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Van Nuys California Criminal Law Blog

California women apprehended in undercover sting operation

Two California women are facing a raft of charges including identity theft, burglary, and drug possession after being apprehended during a sting operation conducted by Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office deputies. The women were taken into custody on May 3 when they met undercover deputies in a Cupertino restaurant to allegedly sell an iPad that had been purchased with a stolen credit card.

The sequence of events that led to the women being taken into custody began at about 4:00 p.m. when the SCSO's West Valley Patrol Division received a call about a vehicle burglary. The caller told deputies that her car had been broken into and her credit card had been stolen. She also said that the card was being used to purchase goods at a nearby Target store.

Individuals taken into custody on drug charges

Authorities say that three men were taken into custody on drug distribution and money laundering charges. They were charged in a Los Angeles court but were originally taken into custody in Germany in April. The charges stem form their purported roles in running Wall Street Market (WSM), which sold narcotics and other counterfeit items. WSM also sold malicious computer hacking software and stolen data. Authorities say that another man faces similar charges for acting as a moderator on the site.

He was arraigned in a Sacramento court, and as a moderator, he helped handle disputes that arose between buyers and sellers. The Department of Justice said that its work on the case showed that it was getting better at finding criminals regardless of where they tried to hide. Authorities say that WSM operated on what is referred to as the dark net using a program called Tor.

When breath tests lead to false positives

Breathalyzer tests are not perfect, and California residents might like to know about situations when a breath test can provide faulty results. In some cases, those on the keto diet may test above the legal limit for alcohol even when within an accepted range. False positives may also happen when one has medical conditions like acid reflux or diabetes.

Acetone is a byproduct of the ketosis process, which involves the liver breaking down fat. Some acetone is found in the breath as isopropyl alcohol due to ketosis. Not all devices may be able to gauge BAC correctly; less expensive breath test products are likely not sophisticated enough to differentiate between isopropyl alcohol and ethanol alcohol. This could lead to an incorrect BAC reading.

How much does a California DUI raise your auto insurance rates?

As a resident of California facing a driving under the influence charge, you may feel uneasy about the penalties you may face if you ultimately receive a conviction. A DUI conviction can take a serious toll on numerous areas of your life, and, unfortunately, the effects of a DUI typically continue for some time even after you get your driver’s license back.

According to Insure.com, your automotive insurance rates will likely increase significantly when you have a conviction for drunk driving on your record, and you can expect to see a notable increase regardless of where you reside. Just how much more can you anticipate paying per year when you have a DUI on your California driving record?

Could participating in drug court help you avoid jail?

When law enforcement officers arrest and charge you with a crime involving drugs, the penalties you could potentially face will vary broadly based on factors including the severity of your drug crime and whether you have offended similarly before. In some instances, you may be able to avoid having to spend any time in jail, should a judge or jury convict you of your drug crime, by instead enrolling in a state drug court. According to the National Institute of Justice, drug courts, per a recent 10-year study, have the capacity to substantially benefit not only drug addicts but also the communities in which they reside.

Just what are drug courts, and how might they be able to prevent you from having to serve time behind bars?

What a disorderly conduct charge means

Most people in California have at least heard of the term "disorderly conduct." It's a common charge police use when someone is considered a public nuisance but not in a way that presents a serious danger to other individuals. Some law enforcement officials default to this charge when someone is exhibiting unruly conduct. This may be the case if an individual is intoxicated or disturbing the peace.

The specific requirements for disorderly conduct can vary. Some states require proof of an intent to create a public inconvenience or annoyance while others require prosecutors to prove that someone intentionally acted disorderly. Possible penalties for this charge often depend on the nature of the conduct that was considered disorderly. If the offense was minor, for example, the accused individual may only receive a citation requiring the payment of a fine. If the behavior is more dangerous or disruptive, bail may be set and jail time might be sought.

Incorrect warrants can send people back to jail

Some people in California who have had warrants dismissed or who have already served a sentence may find that warrant reappearing years later. These so-called "ghost warrants" are often for minor issues, such as traffic violations or unpaid fees, and disproportionately affect poor people. While sometimes this happens because prosecutors will not let minor cases go, it is often a case of clerical error.

For example, when charges are dismissed or a person has completed their sentence, outstanding warrants related to the case are also supposed to be dismissed. However, if a clerk does not make that change accurately, it could appear as though a warrant is still out on the person. This could happen if the person is stopped for an unrelated matter or even if the person is in a car accident. The latter happened to a man who had served two years for armed robbery as a teenager in a plea deal.

California man sentenced on narcotics and gun charges

A 39-year-old man who was convicted on drug trafficking and weapons possession charges following a three-day trial has been sentenced to 100 months in a federal prison. The sentence was handed down on April 19 by a U.S. District Court judge in San Francisco. The judge also ordered four years of supervised release for the man once he has completed his custodial sentence. He has remained in custody since his February 2016 arrest and will begin serving his sentence immediately according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California.

The man was taken into custody after officers from the Menlo Park Police Department pulled his Cadillac Deville sedan over for having unlawfully tinted windows and an expired registration tag. When they approached the vehicle, officers claim to have noticed a bag of what appeared to be marijuana next to the center console and a set of weighing scales on the front passenger seat.

Studies looks at dating violence, homicide among teens

Some teenage girls in California may be at some risk of intimate partner violence. A study that appeared in JAMA Pediatrics in April looked at the more than 2,000 teens killed from 2003 to 2016. In that time, intimate partners killed 150 of them. The perpetrator was 18 or older in almost 80 percent of the cases, and girls were the ones killed in 90 percent of cases, with an average age of 17.

The study author said that many people do not think intimate partner violence is as serious among teenagers as it is among adults. The National Survey on Teen Relationships and Intimate Violence conducted another study and found that nearly two-thirds of teens said they had experienced physical, emotional or sexual violence in a dating relationship.

Many wrongful convictions arise from police misconduct

California has a large prison population, and a number of those inmates are likely victims of wrongful convictions. The National Registry of Exonerations has been tracking people released for wrongful convictions since 1989. In 2018, the registry recorded the exoneration and release of 151 people nationwide. They had collectively served 1,639 years for crimes that they did not commit.

Police corruption was a large source of convictions for innocent people that year due to the widespread planting of drug evidence on people in one major city. An extortion scheme masterminded by a police sergeant forced people to pay money or face prosecution for drugs placed by police officers. In 2018, 31 people were exonerated after the exposure of this police misconduct.

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