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About Robin Sandoval

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Robin Sandoval is a California Licensed Bail Bondsman and owner of SCV Bail Bonds. Robin writes blogs and articles to help increase community awareness of the bail industry. If you have questions or want to suggest a topic, email robin@scvbailbonds.com, visit www.scvbailbonds.com or call 661-299-2245.

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SB 10 and AB 42 – Should Criminals Be Released Without Bail and No Oversight? Bail Reform is Just Bad for Californians

| Police Blotter | May 25, 2017

The Alliance of California Judges recently came out in strong opposition to both Assembly Bill 42 and Senate Bill 10. Both bills are identical and seek to completely eliminate bail and replace it with a computer program that determines a defendant’s risk and tells judges whether or not a defendant is to be released or kept in jail. According to their statement, the Alliance of California Judges warns that the bills are far too radical, and the ramifications for the court system, as well as the public, would be disastrous.

At the heart of the matter is the issue that some feel that a monetary bail system treats those who cannot afford bail differently than those who can. Proponents of bail reform would have the public believe that the poor languish in jail month after month, while the rich are able to be out as quickly as they got in. What they don’t tell you is that judges already take a person’s ability to pay for bail into consideration during a bail hearing. When someone isn’t of sound financial means, judges can — and often do — reduce the defendant’s bail amount or eliminate their bail entirely and release the defendant on their own recognizance.

Sometimes, a judge will require certain conditions to be followed for an inmate to be released on their own recognizance. The conditions could include regular check-ins with law enforcement, monitoring via bracelet or anklet, and/or travel restrictions. Under SB 10 and AB 42, the computer, not the judge, will be deciding who gets released and who does not; and that’s one of the major issues that the Alliance of California Judges has. Under these bills, individuals charged with crimes like identity theft, selling drugs, vandalism, and burglary (both commercial and residential) would be released on their own recognizance without any conditions, instead of remaining in custody pending bail or ordered to follow specific conditions set forward by a judge.

Lastly, a judge would only be able to set conditions for bail or pre-trial release after a hearing; otherwise, the defendant would be automatically released on their own recognizance. Prosecutors, aware of the danger to the public that suspected drug dealers, identity thieves and burglars (among others) pose, would more than likely request many of these hearings. The additional hearings would clog the already congested court system and bring proceedings to a standstill.

Proposition 64: The Legalization of Marijuana in California

| Police Blotter | May 19, 2017

On November 8, 2016, historic Proposition 64 was passed legalizing the recreational use of marijuana in the State of California. The law makes it legal for people age 21 and over to possess small amounts of marijuana and concentrated cannabis. It also legalizes the sale of marijuana by individuals with the proper licensure.

For many, the law was a long time coming. The medicinal use of marijuana was legalized in 1996, and possession of up to one ounce of the drug was treated merely as an infraction by law enforcement, provided it was for personal use only. Thus, if someone was found to be in possession of up to one ounce of marijuana, the penalty would be a fine and not jail time.

After the passage of Proposition 64, adults age 21 and over can legally possess and use marijuana without worry of winding up on the wrong side of the law. Prop 64 isn’t a free pass, though, and there are some restrictions. For example, one may only legally possess up to 28.5 grams, or just over an ounce, of marijuana or four grams of concentrated cannabis. Anyone who is found to be in possession of more than this can be charged with a misdemeanor and sentenced to up to six months in county jail and/or a $500 fine.

The legalization of marijuana under Prop 64 only applies to those 21 and over. If anyone under the age of 21 is found to be in possession of marijuana, it’s still an infraction, the penalties for which include drug counseling, community service and/or a fine.

In terms of growing marijuana, an individual may be allowed to grow up to six plants. If they are found to be growing more, they will be charged with a misdemeanor. Before Proposition 64, it would be a felony offense with a harsher penalty. Since it’s now a misdemeanor, the possible penalties include up to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.

Lastly, it’s still illegal to sell marijuana under Proposition 64 unless you are licensed to do so. The licenses will be issued by the Bureau of Marijuana Control, a new area of government created by the proposition’s passage. Anyone found to be selling marijuana or transporting it for sale without a license to do so will be charged with a crime. Like growing marijuana, the sale of, or transporting marijuana for sale without a license was previously a felony. Now a misdemeanor under Prop 64, the penalties include up to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.

 

Tips for Keeping Your Home Safer This Summer

| Canyon Country Magazine | May 17, 2017

Summer is fast approaching, and the weather’s heating up just as quickly. As a matter of fact, a lot of people out there like to open their doors and windows during the summer, and would-be burglars are well-aware of this. During the summer, residential burglaries tend to increase because people are prone to leaving their windows, garages, and doors open and forget to close them.

Below are a few tips to help reduce the likelihood that your home will become a target:
Don’t leave your garage door open if you aren’t in it to keep an eye on things. It’s very easy for someone to walk up and take expensive power tools, bicycles or other pricey items from your garage. If you don’t have a clear view, keep the garage door closed.
If you have gates on either side of your home, keep them locked.
Use motion lighting to brighten up the dark areas around the outside of your home. If there’s a window or side of your home that’s shrouded in darkness at night, install a light that covers it. Thieves are far less likely to try to break in if their handiwork will be in plain view.
Get to know your neighbors. When you’re familiar with your neighbors, you can watch each other’s homes when you’re away and pick up any mail or newspapers that show up.
There are many new security tech items on the market, such as camera doorbells. These allow you to see who’s at the door from anywhere you are (not just from home). By using an app on your phone, you have the ability to see who is there, while allowing you to talk to them in real time and record them on video.
You can also get involved with the neighborhood watch programs in your community. Sometimes it just takes a few people coming together to keep crime away from their immediate area.

Unfortunately, there’s really no way to remain 100 percent safe, but following these few simple steps can significantly reduce your chances of having your home broken into, whether this summer or any time of the year.

If you have questions about any Canyon Country bail related subjects, or want to suggest a topic, visit us at www.santaclaritabond.com or call 661-299-(BOND)2663.

Reducing Felonies to Misdemeanor

| Police Blotter | May 11, 2017

Being convicted of a felony offense is an unfortunate turn of events for anyone. Not only does a person face time in state prison, but having a felony conviction on your record can result in lifelong consequences when looking for a job, a loan or wishing to purchase a firearm, and even affect your eligibility for certain licensure.

Fortunately, it’s possible to have a felony conviction reduced to a misdemeanor under certain circumstances.

To have a felony charge reduced to a misdemeanor, two things have to happen.

The first is that the felony needs to be a “wobbler,” and the second is that the defendant needs to have been sentenced to probation, as opposed to jail time.
In California, a “wobbler” is a crime that can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances of the case. For example, if a person is charged with vandalism and the damage to the property is $400 or more, the crime can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Felonies that are not “wobblers” are known as “straight felonies” and can only be charged as felonies. These crimes are ineligible for reduction to misdemeanors.

The second condition is that the defendant must have been sentenced to probation. Their sentence cannot include prison time, and they cannot have been found in violation of their probation, nor have had their probation denied by a judge. Additionally, for those convicted of felonies and serve their time in county jail instead of state prison, their time served counts as state prison time for the purpose of determining eligibility for a charge reduction.

A “wobbler” that was charged as a felony can be reduced by a judge at one of three points: after the preliminary hearing, the time of felony sentencing, or after the defendant has completed his/her felony probation.

Having a felony reduced to a misdemeanor doesn’t always happen automatically, particularly when a defendant has completed his/her felony probation. Individuals who have questions about themselves, a friend, or loved one regarding the status of a charge should speak with a criminal law attorney.

A Sting Nets Several Arrested for California 288.4 PC

| Police Blotter | May 5, 2017

On April 27, four men were arrested after they allegedly showed up at a Santa Clarita motel to engage in sexual intercourse with underage minors they believed to be between 14 and 16. Fortunately, there were never any girls. The arrests were the result of a sting operation conducted by the Los Angeles Regional Human Trafficking Taskforce.

As part of the taskforce, officers posted ads on Craigslist.com and Backpage.com posing as minors. The men responded to the ads and agreed to meet at a Santa Clarita motel to engage in sexual activity. Once they arrived, the men were arrested and charged with arranging and showing up to a meeting with a minor for the purpose of having sexual contact — a felony. One suspect was charged with an additional crime when he was found to be in possession of ecstasy.

Arranging a meeting with a minor for the purpose of having sexual contact is covered under California Penal Code 288.4 PC. In order to be charged with this crime, a person must:

  • Arrange a meeting with a minor
  • While motivated by an unnatural or abnormal sexual attraction in children
  • With the intent to engage in certain sexual conduct with the minor at the meeting

It’s possible to be charged with violating California Penal Code 288.4 PC even if the suspect doesn’t engage in any sexual contact with the minor. Simply setting up a meeting with the intent of doing so is enough to warrant charges. Additionally, a person can be charged with a violation even if they never attend the meeting. Once again, the crime is to set up the meeting.

If an individual sets up a meeting with a minor and does not attend, the crime will be charged as a misdemeanor, the possible penalties for which include: misdemeanor probation, up to one year in county jail and/or a maximum fine of up to $5,000.

When someone sets up the meeting and attends it (or attempts to attend it), or has a previous conviction of a sex crime, the charge is upgraded to a felony. The possible penalties include: felony probation, 16 months to three years in California state prison, and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

The Nature of Kidnapping Charges

| Police Blotter | April 27, 2017

Recently, a Saugus electrician was arrested on suspicion of domestic assault and kidnapping after he allegedly dragged his wife into his car. According to witnesses, the ordeal began when the suspect demanded his wife get into the car, but she refused. The suspect then got verbally abusive, and the victim tried to run. It was then that the suspect got into the car and pursued the victim, stopping in front and exiting the vehicle to force her into it.

Kidnapping is covered by California Penal Codes 207, 208, 209 and 209.5 PC and is described as moving another person a substantial distance without that person’s consent, using force or fear to do so. This case is interesting as it involves a husband and wife, and kidnapping cases typically don’t do that. However, according to the wording of the law, it doesn’t matter what, if any, relation the victim has to the suspect. Kidnapping is kidnapping if it falls under the stated criteria. Granted, there are a few exceptions, of course. For example, you may have to force your child to get in the car on the way to the dentist, but it’s highly unlikely kidnapping charges are going to result from it.

There are a few other instances in which a person can commit an act that resembles kidnapping, but does not result in kidnapping charges. The first is if you steal, take, conceal or otherwise harbor a child under 14 and do so to protect that child from imminent danger or harm. In situations like this, a suspect would have to be able to prove that the child under 14 was actually in imminent danger, and not just claim that they were. The second situation is when you place the alleged victim under citizen’s arrest.

While seldom used, it is legal to place someone under citizen’s arrest, under the following circumstances:

You witness someone commit a felony

Have reasonable cause to believe that the person committed a felony, or

Know that the person actually committed a felony

Citizen’s arrest, while legal under these circumstances, is a dangerous endeavor and it’s probably better not to get involved. The police have the tools and the know-how to make arrests, and the vast majority of arrests should be left up to them,

Kidnapping is a felony under California law, and it carries the possible penalties of 3, 5, or 8 years in California state prison and a maximum fine of $10,000.

Under certain circumstances, such as kidnapping someone under the age of 14, kidnapping the person with the intention of holding them for ransom, and others, it’s possible to be charged with aggravated kidnapping and receive harsher penalties. These penalties include 5, 8 or 11 years in California state prison, or imprisonment for life with the possibility of parole.

Understanding DUI Checkpoints

| Police Blotter | April 21, 2017

Encountering a DUI checkpoint can be a bothersome stop, but their purpose is to keep motorists safe. Last year in California, there were 30 alcohol-related fatalities and 2,017 people arrested under suspicion of DUI during Labor Day weekend alone. During holiday weekends and throughout the year, law enforcement agencies across the state periodically conduct DUI checkpoints to keep these numbers down.

 The checkpoints are designed to allow local law enforcement to interview drivers and find those who may be under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Some law enforcement agencies will seldom conduct DUI checkpoints, but California’s police and deputies conduct them relatively frequently. Here are a few other points regarding DUI checkpoints that you may not be aware of:

 Standards and procedures can vary by state. Just because you’ve encountered a DUI checkpoint in California doesn’t mean it will be handled the same way in another state. As a matter of fact, some states don’t allow police to hold DUI checkpoints.

In states where DUI checkpoints aren’t allowed, police will instead conduct license and insurance checks. At these stops, police check drivers for proper documentation, but they’re also looking out for anyone exhibiting signs of alcohol or drug use. Just because the checkpoint wasn’t specifically for a DUI doesn’t mean the police can’t investigate.

Police at DUI checkpoints follow what’s known as a “neutral formula.” Basically, it means they adhere to the same procedure for every vehicle that goes through the checkpoint. They don’t dismiss a driver who looks like he/she hasn’t been drinking, and they won’t automatically detain someone who appears to be a drinker. Officers will go through their protocol with each driver and if signs of possible intoxication are present, they’ll have that driver pull to the side to take a breathalyzer test.

All DUI checkpoints must be clearly marked for safety. Odds are, if you’ve encountered a DUI checkpoint on California roads, you knew it was there long before you arrived. They’re typically well-lit, marked off with road cones, flares, and several police officers.

California law enforcement officers also check your driver’s license at the checkpoints. While police in other states check for signs of alcohol consumption during license and insurance checks, our police do it the opposite way. When police speak with a driver going through a checkpoint, the officer will make sure that the motorist has a valid license. If not, the driver may be ticketed, or even arrested.

If you’re driving and you see a DUI checkpoint up ahead, don’t worry. The officers who conduct them are specially trained to look for signs of alcohol consumption to every driver with whom they speak. Those who are not under the influence of drugs or alcohol have nothing to worry about, and going through the checkpoint doesn’t take very long. An unemployed 46-year-old Santa Clarita man was arrested for doing harm to an elder/dependent adult.

St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations 2017

| Police Blotter | March 16, 2017

If you want to enjoy St. Patrick’s Day away from Santa Clarita this year, it may take a bit of planning on your part. It all begins with knowing where you want to go, how you’re going to get there and, most importantly, how you’re going to get back home safe and sound.

St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Friday this year, which means there could be more holiday revelers than usual who are out and about. Expect a heavy police presence on the roads in L.A. County in the days leading up to, and preceding, St. Patrick’s Day.

Alcohol-related collisions tend to spike around holidays, particularly those associated with drinking, such as the 4th of July, Memorial Day and St. Patrick’s Day. Ride-hailing apps like Uber, Lyft and Curb are invaluable during times like this, as they can get you and your friends and family to and from wherever you’re going to, safely and easily.

Once you’ve got your transportation sorted out, you may want to start the celebration with a hearty meal. If you’re interested in Irish fare (and on St. Patrick’s Day, you should be) try one of L.A.’s best Irish pubs:

  • Tom Bergin’s Tavern – After a short hiatus, Tom Bergin’s Tavern in Central L.A. is back, and their menu is as good as it gets. The owners updated the menu after the tavern reopened in January, and it’s run through with traditional Irish dishes.
  • If you’d like something a little more up tempo with your meal, the legendary Molly Malone’s in the Fairfax District boasts an eclectic mix of music, food and drinks since 1969.
  • Once you’ve been well-fed you can hit up one or more of Los Angeles’ excellent St. Patrick’s Day festivities.
  • The official St. Patrick’s Day Hollywood pub crawl begins at 2 p.m. at 1624 N. Cahuenga Blvd. There will be drink specials including $2 beers, $3 well drinks and $4 shots. After 10 p.m., drink specials increase by $2.
  • Pier Pressure Long Beach is offering a pirate-themed (though all costumes are welcome) cruise aboard the Catalina King Yacht. The cruise includes 3 decks, 4 DJ’s and 2 rooms of music.
  • For something a little more family-friendly, head over to the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Hermosa Beach. The parade runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and begins at City Hall.

And, after thinking about it, if you decide you don’t want to leave Santa Clarita Valley, there are several things going on right here in town:

  • SENSES is going green in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day March 16 from 7-10 p.m. Shamrocks, pots of gold, and lucky charms will fill Main Street in Old Town Newhall. It’s a free evening of entertainment.
  • There are several restaurants around town celebrating the green holiday. There will be plenty of live music, corned beef and cabbage and green beer for all: Egg Plantation, Rose and Crown British Restaurant, Oaks Grille at TPC, and Wolf Creek Restaurant and Brewing Company.
  • The SCV Senior Center is offering lunch and performances on March 17, 2017 from 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. There is a celtic harp & vocal performance by Kristie Rose and Irish tunes with John O’Swinford & Co.

Listed here are just a smattering of the scores of celebrations and activities going on this weekend. No matter where you choose to celebrate, the most important thing is that you remember to stay safe.

From all of us at SCV Bail Bonds, have a safe and happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Vandalism in Canyon Country

| Canyon Country Magazine | March 15, 2017

Early in February, deputies working out of the Santa Clarita Sheriff’s Station were called to an area of Canyon Country near Sierra Hwy and Sandy Drive to investigate reports of vandalism. Apparently, the suspect(s) had tagged several places underneath a bridge on Sierra Hwy near a pedestrian and bicycle path. After searching the area, three suspects were taken into custody that same day.

Vandalism is a serious, yet common, crime and depending on the monetary amount of damage caused, can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. For example, if the damage to the property as a result of vandalism is less than $400, the crime will likely be charged as a misdemeanor. If the damage is $400 or greater, the prosecuting attorney can decide whether to charge the crime as a misdemeanor or a felony.

Both misdemeanors and felonies can be punished with up to one year in county jail; however, a felony charge could result in the defendant spending time in state prison instead. Additionally, both felony and misdemeanor charges include hefty fines.

The individuals caught earlier this month could easily have escaped arrest had witnesses not called deputies when they saw something fishy.

The Santa Clarita Sheriff’s Station urges anyone who sees something to say something. Non-emergencies can be reported anonymously by calling the Santa Clarita Sheriff’s Station at 661-255-1121 or 661-284-2-TIP. If the possible crime being committed is an emergency, such as a crime that involves another person being injured, witnesses should call 9-1-1.

If you have questions about any Canyon Country bail related subjects, or want to suggest a topic, visit SCV Bail Bonds at www.santaclaritabond.com or call 661-299-(BOND)2663.

California Penal Code 32 PC: Accessories are Included

| Police Blotter | March 9, 2017

California criminal law states that there are two parties to a crime: principals and accessories. To be considered a “principal” party to a crime, one must participate in a crime either before or during its commission. For example, anyone who encourages, helps plan, or facilitates the commission of a crime, but doesn’t necessarily take part during the actual commission of the crime, can be considered a “principal” party.

In previous decades, those who helped plan, encourage, or facilitate the commission of a crime were considered “accessories before the fact.” However, under the law, “principals” to a crime all share criminal intent, and as such, they are all subject to the same charges and the same penalties regardless of whether they took part in the commission of the crime. That being the case, the term “accessory before the fact” has largely been eliminated from California law.

One type of accessory to a crime still exists, and that would be an accessory after the fact. In order to be considered an accessory after the fact, a prosecutor must be able to prove:
A felony was committed
The defendant knowingly harbored, concealed or aided the suspect charged with the felony
The defendant knew that the person had committed a felony, was charged with a felony, or was convicted of a felony
The defendant attempted to protect the felon from arrest, trial, conviction or sentencing
For example, allowing someone you know was charged with a felony to hide in your home in order to evade police could result in being charged with being an accessory after the fact. One does not necessarily have to have direct contact with the person evading police in order to be charged as an accessory. It’s possible to be charged with violating PC 32 by lying to the police or hiding or destroying evidence that links an individual to a felony. Essentially, what matters most is that the individual knows someone committed a felony and he or she helps to conceal that person or obstruct police in their investigation.

Violations of California Penal Code 32 PC can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. The seriousness of the charge will depend on the circumstances of the case and the defendant’s criminal history. If charged as a misdemeanor, the possible penalties include a fine of up to $5,000 and up to one year in county jail for misdemeanor charges, and 16 months to 3 years in California state prison for felony charges.

AB 109 – Another Failed and Dangerous Policy for Californians

| Police Blotter | March 2, 2017

Criminal justice reform has been in the news quite a lot recently. One of the more controversial issues is that of AB 109, known as “California’s prison realignment.” Signed in 2011, AB 109 was intended to reduce California’s overcrowded state prison system. However, while the need to reduce prison overpopulation is dire, shifting the responsibility to local communities is resulting in disaster.

Just recently, a 28-year veteran of the Whittier Police Department was tragically shot and killed, along with another man, by 26-year-old M.C. Mejia, a known gang member who had spent time in Pelican Bay State Prison (a facility notorious for housing dangerous criminals) on previous convictions of robbery and grand theft auto.

Mejia, considered a “low level offender” through the passing of AB 109, had been convicted of violating his parole several times. But instead of being sent back to state prison for between 90 days and one year for each violation, he spent several 10-day stints in a county jail. Law enforcement officials now argue that had Mejia been incarcerated in state prison for the five times he was sent back to jail for parole violations, he would not have been on the street and able to commit these two murders.

Before AB 109’s implementation, 60,000 felon parole violators were cycled in and out of state prisons every year. As of 2013, only 25 inmates were in state prison on parole violations, as the rest had been serving time in county jails.

Additionally, under AB 109, the crimes of commercial burglary, forgery, corporal injury on a child, aggravated evasion of a police officer and possession of marijuana for sale – all felony offenses – are now punished with “time in county jail,” as opposed to serving time in state prison.

Another aspect of AB 109 is that when low-level felons are released from county jails, they are to be supervised by probation departments at the local-level, a provision that law enforcement has long argued puts undue stress on local police forces. Unfortunately, this tragic recent event has underscored law enforcement’s argument.

To add fuel to the flame, the recent talks at the state-level about California bail reform will make matters even worse. Currently, bail bondsmen closely monitor defendants while they are out on bail awaiting trial. Significant reductions in, or the outright removal of, bail policy in California will put that responsibility on an already beleaguered local police force, which isn’t equipped or funded to monitor all these people. If such were to occur, it’s more than likely that several more violent criminals will fall through the cracks.

USB Cords Compromising Your Personal Data? Tips to Protect Yourself

| Police Blotter | February 23, 2017

Smartphones are great. You can check your email, tweet about the news and post a picture of your breakfast to Facebook, all on one little device. Unfortunately, all of this functionality tends to drain the battery quickly. A reality which, for most of us, can be easily remedied by plugging our phone into a wall socket whenever need one, right?

Not so fast. For years, hackers have been using compromised outlets to steal information from peoples’ smartphones and tablets, and the problem is only getting worse.

If you’ve ever used a public charging station or Wi-Fi access point at an airport, park, conference center or even a coffee shop, then you may have already connected to a network that’s possibly been compromised.

The danger lies in the USB cords most people use to charge their phones. These cords are capable of transferring data two-ways – a design that was intended to allow users to transfer data to and from their smartphones and computers.

Hackers are taking advantage of the two-way data functionality to steal information from unsuspecting victims’ phones. By plugging in to a compromised port, a hacker may be able to access your photos, email, pictures, texts – just about anything that’s stored on your phone is fair game.

To protect yourself from having your phone compromised, security experts have a few suggestions:
Always use your own USB cable and adapter when charging in public places. Never borrow someone else’s, and always plug your adapter into the wall socket – don’t plug your USB cable into public USB ports.
Don’t unlock the phone while it’s charging. Some phones will limit data that can be transferred while the phone is locked. However, you shouldn’t rely solely on your phone’s OS to protect you.
Last, but not least, to be as safe as possible, invest in a portable USB battery pack. This last tip is particularly useful for people who handle a lot of sensitive data on their smartphones.

Having your phone hacked can be incredibly dangerous. ID thieves in particular would love to get their hands on as much of your data as possible. But, it’s nice to know you can minimize your risk by following some, or all, of the tips listed above.

Monitoring ‘Smart Phone’ Use to Keep Your Children from Predators

| Police Blotter | February 16, 2017

 

Recently, J. M. Magana of Whittier was arrested at his home and charged with extortion and a host of sex offenses, including rape of a minor over 14 and possessing child pornography. Magana pleaded not guilty to all charges on Thursday, February 9, 2017.

The arrest comes after a five-month investigation by the LASD into reported “sextortion” allegations. The investigation began last October when one of the alleged victims reported to law enforcement that she had been forced to send nude photographs to Magana, who she met while using her cell phone app KiK. The 16-year-old girl claimed Magana repeatedly threatened to harm her if she didn’t send the photos. It’s believed by detectives that Magana gained information about the girl through other social media sites, which he then used to frighten her into sending the pictures.

Initially, Magana had taken steps to hide his internet address, but police were still able to discover where he lived. When they searched his home and cell phone, they found pictures of another underage girl who had also been threatened into sending nude pictures of herself to Magana. She was allegedly sexually assaulted by him in January – an act which he chose to film on his cell phone.

The case above may sound familiar, as incidents like it have been happening since the internet found its way into people’s homes starting in the mid ‘90s. Back then, sexual predators were using chat rooms to locate and assault their victims. As chat rooms fell out of vogue and were subsequently replaced by the rise of social media, those sites, too, became a tool for online predators.

“Phones are computers now,” says Sheriff’s Lt. Kent Wegener, and it would appear that he’s correct. Today’s smart phones are capable of carrying out many of the same functions that computers can, particularly when it comes to the many social media apps that are available.

Parents need to be cautious and vigilant when it comes to what their kids are doing on the internet, a job made all the more difficult by the small, portable nature of today’s smart phones. The best thing you can do to help keep your kids safe from predators is to have a frank discussion about the kinds of things they need to be wary of when using their phones, tablets or computers.

Finally, make sure that whatever social media accounts they use, they know what information never to post. It’s the places where they frequently hang out, where they go to school, and information about their daily routines these predators are on the lookout for.

 

 

What is the Difference Between Murder and Capital Murder?

| Police Blotter | February 9, 2017

Recently, police made three arrests in a 24-year-old case involving one of the worst examples of arson in the city’s history. In the early 1990s, a drug distributor was selling crack in Los Angeles’ Westlake neighborhood. Her efforts to sell were frustrated in a particular apartment complex, thanks to the efforts of the property manager. The manager would frequently change the locks on several of the doors to hinder the dealer’s efforts to make transactions on the premises, and often called police when she noticed anything suspicious.

Eventually, the enterprising dealer went to the 18th street gang, who had a heavy presence in the area during the ‘90s, to help her out. Later, the apartment complex went up in flames and resulted in the deaths of 10 people, including two pregnant females and seven children. No arrests were made after the initial investigation, as residents were too afraid of the 18th street gang to speak with police. As years went on, the gang’s grip on the neighborhood weakened, and witnesses began to come forward.

Thanks to witness testimony, several arrests were made last week in the case. J. Lopez, R. Valerio, and J. Monge, were all arrested and charged with 12 counts of capital murder. They’re charged with 12 counts, as opposed to 10, because charges include the two fetuses that the pregnant mothers were carrying.

Under California Penal Code 187, there are three ways someone can be charged with murder: first-degree murder, second-degree murder and capital murder. First-degree murder is usually charged when someone commits a murder with a destructive device, a weapon of mass destruction, by lying in wait and/or murdering after committing torture, by killing someone in a way that is willful, premeditated and/or by way of the felony murder rule.

Second-degree murder is typically charged when a murder is willful, but not deliberate. For example, firing a gun into a crowd and killing someone, but not intending to kill that specific person could be grounds for a second-degree murder charge.

Capital murder is the third and final murder charge in California Law. Capital murder is also known as first-degree murder with special circumstances. There are over 20 separate circumstances under which someone can be charged with capital murder, including, but not limited to: murder for financial gain, murdering more than one person, and murdering a witness to prevent the individual from testifying.

Capital murder is also different from first-degree murder in that it is punishable by death or life without parole; whereas, first-degree murder convictions can result in a sentence of 25 years to life (unless the murder was a hate crime, in which case the defendant could face life without parole).

What are Ignition Interlock Devices and How Do They Work?

| Police Blotter | February 3, 2017

An Ignition Interlock Device (IID) is a small breathalyzer installed in someone’s car that will not allow them to drive unless they provide a breath sample clear of alcohol use. An IID, when installed, will detect any amount of alcohol on the person’s breath and if detected, will not allow the car to start and run.

These machines are so sensitive that it’s possible to register a false positive on the part of the driver. Using an IID shortly after using mouthwash, eating candy or something that may contain alcohol sugars, even certain pastries may result in false positives. When this happens, the machine usually allows the driver to retest shortly afterward.

A judge can order someone charged with any DUI-related crime to install an IID in their vehicle. In some counties it isn’t ordered for first offenses unless, during the first offense, the driver’s blood alcohol level was 0.15 percent or higher or the driver refused to submit to a chemical blood or breath test by police. However, due to a pilot program known as VS 23700 that began in 2010, residents of Los Angeles, Alameda, Tulare, and Sacramento counties must install an IID on their cars for five months after being convicted of a DUI. If someone was injured as a result of the DUI, the mandatory minimum time frame extends to one year.

The pilot program is set to expire on July 1, 2017. If there’s a significant reduction in repeat DUIs, the program will go into effect across the state. It’s possible that the state Legislature may vote to extend the program statewide before its expiration.

VC 23700 also affects repeat offenders who have multiple California DUIs in any of the pilot program’s covered counties. If an individual is convicted of a second DUI, he/she must install an IID for one year, for a third DUI it is two years, and for a fourth, it is three years. For those who live outside any of the counties mentioned above, there is no mandatory requirement to install an IID for a DUI conviction.

Interestingly, if an individual is arrested for driving on a suspended license, and the license was suspended or revoked due to a DUI-related conviction, a judge may order the defendant to install an IID on his/her vehicle for one to three years.

When someone is ordered to install an IID in their vehicle, they’re also on the hook for the cost. Most IIDs cost about $2.50 a day to operate, and installation can be anywhere from $75-$100. If an arrestee cannot afford the cost of the IID, the individual will be required to pay a portion of it.

Is Resisting an Executive Officer a Possible Felony? California Penal Code 69 PC

| Police Blotter | January 26, 2017

Recently, one of our readers suggested we write an article regarding California Penal Code 69 PC: resisting an executive officer in performance of duty. This crime is very similar to one we covered recently: California Penal Code 148(a) PC, resisting arrest. PC 69, though, is a much more serious offense.

California Penal Code 69 PC is described as attempting to prevent an executive officer from performing his or her duties by use of threats, force or violence OR someone who knowingly resists an executive officer, by use of force or violence, an executive officer in the performance of his or her duty. Basically, a person can be charged with violating PC 69 by attempting to prevent an executive officer from performing their duties, or by knowingly resisting said officer in the performance of their duties.

An executive officer is anyone who is a public employee who is authorized to carry out their duties at their discretion. For example, PC 148(a), resisting arrest, typically deals with law enforcement personnel like police officers and sheriff’s deputies. PC 69, on the other hand, covers people like judges, attorneys, and elected officials. So, if someone resists arrest by a police officer, they may be facing a misdemeanor charge. If a person interferes with an executive officer, they’re looking at possible felony charges.

As mentioned above, to be charged with violating California Penal Code 69 PC, an individual must (using force or fear) interfere with, or attempt to interfere with, an executive officer performing their lawful duties. Lawful duties are described as any duties that the executive officer is lawfully charged with carrying out as a requirement of their profession. These duties include, but are not limited to, sentencing by judges, a public defender taking the case of a defendant, or a city council member voting on an ordinance.

An example of violating California Penal Code 69 PC: Let’s say that a district attorney plans to prosecute a case against an individual, and in an attempt to stop that from happening, someone tries to use force or fear to dissuade the district attorney from doing so. If caught, the person could be charged with violating PC 69.

Resisting an executive officer is a “wobbler” in California, meaning it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. If charged as a misdemeanor, the penalties include up to 364 days in county jail, a maximum $10,000 fine or both. If convicted on felony charges, the possible penalties include 16 months to 3 years in county jail, a maximum fine of $10,000 or both.

Tips to Deter Burglars

| Canyon Country Magazine | January 20, 2017

A new year is upon us, bringing with it a fresh start, new opportunities, and a chance to make the changes you want to make. Like everywhere else, Canyon Country does get its fair share of crime from time to time, and like everywhere else, some of those crimes are burglaries. With the new year just beginning, there’s no time like the present to make a few minor changes to help keep your home from being the target of a would-be burglar. Here are a few things to consider:

Avoid putting empty boxes of big-ticket items out by the curb for the garbage man. It can be difficult, especially this time of year, but when boxes for televisions, DVD players, or other expensive items are put into plain view, it sends up a red flag to possible thieves that says “this house may be worth breaking into.” Instead, tear or cut up the boxes and put them out of sight when you take them to the curb.

If you go on vacation, make sure you have someone to regularly get your mail and/or newspaper. Nothing says “we’re not home” like a pile of newspapers on your doorstep.

Lights on, blinds closed. If you’re going to be away at night, leave a light on in your home. If you’re going to be on vacation, look into getting automatic timers for your lights. Also, keeping your blinds closed will make it harder for burglars to see what’s inside your home and decide whether or not they want to try and enter.

Last, but not least, make sure you leave exterior lights on around your home. Visibility is a big deterrent when it comes to burglarizing homes, and the more lights you have, the less likely you are to be targeted.

Ultimately, there’s no 100 percent guaranteed way to ensure a home in our community won’t be the target of burglars, but by taking a few easy steps, we can greatly minimize the chances.

Violating Parole – The Fast Track Back to Jail

| Police Blotter | January 12, 2017

Recently in Pasadena, police conducted a routine traffic stop on the 1000 block of N. Raymond Ave. When the vehicle pulled over, one of the men exited and quickly fled on foot to a nearby apartment complex, where he handed off a firearm to another individual. Police gave chase and caught up with the fleeing suspect shortly thereafter, and discovered that he still had a firearm in his possession. The driver of the vehicle was also detained, as an additional firearm was found inside the car.

Ultimately, the driver of the car, D. Hannah, the fleeing passenger, M. Robinson, and the suspect to whom he handed a firearm, R. Isham, were all arrested. All three were charged with violating California Penal Code 29800 PC: Felon with a firearm. It was later discovered that Isham was on parole at the time of his arrest.

Both Robinson and Hannah were booked and held at the Los Angeles Inmate Reception Center in lieu of $125,000 bail, which Hannah posted and was released last Saturday. Isham, being on parole, was instead transported to Twin Towers Correctional Facility and no bail amount is currently available.

Most inmates are put on parole once they complete their state prison sentences unless a parole board feels that the inmate would be a threat to public safety. When an inmate is released from prison on parole, they are still under the control of the California Department of Corrections and must agree to living a lifestyle governed by certain restrictions. Some common terms and conditions include:

Consent to being searched by police at any time, without a warrant and with or without cause
Agreeing to live within county limits
Agreeing to register with local authorities if they are required to after conviction as a sex offender, arsonist, or certain drug crimes
Agreeing to conditions relating to specific offenses, such as:
Agreeing to avoid being around or using certain weapons
Using the internet
Being around known gang members

When someone violates the conditions of their parole, they will have to attend a California parole revocation hearing during which it will be decided as to whether or not the defendant will be allowed to remain on parole. The hearings are presided over by a single deputy commissioner of the California Board of Parole Hearings.

If the deputy commissioner decides that the defendant is to be returned to custody for violating parole, the maximum amount of time the defendant can be jailed for is one year. However, if the inmate commits any additional crimes while in jail, their time in custody can be extended up to an additional 12 months.

Resisting Arrest – California Penal Code 148 (a)(1) PC

| Police Blotter | January 5, 2017

In the media, when someone is shown to be resisting arrest, the scene usually involves an officer or two attempting to put handcuffs on a suspect while the arrestee struggles to be free. This is certainly one way an individual can be charged with resisting arrest, but the reality of the law is that it covers many more instances than you may think.

California Penal Code 148(a)(1) PC covers resisting arrest, which is described as “willfully resisting, delaying, or otherwise obstructing a law enforcement officer or emergency medical technician (EMT) while they are performing or attempting to perform their duties.” In the case of law enforcement; arresting someone is clearly one of their duties, but 148(a)(1) PC also includes traveling to and from a crime scene or accident, interviewing people while investigating a crime, and monitoring a suspect who is in custody. What this all means is that it’s possible to be charged with resisting arrest even if you aren’t actually being arrested at the time.

For example, people can be charged with resisting arrest for giving law enforcement a false name when they are interviewed about a crime, hassling officers who are trying to arrest someone else, or impeding the progress of a police or EMT’s vehicle on the way to their destination. Basically, resisting arrest can be charged whenever someone obstructs the law enforcement or EMTs from performing their duties.

Interestingly, 148(a)(1) PC only makes it illegal to obstruct an officer or EMT from performing his/her duties in a way that is lawful. Therefore, if an individual were to obstruct an officer or EMT from performing duties unlawfully, the individual would not be subject to charges under California’s resisting arrest law. That being said, it can be extremely difficult to decide in the moment if a police officer or an EMT is performing his/her duties unlawfully. As such, it’s usually best not to interfere and, if you believe something was done unlawfully, to report it rather than intervene yourself. Those who attempt to intervene may not find themselves being charged with resisting arrest – especially if they intervene physically. Instead, they could be facing charges of PC 240 assault or PC 243(b) battery on a police officer.

Resisting arrest is a misdemeanor in California, and the possible penalties include up to one year in county jail, a maximum fine of $1,000 and/or probation.

Petty Theft vs. Petty Theft with a Prior

| Police Blotter | December 29, 2016

When someone steals something worth $950 or less, it now falls under California Penal Codes 484 (a) and 488 PC: California’s petty theft laws. One of the most common names for committing petty theft is known as petty larceny, which is, to physically take something from someone else, or from their immediate presence without their permission. Stealing a case of wine from someone’s home, or taking money out of someone’s purse when they aren’t looking are both examples of petty larceny. However, larceny isn’t the only way in which one can commit petty theft. Theft by deception, embezzlement, and fraud can all fall under California’s petty theft laws if the amount is $950 or less.

Oftentimes, people get confused between shoplifting and petty theft. After all, most things people shoplift from a store are worth $950 or less. However, shoplifting has historically been connected to California’s burglary laws, not petty theft. After the passing of Proposition 47, however, shoplifting became a separate offense. Because shoplifting is now a separate crime, an individual cannot be charged with both petty theft and shoplifting. People are now generally released from custody with no need for bond, with a promise to return to court at their appointed date.

In cases involving a defendant’s first offense, petty theft is typically charged as a misdemeanor, and the possible penalties include up to six months in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both. In some first offense cases in which the value of the property stolen amounts to less than $50, it’s possible to get the crime reduced from a misdemeanor to an infraction. This reduction is at the prosecution’s discretion and, if successful, the penalty is capped at a fine of no more than $250. If the value of the stolen merchandise is valued at more than $50, and this is the defendant’s first offense, it’s possible to have the petty theft charge dismissed if the defendant is willing to:

• Repay the value of the merchandise
• Complete community service hours and/or
• Complete anti-theft classes

When someone who has a prior petty theft conviction on their record is charged with another of California’s theft crimes, the crime will be charged under California Penal Code 666 PC: California’s petty theft with a prior, law. The prior crimes include petty theft, grand theft, grand theft auto, burglary, carjacking, robbery and felony receiving stolen property. With one or more of these prior crimes on their record, as well as elder abuse, a sex crime requiring registration as a sex offender, or a serious felony, it’s possible for the petty theft crime to be charged as a felony instead of a misdemeanor.

In cases like this, the possible penalties include 16 months to three years in California state prison.

The Manufacture and Sale of Imitation Controlled Substances

| Police Blotter | December 22, 2016

We all know that the sale of controlled substances is illegal, as is the sale of synthetic drugs designed to provide users with a similar high. What you may not be aware of, though, is that the sale of imitation drugs – even if they don’t have any effect – is also illegal.

California Health and Safety Codes 109575 HS and 11355 HS make it a crime to manufacture an imitation controlled substance and to sell an imitation controlled substance after passing it off as the real thing. The laws apply to both imitation pharmaceuticals, as well as imitation narcotics.

109575 HS deals with the manufacture of “bunk” drugs. A “bunk” drug is basically a substance designed to look like a pharmaceutical or narcotic, but doesn’t actually contain any of the narcotic in its makeup. “Bunk” drugs differ from synthetic drugs (i.e. bath salts) in that these substances don’t necessarily need to have any effect on the user when ingested to be labeled as “bunk” drugs. They simply need to resemble an actual drug and be manufactured with the purpose of being passed off as that substance.

When a substitute fake drug is sold, it falls under Health and Safety Code 11355 HS. Under this law, it’s illegal to sell, offer to sell, arrange the sale of, or transport a controlled substance and then deliver the imitation substance instead. When an individual sets up a deal and delivers a “bunk” drug instead of the real thing, he or she is treated as though the suspect had actually delivered the real drug in the eyes of the law.

This might seem a little odd, but there’s a solid rationale behind the reasoning. Health and Safety Code 11355 HS wasn’t designed to punish people who sell imitation drugs, but to punish the intent to traffic in illegal drugs and/or the possible harm to the victim that may occur when the imitation substance is used as though it were the real thing.

California Health and Safety Code 109575 HS, the manufacture of “bunk” drugs, is a misdemeanor with the possible penalties of up to six months in county jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Code 11355 HS, on the other hand, is a “wobbler” that can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. If charged as a misdemeanor, the possible penalties include up to one year in county jail. If charged as a felony, the penalty is increased to 16 months to 3 years in county jail.

Upcoming Fun Holiday Events in Los Angeles County

| Police Blotter | December 15, 2016

When you think of the perfect place to celebrate a winter holiday, going to L.A. may not be the first place that comes to mind. It’s not the kind of place one equates with snow, warm fires, and one-horse open sleighs. But, regardless of the climate, Los Angeles does winter holidays right – just like every other holiday. If you’re wondering just what there is to do this season in L.A. County, here are a few ideas:

Enchanted: Forest of Light – Located at Descano Gardens, Enchanted: Forest of Light offers a different take on this time of year’s light displays. There are a total of eight installations, including forests and stand-alone hands-on art pieces, all using different kinds of light. The installation runs through January 8, and tickets are $28.

Miracle on Santa Fe – Westbound, the popular cocktail bar in the Arts District is transforming itself into what they call the Miracle on Santa Fe. The folks at Westbound have decided to go over-the-top this year, with holiday decorations, lights, and all sorts of Christmas kitsch. There will be a performance every night, including live Christmas carolers, sugarplum fairies, and maybe even Santa. Despite the possible appearance of Kris Kringle, Westbound is a bar, and the gifts he brings are going to be rather … spirited.
Reindeer Romp – Santa’s reindeer are making a stop at the L.A. Zoo before Christmas this year. During the week, the reindeer will be around, but on weekends you can meet and take a picture with Santa and create Christmas crafts. The Reindeer Romp is designed to be fun for the whole family, so bring ‘em all along! The Reindeer Romp began early this week and runs through December 31 (excluding Christmas, of course).

Ice Skating Rinks – Temperatures may be pretty amiable this time of year in Southern California, but that doesn’t mean you can’t ice skate if you want to. Continuing through January 16, Pershing Square’s annual ice skating rink is up and running. If Pershing Square is a little too far, L.A. Live has an open ice skating rink running through January 7.

The Farmer’s Market Hannukah Celebration – This Jewish holiday will take place at the Farmer’s Market at 6333 W. 3rd St in Los Angeles, on Tuesday, December 27. A giant menorah will be lit in observance of Hanukkah, and there will be live music, arts and crafts. If you celebrate Hanukkah (or even if you don’t), everyone is invited.

Santa Clarita Private Light Displays and Ice Rink at the Mall – Seen on the Travel channel, extraordinary light displays are put on by private homeowners in Santa Clarita each year. For more information on the locations, click on to http://santaclaritaguide.com/HolidaySCV.html. The snow may not be falling, but the magic of winter is in the air at Westfield Valencia Town Center. The holiday ice rink is opening soon at the Valencia Town Center Mall.

Regardless of what you decide to do this holiday season, remember to stay safe. If you plan to consume alcohol while celebrating, don’t drink and drive. Assign a designated driver, take a taxi, or use a ride sharing app to get yourself home safely.

From all of us at SCV Bail Bonds to you, have a safe and happy holiday season!

‘Tis the Season for Fraud

| Police Blotter | December 8, 2016

The height of the holiday shopping season is upon us; malls and retail establishments are going to get busier from now until Christmas. People not only do a lot of buying this time of year, but they tend to sell more, too. Whether it’s to get a quick infusion of cash to go Christmas shopping, or just to try and unload an unwanted vehicle or item while others are in the spirit of spending, a lot of cash will be changing hands.

This time of year also sees a spike in incidents of fraud, commonly taking the form of check fraud. Check fraud is covered under California Penal Code 476 PC and is described as making, using, possessing (or attempting to make or use) a check with the intention of defrauding someone else and presenting the check as genuine. Many cases of check fraud include fake checks that are passed off as genuine; however, the check itself doesn’t need to be fake in order for someone to be charged with check fraud. Simply by forging the name of the payer, or altering the dollar amount on the check, it is enough to bring charges.

Another common crime, and one related to check fraud, is California Penal Code 476a PC – writing bad checks. To be charged with violating California Penal Code 476a PC, a person must write and attempt to pass a check knowing that there are insufficient funds in the bank to cover the full amount of the check, with the intention of committing fraud.

When a person is convicted of passing bad checks, they are subjected to both criminal and civil penalties. Violating 476a PC is a “wobbler,” meaning that it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances of the case and the defendant’s criminal history. If convicted on a misdemeanor charge, the defendant faces up to one year in county jail and a fine of up to $1,000. If convicted of a felony charge, the defendant faces 16 months to three years in California state prison and a maximum $10,000 fine.

Since the passing of Proposition 47, checks that are written for $950 or less now mean the crime is charged as a misdemeanor, providing the defendant does not have three or more prior related convictions.

For California Penal Code 476 PC, check fraud, the crime is also a “wobbler,” carrying the same penalties as 476a PC.

Mail Theft and What You Can Do to Prevent It

| Police Blotter | December 1, 2016

Throughout the year, U.S. Postal Service members and private carriers do their best to protect your mail and packages. During the holiday season, though, as more and more packages make their way across the country, there’s only so much that can be done. Thieves know that money-filled Christmas cards and gift packages are going to be delivered day in and day out for the next month or so, and they’re hip to get their hands on what they can.

In California, mail theft is handled differently than other types of theft. Legally, it’s dealt with in a manner more akin to identity theft, due to the fact that most mail theft is committed in an attempt to get someone’s identifying information. Mail theft is covered under California Penal Code 530.5 PC, which also covers identity theft. Aside from being a crime in the state, mail theft is also a federal crime covered under 18 United States Code 1708. As far as the state goes, the crime of mail theft is a misdemeanor which carries the possible penalties of summary probation, up to one year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.

Typically, mail thieves (or most thieves) will go after the easiest targets they can find. Nobody wants to expose themselves to greater risk of being caught by spending an inordinate amount of time on one score, when they can go after one that’s more accessible. With that being said, here are a few things you can do to help keep your mail and packages safe this holiday season:

Don’t leave mail in your mailbox with the flag up. If you’re sending something out to be delivered, use the mail slots at your local post office instead.

Don’t let your delivered mail linger in your mailbox. If you can’t pick it up as soon as it’s delivered, ask a trusted friend or neighbor to do so. This is especially important if you’re expecting a package. Never allow a package to sit on your doorstep, have someone get it for you if you’re not going to be able to do so yourself.

Don’t send cash in the mail. Cash can be accessed by anyone, whereas checks are much harder to alter and leave a paper trail when cashed.

If you’re going to be out of town, let your post office know; they can hold your mail until you return.

Last, but not least, not all mail theft happens at the mailbox. Some enterprising identity thieves love to go through people’s trash for discarded letters. Don’t throw out mail that contains sensitive or other identifying information; shred it or burn it instead.

By following these tips, you can significantly reduce your risk of being the victim of mail or identity theft. If you think you’ve had mail stolen, contact the postal inspector or the sheriff station right away.

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