Presented to you by Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney,
Robert Helfend

A certain type of sex offender has been overlooked for many years. Unfortunately, all too often they end up with light sentences or treatment programs rather than serious punishments. Los Angeles, however, is seeking to change that with it’s new laws and regulations on specific sex crimes.

One of the most densely populated counties in the country, Los Angeles is actually home to approximately 10 million people. Unfortunately, the state is one of the most popular for human trafficking. This is one of the reasons it’s so important for Los Angeles to start cracking down and making it more difficult for traffickers to market the young girls they’ve kidnapped and for Johns’ to find those girls and assault them.

The current problem is that most of the punishments are directed at the traffickers themselves and not at the Johns who ‘purchase’ the girls. As a result, Johns are often let off the hook with lighter sentences because there’s nothing available to prosecute with. Los Angeles has found a new way to go about this.

Sex offender laws are in place to protect men, women and children from those who sexually assault them. When it comes to ‘buying’ young girls on the street for sex, these laws have also been found to apply. So what happens now? The new method of punishment is to charge these men with any crime possible related to their offense, and there are definitely a slew of them.

When it comes to having unwitting, solicited sex with a minor in California, a John could face a charge that can result in sex offender registration. But with the new methods of punishment this isn’t the only thing a John may see. They could be charged with felonies ranging from rape and child abuse to child endangerment.

Under present rules, Johns have been allowed to get away with their crimes almost completely free and clear. The reason? Most of these Johns are affluent people who contribute to their community and it has been that way, throughout history. Now however, police have determined that it’s time to crack down on the problem and make sure that these Johns are given a punishment that fits their crime.

Assaulting young children is not acceptable and police throughout Los Angeles are taking a stand, hoping to influence change throughout the country with their sex offender initiative.

Presented to you by Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney,
Robert Helfend

Statistics have clearly shown a significant increase in the crime rate in the first six months of 2015. By that, the L.A.P.D. will deploy more officers to corner the hot spots. It is quite notable that the city has enjoyed a sharp decline in the crime rate since the year 2003. Shockingly, the first half of the year 2015 witnessed a 12.7% rise in crime. Various members of the society have suggested some measures to counter it.

Firstly, the Los Angeles’ mayor and the police chief have cited a few factors that may have contributed to the increase. One of the reasons is the escalation in homelessness. Additionally, they mentioned gang violence. Further, Prop 47 was mentioned as a possible culprit. It reduced thefts under $1000, as well as all felony drug possession to misdemeanors. According to the L.A.P.D., violent offenses registered a 20.6% rise. On the other hand, property crime saw a 10.9% increase. The increases in the both offenses are driven by the growth in thefts and burglaries.

Mentioning the swell in crime rate statistics is never worth it until strategies are laid in place. Luckily, in speaking of curbing or reducing of the escalating number, the Police Chief mentioned some measures. He announced that over 200 highly trained officers should be deployed to the high-crime neighborhoods. Additionally, he confirmed the creation of various policies to employ in the hope of reducing the menace. Such systems include problem-oriented, intelligence-led, community, and hot spot policing.

The rise in crime rate in Los Angeles does not come by surprise. Using an analytical point of view, there are many factors that contribute. The low-wage income disparity has made barrio and ghetto life more desperate. As a result, crime escalates. Additionally, Los Angeles housing has turned out to be the most expensive in the USA. It has led to overcrowded homes or even homelessness, at its worst. All these serve as good incubators of hopelessness as well as criminal behavior. In a nutshell, solving these and other problems facing the L.A. people can mean a decline in the crime rate.

Presented to you by Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney,
Robert Helfend

Why Criminal Defense Attorneys Should Not Be Criticized for Doing Their Jobs
Given the nature of the cases that manage to capture the most public interest, it should come as no surprise to learn that Criminal Defense Attorneys are often criticized for doing their jobs. However, it is important to remember that this is unfair and unreasonable, particularly when Criminal Defense Attorneys are actually protecting our constitutional rights.

Why the Rules Matter
The principles behind our legal system exist to ensure fair outcomes for all individuals who come into contact with law enforcement. For example, the presumption of innocence is important because history shows that the reverse assumption was extremely abusable for the convenience of the high and mighty. Yes, it means that some criminals will escape their rightful punishment. However, it also means that fewer people will be convicted for crimes that they did not commit.

As a result, when Criminal Defense Attorneys challenge the prosecution to provide their evidence, they are doing their job. After all, the presumption of innocence requires the prosecution to prove the defendants’ guilt rather than the defense to prove those same individuals’ innocence. Similarly, when Criminal Defense Attorneys counsel their clients to take plea bargains, they are providing them with the legal expertise and experience needed to see justice done while also freeing up prosecutorial resources that can be better spent on more certain and more culpable targets. In the end, it is not relevant to the Criminal Defense Attorney whether the client is guilty. It comes down to the evidence!

Such strict adherence to these rules can seem frustrating, but it is important to remember that our legal system relies on the trust that we are willing to put in it to remain efficient and fair. Each time that a player in the system cuts a corner, it damages our trust in the legal system. Worse, the convenience of not being thorough encourages further miscarriages of justice in the future. This is why even seemingly trivial technicalities are treated with such seriousness.

After all, even the smallest sign of rot must be stopped at the source to ensure that it cannot spread. The legal system that serves and protects us is simply too important for us to risk anything less.

Final Considerations
Of course, there are Criminal Defense Attorneys who are willing to commit either unethical or outright criminal acts in order to benefit their client. Examples can range from those who bribe bail bondsmen for referrals to those who coach witnesses to lie on the stand. However, it is important to remember that these are the exceptions to the rule. Their actions should not be used to tarnish Criminal Defense Attorneys as a whole. Particularly not when their services play such a pivotal role in protecting our constitutional freedoms.

Presented to you by Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney,
Robert Helfend

If you live in Los Angeles, you’ve become accustomed to living in a reality that makes a funhouse look normal. Certainly the creative community of the area brings with it differing opinions and ideas about what is acceptable behavior, and what some people may refer to as atrocious and unforgivable actions. But there have been some laws in Los Angeles that are strange even as the definition of strange is re-defined. Here are 8 Strange and unique laws that were on the books in Los Angeles, that might leave you scratching your head.

1. If you’re a dog, you need to respect the church! It is illegal for dogs to mate near a church. In fact, you might want to take your yardstick out. Owners who allowed their dogs to have sexual relations within a five hundred yard radius of a Los Angeles church risk a $500 fine or/and six months in jail.

2. No two-fers. It was illegal to bath two babies in the tub at the same time in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. Perhaps they’re afraid you’ll throw a baby out with the bath water…?

3. Fashion Police Felony?: Wearing a Zoot Suit in Los Angeles used to get you in deep water. This law stems from an incident that occurred in the 1940’s. A gang of Hispanic ruffians wearing Zoot suits (which were in style at the time) attacked a group of sailors they thought were making moves on their women. Retaliation from people in the armed forces led to riots and discontent.

4. Wife Beaters Beware. In Los Angeles it has been illegal to beat your wife with a strap that exceeds two inches in width unless she provides consent. Pretty sure that law has been updated to include straps of any sort.

5. Keep your Trap Shut! Sending complaints through the post office regarding a local roach motel was illegal, even if the reports are true. If only spreading rumors of any type was illegal, the entire city would be on lockdown.

6. Good News for Mothman. Apparently it was once a popular Victorian trend to hunt for moths in the pale light of the nearest street lamp. Apparently, that would have been too easy. Is it legal to hunt moths in the darkened shadows beside the street lamps?

7. Don’t Break Down on the Stand. It is always in your best interest to keep your emotions in check while on the witness stand, but in prior times, you have even more reason to keep your wits about you. Crying while on the witness stand was illegal.

8. Keep the Balloons on the Ground. If you were advertising a new baby or a yard sale or your cousin’s wedding, better keep an eye on that Mylar balloon. It was illegal to allow a metallic balloon to float above five feet off the ground.

Presented to you by Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney,
Robert Helfend

Theft crimes in California are defined by the amount of loss and the method in which the item was confiscated. Many theft crimes in Los Angeles are misdemeanors, but a majority of them are serious enough to be considered and charged as felonies.

What is Grand Theft?

Under the California penal code § 487(a) grand theft is defined as the unlawful taking of somebody else’s property whose value exceeds $950.This kind of crime can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony.

The prosecutor looks at certain aspects to decide how to file an accusation of grand theft. Those considerations may include:

-Criminal history of the accused

-The cost of the item that was taken

– Weapon use

-The sophistication required to commit the crime

The more severe the crime, the more probable the misdeed will be charged as a felony. An individual can carry out grand theft by taking the belongings of another person away. Nevertheless, grand theft can also be executed by taking property that has been entrusted to you.

Penalties /Criminal Laws are applied in Grand Theft

The crime of grand theft in California is a “wobbler.” This means that the prosecutor may decide to charge you with either felony or misdemeanor grand theft.

The maximum potential sentence for misdemeanor grand theft is up to one (1) year in the county jail and for a felony, it is sixteen (16) months, two (2) years, or three (3) years in County Prison. (A State prison sentence served in County Jail.)

Defenses to a Los Angeles Grand Theft:

In order to come up with best defense to avoid the severe penalties for a grand theft, it is imperative to seek advice from a Los Angeles grand theft defense lawyer who is qualified, well-informed and has the necessary resources to proffer the best defense possible for the accusations brought against you.

Common defenses to a Los Angeles grand theft accusation include:

1) There was no intent to take the property.

2) There was a mistake or error in taking the property.

3) The property is not worth the value the victim has indicated

Contact an experienced Los Angeles Grand Theft Defense Lawyer today!

If you or a loved is being faced with a Los Angeles grand theft accusation, seek an experienced lawyer who is knowledgeable in theft related, criminal law and has the extensive courtroom know-how to defend your case.

Presented to you by Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney,
Robert Helfend

It was Marcus Aurelius who said, “Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.” This quote should be branded onto the front panel of every jury box in the country. It is a reminder that the absolute truth is almost impossible to uncover.

One example of a perspective, which leads to belief, is eyewitness testimony. In our modern justice system, the eyewitness to a crime or event is often the checkmate that lawyers need to deal with in defending their client. But how can eyewitness testimony be valued so much when it relies on a person’s interpretation of an event?

While eyewitness testimony can be the selling point in a trial, it can also do more to muddy the waters by providing inconsistent or blatantly incorrect information to the jury. In some cases testimony from an eyewitness may be stricken from the record by a judge. In extreme cases, an innocent person may be convicted of a crime he or she didn’t commit.

Problems with Eyewitness Testimony

Although many people claim that the eye is an organic camera and that the recorded information can be recalled at any time, psychologists would argue differently. Yes, the eye captures images, but the optic nerve sends the image to the brain, where the viewer, according to his or her own personal ideals or philosophies then interprets it. A person who is biased is likely to misinterpret visual cues to match their bias.

In addition to misinformation caused by personal belief, psychologists have determined that memories are not simply recalled, but reconstructed. And they don’t always run linearly. According to memory researcher Oliver Hardt, every time we retell a memory we inadvertently infuse information from our current environment into that memory. Sometimes we add details to an event that didn’t happen or we forget in what order they happened. Even physical attributes such as the clothing a person wore or their facial features can change. Over time, memories can get so mixed up that they can no longer be trusted.

Implications of Corrupt Eyewitness Testimony

An eyewitness who steps into the witness box holds the jury’s full attention, as well as, that of the audience. A confident witness can be quite dangerous to a case. Even if the information is incorrect, a witness’ confidence can make a jury believe they are hearing an undeniable truth. And once information is presented to a jury it may be hard to disregard it.

Science and Memory Retrieval

Psychologists cite two main reasons that eyewitness testimony is unreliable:
Unconscious transference: This is something that happens when the mind is inundated with conflicting facts or images just after a high stress event. We have a tendency to ‘mix up’ where we saw someone or what happened during a crime as opposed to what we did just before it. We see people at the crime scene that weren’t there.

Memory decay: The time between the event and when we are asked to intervene can make a huge difference in what we remember seeing. As time progresses, so do our memories of the event. Just as you wake up after a nightmare with it fresh in your mind, through the day it diminishes until we don’t remember exact details. As we’re exposed to police officers, lineups, and daily life we can forget the reality of an event.

Presented to you by Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney
Robert Helfend

Accidents happen on the road. Usually road conditions and distractions are the main cause. Some things just cannot be helped on the highway, and in those cases we consider those accidents. However, when a situation arises that causes two cars to collide due to negligence, a criminal offense may have been committed.

Vehicular Manslaughter

Vehicular Manslaughter is when an accident becomes fatal. The law considers any car accident that causes a death to anyone other than the driver, due to gross negligence, as vehicular manslaughter. In this case, should a driver get distracted by cell phone use, while operating a vehicle and cause a fatal accident, they can be charged with vehicular manslaughter.

The main component of vehicular manslaughter law is that the prosecution must prove that the driver committed a lawful act, which might produce death, in an unlawful manner, and with gross negligence.

It is also important to note that there is no discrimination on who can be considered a victim in a vehicular manslaughter case. A victim can be anyone from the passenger in your car to a pedestrian, a driver or passenger in another vehicle, or a biker.

Degrees of Crimes Associated with a Killing with an Automobile

There are different types of Vehicular Manslaughter. They are misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter, felony vehicular manslaughter (either Intoxicated w/o gross negligence or intoxicated with gross negligence) and finally, second-degree murder.

DUI/Vehicular Manslaughter

Felony vehicular manslaughter can mean the driver was extremely negligent with their driving and caused a death while being under the influence.

Murder in the second degree refers to operating a vehicle while under the influence and killing someone while driving recklessly after having suffered a prior DUI conviction.

Driving is a privilege and should be treated as such. Accidents happen and sometimes cannot be prevented; however, operating a motor vehicle while on drugs and/ or alcohol can and should be avoided. Always have a designated driver!

Presented to you by Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney
Robert Helfend

In a rarely seen twist of events, three Los Angeles based gangs, Rascals, Toonerville, and Frogtown, joined together — under a new name of the Arnold Gonzales Organization, or “United Nations” — to supposedly, conspire to assert control over drug trafficking deals and to carry out criminal orders that included extortion, racketeering, illegal gun possession, and murder.

The Arnold Gonzales Organization was named after a Mexican Mafia member who is serving a life sentence in prison for committing murder. Gonzales allegedly, unified the three once rival gangs in prison by sending coded messages to various members outside, then directed member’s actions and split drug profits. Apparently, the former leaders of each of the three gangs were arrested for racketeering and sent to federal prison in 2010, making the unification much easier for Gonzales.

Nearly two-dozen purported members have already been indicted and many have been arrested. However, one key figure in the unification and the so-called leader or “shot-caller” on the outside, Jorge Grey, has not been arrested, despite being a known member and conspirator. As of Thursday, Grey, along with two other members, Frutoso “Drowsy” Mendoza and another unnamed member, are still at large. Grey was Gonzales’s alleged “mouthpiece” to make orders and carry out drug crimes, as well as, collect “taxes” from drug dealers, in order to keep the whole gang in business.

A currently unnamed woman also aided Grey in making the deposits into Gonzales’s prison bank account, which is normally used for commissary items — toiletries, snacks, clothes, phone calls, etc. while serving time. The last known amount in the account was $133,000.

Many of the crime planning and organization took place at a business called Homeboy Industries, of which Grey was a former client. Founded by Father Gregory Boyle, Homeboy Industries is a “safe haven” for people who have run afoul of the law, to turn their lives around. Their mission is to provide jobs, support, and hope for such individuals and to improve the community through “jobs and education rather than through suppression and incarceration”.

When current CEO Thomas Vozzo learned that the alleged crimes took place at the safe haven, he remarked that he was saddened by the news and that Homeboy Industries “operate[s] with a zero-tolerance policy for illegal activity and believe[s] that people should be held accountable for their actions.”

Those who are currently indicted may face twenty years in prison, if convicted.

Presented to you by Los Angeles criminal defense attorney,
Robert Helfend

Medical marijuana rights are not clear due to the conflict between state and federal laws. The legal use of marijuana has created confusion and conflict among Colorado’s residents and surrounding states. Despite the legalization, the amount of criminal defense cases resulting from smoking marijuana is still on the rise. In November 2012, the Colorado Amendment 64 gave legal rights to adults to grow a maximum of six cannabis plants. By following the strict guidelines, the cannabis plants can be harvested and enjoyed by the grower.

 Conflict

The conflicts between federal and state laws are part of the controversy. Although Colorado may allow for cannabis usage, federal law identifies marijuana as a Schedule I Controlled Substance. When a substance, like marijuana, is identified as belonging to Schedule I, it means that marijuana has no medically recognizable use.

Currently, the federal law does not allow for anyone to possess any amount of marijuana, which does not conform to his or her state statute. The smallest amount could theoretically lead a person to require the services of a criminal defense attorney.

 Drug Testing

Even with certain state’s legalization of marijuana, employees may be dismissed if they test positive for use. Some current state law does not protect employees who use marijuana for medical usage.

The contradictions and conflicts surrounding the use of cannabis only create more questions and controversy. Employers will have to decide if the use of marijuana among employees, while off duty, is a safety risk to the establishment. The high cost of replacing quality employees may have employers reconsidering their current position on the personal consumption of marijuana.

The use of medical marijuana is designed to help the person in need. However, the conflicts surrounding the consumption of marijuana may cause further legal troubles and problems for the consumer. If in doubt, contact your local criminal defense attorney.

Presented to you by Los Angeles criminal defense attorney,

Robert Helfend

First and most importantly, let’s begin by saying that driving under the influence of alcohol or any other mind-altering substance puts your life and possibly other people’s lives in danger. Nothing positive comes out of driving while impaired. For instance, you could maim or kill someone or damage property beyond affordable repair. Your license can get revoked, leaving you with no other option than using public transportation (if any are available near you). In many cases, impaired drivers have lost their job.But what exactly defines a “drunk driver”? If your blood alcohol content is over the .08% legal standard, you are presumed to be under the influence of an alcoholic beverage. Whether you show signs of impairment or not, your blood alcohol content shown on a Breathalyzer machine may be enough evidence to convict you.

If you want to avoid being arrested altogether, simple math will tell you to avoid driving if you have been drinking. Stay away from the bar at the party, reject the beer at the Super Bowl BBQ, say no to the glass of wine during dinner and stick to water. (We hear it’s great for your overall health) Always have a designated driver!

If you’re nodding your head in disagreement and feel that you can enjoy a few drinks and still drive home safely then there are a few tips to help you size down the chances of being charged with a DUI offense.

If you’re pulled over

Stay calm. If you’ve been drinking and driving, and you’re pulled over by a Police Officer, remain calm. Remember you haven’t done anything wrong… yet. An Officer might pull you over to:

  • Warn you a tail light is out
  • Give you a citation for not stopping long enough at a stop sign

Obey the Officer

The Officer may ask for your license and registration. Make sure you:

  • Always keep your hands visible to the Officer.
  • Turn on an interior light so that you don’t fumble around looking for things.
  • Tell the Officer if it’s in your wallet or glove compartment. If it’s under the seat, let him/her know before you reach for it. Remain calm and polite.
  • Don’t volunteer information like, “I know I just left the bar. I only had a few drinks.” That can get a DUI investigation started.
  • If the Officer asks if you were drinking, don’t answer immediately. It is usually advisable to say no. The Officer is going to do what they are going to do without this answer. It usually is the odor of alcohol, which prompts the Officer to commence a DUI investigation anyway. The Officer should be fulfilling his/her duty, it is not mandatory to provide an outline of your evening activities.

The Officer may decide that s/he wants you to perform a physical test or have you blow into an Intoxizyzer machine, or he/she may let you leave.

A physical test

With the physical test, he/she may ask you to touch your nose or walk a straight line. You have the right to respectfully decline. Don’t be defensive. Just politely say no thank you. You will not be penalized for refusing to take a physical test. Sometimes, even sober people fail these tests because of their anxiety.

A Breathalyzer machine test

Next, if he/she wants to proceed with a Breathalyzer machine test, you can elect not to take the test. If you know you are way over the limit of .08%, the breath alcohol test can be used as evidence of intoxication.

Without this test result, prosecutors are left with the Officer’s testimony of your driving and performance on the field sobriety tests, if you submitted to those tests. However, failure to submit to a blood alcohol test when requested by a Police Officer who suspects you of DUI, will subject you to a license suspension by your local DMV. You must consider all the ramifications of your choices.

It should be noted that the instruments may not be accurate and their ultimate result will depend on:

  • your body weight
  • how much you had to drink
  • and how much time has passed since you had your last drink

Breathalyzers can actually be inaccurate. Your blood alcohol has to be less than 0.08% for you to pass the test. A competent Criminal Defense Attorney will know the weaknesses in these breath tests.

If you’re arrested

If your blood alcohol result was .08% or higher, the Officer will probably arrest you. Don’t say anything. You are not obligated to answer any questions. Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney, as you will have some issues with the DMV that need to be addressed shortly after an arrest for DUI.