• California Prisons Announce Mentally Ill Inmate Treatment Reform

    Posted Aug 8th, 2014 By in Prisons With | Comments Off on California Prisons Announce Mentally Ill Inmate Treatment Reform



    prison-fence-218456_640prison-fence-218456_640The California prison system has been in news headlines often over the past year. California has been under a legal order to solve the overcrowded prison crisis while other prison reforms have been making headlines as well. One of the most import reform efforts is for mentally ill inmates to have access to the mental health treatment that they need.

    Last year, videos released of mentally ill inmates being pepper sprayed and forcefully thrown from cells by prison staff, received public outcry and spurred a federal judge to order that reforms be made.

    California prison officials pledged Friday to take a gentler approach with mentally ill inmates.

    The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said in a federal court filing that its move will create a system-wide culture change in how 33,000 mentally ill offenders are restrained and isolated.

    The state is revising its policies after U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence Karlton ruled in April that California’s treatment of mentally ill inmates violates their constitutional safeguards against cruel and unusual punishment.

    He acted after the graphic video tapes made by correctional officers were released, showing guards throwing chemical grenades and pumping large amounts of pepper spray into the cells of mentally ill inmates, some screaming and delirious.

    In a separate incident, a mentally ill inmate, who breathed through a hole in his throat, died after being pepper-sprayed at Mule Creek State Prison in Ione.

    Guards generally were acting after the inmates refused to take their medications, would not leave their cells or defied orders in other ways, officials said.

    The state now requires guards to consider the mental health condition of each inmate before using force and to employ the least amount of force necessary while seeking alternatives when there is no imminent threat of harm.

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  • What are Accomplices, Accessories, Aiders, and Abettors

    Posted Aug 1st, 2014 By in Criminal Law With | Comments Off on What are Accomplices, Accessories, Aiders, and Abettors

    Photo source: Diego Grez

    With the numerous legal terms and jargon, understanding your accused role in a crime can be confusing. However, it is important to know what role you are accused of playing in a criminal charge, because the role can also determine the sentencing. Accomplices, accessories, aiders, and abettors are just a few of the terms used to describe how an individual participates in a crime.

    Principals and Accomplices

    As a general rule, the law refers to the main actor in a crime as the principal and to assisting persons as accomplices. Technically, an accomplice is one who intentionally helps another to commit a crime.

    Even if an accomplice does not carry out the crime, in the eyes of the law the accomplice’s pre-crime assistance makes him or her just as guilty as the person who does the deed itself.

    Accessory After the Fact

    An accessory after the fact is someone who, knowing that a felon has finished committing a crime (usually the crime has to be a felony), helps the felon avoid arrest or trial. In most states, accessories after the fact face far less punishment than accomplices or principals.


    Conspirators are two or more people who agree to commit a crime. (The distinction between accomplices and conspirators is that the former are “helpers,” while each conspirator is a principal.) Conspiracy is a controversial crime, in part because conspirators can be guilty even if the crime that they agree to commit never occurs. As a result, conspirators can be punished for their illegal plans rather than for what they actually do.

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  • The Long-Term Impacts of Warrantless Cellphone Searches Ruling

    Posted Jul 23rd, 2014 By in Criminal Law With | Comments Off on The Long-Term Impacts of Warrantless Cellphone Searches Ruling


    Last month the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that warrantless cell phone searches are illegal. The unanimous ruling was a major win for privacy advocates and likely one of the biggest for 2014. It also brought into question how digital information is protected in criminal law cases.

    Unlike cases decided by narrow 5-4 margins or those in which justices differed over the reasoning, Chief Justice John Roberts’ cellphone opinion was notable for “the emphatic, emphatic message from the court that digital is different,” says Jeffrey Fisher, the Stanford University law professor who successfully argued one of the two cellphone cases, Riley v. California.

    Now the question is: How different? Different enough to topple a 35-year-old court precedent that denied privacy protection to telephone records shared with third parties? Different enough to call into question the use of drones, surveillance cameras and other forms of high-tech snooping? Different enough to jeopardize national security operations?

    Theodore Simon, incoming president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, is devoting his first column in the group’s monthly magazine to Riley’s potential impact on past precedents and future issues. He foresees “a sea change in how one would look at future cases that in any way involve searches and seizures, and where there is the possibility of the revelation of significant personal data.”

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  • Arraignment in California: What to Expect

    Posted Jul 15th, 2014 By in DUI, Plea Agreement, Plea bargain With | Comments Off on Arraignment in California: What to Expect


    Arraignment, put in the simplest terms, is the first time that a defendant appears in court. This is after the arrest and charges have been filed by the prosecutor. However, the arraignment is not to be confused with a trial. There are key differences between the two that you should know before your arraignment starts. Here are a few things to expect during the process.

    At the arraignment, the judge tells the defendant:

    • What the charges are,
    • What his or her constitutional rights are, and
    • That if he or she does not have enough money to hire a lawyer, the court will appoint a lawyer free of charge.

    The defendant may then respond to the charges by entering a plea. Common pleas include guilty, not guilty, or no contest (also known as “nolo contendere”).

    • Not Guilty means the defendant says he or she did not commit the crime. Sometimes, defendants enter a plea of not guilty as a strategic decision during plea bargaining or because they want to go to trial and force the prosecution to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
    • Guilty means the defendant admits he or she committed the crime. The judge finds the defendant guilty and enters a conviction in the court record.
    • No Contest means the defendant does not contest (disagree with) the charge. This plea has the same effect as a guilty plea, except the conviction generally cannot be used against the defendant in a civil lawsuit.

    If the defendant is in custody at the time of arraignment, after the defendant enters a plea (responds to the charges), the judge will:

    • Release the defendant on his or her “own recognizance” (which means the defendant promises to return to court on a specified date), OR
    • Set bail and send the defendant back to the jail until the bail is posted, OR
    • Refuse to set bail and send the defendant back to jail.

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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