Monday, November 25, 2013

I Was Arrested for DUI in Riverside, CA. What Can I Expect?

Riverside County has some of the strictest penalties for first-time DUI offenders in California.  If you're convicted of DUI anywhere in Riverside County, you're likely to receive costly fines, loss of your driving privileges, mandatory classes and at least 3 years of probation.  Unlike other jurisdictions in California, though, anyone convicted of DUI in Riverside is also likely to serve some time in custody, even for a first offense.  The time you spend in custody may vary depending on the circumstances of your case.  You might also qualify for some alternative to jail (home detention, weekends, labor, etc.), depending on a lot of factors.

Anyone convicted of DUI in California is required to attend a mandatory, 3-month alcohol education program, called "AB-541".  Riverside County has chosen to make this process more complicated than necessary.  Rather than simply allowing participants to enroll into the classes, Riverside requires all attendees to participate in a mandatory "orientation" session.  Of course, they charge a fee for this "orientation".  If you fail to schedule your orientation within 5 days of your court appearance, you'll be required to return to court for a new referral.  You could also be accused of violating your probation, which may result in more jail time.

The budget crunch in Riverside County means that more defendants are being crowded into fewer courtrooms, resulting in longer waits in less comfortable seating.  Make sure that you arrive on time to court, though.  Leave plenty of time for the security line.  If you check in late, you'll be turned away.  A warrant will be issued for your arrest and you'll have to request a new court date.

At your arraignment (your first court appearance), the judge will inform you of the charges against you.  You'll have an opportunity to either, 1) admit all the charges and resolve your case on the spot, 2) request the services of the Public Defender, or 3) request some time to speak with a private attorney.

As a private attorney, I'd recommend option #3.  An experienced, local DUI defense attorney can help you navigate the complicated process of fighting a DUI.  We provide peace of mind by helping you understand the legal procedures and your options going forward.  We can review the evidence to determine the strength of the case against you, as well as any possible defenses.  Even if you're guilty as charged, your counsel can often help negotiate a fair deal to resolve your case.  As mentioned above, there may be options available that would allow you to keep your job and take care of your family, even while serving "custody".

A private attorney can often make your court appearances for you, without you being personally present.  Save yourself the headache of appearing in court -- just send your lawyer.

If you or a loved one has been arrested for DUI in Riverside, California, call our office for a free attorney consultation.  951 683 4613.  Ask for John.  Thanks for reading.

Riverside DUI Lawyer

Friday, November 22, 2013

Give a Loved One the Gift of a Fresh Start -- Affordable Expungement Packages Now Available

Does someone in your life have a criminal conviction that's standing between them and the things they want to achieve?  Husband can't find a good job because of an old DUI?  Daughter can't get into school because of mistakes she made years ago?  This holiday season, give someone you love a gift they really need...an expungement!

As I've previously written on this blog.  An expungement is California's way of dismissing a case after someone has successfully completed serving his or her penalties.  After an expungement is granted, it's like the conviction never happened (for most purposes, some exceptions).

An expungement can dramatically improve your job prospects and your chances of holding various professional licenses or being admitted to a good school.  Give someone you love a second chance to accomplish all the things you know they're capable of.

Expungements aren't for everyone.  There are several strict criteria that a petitioner must meet in order to earn the expungement.  Specifically, it's important that the petitioner:

1) Successfully completed probation.  If probation was not granted, petitioner must wait one year from the date of the conviction.

2) Is not currently on probation in any other cases.  If the petitioner is still on probation, we might be able to help terminate probation early.

We provide free consultations to help determine whether or not you or your loved one qualifies for an expungement.  If you do not qualify, there may be other options available for you.  After your consultation, we will prepare all necessary paperwork to begin the process of petitioning for your expungement.  The documents are fairly simple, but any small error can result in a denial of the petition.  After preparing the documents, we will take care of serving those documents on the prosecutor and properly filing them with the court.  We will also appear in court on your behalf for any necessary appearances.  In most cases, you do not need to be personally present in court for these hearings (some exceptions may apply).

Call us for your free consultation at 714 505 2468.  Thanks for reading.

Kelly Thomas Trial Date Approaching


The trial of Fullerton police officers Manny Ramos and Jay Cicinelli is now scheduled to begin in Department C-40 of the Santa Ana Courthouse on December 2, 2013.  Members of the public are encouraged to attend.

Officer Ramos and Corporal Cicinelli are accused in the 2011 beating death of transient Kelly Thomas, pictured, at the Fullerton Transit Center.  Kelly was severely beaten by six Fullerton police officers on the evening of July 5, 2011.  He suffered severe injuries, including facial fractures and broken ribs.  Kelly never regained consciousness.  He died after being removed from life support five days later.

The incident was captured by both audio and video recorders.  Ramos is accused of provoking the fatal encounter by threatening Kelly with unlawful force.  At one point in the recordings, Ramos can be seen putting on latex gloves.  He says to Kelly, "See these fists?  There's getting ready to fuck you up".  As Kelly gets up and attempts to run from Officer Ramos, Officer Joe Wolfe strikes Kelly with a baton.  Wolfe and Ramos quickly take Kelly to the ground as more police arrive to assist.  Corporal Cicinelli deploys his taser several times, then begins striking Kelly repeatedly in the face with the butt of his weapon.  Six officers dog pile onto Kelly and continue their assault until Kelly stops breathing.

After Kelly lost consciousness, the officers made no effort to provide medical attention.  Even as the homeless man lay dying in the parking lot, officers prevented emergency responders from rendering aid to him.

Kelly's death helped to expose a "culture of corruption" within the Fullerton Police Department.  Several other incidents were later revealed in which Fullerton Police had used excessive force, fabricated reports, suppressed exculpatory evidence, and engaged in acts of dishonesty.  Chief Michael Sellers was forced to "resign" in the wake of the investigation.  Fullerton voters also held a special recall election, in which 3 council members were removed from office for their roles in the scandal.

The Fullerton Police Department has a long way to go if it hopes to restore the public's trust.  "Guilty" verdicts for Ramos and Cicinelli will be a crucial first step in the healing process, both for the City of Fullerton and for the Thomas family.

The defense is expected to make two key assertions.  First, they will argue that Kelly caused his own death by refusing to follow the commands of officers and by attempting to flee.  Attorneys will claim that the officers used the appropriate degree of force to restrain a violent, dangerous individual and that their force would have ended immediately upon Kelly's compliance.  Secondly, the defense will likely argue that the cause of Kelly's death cannot be determined with any reasonable degree of certainty and that some reasonable doubt must, therefore, exist.

Stay tuned for developments as they become available.  I will try to attend as much of the trial as possible.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Myth of the Day: Is it Really Illegal to Eat an Orange in Your Bathtub in California?

This is a persistent myth that has made its way around the internet, thanks to social media and the general willingness of gullible people to repeat asinine things that they've heard. This particular myth, though, has even been propagated by some (seemingly) credible sources, including Gerri Willis from Fox Business.  If you're still getting your news from Fox...well...there's your first problem.

Despite the countless sources that make this claim, none actually cite to any relevant statutory authority. Luckily, I was born with a rare genetic condition called "curiosity", so I decided to devote some valuable time to finding this mysterious and arcane law.  I actually did something that Gerri Willis couldn't be bothered to do -- I checked my sources.

Turns out, no such law exists in California.  Of course not.  Just think for a minute about how absurd a law like that would be.  It would obviously be impossible to enforce and it would likely be stricken down as "without rational basis".

Moral of the story: if you hear a legal myth that sounds too ridiculous to be true, it probably is. Also, Fox Business is lying to you.

If you or a loved one has questions about any other legal myths, call our office for a free attorney consultation.  (714) 449-3335.  Ask for John.

Thanks for reading.

Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney