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Oakland Criminal Defense Law Blog

Assault and battery: 2 separate yet related crimes

Being charged with assault or battery in California can understandably be frightening and humiliating. After all, a conviction related to these crimes can lead to time behind bars and make it difficult to land jobs in the future. However, just because you face charges associated with these crimes does not mean you are automatically guilty. In reality, you are presumed innocent until and unless your guilt is proved in a court of law.

When you think of assault and battery, you may immediately think of a brawl or fight. However, confusion often exists between these two acts, which are actually two separate crimes. The former refers to attempting to cause injury to another person. Meanwhile, the latter involves actually making contact with that person in an offensive or harmful manner. Still, both are related.

Planning to sell or purchase a firearm in California?

It's difficult to have a conversation about firearms in America without prompting contention. Many people in California agree with millions of others in the nation who strongly support their right to bear arms as protected under the Second Amendment in the Constitution. Although there are those who espouse views that claim gun ownership and gun violence are closely linked, others understand that most gun-owning individuals adhere to state and federal regulations regarding such matters and buy, sell, possess and use firearms without ever encountering trouble with the law.

The Brady rule and its role in criminal cases

California residents may know that in a criminal trial, the prosecution is legally obligated to disclose any information that it possesses that might be favorable to the defense. However, this is often not done, and prosecutors will sometimes claim that they did not think the evidence needed to be introduced. If such an omission is discovered, it could lead to a retrial.

This was decided in the 1963 U.S. Supreme Court case Brady v. Maryland, and the doctrine sometimes referred to as the Brady rule. One high-profile case in which it came up concerned the 2011 murder of a 6th grader. Police charged the mother's ex-boyfriend with the crime despite a lack of forensic evidence, but once the trial was underway, it emerged that the prosecution was aware of a witness who saw someone else entering the house just before the murder.

Doctor convicted for writing fraudulent prescriptions

On Sept. 20, a doctor in California was convicted of 17 felony charges of unlawfully prescribing controlled substances without a medical need. A jury took two hours to deliberate before reaching a guilty verdict. At his upcoming sentencing hearing, the 44-year-old Rancho Palos Verdes doctor could be sent to prison for as long as 13 years and four months.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration built a case against the general practitioner by sending undercover operatives to his clinic in 2014. During a three-month timespan, the operatives obtained several illegal drug prescriptions for medications such as Norco, Xanax, Soma and Adderall. The doctor was indicted for the felony drug charges in 2015.

Actor pleads no contest to DUI charge

On Sept. 2, actor Drake Bell was sentenced to four years of probation and four days in a county jail after entering a plea of no contest to a misdemeanor DUI charge. According to authorities, his vehicle was observed speeding and swerving in Glendale, California, in December 2015. In addition to the jail time and probation, he was warned that he could be charged with murder if he killed anyone while driving under the influence in the future.

He was also ordered to comply with the restrictions placed on his drivers license and to undergo an alcohol treatment program. Bell admitted that he failed to submit to a chemical test, and that he had been convicted of another DUI in San Diego in 2010. He spent a little over a day in jail following his sentencing before being released on the evening of Sept. 3.

People still arrested for marijuana despite lax laws

A report released in August showed that approximately 9,000 felony arrests associated with weed were made in California last year. The numbers were surprising due to the fact that California has traditionally had lax marijuana laws since 1996 when Prop. 215, a law allowing patients to get a prescription for medical marijuana, was passed.

The report found that black and Latino individuals were far more likely to be taken into custody on marijuana-related charges, even though black, Latino and white individuals sold marijuana at similar rates. According to the report, black individuals were more than twice as likely to be taken into custody for marijuana than white people. They were five times more likely than white people to be taken into custody for felony marijuana charges. Latinos were also more likely to be taken into custody, though the numbers were not necessarily known as police officers often classified Latinos as white.

California mayor charged over game of strip poker

The mayor of a major California city is facing both misdemeanor and felony charges connected to activities at a summer camp for disadvantaged children. Stockton mayor Anthony Ray Silva is accused of covertly recording a game of strip poker played by young people at an Amador County camp in August 2015. Silva was taken into custody by federal agents on Aug. 4. He was released after posting a $20,000 bond. Charges against the 41-year-old public official include a felony eavesdropping count and misdemeanor counts of providing alcohol to minors contributing to the delinquency of minors and child endangerment.

Prosecutors claim that Silva provided alcohol to six teens and used his cellphone to surreptitiously record a group of young people between the ages of 16 and 20 play a game of strip poker at one of the camp's cabins. Agents said that the mayor recorded what the naked young people were saying without their consent. An attorney representing Silva strenuously denied the allegations and said that he looked forward to clearing the matter up in court. He then implied that the entire operation was politically motivated.

California woman faces carjacking charge after high-speed pursuit

A California woman may spend up to 16 years behind bars for allegedly leading Los Angeles County police on a high-speed chase that came to an abrupt end in the parking lot of a Bell Gardens casino. The 26-year-old woman was charged with two counts of assaulting a peace officer, carjacking and fleeing a peace officer. Her bail was set at $120,000.

The chase began at about 8:00 p.m. on July 13 when police in Compton attempted to pull over an SUV that matched the description of a vehicle taken by an alleged knife-wielding carjacker in South El Monte two days earlier. Police say that the woman drove wildly during the ensuing pursuit, and footage captured by a news helicopter shows the SUV running red lights and showering bystanders with sparks during the chase.

California woman faces carjacking charge after high-speed pursuit

A California woman may spend up to 16 years behind bars for allegedly leading Los Angeles County police on a high-speed chase that came to an abrupt end in the parking lot of a Bell Gardens casino. The 26-year-old woman was charged with two counts of assaulting a peace officer, carjacking and fleeing a peace officer. Her bail was set at $120,000.

The chase began at about 8:00 p.m. on July 13 when police in Compton attempted to pull over an SUV that matched the description of a vehicle taken by an alleged knife-wielding carjacker in South El Monte two days earlier. Police say that the woman drove wildly during the ensuing pursuit, and footage captured by a news helicopter shows the SUV running red lights and showering bystanders with sparks during the chase.

California crime statistics show several crime trends

The California attorney general released four crime reports on July 1 in an effort to promote transparency in the state. The reports that were made public include the state's overall crime rate, hate crime rate and homicide rate. In addition, a report related to juvenile justice was also released to the public. Among the findings were a decrease in robberies and aggravated assaults between 2010 and 2015.

The number of people taken into custody dropped 4.5 percent from 2014, and the 1,158,812 people taken into custody represented the lowest number since 1969. The number of juveniles taken into custody dropped by 17 percent in 2015, and rates are at their lowest levels ever recorded. The 4.8 per 100,000 homicide rate was an increase from 4.4 per 100,000 in 2014. Furthermore, in 2015, 82.8 percent of homicide victims were male with Hispanics more likely to be victims of murder than other groups.