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  • California Violent Crime Rate At An All-Time Low

    Posted Oct 3rd, 2014 By in Criminal Law, Prisons, realignment With | Comments Off on California Violent Crime Rate At An All-Time Low

    A new report from California’s Department of Justice says that the rate of violent crime in the state is the lowest that it has been since 1967. The report comes out in the midst of the state’s struggle to reduce the prison population with realignment. The report also said that the number of incarcerated has fallen since those efforts. What could the lower rate of violent crime mean for the criminal justice system and what could be the reasons for the lowered crime rate? This week, the Wall Street Journal provided some of their own insights into the report and here are some of the highlights:

    The new numbers mirror a national trend of falling crime and incarceration rates.

    State officials and criminal-justice experts around the country have been closely watching the crime rate in California as the state undertakes what criminologists have called a historic prisoner-reduction experiment.

    The state’s prison population has dropped by about 25,000 since 2011, when the state embarked on a policy of “realignment,” which has shifted some nonviolent offenders to county jails instead of state prison. The number of inmates in county jails has risen by about 10,000 since realignment began.

    Law-enforcement officials around the state had blamed the 2012 property crime spike on realignment, as many counties were overwhelmed by an influx of new offenders. The recent drop in property crime, they now say, is because the rehabilitation programs counties have put into place are starting to get traction.

    “While it’s still too early to attribute a decrease in crime to any one factor, it’s heartening to see this and we take it as a positive sign,” said Linda Penner, who chairs the Board of State and Community Corrections and is Gov. Jerry Brown ’s liaison on public safety issues.

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  • What to Know About California’s Proposition 47

    Posted Sep 25th, 2014 By in New Criminal Case Law, Prisons, realignment With | Comments Off on What to Know About California’s Proposition 47

    One of the most debated bills in California now is the Proposition 47. If passed, the bill could decrease the number of people in the state’s prisons for misdemeanor or nonviolent crimes. California has one of the highest rates of incarceration in the U.S. and a large percentage of those inmates have committed serious offenses according to the Public Policy Institute of California. However, there is still a significant number of inmates that are imprisoned for low level offenses. Voting on the Proposition is set for early November, but voters should do some diligent research before deciding which way to vote. Therefore, in this week’s blog we have listed what both sides have stated as reasons to vote yes or no as listed on the voter guide:

    What those that are in approval of the bill say:

    For too long, California’s overcrowded prisons have been disproportionately draining taxpayer dollars and law enforcement resources, and incarcerating too many people convicted of low-level, nonviolent offenses.

    Proposition 47 is sensible. It focuses law enforcement dollars on violent and serious crime while providing new funding for education and crime prevention programs that will make us all safer.

    Here’s how Proposition 47 works:

    • Prioritizes Serious and Violent Crime: Stops wasting prison space on petty crimes and focuses law enforcement resources on violent and serious crime by changing low-level nonviolent crimes such as simple drug possession and petty theft from felonies to misdemeanors.
    • Keeps Dangerous Criminals Locked Up:Authorizes felonies for registered sex offenders and anyone with a prior conviction for rape, murder or child molestation.
    • Saves Hundreds of Millions of Dollars: Stops wasting money on warehousing people in prisons for nonviolent petty crimes, saving hundreds of millions of taxpayer funds every year.
    • Funds Schools and Crime Prevention:Dedicates the massive savings to crime prevention strategies in K—12 schools, assistance for victims of crime, and mental health treatment and drug treatment to stop the cycle of crime.

    Here’s what opponents of the bill say:

    California has plenty of laws and programs that allow judges and prosecutors to keep first-time, low-level offenders out of jail if it is appropriate. Prop. 47 would strip judges and prosecutors of that discretion.

    • Prop. 47 will require the release of thousands of dangerous inmates. Felons with prior convictions for armed robbery, kidnapping, carjacking, child abuse, residential burglary, arson, assault with a deadly weapon, and many other serious crimes will be eligible for early release under Prop. 47. These early releases will be virtually mandated by Proposition 47. While Prop. 47’s backers say judges will be able to keep dangerous offenders from being released early, this is simply not true. Prop. 47 prevents judges from blocking the early release of prisoners except in very rare cases. For example, even if the judge finds that the inmate poses a risk of committing crimes like kidnapping, robbery, assault, spousal abuse, torture of small animals, carjacking or felonies committed on behalf of a criminal street gang, Proposition 47 requires their release.
    • Prop. 47 would eliminate automatic felony prosecution for stealing a gun. Under current law, stealing a gun is a felony, period. Prop. 47 would redefine grand theft in such a way that theft of a firearm could only be considered a felony if the value of the gun is greater than $950.
    • Prop. 47 undermines laws against sex-crimes.Proposition 47 will reduce the penalty for possession of drugs used to facilitate date-rape to a simple misdemeanor. No matter how many times the suspected sexual predator has been charged with possession of date-rape drugs, it will only be a misdemeanor, and the judge will be forced to sentence them as if it were their very first time in court.
    • Prop. 47 will burden our criminal justice system. This measure will overcrowd jails with dangerous felons who should be in state prison and jam California’s courts with hearings to provide “Get Out of Prison Free” cards.

    We are in no way advocating for or against the Proposition 47, but we do believe that voters should do more research on their own. Then make educated voting decisions, because the results could bring vast changes to California’s criminal justice system and those within it.

  • Arson Charges in California

    Posted Sep 19th, 2014 By in Criminal Law With | Comments Off on Arson Charges in California

    Today, California authorities arraigned Wayne Allen Huntsman on charges of starting the huge wildfire that drove over 2,800 Californians from their home. Wildfires are nothing new to California and with the severe drought conditions this year, a charge for forest land arson will be taken very seriously. In fact, fighting wildfires can cost $5 million per day and risks the lives of local residents and firefighters. In light of the recent wildfire and arson allegations, we are taking a look at California arson laws this week.

    A person is guilty of arson when he or she willfully and maliciously sets fire to or burns or causes to be burned or who aids, counsels, or procures the burning of, any structure, forest land, or property.

    • Arson that causes great bodily injury is a felony punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for five, seven, or nine years.
    • Arson that causes an inhabited structure or inhabited property to burn is a felony punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for three, five, or eight years.
    • Arson of a structure or forest land is a felony punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for two, four, or six years.
    • Arson of property is a felony punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for 16 months, two, or three years. For purposes of this paragraph, arson of property does not include one burning or causing to be burned his or her own personal property unless there is an intent to defraud or there is injury to another person or another person’s structure, forest land, or property.
    •  In the case of any person convicted of violating this section while confined in a state prison, prison road camp, prison forestry, camp, or other prison camp or prison farm, or while confined in a county jail while serving a term of imprisonment for a felony or misdemeanor conviction, any sentence imposed shall be consecutive to the sentence for which the person was then confined.

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  • What Does Culpable Homicide Mean in the U.S.?

    Posted Sep 11th, 2014 By in Uncategorized With | Comments Off on What Does Culpable Homicide Mean in the U.S.?

    With the judge in the highly-publicized Oscar Pistorius trial announcing today that the former paralympic star is not guilty of murder but still faces charges of culpable homicide, we are taking a look at what the charge would mean for him and what a similar charge would mean in the U.S. Culpable homicide is equivalent to manslaughter in the U.S. The judge’s ruling today stated that Pistorius was not guilty of murder because the prosecution failed to prove that he had the intent to kill. However, the culpable homicide or manslaughter charge still remains to be decided as the judge adjourned by saying that his actions were “negligent” and “excessive”. In Pistorius’ case, he could face up to 15 years in prison if convicted but the charge has no minimum sentence. In the United States and in California, if someone is charged with manslaughter, here is what could happen:

    California state laws define three types of manslaughter: voluntary, involuntary, and vehicular. For a voluntary manslaughter charge, the prosecutor must show that the defendant committed homicide during a sudden quarrel or while in the heat of passion. The events and circumstances surrounding the homicide — the quarrel or provocation –establish a lack of malice that would otherwise result in a murder charge. The prosecutor must still show that the defendant had the intent to inflict severe bodily injury or death on the victim in order to prove voluntary manslaughter.

    Acts that qualify as provocation depend on the circumstances surrounding the homicide. Some common acts of provocation include mutual combat in which both the defendant and victim equally participated, murder of a family member, or adultery committed by the defendant’s spouse.

    If a period of time has passed between the act of provocation and the homicide, California laws provide the prosecutor with the basis for a murder charge rather than a manslaughter charge. State laws require a murder charge if the defendant had a sufficient “cooling period.” If the defendant committed the homicide after the cooling period, the prosecutor may be able to show that the defendant had enough time to premeditate or plan the killing.

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Jake Brower Criminal Defense Attorney, DUI Lawyer, Felony Arrests, 3-Strike Cases, Criminal Law, Drunk Driving Lawyer, Los Angeles, Orange, Anaheim, Corona del Mar, Costa Mesa, Irvine, Huntington Beach, Long Beach, Mission Viejo, Aliso Viejo, Lake Forest, Rancho Santa Margarita,Santa Ana, Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Laguna Beach, Laguna Niguel, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, Beverly Hills, Hollywood,Oceanside, San Clemente, Carlsbad, Dana Point, Seal Beach, Long Beach, 1043 Civic Center Drive West, #200, Santa Ana CA 92703