’s almost impossible to see a fight in public without also seeing dozens of cellphones recording it while people shout “World Star!” Now, it seems that some young people may even think it’s “cool” to commit crimes on video.

For this reason, California lawmakers have introduced a bill that would make it a crime to film or record violent crimes.

Jordan’s Law (AB 1542)

Assembly Bill 1542, which was introduced by Assemblyman Matt Dababneh (D-Encino), proposes to make it a crime to record video of any violent felony.

The bill is being referred to as “Jordan’s Law” because it was proposed based on an incident involving 14-year-old Jordan Peisner. Jordan was punched in the head by an unprovoked teen in 2016. While the incident took place, a teenage female who had prior knowledge of the perpetrator’s planned attack recorded it and posted it on the social media app Snapchat.

Dababneh hopes Jordan’s Law will address an increase in violent attacks being conducted for the sole purpose of filming and sharing them on social media. At a news conference at Peisner’s school, Dababneh said that the crime was “no different than someone driving the getaway car in a bank robbery.”

Posting Fights on Social Media Could Be a Crime (PC 667.95)

If passed into law, AB 1542 would add Section 667.95 to the California Penal Code, making it illegal to willfully record a video or conspire with another person to record a video of a violent felony.

If you are the person committing the felony and you conspire with another person to have the act recorded, you face an additional one year added to the punishment you face for committing the violent crime. Say, for instance, that you’re accused of assault with a deadly weapon. A felony violation of this crime carries up to four years in prison, so you would face up to five years in prison if you conspired with someone to record the incident. Continue reading →

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California gun laws are extremely complex and can be difficult to understand. You have the right to own firearms, but that doesn’t give you the right to take a gun wherever you please.

A new California gun law answers one question regarding your gun rights: Do you have to lock your gun in the trunk if you leave it in your car?

California Passes Secure Gun Law (PC 25140)

Concealed-weapon-2-1-300x199Senate Bill 869 passed last year and went into effect on Jan. 1, 2017. The bill adds California Penal Code Section 25140 to California law. Under this new law, you must secure a handgun inside a vehicle before you leave the vehicle unattended.

The handgun must be locked in the trunk of the vehicle, locked in a container with the container placed out of view, or locked in a container that is permanently attached to the vehicle and not in plain view, such as a glove box. This means any person authorized to carry a concealed weapon permit must secure and conceal their firearm in their vehicle, including law enforcement officers.

Violating this law could result in an infraction punishable by a fine of up to $1,000.

Why Did SB 869 Pass?

The passage of this new law is a result of several high-profile incidents where a gun was stolen from the vehicle of a law enforcement officer and then used to kill another person. Last year, a gun stolen from the car of a Federal Bureau of Land Management ranger was used to kill a 32-year-old woman. Two months later, a 27-year-old man was killed by someone using a gun that was stolen from the car of a Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement Officer. Continue reading →

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The legality of firearm possession for people who have committed crimes in California is often a difficult issue. If you have been convicted of certain crimes, not only are you subject to California’s laws restricting gun possession, but you are also subject to a strict federal law – the Lautenberg Amendment (18 U.S.C. 922(g)(9)) imposes a lifetime ban on gun ownership by any person who has committed a “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.”battery_convicts_firearm_possession.html

This is easy to understand if you have a felony conviction: If you are convicted of any felony, regardless of your age or whether the conviction was in California, you are subject to a lifetime ban on gun possession under California Penal Code section 29800.1

However, with misdemeanors, the ban is less clear. California law also applies a lifetime ban on firearm possession to certain misdemeanors involving the use of a firearm, such as misdemeanor domestic violence crimes, assault with a firearm, or having two convictions for brandishing a firearm. This ban is consistent with the federal law.

Adding to the confusion is this: Under California Penal Code section 29805, California has a 10-year ban on firearm possession by anyone convicted of any of 40 different types of misdemeanors.2 Among those is the crime of misdemeanor battery.

While California’s Court of Appeal ruled in 2013 (Shirey v. Los Angeles County Civil Service Commission) that people convicted of misdemeanor battery under California Penal Code section 242 are not prohibited from possessing firearms under the federal law,3 a more recent ruling by the United States Supreme Court has cast doubt on the prospects of gun possession for people convicted of misdemeanor battery.

United States v. Castleman and the Meaning of “Physical Force”

In 2014, the Supreme Court upheld a lifetime ban on firearms for a man who had a misdemeanor conviction under a Tennessee domestic violence law for “intentionally or knowingly cause[d] bodily injury to” the mother of his child. He had successfully argued in lower courts that his conviction for firearm possession was invalid because his prior conviction did not require proving he had violent contact with the victim, which was required under the law.4

The court in Castleman changed course, holding “that the requirement of ‘physical force’ is satisfied, for purposes of §922(g)(9), by the degree of force that supports a common-law battery conviction.”5 The court reasoned that the general policy behind the Lautenberg Amendment supports “grouping domestic abusers convicted of generic assault or battery offenses together with the others whom §922(g) disqualifies from gun ownership.”

Continue reading →

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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 →

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.