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Van Nuys California Criminal Law Blog

Tips for avoiding drunk driving

Spring is almost here, and California residents will soon be celebrating St. Patrick's Day, going on spring break and getting caught up in the annual March Madness NCAA basketball tournament. While all these events are fun, they also tend to involve alcohol, which could increase the risk of drunk driving accidents.

In order to deter people from drinking and driving, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is pushing its "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" law enforcement initiative throughout the United States. Meanwhile, Mothers Against Drunk Driving is highlighting its anti-drunk driving campaign "Power of You(th)," which reminds young people not to get into vehicles with friends who have been drinking.

Arrest rates growing for young people nationwide

Being arrested can have a major impact on the rest of a person's life. According to a study released by the RAND Corporation, people arrested in California and across the country see ongoing effects to their wages, relationships and other future outcomes after an initial arrest. For example, when people are arrested one time, they are around 3.5 percent less likely to marry later. While this may seem relatively small, the drop continues to grow with each subsequent arrest.

Furthermore, people who were arrested on criminal charges one time as a youth earned about $6,000 less each year during their adulthood. If that arrest was for drug charges or a violent crime, that income would drop by around $11,000 each year. Multiple arrests led to an average income loss of $13,000 annually. These statistics reveal an ongoing link between poverty and criminalization, and the researchers attributed changes over time to an increasing emphasis on arrests, prosecution and enforcement.

Can a drug conviction impact financial aid eligibility?

By the time your child leaves the nest to attend college, you probably hope the morals and values you instilled in him or her will help your child make smart choices in your absence. For many university students, however, college can be a time of experimentation, and some of that experimenting can lead to harsh and considerable consequences.

If authorities catch your son or daughter using, possessing or selling drugs, for example, and they subsequently charge your child with a drug-related crime, a conviction for that crime could cause your child to become ineligible for federal financial aid.

Three California men detained in alleged home burglary

Three men were detained in Pasadena on suspicion of burglary. Claremont police were alerted of the alleged break-in when a housekeeper called 911 to report a possible intruder at a residence in the 3700 block of Hollins Avenue. The call was placed at approximately 1 p.m. The housekeeper told police that she was hiding at the time of the call.

Officers arrived at the residence and saw one man driving away in a silver sedan. Police chased the vehicle, which later crashed into a boulder at a residence on Westminster Place. The driver then exited the vehicle and ran away on foot. Police pursued the man and eventually cornered him at another residence in the area. A police dog was used to help take the man into custody after he reportedly refused to surrender.

San Francisco County expunges all marijuana convictions

California readers may be interested to learn that San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon recently announced that over 9,300 marijuana-related convictions in San Francisco County have been expunged. The affected convictions date back as far as 1975.

The process of expunging the convictions was complicated and required the help of Code for America. The organization created an algorithm that helped identify 8,132 marijuana convictions that were eligible for expungement. The San Francisco District Attorney's Office was able to expunge 1,230 convictions on its own. The county is the first in the United States to fully clear its records of marijuana convictions, and Gascon said he hopes other California counties will soon follow suit.

Can having someone else's prescription land you in jail?

You have had a difficult time sleeping now that you switched your work shift to nights. You come home, your mind racing and with the sun blazing through the windows, it is proving too difficult to get the shuteye your body needs.

Your friend gave you his prescription for sleeping pills which help him. There is no harm in taking a few home, right? Before you pocket those pills, you should know you can get in real trouble for having them.

College student accused of using smartphone app to sell drugs

A University of California at Santa Cruz freshman has been indicted on multiple counts of drug possession with the intent to distribute. Prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California say that the 18-year-old man created a smartphone application that his fellow students could use to order drugs including marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine and ecstasy. The man was indicted on Feb. 14 and released from custody on Feb. 19. If he is found guilty on all charges, he could spend decades in prison and be fined millions of dollars.

According to prosecutors, students were able to download the application, which was called 'Banana Plug" and disguised as a game, from the Apple App Store. The man is said to have advertised his services by placing flyers in several prominent locations around the college campus. Apple has since removed the application from its online store.

California driver collides with six cars and flees

An alleged drunk driver was arrested after being caught on video striking a series of vehicles at nearly 100 miles per hour. The driver reportedly fled the scene after his passenger was ejected from the car. The driver was arrested at his home several hours after the crash by law enforcement.

According to the Los Angeles Police Department, the alleged drunk driver was traveling at high speeds in Historic South-Central Los Angeles when he hit a line of six parked vehicles. The crash left a string of damaged cars and seriously injured a passenger who was ejected from his vehicle.

Tech billionaire charged with drug trafficking in Las Vegas

California residents may be interested in knowing that Tech billionaire and founder of Broadcom Corp, Henry Nicholas, was formally charged with drug trafficking after his arrest over the summer at the Wynn Resort in Las Vegas. Nicholas was detained in a hotel room at the Encore with his girlfriend, who is the ex-wife of the heir to the Wells Fargo fortune.

Hotel security reportedly became suspicious after Nicholas got locked out of his room. When security personnel unlocked the door, they noticed a woman passed out on the bed who had a balloon in her mouth. Nicholas explained that his girlfriend had been using the balloon for recreational use of nitrous oxide. The security staff member noticed a black pelican briefcase and opened the case due to concern that it might contain a weapon. Upon opening the case, the security staff member saw that it contained drugs and called the police. Police found approximately 15 grams of cocaine, 4 grams of heroin, 96 grams of methamphetamine and 17 grams of the psychedelic drug psilocin inside the case.

How to defend against domestic violence charges

People in California who find themselves accused of domestic violence may have several avenues of defense. In some cases, there simply may not be enough evidence available to successfully prosecute the person.

In some alleged cases of domestic violence, a person might have been acting in self-defense or in defense of their children. People in this situation may need to demonstrate that they did not start the altercation, that their response was proportionate and that they had a reasonable perception of being threatened. A rare but not impossible defense for domestic violence is that the person actually consented to the action. False allegations of domestic violence may also occur during child custody battles or acrimonious divorce cases. However, people who make these allegations may need to produce witnesses or police reports to convince a court, and those accounts could still be scrutinized and challenged.

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