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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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When Bail is Revoked

| Police Blotter | September 21, 2017

Ex-pharmaceutical CEO Martin Shkreli was convicted of securities fraud some time ago, and was, until recently, out on bail pending his sentencing. Last week, prosecutors argued in front of a judge that because of his online antics, Shkreli was too dangerous to be allowed his freedom and should have his bail revoked. The judge agreed, and Shkreli now sits in jail awaiting his sentencing. Situations like this don’t occur often, but when they do, they often leave others worried that their bail could similarly be revoked.

The 8th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees citizens the right to be released on bail. It does not, however, guarantee them the right to stay out on bail. When a person is released on bail they’re still expected to obey all local, state and federal laws, as well as abide by any and all conditions that may have been set by the judge. When someone is released on bail but is found to be in violation of the law or their bail conditions, they can have their bail revoked by a judge. Any money they paid to get out of jail is not refunded, whether it is to the court or to a bail bondsman.

Another reason someone can have their bail revoked (or outright denied in the first place) is if they’re deemed to be dangerous to the community or any other individual. The safety of others is the most important factor a judge takes into consideration when granting someone’s release on bail. If the defendant is believed to be a danger to one or more people, they’ll likely have their bail denied outright.

Martin Shkreli’s case is a little different. While he wasn’t deemed to be a danger at the time his bail was granted, prosecutors were able to successfully argue that the behavior he engaged in afterward did make him dangerous. The behavior at the center of the complaint was a Facebook post made by Shkreli offering a $5,000 bounty for a strand of Hillary Clinton’s hair, with the follicle intact. Prosecutors felt that the Facebook post constituted solicitation of assault.

Shkreli’s defense lawyers argued that the post wasn’t serious. However, when the post was made, the Secret Service was prompted to provide additional resources toward protecting Clinton, due to the fear that one of Shkreli’s social media followers may carry out the assault.

When released on bail, it’s important to remember that suspects are not free to go about their lives as they did before they were arrested. They’re expected to be on their best behavior, obey all laws and conditions, and to attend all of their court hearings at the appointed dates and times. Whenever someone is found to be in error, bail can not only be revoked, but it can make it much more difficult to bail the person out again.

SB 10 – Bail Reform’s Assault on Marsy’s Law

| Police Blotter | September 14, 2017

For those who aren’t aware, Senate Bill 10, or SB 10, is an initiative in the California State Senate to eliminate California’s bail system. Despite the protestation of the Association of California Judges and law enforcement agencies across the state, the bill remains in play in the state government.

Eliminating California’s bail system would have disastrous effects on the crime rates across the state by allowing violent criminals to remain on the streets pending their trials. Another, often overlooked yet important, feature of SB 10 is that it would put the victims of violent crimes at serious risk by circumventing some incredibly important features of Marsy’s Law.

Marsy’s Law was named after Marsy Nicholas, a UCSB senior who was stalked and murdered by her ex-boyfriend in 1983. Though it took 25 years for the law to pass, Marsy’s Law amended the state Constitution by significantly expanding the Victims’ Bill of Rights. There were 17 rights afforded victims under Marsy’s Law, including the right (upon request) to be informed of, and given the opportunity to provide testimony before an accused defendant is released. The purpose of this right is to make the court aware of the defendant’s behavior and any potential threat he or she may pose to the alleged victim of the crime. Currently, should the defendant be found a serious threat, it’s possible that they would not be allowed bail.

Currently, when setting bail, a judge is to “take into consideration the seriousness of the offense charged, the previous criminal record of the defendant, and the probability of his or her appearance at the trial hearing of the case.” If SB 10 were to pass, thereby eliminating California’s bail system, the alleged victims of violent crimes would have no part in whether or not the defendant is released from police custody. Furthermore, judges’ discretion would be significantly hindered — if not eliminated outright – as SB 10 will only allow information about the current case to be considered when someone is charged with a crime; their criminal history will not be taken into account.

SB 10, if passed, would inevitably result in the release of individuals charged with serious and violent crimes, and would, in turn, put the alleged victims of those crimes in danger. Not only would it flood the streets with alleged criminals, but it would rescind very important rights currently held by the victims of these crimes, which took 25 years to enact.

Three Strikes, You’re Out: California’s Three Strikes Law

| Police Blotter | September 7, 2017

Most people are aware that California has a law which stipulates that anyone convicted of felonies three times gets sent to prison for life. What people may not know, though, is that not every felony-level crime applies to California’s Three Strikes Law, and that the law itself is a lot more nuanced than they’ve been lead to believe.

The law was passed in the ‘90s as an angry reaction to the murders of 18-year-old Kimber Reynolds and 12-year-old Polly Klaas. The perpetrators of the crime were two men with violent criminal records, and the law was constructed to stop repeat offenders from committing violent crimes by putting them permanently behind bars. The reaction was certainly understandable, and the law that resulted from that reaction sounded like a good idea at the time. Unfortunately, data gathered since then has been unable to verify that the law did anything to reduce crime.

In 2012, the law was changed. Up until that point, any felony (even a “wobbler”) could result in a strike on a person’s criminal record. As such, offenders were receiving a third strike for committing relatively low-level crimes like possession of a controlled substance, or receiving stolen property. The change that occurred in 2012 was known as Proposition 36. It won the popular vote in every county in California, and significantly impacted California’s criminal justice system. Once Proposition 36 came into effect, all three strikes committed by an offender had to be violent felonies, as opposed to just the first two, for someone to be sent to prison for 25 years to life. If the third offense is a felony, but doesn’t count as a strike, the defendant will still face an enhanced sentence of double the normal penalty for the crime.

To understand how the law works in its current form, it’s important to understand which crimes qualify as a strike and which do not. Misdemeanors do not count as a strike, nor do many felonies. Those that do qualify are going to be serious felonies and/or violent felonies. Serious felonies are crimes like arson, robbery, kidnapping, carjacking, murder and rape.

Non-violent felonies, like receiving stolen property, do not qualify as a strike. However, some felonies that wouldn’t otherwise qualify as a strike will do so if they’re performed in a violent manner, such as using a firearm or inflicting great bodily injury on the victim.

Last, but not least, not every crime that counts as a strike will necessarily result in a strike on the defendant’s record. It’s possible to have a strike removed by the judge, at their discretion, at any time before sentencing. Additionally, defense attorneys can file what’s known as a Romero Motion and ask the judge to dismiss a strike in furtherance of justice.

Back to School Safety: Stranger Danger

| Canyon Country Magazine | September 5, 2017

It’s nearly Autumn, and children are heading back to school. If you haven’t already, it’s time to discuss with them how to deal with confrontations with strangers.

Kids encountering strangers on their way to school is really nothing new, and the vast majority of those people are just benign members of the community who are out and about. Unfortunately, the intentions of some people aren’t as innocent as others. Your kids need to know how to proceed if they find themselves in a situation in which they feel uncomfortable.

It’s best to begin teaching your kids about strangers when they’re little, but it’s never too late to have the talk. When dealing with younger children, it’s usually best to teach them to distinguish between “safe strangers” and the unsafe variety. Some “safe strangers” include police, firemen, teachers and other vetted school faculty. Other types of “safe strangers” could be those who happen to be working in a shop, or even the bus driver. For example, if your child feels uncomfortable or is being followed and can’t find a police officer, tell him or her to go into the nearest business and ask for help. The employee will serve as a witness and, therefore, a deterrent if the person following your child is up to no good. And the employee can always call the police if necessary.

Another good tip is to make sure your children know to never, ever approach a stranger’s vehicle. No matter what the person may say to lure a child, kids need to know that they’re under no obligation to interact with someone they don’t know.

“Safety in numbers” is an old saying, but it’s still true today; walking to and from school alone can be dangerous. If your child walks to school (or even to the bus stop), try and get together with other parents in the area and have your kids all walk together. A group of children is much less likely to be accosted than a child walking alone.

Ultimately, keeping our children safe is the responsibility of the whole community. Whether you have children or not, keep an eye out. If you see anyone suspicious in the neighborhood, or if someone is harassing children, call the police.

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

Understanding California Penal Code 1320.5 – Failure to Appear

| Police Blotter | August 31, 2017

California Penal Code 1320.5 comes into play when someone has been charged with or convicted of a felony and failed to appear in court while they were out on bail. The potential penalties include felony probation, up to one year in county jail or 16 months to three years in California state prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Additionally, those who were out on bail and failed to appear will more than likely have to forfeit their bail to the courts. All of these punishments are in addition to those of the original crime with which the defendant was charged.

California Penal Code 1320 PC is applied when someone is charged with a misdemeanor or a felony and was released from police custody on their own recognizance. If charged with a misdemeanor, the penalties for violating 1320(a) PC include misdemeanor probation, up to six months in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. If charged with a felony, the charge will be under 1320(b) PC and the potential penalties are increased to felony probation, a county jail sentence of up to one year or 16 months to three years in California state prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000.

When people are arrested, the process is pretty much the same for everyone. They’re taken to the local police or sheriff’s station, fingerprinted, photographs are taken and a comprehensive national background check is conducted to look for additional warrants. Once all of that is complete, the individual will either be released on their own recognizance or bail is set (for all but a very few) and it will be possible to get them out of jail via bail bond. To some, having to pay bail before being released from police custody may seem like a shameless cash-grab by the authorities — but it’s not. Bail serves a very important purpose in the criminal justice system.

When someone is charged with a crime, they’re going to have to go through the court process to determine whether or not they committed that crime and, if so, what their punishment will be. It’s pretty safe to say that nobody likes being punished, and most folks would do whatever they could to avoid it, whether they deserved it or not. When a person, their family or friends have to put up money to get someone released from police custody pending their trial, it adds a particularly powerful incentive for the defendant to make sure that they appear in court at the appointed date and time.

Despite the financial incentive to follow the rules and appear in court, some individuals still choose to try and avoid law enforcement. When this occurs, they’ll typically be charged with violating California Penal Code 1320 or 1320.5 PC — failure to appear. As you can probably imagine, failing to show up for court when you’ve been charged with a crime is illegal, and these two Penal Codes outline what happens when someone does.

Penal Code 422 PC: Criminal Threats

| Police Blotter | August 24, 2017

Did you know it was illegal to put someone in a state of fear? Under California Penal Code 422 PC, California’s criminal threats law, it’s possible to be arrested just for threatening someone. Not all threats are considered criminal threats. For a threat to qualify, a few criteria must first be met. You must first threaten to physically harm someone and, by doing so:

  • The person is placed in a state of reasonably sustained fear for their safety or that of their immediate family
  • The threat is specific and unequivocal and
  • The threat was communicated verbally, in writing, or by an electronic device

For example, threatening to shoot someone could be considered a criminal threat if the criteria above is met. Additionally, telling someone they had better “watch out” or “watch their back” could be considered a criminal threat. The crime of making criminal threats is taken seriously in California, and it’s possible to be charged with the crime even if you didn’t really intend to carry out the threat, or if you didn’t have the means to. The crime isn’t in the intention of the person making the threat, but putting the target of the threat in fear.

Interestingly, only verbal statements that are spoken, written, or transmitted electronically will suffice for a criminal threat charge. So, if an individual were to make a gesture that indicated “I’m going to kill you,” such as making a gun with their finger and pretending to fire it, the gesture would not be enough to count as a criminal threat even if it put the target in fear. However, if the person making the gesture adds a verbal “pow,” this would qualify as a verbal statement and thus possibly result in a criminal threats charge.

For someone to be charged with violating California Penal Code 422 PC, the threat must be specific. It doesn’t have to be so specific as to state a time or place for the action being threatened to be carried out, but it cannot be vague. Telling someone “I’m going to get you,” without an act of violence or show of force that would place someone in reasonable fear would likely be too vague to warrant a criminal threats charge. It’s also crucial that an individual actually be put into a state of fear for a criminal threats charge to even happen. If it’s obvious that the intended target of the threat was not put into a state of fear, there is no criminal threats charge.

422 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 prior criminal history. If charged as a misdemeanor, the possible penalties include up to one year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. For a felony, the possible penalties include up to three years in California state prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

California Code 10801: Operating a Chop Shop

| Police Blotter | August 17, 2017

On Friday, August 11, a police officer shot and killed two dogs as he was investigating an alleged chop shop in Bakersfield.

When officers arrived at the scene, the suspect took off and one of two pit bulls charged an officer, who fired his weapon and killed both dogs. The other officers eventually chased down the suspect and arrested the 23-year-old. At the site of the alleged chop shop, officers discovered a stolen vehicle, a stolen vehicle engine, multiple stolen auto parts and three stolen motorcycles. The suspect was charged with possessing stolen property, possessing a stolen vehicle, operating a chop shop and resisting arrest.

While usually seen in movies and television, chop shops are very real. Operating a chop shop is covered under California Vehicle Code 10801 VC.  A chop shop is defined as anyplace where someone knowingly stores, takes apart, or alters a stolen vehicle or vehicle parts for the purpose of selling it, disposing of it, or altering its identity. In order to be charged with violating VC 10801, a person must knowingly do one or more of the things listed above. For example, if someone were to be asked by a friend to store some car parts in their garage and those parts turned out to be stolen, the person storing them would probably not be charged with operating a chop shop.

An individual charged with operating a chop shop does not have to own the shop itself in order to be charged, nor do they have to be in a supervisory position. Additionally, the chop shop itself doesn’t have to be a continuing operation. It’s enough that a person is actively involved in the operation of the chop shop and that the shop is used at least once for one or more of the purposes listed above.

The penalties for operating a chop shop vary depending on the circumstances of the case. California Vehicle Code 1081 VC is known as a “wobbler,” which can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Usually, the severity of the charge will be determined by factors such as how many cars or car parts the chop shop was currently working on, the size and scope of the operation, the total monetary value of the items discovered, and the operators’ criminal history. When charged as a misdemeanor, VC 1081 carries the possible penalties of up to one year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. For felony convictions, the penalties include up to four years in county jail and/or a fine of up to $50,000.

Interestingly, California Vehicle Code 2805 VC allows police officers to inspect auto shops and automobiles without a search warrant under certain circumstances. Those circumstances are 1) to locate a stolen vehicle and 2) the search takes place during a time when business operations of that shop will not be hindered by the search. The searches allowed under VC 2805 are only to be conducted on premises where vehicles are worked on as a business, such as an auto shop or garage. Private property is not covered by the law.

The Devil Made Me Do It: What is Competency to Stand Trial?

| Police Blotter | August 10, 2017

The U.S. Constitution guarantees everyone the right to a fair trial. But, what happens when the defendant isn’t capable of participating fully in their defense because of a mental illness or developmental disability? Can a person’s trial be deemed fair if they’re unable to participate in their own defense?

In California, nobody can be forced to stand trial or be convicted of a crime if they’re unable to understand what’s going on in court or rationally participate in their own defense. When someone is charged with a crime because there’s evidence they could have committed it, prosecutors want to get a conviction to hold the person accountable. As such, it can be difficult to prove that someone isn’t competent to stand trial.

In order for someone to be considered incompetent to stand trial, one of the following criteria must be met:
•The defendant is unable to understand the nature of the criminal proceedings, or
•The defendant is unable to assist their defense lawyer in a rational manner

According to California law, defendants must have a rational, as well as factual, understanding of the proceedings against them. Under this definition, a person doesn’t necessarily need to be insane or suffering from some sort of chronic mental disorder to be considered unfit to stand trial. A person with a severe mental disability would also qualify. While a person with a mental disorder, such as someone who suffers from severe paranoia or delusions, can be found incompetent to stand trial, it doesn’t equate to the insanity defense.

Insanity is a complete legal defense which, if successful, means that the defendant can never be found guilty or punished for the crime. They can still be remanded to a mental institution. When someone is found incompetent to stand trial, they can still be found guilty of the crime they are charged with committing in the future, if they are later determined to be fit to stand trial after mental health counseling.

To determine whether or not a defendant is competent to stand trial a series of smaller hearings are held regarding whether the individual is competent to stand trial. The point of these trials is to understand the defendant’s state of mind at the time of the trial, not if they’re guilty of committing the crime. If it’s determined that, at the time of the trial, the defendant is not competent to stand trial, they are usually sent to a mental health institution to receive treatment in the hopes of bringing them into a mental state in which they are competent to stand trial.

If the competency hearings result in a ruling that the defendant is competent to stand trial, then the criminal trial will proceed from the point at which it left off to determine the defendant›s competency.

Penal Code 192(c) – Vehicular Manslaughter

| Police Blotter | August 3, 2017

Recently, 18-year-old Obdulia Sanchez decided to post a live stream to her Instagram account while driving on a Northern California road. As we all should know in this day of social media, live streaming and driving is not legal, nor safe to do. Unfortunately, this resulted in a horrific crash, taking the life of her 14-year-old sister.

The video began by showing Sanchez driving her car, moving erratically and at one point taking her hands off the wheel. According to CHP officers, she veered off the road onto a shoulder during the video and attempted to overcorrect, which ended up sending the vehicle into a field, where it flipped over and ejected Sanchez’s younger sister who was riding in the front passenger seat without a seat belt.

Sanchez continued to upload her live stream in the aftermath of the crash, and during the video can be seen shaking her sister and attempting to get her to wake up. Authorities and emergency medical personnel who arrived at the scene reported Sanchez being hostile toward them, throwing out racial slurs, spitting on a police officer and kicking an EMT in the face before she was strapped down on a gurney.

At the scene, Sanchez refused an alcohol screening, though it was later confirmed at the hospital that she had a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent at the time of the accident. Sanchez was charged with several crimes after the accident, including two charges of vehicular manslaughter and 4 DUI-related charges. She is currently being held in jail in lieu of $530,000 bail.

Vehicular manslaughter is covered under California Penal Code 192(c) PC and is described as causing the death of another person while driving a vehicle by either committing an unlawful act that is not a California felony or a lawful act that may cause death.

For example, if a person is speeding on a highway and collides with another vehicle, killing that driver, they could be charged with PC 192(c). Speeding isn’t a felony, it’s an infraction; so, if a death occurs as a result of that infraction, the driver would be charged with manslaughter. Were an individual to cause the death of another person while committing an act that was a California felony, they would likely be charged with murder – PC 187.

The penalties for vehicular manslaughter will depend on whether or not the death was the result of gross negligence or normal negligence. If it is determined that an individual acted in normal negligence, PC 192(c) is a misdemeanor. Should the defendant be found to have acted in gross negligence, then the crime becomes a “wobbler” that can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Misdemeanor penalties include summary probation, up to one year in county jail and/or a fine of $1,000. Felony penalties include felony probation, 2-6 years in California state prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

Tips For Keeping Your Debit/Credit Cards Safe from Theft and Fraud

| Police Blotter | July 27, 2017

With the rise of internet shopping and the use of debit and credit cards every day, it’s easier than ever to make fast purchases, no matter where you are in the country.

Even with the new advent of the use of chip readers, there seems to still be a few issues with the system running smoothly. Merchants seem to be using the chip method more than ever in the effort to keep their customers safer in this age of cyber-crime. However, even with these new measures in place, your personal information could still be at risk for theft or fraud. Identity and card theft does still happen. If it does, you may be able to call your creditor and have them stop any charges, issue you a new card, or reverse any false charges. It’s always good to know your creditors’ policies.

While there’s really no way to be 100 percent safe from being the victim of a crime, one important thing to note is that most criminals — especially thieves, are opportunists; they tend to target those who will be the easiest, lowest-risk victims. That being said, there are a few things you can do to help protect yourself from identity theft:

•If you’re shopping online, be leery of strange links or shady websites. The internet is full of ads, links and websites designed to trick or catfish users into clicking on them so their information can be easily stolen. If you purchase anything online, stay with reputable, well-known websites. Further, if you don’t receive your merchandise, there’s a safety item built in, meaning you can charge back that purchase within a 60-day window.

•Avoid using debit cards with pin numbers whenever possible. Credit cards allow people to dispute charges that aren’t theirs, and in many cases protections can be purchased to further insulate oneself from fraudulent use of their card. Debit cards are linked directly to the bank account of the holder and when prospective thieves get access to these, they can wreak havoc one one’s finances. Don’t use your pin numbers and sign the credit authorization each time. Should you go to a gas station, pay inside at the cashier if you must use your debit card.

•Further, did you know it is possible for thieves to steal information from your credit/debit cards while they’re still in your wallet? The practice is known as “skimming,” and usually takes place in busy locations where “would-be thieves” see their victim is distracted.

•One way to minimize being a victim of skimming is to only take the individual credit/debit card(s) you plan to use. It may be beneficial to keep your credit and debit cards in your front pocket, where you immediately see what’s going on. Be wary of people who get too close to where your wallet or purse is. Odds are, they may just be oblivious to the personal space of others; better to be safe than sorry. There are now special wallets and card protectors on the market that can insulate your information from skimmers who get too close to you.

These tips are just a few of the many things you can do to help keep yourself and your family safe from debit/credit card or identity theft. Try to remember that thieves are opportunists. The more difficult you make their job, the more likely they are to skip their dastardly deeds all together.

Avoiding ‘Petty Theft’ from Your Automobile

| Canyon Country Magazine | July 26, 2017

Over the past month or so, Canyon Country has seen a spate of petty thefts occur at various dates and times around the city.

Petty theft is covered under California Penal Codes 484(a) and 488 PC and is described as the unlawful taking of property worth $950 or less. If something is stolen worth more than $950, it’s usually charged under a different law — PC 487 — California’s grand theft law.

A few of these thefts happen when thieves simply open unlocked cars and steal items that are inside. Crimes like this are pretty common and are usually the result of opportunity just “presenting itself.” To thieves, it’s much easier and less conspicuous to open an unlocked car, grab any valuables inside and walk away than it is to smash a window or be seen struggling with a door lock. That being the case, would-be thieves are known to actively search neighborhoods and parking lots for cars with open windows or doors they can easily get into.

Locking your doors when you leave your vehicle may seem obvious, and to most folks it is, but it’s something that can easily be forgotten when you’re in a hurry or your mind is preoccupied.

To reduce the chance of falling victim to petty theft from your vehicle, make sure you always double check that your car doors are locked when you leave, park in well-lit areas at night, alarm your car, and try not to leave anything visible in your vehicle. CDs, sunglasses, shoes — it doesn’t matter. If you leave something of value in your vehicle in plain sight with the door unlocked, you’re leaving yourself at significant risk.

If you have questions about any Canyon Country bail related subject, or if you want to suggest a topic, visit Robin at www.santaclaritabond.com or call 661-2299-BOND(2663).

Vehicle Code 2800.2 VC – Felony Reckless Evading

| Police Blotter | July 21, 2017

If you’ve lived in Southern California for any length of time, you’ve probably seen at least one of the many car chases that occur relatively regularly in the L.A. area shown on television. If, for some reason, you haven’t seen one, you’re not missing much and they’re more or less all the same.

They typically begin with a police officer attempting to pull the driver over for a routine traffic stop. The driver, for whatever reason (warrants, possession of a controlled substance, unpaid parking tickets, etc.), chooses to try and escape the police by speeding off. They then lead the police on a high-speed chase down the freeway or through the city until they are inevitably caught.

Once in custody, the suspect will be charged with at least one of three offenses, depending on the nature of their flight from police and what happened during the pursuit.

The first offense is California Vehicle Code 2800.1 — evading an officer. The charge of 2800.1 VC is described as someone fleeing from a law enforcement officer in a car or on a bicycle who is pursuing them. For example, suppose a police officer uses the lights and siren to pull over a minivan on a residential street. The driver of that van has a suspended driver’s license and doesn’t want to get caught. Therefore, instead of pulling over, the driver leads the police officer on a pursuit through the residential neighborhood.

As far as 2800.1 VC goes, it is a misdemeanor with the possible penalties of summary probation, up to one year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000 and impounding of the vehicle.

If, in an effort to evade police, the individual drives in a manner that is dangerous and/or reckless, they will probably be charged with California Vehicle Code 2800.2 VC — felony reckless evading. Felony reckless evading is a “wobbler” and can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony.

Misdemeanor penalties include at least six months and no more than one year in jail and a fine of $1,000. Felony convictions carry the possible penalties of 16 months to three years in California state prison and/or a $10,000 fine.

Finally, if someone is seriously injured or killed as a result of the suspect allegedly evading an officer (whether they drove recklessly or not is irrelevant), the driver will likely be charged with violating California Vehicle Code 2800.3 VC – evading an officer causing injury or death. If during the evasion someone is injured (and nobody is killed), then 2800.3 VC is a “wobbler.” Misdemeanor penalties include up to one year in county jail, while felony penalties include 3-7 years in California state prison. If someone is killed, then 2800.3 VC is always charged as a felony and carries the possible sentence of 4-10 years in California state prison.

All potential penalties of 2800.3 VC, whether misdemeanor or felony, include a fine of no less than $2,000 and no more than $10,000.

 

Drunk in Public – California Penal Code 647(f)PC

| Police Blotter | July 13, 2017

Recently, actor Shia LaBeouf was arrested in Georgia after a drunken altercation with bystanders and police. According to witnesses, the actor asked someone nearby if he could bum a cigarette. The bystander said no, and LaBeouf responded by verbally assaulting them. Police were called and officers told the actor to leave the premises, but LaBeouf declined and turned his profanity-laced tirade against them instead.

The incident was recorded on a responding officer’s body cam, and it clearly shows LaBeouf acting belligerently to both police and bystanders and shouting profanities. He was booked on charges of public drunkenness and may be facing additional charges of disorderly conduct and obstruction.

Drunk in public is illegal pretty much everywhere in the United States, including California where it is covered under California Penal Code 647(f) PC. It has a somewhat misleading name, as it is not in and of itself a crime to be drunk in a public place in California. To be charged with violating this law, an individual must meet one of two criteria:

They must demonstrate they are unable to care for the safety of themselves or others, or

The individual must obstruct, interfere with, or prevent others from using “public ways” such as streets and sidewalks

The first of these criteria is pretty open-ended, and yet neither of them expressly states the B.A.C. required to be “drunk.” That being the case, a person who is drunk in a public space, even drunk enough to pass out, is not necessarily going to be found guilty of violating 647(f) PC. It also means that a person who isn’t all that drunk could be charged with a violation — it all depends on the behavior one exhibits while in public after consuming alcohol.

Penal Code 647(f) PC is a misdemeanor in California, with the possible penalties of misdemeanor probation, up to six months in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.

Illegal Street Racing – A Dangerous Activity

| Police Blotter | July 6, 2017

A countywide crackdown on illegal street racing has led to the detainment of seven drivers and citation of 102 spectators on Thursday, June 29. The bust occurred in an industrial complex near Witherspoon and Avenue Penn in Castaic. The industrial park is a popular location for late-night, illegal street racing competitions, as it tends to empty out pretty quickly once workers leave.

California Vehicle Code 23109 makes “speed contests” and “exhibitions of speed” illegal on California’s public roads and highways. Per VC 23109(a), a “speed contest” is defined as a motor vehicle racing against another vehicle, clock, or other timing devices. An “exhibition of speed” is defined as accelerating or driving at a rate of speed which is dangerous and unsafe in order to impress someone else. These definitions imply that someone could be in violation of the law even if they’re driving alone and are not racing against someone else.

Excluded from the law are events where people measure the amount of time it takes for a vehicle to cover a distance longer than 20 miles where the vehicle does not exceed the local speed limit.

Not only does VC 23109 make it illegal to participate in speed contests and exhibitions of speed, but it also makes it illegal to “aid and abet” them. California Vehicle Code section 23109(b) and 23109(c) make it a crime to participate in one of the above scenarios by timing the race or erecting barriers to allow the race to occur.

Violations of VC 23109 are usually charged as misdemeanors, and the possible penalties include summary probation, a fine between $355 and $1,000, 40 hours of community service and/or the suspension or restriction of the defendant’s driver’s license from 90 days to six months.

For those with prior convictions under VC 23109, the potential penalties are enhanced to include four days to six months in county jail, a fine between $500 and $1,000 and a mandatory suspension or restriction of the defendant’s driver’s license for six months. If someone other than the driver suffered bodily injury, the potential jail time is increased to at least 30 days and no more than six months in county jail.

If the injury is serious, VC 23109 becomes a “wobbler” that can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. If charged as a misdemeanor, the potential penalties remain the same with the exception that the maximum jail sentence is increased to one year. If charged as a felony, the potential jail sentence increases to 16 months to three years, and a possible fine of up to $10,000.

Last, but not least, when someone is arrested on suspicion of violating VC 23109, the arresting officer has the option to impound the defendant’s vehicle for up to 30 days.

Fourth of July and Fireworks Safety in Santa Clarita

| Police Blotter | June 29, 2017

Law enforcement has been working this week to get the word out regarding fireworks safety this Fourth of July. They’ve also been conducting increased operations this week, and plan to continue to do so through the Fourth of July holiday, with the singular purpose of finding and halting any illegal fireworks use.

The legality of fireworks varies among counties and municipalities in California, but in Santa Clarita, they’re banned outright. All fireworks, including those of the “safe and sane” variety, are illegal and should not be used, purchased or possessed. “Safe and sane” fireworks are things like sparklers, smoke bombs, and others that do not create a lot of sparks, ash and embers. If someone is found with fireworks of any kind in their possession, they face a fine of between $500 and $1,000, as well as misdemeanor prosecution.

The law may seem harsh regarding fireworks, but it’s not without good reason. The Santa Clarita Valley is typically dry this time of year, and fireworks pose a serious risk of starting a fire. This year is particularly dangerous, as the rains we experienced this winter have led to increased vegetation growth — much of which is now dried out and ready to go up in flames should a spark find it’s way there.

Thanks to the increased rains and subsequent growth of plant life, this year is expected to be an especially difficult one when it comes to wildfires. Indeed, we have already seen several fires pop up in and around Santa Clarita over the past few weeks.

Wildfires are dangerous and difficult to control. Just this week a fire was ignited on the 14 Freeway that burned 870 acres in about 18 hours. A few areas were put under mandatory evacuation, while several others were given voluntary evacuation requests. Seventy homes lost power, and four firefighters were taken to the hospital for heat-related illnesses. All-told, 250 firefighters have been battling the blaze, and as of the writing of this article, the fire is only 57 percent contained and one structure has been lost.

While local deputies will be keeping an eye out for individuals who use or possess illegal fireworks, that’s not all that law enforcement will be doing this week. Expect increased patrols all over Los Angeles County with police officers watching for drunk drivers. Saturation patrols and DUI checkpoints will undoubtedly be conducted throughout the city to catch anyone who chooses to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Remember to keep yourself, your children and your pets safe this holiday weekend. If you choose to drink alcohol, do so responsibly. Thanks to taxis and the many ride-hailing apps available, there are more than enough ways to get you safely to and from wherever you decide to go. Have a safe and happy Fourth of July!

Canyon Country and Fire Season

| Canyon Country Magazine | June 26, 2017

The temperatures are steadily rising and summer will soon be here. As we move into the hotter parts of the year, it’s important we take extra care when dealing with items that could cause a fire. Several wildfires have already sprung up this year, and more are sure to follow. Luckily, these fires have been relatively mild, and haven’t caused people to lose their homes — an all too possible occurrence, when it comes to wildfires.

Those who live in high-risk areas can take action to protect their homes in the event of a wildfire. Clearing potential fuel sources, such as dry or dead plants, up to a 100-foot perimeter around your home can greatly reduce your home’s risk, as can removing any overhanging foliage. The biggest risk by far doesn’t come from actual contact with a fire’s flames, but from burning embers, which can travel up to a mile or more. Be sure you have ember-resistant vents outside your home, as well as Class A roofing.

Last, but not least, keeping safe during fire season doesn’t just include taking precautions to protect your home, it also means being careful not to light a fire yourself. With the 4th of July less than a month away, people are going to be tempted to light them off. It should be known that fireworks of any kind (even the “safe and sane” variety) are illegal in Canyon Country, the rest of Santa Clarita, as well as other unincorporated areas surrounding this valley. Anyone caught in possession of, selling, buying, or using fireworks could face thousands of dollars in fines, as well as jail time. If one were to start a fire as a result of lighting fireworks, the penalties would be even more severe.

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

New Bill Restricting Gun Ownership for Hate Crime Offenders

| Police Blotter | June 8, 2017

A new bill that has been put forward banning those convicted of misdemeanor hate crimes from purchasing firearms is making its way around the state government. The bill would essentially restrict gun ownership for those convicted of committing misdemeanor hate crimes from purchasing a gun for 10 years after their conviction. Known as the “Disarm Hate Act,” if passed, the bill would take away the gun rights of individuals convicted of vandalizing places of worship, or when committing a crime against another person based on that person’s race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.

What is a Hate Crime?

According to California Law, a person’s motivation for committing a crime will come into play when it’s suspected that the crime was committed against a person or group due to their inclusion in one of the aforementioned categories. When someone commits a crime against another and is motivated to do so by that person’s inclusion in a protected group, it’s possible for them to receive a stiffer penalty if they’re convicted.

Hate crimes can vary from the relatively mild, such as vandalizing a synagogue or mosque, to severe cases of assault or murder. The bill currently making its way through the state government deals only with hate crimes charged as misdemeanors. When a hate crime is charged as a misdemeanor, it will often be a case of interfering with an individual of one or more of the aforementioned groups’ legal or constitutional rights, or damaging or destroying their property. More serious hate crimes, like assault, are usually charged as felonies. By themselves, misdemeanor hate crimes carry the possible penalties of summary probation, up to one year in county jail, a fine of up to $5,000 and/or up to 400 hours of community service.

Proponents of the bill claim that hate crimes are on the rise (as does the FBI), and that low-level misdemeanor hate crimes are often precursors to more serious crimes in the future. Detractors of the bill believe that, if enacted, the bill would lead to a loss of gun rights for committing petty crimes. According to Josh Deaser of Just Guns, his organization is worried people will lose their gun rights for simply shouting a racial slur, or declaring they dislike one political candidate and prefer another.

Currently, in the state of California, those who are prohibited from owning firearms are:
-Those convicted of certain misdemeanors
-People who suffer from mental illness
-Drug addicts
-Convicted felons
-Anyone under 18

The proposed bill would simply add to this list individuals who are convicted of misdemeanor hate crimes. The bill passed in Assembly and is currently before a public safety committee.

Arson and its Unintended Consequences

| Police Blotter | June 1, 2017

A fire was reported in the early morning hours of Monday, May 29 in Agua Dulce. Firefighters arrived on the scene to discover a house and a barn completely engulfed in flames, with fire damaging several surrounding acres of land. At about 4 a.m., an hour after they arrived, firefighters had the fires extinguished. The home and barn were a total loss, and four acres surrounding the property were severely burned.

Arson inspectors had been called to the scene around 8:30 a.m. and after inspecting the scene, said they suspected arson. Upon their declaration, deputies with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department called in the LASD arson/explosives team to investigate further. No injuries were reported in the incident.

Arson is covered under California penal codes 451 PC and 452 PC. Penal Code 451 PC is the more severe and is described as “willfully or maliciously setting fire to a building, land, or other property.” Penal Code 452 PC, often referred to as “reckless burning” is described as “recklessly setting fire to a building, land or other property.” The major difference between the two laws is the suspect’s state of mind.

California Penal Code 451 PC, aka “malicious arson,” is always charged as a felony. The possible penalties include 16 months to three years in California state prison for malicious arson of personal property, 2-6 years for malicious arson of a structure or forest land, 3-8 years for malicious arson of an inhabited structure or inhabited property, and 5-9 years for malicious arson that causes great bodily injury.

California Penal Code 452 PC, aka «reckless burning,” is usually charged as a misdemeanor with the possible penalties of a fine of up to $1,000 and/or six months in county jail. If the property burned is a structure, forest land, or causes great bodily injury, the crime becomes a “wobbler,” which can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony.

No matter where one lives, arson is a serious and dangerous crime. In certain dry areas, such as Southern California, it can be particularly disastrous. Fires, whether they qualify as arson or reckless burning can quickly and easily get out of control.

As we move into summer this year, the potential threat of fires will only become greater. Uncontrolled brush fires can move toward inhabited areas and threaten homes, structures, and even take the lives of firefighters tasked with extinguishing them. Additionally, raging fires scorch the ground and alter the state of the soil, making rainfall in the following years much more dangerous, as the ground doesn’t absorb water as well as it should, creating floods and mudslides that threaten additional homes. Let’s all do our best to keep fire safety at the top of minds this coming summer.

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.

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