After an investigation that lasted over a month, investigators arrested four men who are suspected to belong to a Southern California drug trafficking ring. The men, who are alleged to have imported cocaine, heroin, and other drugs to the United States from Mexico, are all being detained awaiting trial. They each face sentences that could be longer than they could serve in their lifetime.
According to a report by NBC LosAngeles, police investigators set up an undercover sting operation where an officer attempted to buy drugs from the suspects. Once the officer was in possession of the drugs, other officers obtained a warrant and searched the residence, where police found an additional 107 lbs of methamphetamine, 9.5 lbs of cocaine, ½ lb of heroin, and almost $30,000 in cash.
Police Are Cracking Down on Drug Dealers
If you have been paying attention to the headlines lately, you will have noticed that police are tightening down on drug dealers across the State of California. Not just large-volume dealers, like the ones in this story, are at risk. Police are even setting up sting operations to catch small-time, neighborhood dealers more than in years past.
When it comes to punishments, the amount of the drug possessed does not always matter. This is because there are only a few tiers of possession and, whether you are at the top end or the bottom end doesn't make any difference in the sentence you will receive.
California has also taken new approaches to hunt down drug dealers versus casual drug users like Assembly Bill 721, authored by Assemblyman Steven Bradford, D-Gardena. He reasons that "too many people are getting caught up in the prison system with nothing more than a small amount of drugs for personal use." This will apply felony drug-transportation charges to individuals involved in drug trafficking or sales instead of average day to day users.
There Is No Such Thing As a Non-Serious Drug Crime
All drug crimes are serious in the state of California. Some people are deceived because the state has a liberal stance on marijuana consumption; however, that same stance does not necessarily apply to other more serious drugs. For instance, in California, a first-time offender convicted of possession with intent to distribute faces a fine of up to $1,000 and five years in state prison.
Once you have one conviction on your record, any following convictions are treated more seriously. Although California's "three strikes" law was recently repealed, that does not change the fact that repeat offenders are punished harshly in California.
Recently in Criminal Category
After an investigation that lasted over a month, investigators arrested four men who are suspected to belong to a Southern California drug trafficking ring. The men, who are alleged to have imported cocaine, heroin, and other drugs to the United States from Mexico, are all being detained awaiting trial. They each face sentences that could be longer than they could serve in their lifetime.
In a victory for civil rights advocates across the country, the US Supreme Court refused to hear the State of California's appeal hoping to reverse an earlier ruling that required the State to make meaningful reform to address the State's overcrowded prisons.
Several years ago, the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of a group of inmates claiming that the overcrowding in California prisons was so bad that the conditions were unsafe. Most notably, they argued that proper medical attention could not be given to all inmates. The State has done all that it can to avoid complying with that ruling. This recent denial is the final nail in the coffin, so to speak, of the State's options to avoid compliance.
While the exact requirements are quite confusing and beyond the scope of this blog post, the bottom line is that California prisons will have to cut about 10,000 inmates from the prison system. Now. This does not necessarily mean letting people go with no strings attached. The State has until January to come up with a plan to decrease the prison population.
What Can California Do To Decrease Prison Overcrowding?
The State is considering a number of options to decrease the overcrowding in it's prisons. The first is to rely more heavily on drug treatment and mental health services rather than incarceration.This should divert many incoming inmates to these other services rather than landing them in prison. Rehabilitation has been seen as more effective as incarceration in relation to recidivism.
Second, the State is considering spending $300 million dollars to ship inmates to private prisons or prisons located in other states, such as Mississippi, Arizona, and Oklahoma. Of course, while this would decrease prison population, it would also cost the State of California a hefty sum and would rely on other states to do our work.
Another possible avenue for inmate reduction is to focus on low-threat offenders, such as juveniles and the elderly, who may have long prison sentences. They would go through a review session first and must qualify under specific criteria. For the elderly, however, it has been seen that they are less likely to return to prison after the age of forty. Both juvenile and elder groups, it is argued, are less of a threat to the community or may be better held in an alternative location, like a juvenile facility or a half-way house. Other groups they are looking into as well are the seriously ill, immigration violators, and other nonviolent perpetrators.
Sentencing reforms have also been taken into effect, such as the reform of the Three Strikes Law. In the past, no matter how minor or nonviolent an individual's crime was for his or her third felony, it immediately led to a life sentencing. However, with the reform, the third felony must be considered as "serious" or violent, like murder.
As Biometric Authentication Becomes More Prevalent, the Technology May Affect Criminal Constitutional Law
The ever-popular device manufacturer, Apple--mother of the iPhone--has announced that the next generation of the popular phone will use biometric authentication to unlock it. Biometric authentication is not an unfamiliar technology, especially for those fans of spy movies. The technology, which has been around for a few years in other applications, verifies a user's identity by their unique fingerprint.
While many look forward to the new technology, certain repercussions of the technology remain alarming. For example, a recent article by Wired notes that, as the technology becomes more prevalent, it might affect our constitutional rights. Indeed, the article explains that, under the current legal system, courts can require defendants and witnesses to hand over non-testimonial evidence, such as physical evidence, say a key to a box. However, the courts cannot require a defendant or witness to incriminate himself by forcing him to testify against himself.
You Have the Right to . . .
The right to be free from self incrimination is commonly known as "pleading the fifth," and refers to the Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution. That Amendment guarantees that citizens will not be required to testify against themselves. However, the right only applies to "testimonial" evidence. Testimonial evidence, the article explains, is evidence which "reveals the contents of your mind."
The concern over fingerprint evidence is this: currently, courts cannot require a witness or a defendant to divulge a password, because doing so would require the defendant to "reveal the content" of his mind. However, if passwords are not combinations of letters and numbers that we keep in our minds, but are our unique fingerprints, perhaps courts could require defendants provide their "passwords" at trial.
Who Will Be Affected By the New Technology?
This would probably have the largest effect on white collar crime and identity crimes, where the use of a specific password would be at issue. Don't be mistaken, the Fifth Amendment and all that it stands for will still apply in all contexts, however, biometric authentication might act as a way around the privilege in some cases.
However, this technology can actually affect any individual who uses the iPhone who stores information that could be used against them in a court of law. Therefore, it is important to know your rights in this area.
In the justice system, there is one path for adult offenders and another for juvenile offenders. The adult system focuses on deterrence, retribution, punishment, and, to a lesser extent, rehabilitation. The juvenile system, however, is focused exclusively on providing rehabilitation and guidance to the offending juvenile with hopes of decreasing the chance of any future infractions.
Along those lines, generally speaking, the system allows many juveniles to serve sentences that do not include incarceration. Even when a sentence does include incarceration, it is not typically in an adult jail, but rather in a "youth camp" or "juvenile hall." Sentences in the juvenile justice system tend to be centered around community service, probation, removal from unsafe environments, etc.
However, there are a few ways that a juvenile aged 14 or older might end up in the adult criminal justice system. First, the California legislature has determined that there are some crimes for which even juveniles should be tried as adults. These are generally very serious crimes that may carry long prison sentences with them. For example, a juvenile charged with murder will almost certainly be "directly filed" into adult court. This means that the juvenile offender will never appear before a juvenile judge but instead will go immediately to adult court. The decision whether or not to "direct file" a juvenile offender rests solely with the prosecutor.
Second, if a juvenile is charged with one of several aggravated offenses, and has committed a prior offense, the case is required to go straight to the adult system.
Third, the prosecutor can file for a juvenile fitness hearing to determine whether the juvenile defendant is suitable for rehabilitation. In this hearing, the judge will consider several factors, including:
1. The degree of criminal sophistication exhibited by the juvenile;
2. Whether the juvenile offender can be rehabilitated before juvenile court jurisdiction expires;
3. The juvenile's previous delinquent history;
4. The success of previous attempts by juvenile court to rehabilitate the juvenile; and
5. The circumstances and gravity of the offenses alleged to have been committed by the juvenile.
If, after considering these factors, the judge believes that the juvenile offender is not amenable to rehabilitation, then the juvenile offender can be transferred to adult court and tried as an adult.
Once a juvenile is in adult court, there are only very few limitations on the sentence that the juvenile can receive. For the most part the juvenile will be sentenced in the same way an adult would be sentenced.
Any criminal defense attorney will tell you, one of the most frustrating things to see is when someone consents to an otherwise unreasonable search. Under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, a police officer is not permitted to conduct a search without "probable cause" of some wrongdoing. Searches of automobiles can be justified by a slightly less stringent burden of "reasonable suspicion" that criminal activity is afoot. However, if a person gives consent to the officer for a search, then the search no longer needs to be justified by probable cause or reasonable suspicion. In most cases, searches that are consented to are tough to challenge and are usually upheld in the trial court.
There are some things that everyone should know about searches and the ability of the police to conduct them. First, and most importantly, you do no need to consent to an officer's request to search you, your automobile, or your home. You are entitled to politely refuse unless and until the officer presents you with a warrant. Of course, you do not want to be seen as resisting, so if an officer tells you they are going to search (leaving little or no room for refusal), there is little you can do but allow the search and challenge it in court. But, in most cases, officers will simply ask, "you don't mind if I take a look inside the car, do you?" If you hesitate, they may follow up with, "what's the matter, you don't have anything to hide, do you?"
These are attempts by officers to bypass the probable cause or reasonable suspicion requirement. Remember, an officer needs one of these to search; unless you give it to them. Don't fall prey to manipulative police tactics, know you can say no.
Another fact about searches is that items in plain view can immediately give rise to either probable cause or reasonable suspicion. For example, if an officer pulls someone over for speeding and, while approaching the window to speak to the driver, notices some drug paraphernalia on the passenger's seat, the officer can arrest the driver and conduct a search of both the driver and the passenger compartment of the car.
Finally, police are allowed to use drug-sniffing dogs in some limited circumstances, but cannot force a driver to wait too long for the dog to show up. If an officer asks if you mind waiting for the arrival of a K-9 unit, you have the right to say "No, I would like to be on my way." The officer then will have to either ensure speedy arrival of the K-9 unit or let you go on your way.
If you have pending criminal charges, you need to find a lawyer who will fight for your rights. If unchecked, police and prosecutors will run right over the unwary criminal defendant. Make sure that you have the best available representation. Click here to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at the Law Office of Lauren K Johnson.
In the wake of a recent decision by a federal district court judge in New York holding that the state's "stop and frisk" policy violates the United States Constitution, the country is abuzz with discussion of the concept of "stop and frisk." This post will briefly discuss the history behind the policy, explain the concept, and analyze what the future may hold for the forty-five-year-old legal doctrine.
The "stop and frisk" policy first came about in a 1968 Supreme Court case, Terry v. Ohio. Up until that point, under the Fourth Amendment, an officer needed probable cause to detain someone to ask them questions or search their belongings. However, the Terry decision created a new rule that only required "reasonable suspicion" of criminal activity before an officer could briefly stop a person and ask him questions. Along with this "stop," the Court held that the officer could also perform a limited pat-down of the person, to ensure that they didn't have any weapons on them. Thus the term "stop and frisk."
Reasonable suspicion is a much easier legal standard to meet than probable cause. So under the "stop and frisk" policy, police are able to stop people for less obvious reasons, allowing for a more subjective determination of wrongdoing.
The New York court held that the "stop and frisk" policy was being enforced in a racially discriminatory manner, disproportionately affecting Black and Hispanic people. Intuitively, this makes sense if you can believe that police suspect Blacks and Hispanics more than other races. This is because police can selectively choose who looks "suspicious" and, given the lower threshold required to stop that person, police can almost always cite some fact or set of facts that give rise to a "reasonable suspicion." The result is that the "stop and frisk" policy ends up being applied against Blacks and Hispanics more than other racial groups.
It seems obvious that the Court, back in 1968, felt that "stop and frisk" was a good balance between individual rights and the need to deter crime. However, the policy has recently come under attack being less of a deterrent than originally thought. Social scientists point to a lack of hard evidence suggesting that less crimes are committed because officers are able to conduct "stop and frisk" stops. Even though crime has decreased over the decades since "stop and frisk" was implemented, there could be numerous causes.
The fact that the science does not support the policy's effectiveness combined with the recent finding that the policy is applied in a racially discriminatory manner, might signal that the tide is turning on the stop and frisk doctrine.
California Attorney Lauren K Johnson Interviewed On HuffPost Live About Medical Marijuana Law And Kids
Criminal Defense Attorney Lauren K. Johnson Provides Expert Legal Analysis Regarding Medical Marijuana And Child Welfare Law
Irvine, Calif., May 31, 2013 -- Lauren K. Johnson, a criminal defense attorney with law offices in Irvine, California was interviewed on a panel on HuffPost Live the topic of medical marijuana and the accidental ingestion of medical marijuana products by children. Lauren K Johnson discussed the distinction between legal and illegal drugs and parental responsibility to keep kids safe from accidental ingestion.
A recent Colorado study looked at 14 incidences between 2009 and 2011 in which children were brought to a Denver-area hospital for accidental ingestion of medical marijuana. No previous incidences had been reported. These 14 cases followed a federal policy change in which the federal government declined to prosecute medical marijuana patients in states that have made medical marijuana possession legal. The study questions the implications of increased access of medical marijuana and children's safety.
Lauren K Johnson discussed the importance of parents keeping all lawful drugs out of the reach and away from children. Ms. Johnson discussed her favor for increased warnings to parents about children gaining unintended access to medical marijuana and the need for child-safety caps and other measures to prevent access. Ms. Johnson discussed the importance of keeping keeps safe as there is an increase in medical marijuana use by lawful patients in California and other states.
Lauren K Johnson addressed the issues from a child welfare perspective and the specific factors a court might look for in determining whether parents were negligent. For example, a court would likely consider whether the marijuana was obtained and possessed illegally or as legal medicine, what kind of access and opportunity a child has or had to ingest it, the home conditions and the age of a child.
Other panelists discussed the comparisons and differences between medical marijuana ingestion, other legal and illegal drugs, and alcohol. While current case law in California addresses the ingestion by children of illegal drugs, with the increased use of medical marijuana, courts are bound to address accidental ingestion of medical marijuana due to its continued stigma.
The Orange County Sheriff's Department in cooperation with the Superior Courts has created a unique work release program for offenders, that are eligible, to work for the Sheriff in lieu of doing jail time. The Community Work Program (CWP) was designed to free up some much needed jail beds, save tax-payer dollars and help maintain county facilities. It is similar to Cal Trans, except the work is performed at county facilities like local beaches, parks and the O.C. jails.
Under Penal Code section 4024.2 Sheriff's departments can release inmates who fit a certain criteria (established by the Sheriff) to perform work for the county in-lieu of their jail sentence.
CWP allows an inmate to go home at night and be with their family and loved ones. This is a great benefit to the inmate and the inmate's family. CWP is on a voluntary basis. However, the inmate needs to know that CWP is also a privilege and he or she is still an inmate and is subject to certain rules and regulations while they are participating on CWP.
Eligibility for CWP would depend on, but not be limited to, the following:
• Sentenced to county jail time
• Sentenced to 150 days or less
• Must not have any active warrants or holds
• Be physically fit to perform manual labor
• Permanent Orange County resident
• Viable mode of transportation
• Pay an Administrative Fee
• Cannot be in custody on violent related charges or sex related charges
CWP benefits everyone involved. This program is very important to the Sheriff, the County of Orange, the tax-paying Citizens, and the inmates and their families. If you are facing jail time and would like to see if you are eligible for the Community Work Program, contact The Law Office of Lauren K. Johnson for a free confidential consultation and let us evaluate your situation.
In California, there are certain types of criminal offenses, if you are eligible, which will allow you to avoid getting any conviction at all. It is known as Deferred Entry of Judgment (sometimes referred to as DEJ). For adults, DEJ is used primarily for certain drug offenses. However, more recently the Orange County District Attorney's office has been allowing the use of DEJ in settling other relatively minor (non-violent) criminal offenses, such as Petty Theft and Driving on a Suspended or Revoked License. With DEJ, the defendant pleads guilty, but the court does not enter the judgment, so the conviction is never finalized. The court will impose specified sanctions (such as mandatory attendance at offender rehabilitation programs, fines and/or penalties) to be completed within a certain period of time. In exchange, if all requirements are satisfactorily performed and no new offenses have caused the court to revoke DEJ, the case will be dismissed, without any conviction ever having been entered.
However, unlike with diversion, with DEJ you have already pled guilty, so if you fail to successfully complete the program, you cannot then plead not guilty and go to trial. For this reason, it's important that you and your attorney discuss all possibilities and decide on a strategy that will bring you the outcome most likely to work for you.
Thereafter, the defendant may lawfully indicate in response to questions concerning his or her prior criminal record that he or she was not convicted of a criminal offense The only exception to this is on subsequent peace officer applications, in which case the defendant may not omit reference to the arrest and judgment.
Below are some of the Eligibility and Qualifications for Deferred Entry of Judgment. This list is not exhaustive and does not guarantee that your individual case is eligible for DEJ.
1. You must have no prior convictions involving controlled substances (just for prior drug charges).
2. The offense you are charged with cannot involve a crime of violence.
3. There must be no evidence that you committed any drug offense, such as sale or possession for sale, other than one of the listed offenses (just for prior drug charges).
4. You cannot have ever in the past failed to successfully complete probation or parole.
5. You cannot have previously done DEJ within the last five years.
6. You cannot have any prior felony convictions within the last five years.
If you are facing possible criminal charges or have already been charged and would like to see if your case is eligible for Deferred Entry of Judgment, contact our offices for a free consultation of your case.
There are two different types of Warrants issued through the Criminal Justice System. Law enforcement will generally issue an Arrest Warrant, which is a written order commanding (authorizing) a law enforcement agency to arrest and/or detain an individual, or allows the search and seizure of one's property. A Bench Warrant is an order by the court "from the bench" issued by a Judge to arrest a person and bring them before the court.
A person may have a warrant out for his or her arrest for a number of reasons such as a complaint being filed against the person by a prosecuting agency, a failure to appear in court when ordered to, a probation violation, a failure to obey court order(s), and others.
Most warrants are issued for Failures to Appear (FTA) in court and Probation Violations. Many individuals that have been convicted of a criminal offense and then fail to complete the terms of their sentence (probation) can have a warrant issued against them. Also, we see individuals that were cited for a crime (yes, even a traffic infraction) that fail to appear on their scheduled court date for a myriad of reasons, such as fear of what will happen in court, they forget the date or lose their citation or they are simply trying to avoid dealing with the offense.
If you have failed to meet any of the terms of your probation, one thing that our office may be able to assist you with is a Sentence Modification, if applicable in your particular case, once the Warrant has been recalled. If your case is a misdemeanor, you may not need to be present when your warrant is recalled. If your case is a felony, you will almost always need to be present when your warrant is recalled.
Once a warrant is issued by the court, it is reported to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Many clients contact us after they have attempted to renew their driver's license, registration or other dealings with the DMV, only to be informed that they have a warrant issued for their arrest. In the state of California, driving is a "privilege" and not a" right", so if you violate a law, that privilege can be suspended. The longer you wait to resolve an outstanding warrant, the more complicated the process to recall it can be, especially if you are out of state or convicted of a felony. We may able to keep you from going to jail by appearing with you, as often times a judge will order a defendant with a felony warrant to be remanded to jail immediately.
You can hire the Law Office of Lauren K. Johnson to represent you and recall your warrant. By recalling your warrant, the Law Office of Lauren K. Johnson is asking the court to cancel the order for your arrest. Then we can proceed in resolving your underlying case with the most favorable outcome possible. Contact our office for a free confidential consultation.
The Governor of California has a put forth a trailer bill in which one of the items to be amended are the laws governing the disposition of Marijuana Arrest and Convictions records. Specifically, section 11361.5 of the Health and Safety Code is targeted. Currently HS 11361.5 mandates that the courts destroy the arrest records or convictions as set forth under these conditions:
HS 11361.5 (a) Records of any court of this state, any public or private agency that provides services upon referral under Section 1000.2 of the Penal Code, or of any state agency pertaining to the arrest or conviction of any person for a violation of subdivision (b), (c), (d), or (e) of Section 11357 or subdivision (b) of Section 11360, shall not be kept beyond two years from the date of the conviction, or from the date of the arrest if there was no conviction, except with respect to a violation of subdivision (e) of Section 11357 the records shall be retained until the offender attains the age of 18 years at which time the records shall be destroyed as provided in this section. Any court or agency having custody of the records shall provide for the timely destruction of the records in accordance with subdivision (c). The requirements of this subdivision do not apply to records of any conviction occurring prior to January 1, 1976, or records of any arrest not followed by a conviction occurring prior to that date. This is how it currently works.
What would the statue look like if it gets amended?
What is being amended is that now the person that was either arrested or convicted of subdivision (b) must now apply for the destruction of his/her own records without notification or by being reminded by the court that they are eligible to do so. This is really a cost cutting issue (defraying the costs) involved in destroying these records
If you were arrested and not convicted or were convicted of a Marijuana charge under HS 11357 or subdivision (b) of HS 11360, you must wait the statutory two year period from the date of the arrest if there was no conviction, or if you were convicted, you may apply to the Department of Justice for the destruction of your records pertaining to the arrest or conviction, again only if two or more years have elapsed. You will have to pay a fee ($37.50 is currently proposed). In addition, the Department may request, but not require a self-administered fingerprint upon application, which in many instances will cost you another $60 to $80 for a live scan fingerprint submission.
Once all of the paperwork has been properly submitted, fingerprints and identity have been verified, the Department of Justice will destroy any records of your arrest or conviction. If for any reason the applicant fails or refuses to submit fingerprints to the department within a reasonable time, or if an applicant requests a refund of the fee, the department will mail a refund, and notify the applicant that election to abandon the application may result in forfeiture of a specified amount that is a portion of the fee (not to exceed $10) and refund the rest.
The implications are vast. First, most people that are arrested and never convicted do not exercise their right to have their arrest record destroyed either knowingly or having never been informed of this right. Second, there is no indication that the Department of Justice or the local courts are going be informing individuals whether formally or informally that they can have their arrest or conviction records destroyed after the statutory two year period.
The Law Office of Lauren K Johnson represents many clients that have been arrested for various marijuana related crimes. If you are currently facing a marijuana related charge, contact our office today for a confidential consultation about your case.
In 2009 Alonzo Jay King Jr. was arrested for assault in the state of Maryland. Pursuant to Maryland's DNA Collection Act (Maryland law that allows officials-without a warrant- to take the DNA of someone who has been arrested but not convicted of a serious crime). The federal government and 28 other states have similar laws, including California (California Penal Code §296).
Subsequent to the arrest and DNA collection, officials were able to eventually produce a match through the CODIS DNA database (CODIS is a computer software program that operates local, State, and national databases of DNA profiles from convicted offenders, unsolved crime scene evidence, and missing persons) with a previously unresolved rape case from 2003. At trial King argued that the DNA draw violated his constitutional rights, but he lost and was sentenced to life in prison for the 2003 case. In April, an appeals court ruled in favor of King. The Court said that King's rights to be free from unreasonable warrantless searches had been violated.
In Maryland v. King during oral arguments, Kannon K. Shanmugamer, King's lawyer argued that the taking of DNA is distinguishable from the taking of fingerprints because DNA contains far more information, the search is physically intrusive, and law enforcement's primary purpose to take the DNA is not for identification purposes. "Maryland searched my client without a warrant in order to investigate crimes for which there is no suspicion," Shanmugam argued "It is settled law that warrantless, suspicionless searches are presumptively unconstitutional."
During animated arguments the Justices seemed divided on some key issues. One of the central questions in front of the court as Justice Alito eloquently stated is:"So this is what is at stake: Lots of murders, lots of rapes that can be solved using this new technology that involves a very minimal intrusion on personal privacy. But why isn't this the fingerprinting of the 21st Century?"
Justice Elena Kagan posed critical questions regarding the law. She asked the Chief Deputy Attorney General of Maryland, that if the purpose of the law is not so much for identification, but to solve cold cases, "then it's just like searching your house, to see what's in your house that could help solve cold cases." A search of the home- unless there is an emergency- requires a warrant. "Just because you've been arrested, doesn't mean that you lose the privacy expectations and things you have that aren't related to the offense that you've been arrested for," Kagan said.
The United States government favors the law, and argues that arrestees lose some of their privacy by virtue of the fact they've been arrested, "Arrestees are in a unique category, they are on the gateway into the criminal justice system. They are no longer like free citizens who are wandering around on the streets retaining full impact Fourth Amendment rights." Deputy Solicitor General Michael R. Dreeben noted that when someone is taken into jail he is subject to a visual strip search. If he's admitted into the prison population a TB test and a thorough medical screen is done.
Dreeban went on further to say that the DNA collection is not any different than submitting to fingerprints, it is primarily for identification purposes. The fingerprint comparison brought up another concern of the Justices. A fingerprint analysis is almost immediate while DNA can take days or sometimes weeks to analyze depending upon the available technology and back log. How can something that can take days to acquire have a primary purpose for identification.
He said that soon this distinction won't matter. "The future is very close to where there will be "rapid DNA analyzers" that are devices that can analyze and produce the identification material in the DNA within 90 minutes."
In the state of California if you were arrested for a Felony and submitted a DNA sample pursuant to Penal Code 296 and charges against you were never filed or were later dismissed, you can petition the court to have your DNA sample expunged pursuant to Penal Code §299.
The Law Office of Lauren K Johnson represents many clients that are arrested for various felonies and were subjected to providing a DNA sample at the time of their arrest. Contact our office today for help with your case.
On Tuesday, January 22, 2013 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Washington D.C. Circuit ruled that marijuana will remain illegal for doctors to prescribe as medicine. The court agreed with lawyers from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) who argued that there are no "adequate and well-controlled" studies that document any medical benefits of marijuana use.
Currently marijuana is on the same list of addictive and otherwise harmful narcotics such as peyote, LSD and Ecstasy (although methamphetamine and heroin are not on the same list). The Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis, which includes the ASA (Americans for Safe Access, the country's leading medical marijuana advocacy organization) have been trying for years now to remove marijuana from the government's list of addictive and harmful narcotics.
Joe Eford, the lead attorney for Americans for Safe Access argued that the court's findings, "To deny that sufficient evidence is lacking on the medical efficacy of marijuana is to ignore a mountain of well-documented studies that conclude otherwise." The Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis and the ASA filed the original petition to have marijuana reclassified nine years. It took the DEA nine years to finally respond (see article:
http://blogs.ocweekly.com/navelgazing/2011/07/obama_says_marijuana_is_not_me.php) at which point they rejected the petition.
The ASA plans to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, but is also calling on both Congress and the President to unilaterally end the war on pot. Now that states like Colorado and Washington State have passed laws legalizing the recreational use of pot, Elford argued. "It's time for President Obama to change his harmful policy with regard to medical marijuana and treat this as a public health issue, something entirely within the capability and authority of the executive office."
The City Council of Lake Forest voted 3 to 2 to approve the repeal of the sex offender ordinance they adopted unanimously about a year ago. A registrant sued the city in federal district court, who is challenging the ordinance because it violates both the state and federal constitutions. At least one additional court challenge from two city residents had been promised if the city did not repeal its ordinance.
The Orange County Board of Supervisors approved the ordinance in April 2011 (ORANGE COUNTY CODIFIED ORDINANCE 3-18-3 (PROHIBITED OFFENDER ENTERING A COUNTY PARK) which significantly restricts the movements of registered sex offenders, banning them from entering some beaches, parks and harbor areas. Under the rules, sex offenders who visit any of dozens of public spaces without prior approval from county officials face up to six months in jail or a $500 fine. These included areas such as Newport Harbor, Irvine Regional Park and the Orange County Zoo.
But critics such as the CA RSOL (California Reform Sex Offender Laws) immediately expressed skepticism about the law, saying it would be difficult to enforce and appeared politically motivated. Franklin Zimring, a UC Berkeley law professor, said the law was overly broad and misdirected, because more than 9 out of 10 sex crimes targeting children are committed not by strangers in a park, but by family members or acquaintances.
The City of Lake Forest is just one of the 16 cities in Orange County that have adopted ordinances that prohibit registrants from entering public parks and beaches. One of those cities - Santa Ana - also prohibits registrants from entering the public library. And almost half of those cities are facing lawsuits that are being challenged in the courts.
The Orange County District Attorney's office has vowed to continue enforcing the law even as many cities that adopted the ordinance may now follow the lead of Lake Forest. Sheriff Sandra Hutchens has asked her department to stop enforcing the law.
The conviction of Hugo Godinez, a registered sex offender who was ordered to serve 100 days in jail for attending a Cinco de Mayo party at Mile Square Park, a county facility, in Fountain Valley in 2011is one example of how registrants are being charged under this ordinance (See District Attorney press release).
Orange County is the only county in the state to ban all registered sex offenders -- even those who haven't been convicted of a crime against children -- from going to a county beach or spending time in a county park. And although registered sex offenders can apply for an exemption for work or a family gathering, few have been approved.
As the battle over the legality of medical marijuana rages on in the state of California, it remains clear that, while legal for medicinal purposes, there are limits to the extent to which medicinal marijuana users can avail themselves of its benefits. Nothing illustrates this fact better than the California First District Court of Appeals recent decision in People v. Leal, where the Court determined that trial judges can prevent medical marijuana users from using or possessing the drug as part of probation imposed pursuant to a criminal conviction.
The Court's 3-0 decision, upheld the sentence of Contra Costa County Superior Court Judge Leslie Landau, prohibiting criminal defendant Daniel Leal from using or possessing medical marijuana during a three-year term of probation. In 2009, Leal was convicted of possession of marijuana for sale following a jury trial and was sentenced to serve three years on probation.
As part of probation, Judge Landau ordered that Leal was not to "use, possess, or have in your custody or control any illegal drugs***and that includes marijuana," commenting that she found that Leal was "much more likely to engage in future criminal activity selling marijuana again if he is in possession of it for medical use***so he's going to have to find some other way of medicating himself other than using marijuana." Leal appealed the sentence, arguing that that the trial court's condition that he not use or possess marijuana violated his right to use marijuana under California's Compassionate Use Act.
In holding that Leal was not entitled to use medicinal marijuana, Justice Anthony Kline opined "Leal used Compassionate Use Act authorization as a front for illegal sales of marijuana, sales partly carried out with a loaded semiautomatic handgun in a public park occupied by mothers and their young children."
Kline further remarked that judges must "balance the need to protect the public with California residents' right to the use of medical marijuana" and that there may be situations where a criminal defendant's use of marijuana could be justified by a compelling need for its use as medical treatment.
Commenting on the Court's decision, Leal's appellate attorney maintained that, although consistent with California appellate court rulings on this issue, in issuing a detailed 22-page opinion, the First District may have intended "to send a very clear message that if you end up being convicted of possessing marijuana for sale, don't expect to be able to continue using medical marijuana."
On a previous occasion, this blog has addressed the complications that have accompanied California's legalization of marijuana for medicinal use. Leal's case exemplifies another of those complications and illustrates the need for criminal defendants to have experienced legal counsel prepared to deal with such issues.