About Robin Sandoval


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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Prolific Scammer Charged with Identity Theft, Forgery and Grand Theft

| Police Blotter | August 15, 2019

Los Angeles man W. Jackson was arrested recently and charged with identity theft, forgery and grand theft, after a prolific crime spree. Allegedly, Jackson had been contacting women on the internet looking for romance. He would meet up with the women, wine and dine them to gain their trust, and then steal their personal identifying information to either acquire their money or use their bank cards to pay his bills.

The victim who worked to bring him down is Acacia Ouidinot, of Arizona, and her tale is a cautionary one. It begins with meeting Jackson on Facebook. After going back and forth for a little while, Jackson offered to buy Ouidinot a plane ticket so she could meet him in Los Angeles and spend a weekend with him. Ouidinot’s troubles began when she found out the ticket Jackson said he paid for was invalid. According to the victim, Jackson told her that he was having trouble with his bank card and that, if she were to just pay for the ticket herself, he would reimburse her – so she did.

Upon meeting Jackson face-to-face, Ouidinot said he was charming and that they initially had a good time. They talked about family, what they were both hoping for in the future, and other things potential couples discuss to get to know one another better. Ouidinot flew back to Arizona Saturday thinking everything was fine. Unfortunately, when the banks opened on Monday, Ouidinot was shocked to find out that nearly $3,000 was missing. She would go on to lose about $7,000 total to Jackson, who had blocked her from his phone and social media sites so she was unable to contact him.

Not one to take things lying down, Ouidinot tracked Jackson down and, using his known aliases, was able to find over 20 victims from eight different states going back ten years. The victims have since been connecting with each other on Facebook and sharing their stories – all of which were eerily similar. Apparently, Jackson (under one of his many aliases) would meet women looking for love on Facebook and, after meeting them, find a way to get a hold of their identifying information to drain their bank accounts. He even stole one San Jose woman’s rental car, leaving her stranded.

Jackson is facing multiple felonies, as mentioned above, and could be facing more as additional investigations conclude.

As far as what Jackson is already facing goes, identity theft is covered under California Penal Code 530.5 PC and is described as taking another person’s identifying information and using it in a fraudulent or unlawful manner. Identity theft is a “wobbler” that can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances of the case and the defendant’s prior criminal history. The misdemeanor penalties include up to one year in county jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Felony penalties include up to three years in county jail and a fine of up to $10,000.

Forgery is covered under California Penal Code 470 PC and is described as signing someone else’s name, faking a seal or someone else’s handwriting, changing or falsifying any legal document, or faking, altering, or presenting as genuine any legal document that pertains to money, finances, or property. Like identity theft, forgery is a “wobbler.” The misdemeanor and felony penalties are the same as well.

Grand theft is covered under California Penal Code 487 PC and is defined as taking someone else’s property that is worth $950 or more, without the owner’s permission. Grand theft is a “wobbler,” and the potential penalties are the same as the above two crimes.

DUI Pleas – What are They?

| Canyon Country Magazine | August 12, 2019

Recently, a Santa Clarita man arrested in February for causing a fatal crash in Canyon Country while driving under the influence returned to court to undergo pretrial proceedings. According to reports, J. Austin was driving through the intersection of Soledad Canyon Road and Sand Canyon Road when he failed to stop for the red light. Doing so caused a collision between Austin’s truck and a Hyundai in the middle of the intersection, killing the 21-year-old driver, Megan York.

Austin is being charged with one felony count each of gross vehicular manslaughter, DUI causing injury, and driving with a BAC (blood alcohol content) of .08. He is due to return to court on August 8 to continue pretrial proceedings.

Alcohol-related collisions that result in the death of one or more people are always tragic and difficult to hear about – especially because they’re avoidable – and the law comes down hard on drivers who cause them. In Los Angeles County very high bail amounts are set, including mandatory jail time.

However, when driving under the influence doesn’t involve serious injury, death, or property damage, it’s possible for some drivers to “plea down” and receive lighter penalties than those typically associated with a DUI.

One of those pleas is known as a “dry reckless” and occurs when a defendant who is charged with a DUI agrees to plead guilty to reckless driving instead. This plea is advantageous to the defendant because their record will show that they plead guilty to reckless driving, as opposed to a DUI, and no mention that alcohol or drugs will be included on their record. Because of that, a “dry reckless” is not a priorable offense. That means that if the defendant is later charged with another DUI, the fact that they have a “dry reckless” on their record won’t cause them to face harsher penalties the way having a previous DUI would. In California, the more DUIs a person has on the record, the harsher the penalty for each subsequent offense.

As strange as it may seem, a “dry reckless” is preferable to a DUI for several reasons, most of which have to do with the difference in the severity of the penalties involved with each offense. A “dry reckless” typically involves a shorter county jail sentence, smaller fines, a shorter probation period, and no mandatory court-ordered license suspension.

Another possible plea when charged with a DUI is a “wet reckless.” While more serious than a “dry reckless,” a “wet reckless” is still preferable to a straight DUI. With a “wet reckless” plea, the driver still pleads guilty to reckless driving as opposed to DUI, but it’s noted on their record that alcohol or drugs were involved. A “wet reckless” is a priorable offense, just like getting a DUI, so if a person with a “wet reckless” on the record gets a DUI, the penalties will be harsher.

“Dry reckless” pleas aren’t common, and are typically only available when a person’s BAC is close to .08 percent and the prosecution doesn’t have good evidence against the driver. Most prosecutors prefer to offer a plea deal for a “wet reckless” instead, because alcohol was involved and “wet reckless” convictions are priorable offenses.

But who wants any type of DUI charge on their records? The lesson here is to make the right choice first and never drink and get behind the wheel of a vehicle. You’re taking more than just your life in your hands.

Keeping Teenagers Safe From Kidnappers

| Police Blotter | August 8, 2019

Recently, a man was taken into custody after attempting to lure a teenager girl into his vehicle on two separate occasions. The suspect, B. Fentner, is alleged to have attempted to lure a 15-year-old girl into his vehicle at the intersection of Esplanade and San Jacinto avenues. The first incident occurred on Monday, July 29th and the second on Tuesday, July 30th. He was taken into custody for the second time on the morning of Wednesday, July 31st, on suspicion of annoying or molesting a child.

Some people believe that younger children are at most risk of kidnapping – but that’s not always true. Teenagers (and teenage girls in particular) make up about 80% of child abductions. The reason for this is probably because smaller children, while technically easier to overpower or deceive, are often accompanied by adults, while young teens are not. They’re just beginning to desire a sense of independence and as a result, often prefer to go about their days without adult supervision.
It’s important to talk with children, when they’re young, entering their teens, and even when they’re college age, about the dangers they may face while out and about on their own. For younger kids, it’s up to parents to inform them of the dangers that exist and how best to react if they ever find themselves in a dangerous situation.

When it comes to older teens, the best place to start may be by asking questions to gauge their awareness. Once parents know how aware they are of their current situation, they can move forward in advising them.

The first thing teens should put into practice, if they aren’t already, is to keep in touch with family and friends. If kids are of college age, they may not need to be in constant contact with parents all the time, but they should be in contact with someone.

Keeping in contact with parents is most important during times and situations in which they may deviate from their normal routines. For example, if they’re going to take a weekend trip with friends, ask them to let you know where they’re going and when they expect to be back.

Another extremely important safety tip is to employ the buddy system (especially when it comes to girls).

Finally, prepare your teen or college-aged student to defend themselves if need be. Sometimes, something as simple as a whistle can defuse a dangerous situation by bringing attention that a would-be assailant or kidnapper wouldn’t want. For active individuals, such as joggers or runners, pepper spray can be extremely useful. It should be kept in hand to be prepared to use if accosted by a stranger.

Ultimately, the threat of kidnapping is a very real danger for kids of all ages. The best line of defense is to help educate them regarding which actions to take and which to avoid, at every stage of their life.

Grand Theft Fiream

| Police Blotter | August 1, 2019

On Thursday, July 25th, a Castaic woman returned to her home to find it had been burglarized. Deputies were sent to investigate after the victim called, arriving at the scene at about 2:30pm. Per their preliminary investigation, it was determined that the burglary must have occurred at some point between 6 a.m. and 2 p.m. that same day. The victim told deputies that her home had been ransacked and several items were missing– two of which being semi-automatic rifles with accompanying ammunition.

California Penal Code 487(d)(2) PC is a type of grand theft that is usually charged when the item stolen was a firearm. A few years back, before prop 47 was passed which reduced the severity of several crimes in an effort to help control California’s crisis of overcrowded prisons, any theft of a firearm was considered grand theft. Now, however, the theft of a firearm is only considered grand theft if it falls under one of the two following criteria:

The stolen firearms were worth more than $950
The defendant has a prior conviction of either a California sex crime that requires them to register as a sex offender, or one or more crimes on a short list of violent felonies.

The most common type of grand theft firearm encountered by law enforcement is that of grand theft firearm by larceny. It’s defined as taking possession of a firearm owned by someone else without the owner’s consent or that of one of their agents; by taking it, you intended to deprive the owner of its use either permanently or for long enough that the owner would be deprived of a major portion of the firearm’s value; you moved the firearm a small distance and kept it for a period of time no matter how brief.

Larceny is more or less the most straightforward and to-the-point way that anyone steals anything. If you pick something up that’s owned by someone else and take it from them without their permission, with the intention of keeping it, you’re committing larceny.

There are other possible ways to steal a firearm and subsequently be charged with grand theft firearm, too, including theft by false pretenses. This occurs when the defendant knowingly and willingly deceives a gun owner or their agent by lying to them with the goal of getting them to allow the defendant to take possession of the firearm, and they do so because they relied on your false pretenses.

Whatever the case, grand theft firearm is a felony in California and the potential penalties include felony probation, 16 months to 3 years in California state prison, and a fine of up to $10,000. It’s considered a “serious felony” under California’s Three Strikes Law, and will therefore also result in a “strike” on the defendant’s record.

If a firearm is stolen but it does not fit the criteria to count as grand theft firearm, the crime will be charged as petty theft per the 2014 passage of prop 47. Petty theft is a misdemeanor that carries the possible penalties of up to 6 months in county jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

Penal Code 632 PC – California’s Eavesdropping Laws

| Police Blotter | July 25, 2019

Recently, Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar was placed on leave as LAPD detectives investigate the possibility that illegal recordings were made in the Councilman’s office. Investigators are not naming the staffer, nor releasing what may have been illegally recorded, though no arrests have been made as of yet.

The illegal recording allegations come amid other scandals that Councilman Huizar is currently dealing with. His offices and home were raided by the FBI last November, and several boxes were removed, with one of them being clearly marked “fundraising.” Additionally, real estate developers who do fundraising in the councilman’s district have received subpoenas to turn over any information on fundraising and communications with the councilman and his employees.

While no arrests have been made regarding the FBI investigation of the councilman, the aid may be in trouble if it is found that they made illegal recordings of the councilman’s dealings. Under California Penal Code 632 PC, it’s illegal to record someone by any electronic, amplifying or recording device, without the consent of all parties to a confidential communication.

In order to be charged with violating PC 632, a few criteria need to be met. The first is that the recording must be intentional, as opposed to accidental. Second, all parties to the communication must give consent to the recording. Even if one party consents and the other doesn’t, it’s still eavesdropping. Third, the conversation must be confidential. For a conversation to be considered confidential, it has to take place under circumstances that reasonably indicate that at least one party intends for it not to be overheard. Finally, the eavesdropping must include an electronic amplifying or recording device. It doesn’t count as eavesdropping if someone just overhears something they weren’t supposed to.

It’s also possible to be charged with eavesdropping if a person intercepts a phone call between two cell phones, two cordless phones, a cell phone or cordless phone and a landline, or a cell phone and a cordless phone, with criminal intent and without the consent of both parties involved.
Interestingly, but perhaps not surprisingly, recordings that were obtained via illegal means, such as eavesdropping, are not admissible in court. So, whatever it was the aid in Councilman Huizar’s office may or may not have been trying to record would not be useful anyhow.

Eavesdropping is a “wobbler” in California Law, which can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Misdemeanor penalties include up to one year in county jail, a fine of up to $2,500, or both. If charged as a felony, the possible penalties include 16 months to three years in a California state prison, a fine of up to $2,500 or both. If a person has a prior conviction for eavesdropping on their record, and they are convicted again, the fine is increased to $10,000.

What are Robbery Charges, a.k.a., 211 PC?

| Police Blotter | July 18, 2019

Tips from the public recently lead to the arrest of a suspect in a Newhall massage parlor robbery.

Shortly after noon on Thursday, July 11th, L. Gonzalez, 22, of Santa Clarita, was arrested by police on suspicion of armed robbery for the crime that occurred at a Newhall massage parlor on June 27th. According to police, Gonzalez went to the business where he received a massage. When it was time to pay, he allegedly brandished a firearm in his waistband and robbed the place instead. Fortunately, the entire incident was caught on camera.

On Wednesday July 10th, deputies released images of the suspect in hopes that the public would provide information regarding his whereabouts – and they did. Tips began to come in quickly and, within 24 hours, deputies had tracked down and arrested Gonzalez. He is currently being held in lieu of $100,000 bond.

Robbery is covered under California Penal Code 211 PC and is described as taking property from someone’s person or immediate presence, against the victim’s will, through the use of force or fear. The definition of robbery in California includes the classic image of robbing a liquor store or gas station at gunpoint, but it also extends to some surprising situations.
One child intimidating another into giving up their lunch money could constitute a robbery charge if reported to police
Stealing someone’s possessions after drugging them
After being caught trying to steal something (an offense that would otherwise be petty theft/grand theft), threatening the owner of said property with harm in order to get away
As you can see, what makes something robbery isn’t so much the stealing as it is the way in which something is stolen. When you use force or fear, whether via threats or actual violence, you’re committing the crime of robbery. When you do not, you’re committing the crime of theft (whether its petty theft or grand theft will depend on the value of the item(s) stolen).

Similar to burglary, robbery is divided into two separate classifications: first-degree robbery and second-degree robbery. First-degree robbery is charged when the victim is the driver or passenger in a bus, taxi, cable car, street car or other similar vehicle; the robbery takes place in an inhabited house, boat or trailer, or; the robbery takes place immediately after the victim uses an ATM. First-degree robbery is always a felony and the possible penalties include felony probation, three to six years in California state prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

Second-degree robbery is charged in any other case of robbery that does not fit into the classification for first-degree robbery. The potential penalties include felony probation, two to five years in California state prison, and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

Of course, using a gun in any type of robbery subjects the defendant to greatly enhanced penalties if convicted. Under California’s 10-20-Life Law, using a gun in a robbery nets the suspect an additional 10 years in prison. Firing the weapon in a robbery adds 20 years, and a sentence of 25 years to life is added if the defendant inflicts great bodily injury or death on someone while using a firearm during a robbery.

Since Gonzalez didn’t fire his weapon during the robbery, and just had it in his pants, it’s likely he will only face an additional 10 years in prison – which is itself enough.

Finally, robbery is considered a violent felony in California. Therefore, when convicted, defendants will receive a “strike” on their record under California’s Three Strikes Law. Additionally, anyone with a robbery conviction on their record will face twice the normal sentence if charged with another subsequent felony.

Is Making Concentrated Cannabis Still Illegal?

| Canyon Country Magazine | July 15, 2019

Deputies at the SCV Sheriff’s Station received a call on Saturday, June 22 warning them of a “huge party” that was to take place at a location in Canyon Country. Upon their arrival, the deputies discovered the location to be vacant. However, they did discover what appeared to be the remnants of a marijuana concentrate lab. They detained three people at the location for further questioning.

Under California Law, concentrated cannabis is regarded as marijuana. As such, the legality of it is somewhat nuanced, thanks to the medical and recreational marijuana laws. That being said, the making of marijuana concentrate is covered under California Health and Safety Code 11358 HS. As of Jan. 1, 2018, cultivating marijuana for recreational use became legal under California Law. That is, California residents are now legally allowed (under state law, not federal law) to cultivate up to six marijuana plants for personal recreational use. It must be grown in a secured indoor location or, where legally permissible, a secured area outdoors, subject to all local regulations. The reason that concentrated cannabis counts as “cultivating marijuana” is because, under California Law, “cultivating” means to plant, cultivate, harvest, dry or process marijuana. Making concentrated cannabis counts as “processing” marijuana.

However, if an individual cultivates more than six marijuana plants, it becomes a crime. For most defendants, cultivating more than six plants is a misdemeanor with the possible penalties of up to six months in county jail and/or a fine of up to $500. However, the penalties get harsher if a person is caught cultivating more than six plants and fall under one or more of the following categories:

Registered sex offender
Prior criminal record, which includes at least one violent felony
People with at least two prior convictions of cultivating more than six marijuana plants
People who violate certain California Environmental Laws during the process of cultivating their marijuana
Any defendant who falls into at least one of these categories faces a penalty of 16 months to 3 years in county jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

For defendants who are facing their first or second charge of cultivating marijuana and it can be proven that the cultivation was for personal use only, it’s possible that they will be eligible to have their sentence suspended if they undergo a drug diversion program instead. If they complete the drug treatment program, their charges will be thrown out, and therefore cease to exist for the most part, and it will not need to be listed on any housing, job or other applications.

Woman Posing as Social Worker Charged with Attempted Kidnapping

| Police Blotter | July 12, 2019

An Orange County woman was recently arrested and charged with the attempted kidnapping of a child under 14 and attempting to take a child from a parent – both felonies.

According to police, the suspect, S. Orozco Magana, knocked on the door of a new mother’s home posing as a social worker and told the woman that she was there to take her newborn child. When asked by the mother why she was there to take the baby, Magana replied that a doctor had “probably reported child abuse.” Upon being asked for credentials, Magana refused to provide them. Magana then threatened to call the Sheriff’s Department if the mother continued to refuse to hand over the 1-week-old child.

The mother continued to refuse to hand over the child, even after being threatened with police action, and her sister filmed Magana as she left the residence. One day later, after seeing the footage on television, Magana turned herself in to authorities. After being arrested and charged with the two felonies, Magana was released on $100,000 bond.

Simple kidnapping is covered under California Penal Code 207 PC and is described as moving a person a substantial distance, without that person’s consent, by using force or fear to do so. However, since Magana posed as a social worker in an attempt to trick the mother into handing over her baby, her crime could actually be considered aggravated kidnapping, which has a similar description to simple kidnapping, but with added criteria including fraud.

The penalties for simple kidnapping include 3 to 8 years in California state prison, and a maximum fine of $10,000. For aggravated kidnapping, the potential penalties include 5 to 11 years in California state prison if the victim is under 14 years of age. However, since the kidnapping didn’t actually occur, Magana’s charge and subsequent penalties will be altered as per California Penal Codes 21a and 664 PC – California’s “attempted crimes” law.

To be charged with an attempted crime in California, a person must do two things: they must intend to commit a certain crime and then perform a direct, but ineffective, act toward committing that crime. It’s possible to be convicted of attempting a crime even if an individual changes their mind part of the way through and abandons efforts to complete the crime’s commission.

Generally, when someone is convicted of an attempted crime, their penalty is reduced to half that of the original crime. So, since the penalty for aggravated kidnapping includes 5 to 11 years in California state prison, Magana’s penalty, if convicted, could be 2.5 to 5.5 years. When someone is convicted of an attempted crime that has a sentence of life in prison, they are typically sentenced to 5, 9, or 11 years. The one exception to this rule is attempted murder, which can still carry a sentence of life in prison.

Magana’s second charge falls under California Penal Code 278 PC and is described as attempting to take a minor from a legal guardian without the legal right to do so. 278 PC is a “wobbler” which can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the defendant’s prior criminal history. If charged as a misdemeanor, the possible penalties include up to 1 year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. For felony charges, the penalties include up to 4 years in California state prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

New California Laws Taking Effect Monday, July 1, 2019

| Police Blotter | July 3, 2019

As of July 1, there are several new laws taking effect in California. The laws are going to affect some pretty important things, including gas prices, background checks, and ammunition. Below are a few that are likely to affect the most people throughout the state.

SB 1001 – Bot Disclosure

Have you ever been answered your phone and thought you were speaking with an actual person on the other end, only to find out later you were dealing with a machine? If so, you’ll be glad to know that SB 1001 mandates that companies will now have to disclose whether you’re dealing with an automated system (known as a “bot”) either by telephone, website, or social network. The point of the law is to reduce the ability of companies to trick people into buying products or services, or to influence their voting practices.

SB 1 – Gas Tax Increase

We’re used to gas prices going up in the Summer time. As a matter of fact, Southern California typically sees some of the most expensive gas prices in the country this time of year. Now, as of July 1st, the gas tax is going up a whole 6 cents (making the tax a grand total of 60 cents per gallon). The rise in tax prices comes as a result of voters last year rejecting a repeal of the gas tax increase. It’s expected to generate upwards of $54 billion dollars over the next decade.

AB 748 – Police Body Cameras

Body cameras have been a controversial issue since it was determined that police officers and sheriff’s deputies were required to wear them. Sometimes the footage is available to the public, sometimes it wasn’t. Now, thanks to AB 748, police departments in California are required to release audio and video recordings within 45 days of an incident occurring that involves police. The law only applies to incidents involving a police officer firing their weapon or is involved in the use of force where someone is seriously injured or killed.

Proposition 63 – Background Checks

Whenever someone wants to buy ammunition, they are now required to undergo an instant background check that looks for felonies on their record. Each instant background check will cost $1 that the would-be ammunition consumer will have to pay. However, the law does not limit the amount of ammunition one is able to buy.

AB 1973 – Marijuana Convictions

This one has been a long time coming for many an advocate of prison reform. AB 1973 gives the Department of Justice until July 1, 2019 to review people’s criminal records and identify past marijuana convictions that would have been legal today under Proposition 64, California’s new legal recreational marijuana law. In San Francisco and Los Angeles Counties alone, more than 63,000 marijuana convictions have been expunged thus far.

SB 1448 – Doctor Disclosure
How well do you know your doctor? Under SB 1448, doctors (including physicians, chiropractors, acupuncturists, and surgeons) are now legally required to disclose to patients before beginning treatment if they (the doctor) has been placed on probation for for certain violations, including gross negligence, sexual misconduct, substance abuse, or inappropriately prescribing medications. When placed on probation, providers can continue to practice under restricted licensure.

AB 406 – For-Profit Charter Schools

For-profit charter schools are now banned in California. There were never many for-profit charter schools in California, with the recent tally being only 34 throughout the state.

AB 1871 – School Lunches
Charter schools that are not operating on a for-profit basis, the only legal type of charter school in California, must now provide students from low-income families one free or reduced-price meal per day. This means that an estimated 340,000 low-income students will now have greater access to meals at school.

Reckless Driving – What is it?

| Police Blotter | June 27, 2019

In the early morning hours of Sunday, June 23, 29-year-old rapper YG was cited for reckless driving in West Hollywood. Upon being pulled over, police conducted a DUI investigation, though it didn’t result in an arrest.

Bystanders claim the rapper was “swarmed by deputies” after being pulled over, and that the situation was tense, and the rapper became uncooperative with police and was subsequently handcuffed. YG was heard shouting expletives at police who he claimed were “riling up the crowd.”

Reckless driving is covered under California Vehicle Code 23103 VC and is described as driving on a highway or in an off-street parking facility with a wanton disregard for people and/or property. For the purposes of California Law, a “highway” is considered any street that is publicly maintained and open to the public for the purpose of vehicular travel. An “off-street parking facility” is any parking area open for use by the public for parking vehicles, including publicly owned facilities and privately owned facilities open to retail customers where no fee is charged for parking.

When a person is acting with “wanton disregard” for safety, they are aware that their actions present a substantial and unjustifiable risk of damage or harm, and the person intentionally ignores that risk. Basically, if you’re doing something you know could get someone else hurt, or their property damaged, and you do it anyway, you’re acting with “wanton disregard” for safety.

Typically, reckless driving is a misdemeanor in California, with the possible penalties including five to 90 days in county jail, and/or a fine of between $145 and $1000. However, under certain circumstances, the penalties can be significantly harsher, and the crime itself can be upgraded to a felony. For example, if, while driving recklessly, a third party receives a minor injury, the potential penalty is increased to 30 days to one year in jail and/or a fine of between $220 and $1000.

When someone other than the driver is injured as a result of reckless driving, the crime becomes a “wobbler” that can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances of the case and the defendant’s prior criminal history. When charged as a felony, the possible penalties include up to three years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000. If someone is killed as a result of reckless driving, it’s possible that the charge will be upgraded to vehicular manslaughter or even second-degree murder. If charged with vehicular manslaughter, the punishments include up to six years in California state prison. For second-degree murder, it’s 15 years to life.

Resisting Arrest – What is it?

| Police Blotter | June 21, 2019

Resisting arrest is covered under California Penal Code 148 PC and is described as resisting, delaying, or otherwise obstructing, a law enforcement officer or emergency medical technician while they are attempting to perform their duties. The duties can include arresting someone, but 148 PC actually covers a wide range of duties, including traveling to the scene of a crime or accident, interviewing people while attempting to investigate a crime, and/or monitoring a criminal suspect who is in custody.

A typical example of resisting arrest involves obstructing or delaying a police officer trying to arrest you. You could run, fight, squirm, etc. and, by doing so, would be in violation of 148 PC. However, thanks to the broad definition of the law, it’s possible to be charged with resisting arrest if you jeer at officers attempting to arrest someone else, obstruct an EMT vehicle en route to an injured person, or even by giving a false name to police officers attempting to investigate a crime.

It’s important to understand that the law includes the word delaying in its description. This means that trying to avoid arrest altogether isn’t necessarily required for charges of violating 148 PC. One can be charged with the crime even if they know they’re going to be arrested and choose to take some action that’s going to keep it from happening temporarily. These actions include running and hiding from police, but also interacting with someone under investigation after police asked you not to. For example, person A is sitting in the back of a squad care while their vehicle is being processed by police when person B, who knows person A, walks up and starts talking to him. Person B ignores the officers’ warning to stay away from Person A, who is currently in custody, but refuses to do so because they “aren’t breaking the law by talking.” In this case, person B is delaying the officers’ processing of the vehicle by interacting with person A, and is thus eligible for charges of resisting arrest even though they weren’t originally under investigation for anything.

Of course, there are a few rules governing the actions that would otherwise qualify for charges of resisting arrest. For one, it’s important that the act of obstructing happens willfully. If you’re standing in the way of an EMT trying to perform their duties and aren’t aware that you’re in the way, you probably won’t be charged with a crime because your obstruction wasn’t willful. That’s why police and medical personnel often ask for bystanders to back up or move out of the way. If you ever find yourself observing police or emergency medical technicians in the line of duty and they ask you to move, do it! If they ask and you refuse to comply, your actions could be considered willful and therefore put you on the wrong side of 148 PC.

As of 2015, photographing or recording an officer as they perform their duties was clarified by the California Legislature as to not count under 148 PC. You can record and take pictures, provided you doing so does not obstruct or delay officers in the performance of their duties. However, the photographing/recording must take place in a public place where the person doing it has the legal right to be.

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

Arraignments – What are They?

| Police Blotter | June 13, 2019

N. J. Garcia, 50, the leader of Mexico-based church La Luz del Mundo, has been arrested and charged with several heinous sex crimes, including forcible rape of a minor, committing lewd acts on a child, extortion, and others. According to the charges against him, it’s alleged that the crimes occurred between June 2015 and April 2018.

A spokesperson for the church has denied the allegations. Garcia’s attorney has been quoted as saying that the crimes Garcia is being charged with are not in his character, and that he is instead the target of a “high-tech hit job.”

Along with two other defendants, Garcia was arrested last week at LAX and was being held in lieu of $50 million dollars bail. The others, A. Ocampo and S. M. Oaxaca – both women – are also being charged with sex crimes including forcible rape of a minor, and are being held in lieu of $25 million bail and $5 million bail respectively. A fourth suspect, A. R. Melendez, is still at large and being sought by police. According to prosecutors, all four defendants are believed to have forced their victims into performing sexual acts because disobeying “the apostle” (Garcia) would anger god.

The defendants are set to be arraigned in Los Angeles Superior Court soon.

The Arraignment Process

The arraignment is usually the first part of the criminal procedure that occurs before a judge or magistrate in a court room. The purpose of the arraignment is to provide the accused with a read of the charge, or charges, that are being held against them. This right is guaranteed under the 6th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to protect defendants from being held in custody for long periods of time without knowing what they’re being charged with or why they’re being held. Arraignments must occur within 72-hours of someone’s arrest, or else it’s possible that the defendant can argue that their right to a “fair and speedy trial” has been violated.

The rules surrounding an arraignment will depend on whether the defendant is being charged with state or federal-level crimes, as well as the specific laws of the state in which the arraignment is taking place. The rules often differ regarding felonies and misdemeanors, as some crimes may not require an arraignment. Generally though, if there’s a possibility that the defendant will be receiving a jail sentence if convicted, they’ll be given an arraignment.

Arraignments can have more than one step before they’re complete. First and foremost, the point is to get the defendant before a judge to explain the charges being brought against them. The defendant will also be notified of their right to representation, and, if no private counsel can be found, a public defender will be appointed to their case. When no representation has been obtained prior to the arraignment, and a public defender needs to be appointed, it will happen during this first step and the actual arraignment will be postponed to another day when counsel is available.

Once counsel is available and the charges have formally been read to the defendant, he or she will be allowed to enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest. In some cases, the right to an arraignment can be waved by the defendant and they can enter their formal plea without having the charges read. This usually happens as part of an exchange with the prosecuting attorney who will be able to speed up the court process.

At the arraignment, the issue of bail and whether it should be raised, lowered, or if it even needs to be set, will also be discussed. The court can also announce the dates and times of additional hearings, including pre-trial hearings and the actual trial date.

Since the charges Garcia et. al. face are serious, and their bail has been set in the range of many millions of dollars, it’s unlikely those amounts will change much – if at all.

Criminal Threats Lead to Investigation at La Mesa Jr. High

| Canyon Country Magazine | June 11, 2019

Recently, a student was detained after it was discovered he had made written and verbal threats to shoot students at La Mesa Jr. High School in Canyon Country. The investigation began when a written threat to shoot up the school was found scrawled on a bathroom wall. Over the course of the investigation, detectives learned that a student had also made a verbal threat to do the same. Currently, investigators are trying to determine if the student who made the written threat also made the verbal threat.

At press time, no charges have been filed. However, in cases like this where charges are filed, it’s often under PC 422.

Under California Penal Code 422 PC, California’s “Criminal Threats” Law, it is illegal to willfully threaten to commit a crime that will result in great bodily injury or death to another person, with the specific intent that the statement, made verbally, in writing, or by means of electronic communication device, is to be taken as a threat, even if there is no intent of actually carrying out the threat.

In order for a threat to qualify for a criminal threats charge, the threat must be made in such a way that the person being threatened believes that the threat is real, and is put into a state of fear because they feel they are in imminent danger.

Some examples of behaviors that may yield a criminal threats charge include, but are not limited to:
Threatening to shoot someone while holding a gun
Texting someone with whom you have an issue (an ex, old boss, one-time friend, etc.) and saying to the person, “Watch your back” (or something similar)
California Penal Code 422 PC is a “wobbler” which can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances of the case and the defendant’s prior criminal history. Generally, the misdemeanor penalties include up to one year in county jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Felony penalties include up to three years in California state prison and up to $10,000 in fines.

Finally, if the defendant makes threats on more than one occasion, or against more than one person, or pursuant to different objectives, the individual may face the above penalties for each threat that was communicated.

Illegal Gambling Spot Busted by LAPD

| Police Blotter | June 6, 2019

On Saturday, June 1, LAPD officers made a significant bust. At 4:30 p.m. Friday, officers served a search warrant at a building on the 200 block of North Vermont Ave., believing that the building was being used for illegal activity. Upon investigating the property, officers found a slew of gambling machines, narcotics and cash. When people in the building refused to leave, the LAPD called in a SWAT team, who used smoke grenades to get them out.

At least 35 people were detained the following Saturday morning after Friday’s raid.

California Penal Code 330 PC, California’s anti-gaming law, makes it illegal to engage in “banking” or “percentage” games. While other laws, including 337 PC (California’s anti-bookmaking law) and 332 PC (California’s gambling fraud law), target individuals who are taking part in gambling operations, under Penal Code 330 PC, it is also illegal to engage in the activity of gambling itself. Therefore, California Penal Code 330 PC is the one often used to charge players as opposed to operators.

California’s definition of “gaming” includes dealing, playing, carrying on, opening, or conducting, any “prohibited game,” whether being hired to do so or not. A “prohibited game” is any game that is either a “banking game,” a “percentage game,” or both. A “banking game” is any game that includes a “bank” or “house” that takes money from losers and pays money to winners. A “percentage game” is any game of chance in which a “house” takes a percentage of the total bets made or the winnings.

Games that fall under California’s prohibited games list include traditional gambling games, like twenty one and roulette, as well as lesser-known games of chance, including Faro, Monte, and Fan-tan. Interestingly, it’s up to a judge – and not a jury – to decide whether or not a game qualifies as a “banking” or “percentage” game. Also, 330 PC can apply to any game that isn’t known to be a traditional gambling game, as well as games that don’t typically include a “house” but are altered to do so.

There are a few notable exceptions to California Penal Code 330 PC. For the most part, bingo games conducted by charitable organizations for charitable purposes do not count under 330 PC. However, for a game to qualify as a charitable bingo game, it has to meet a certain set of specific criteria, including but not limited to: being held by a city or county that has passed an ordinance that allows for those types of games to be held, and the proceeds from the game are only used for charitable purposes.

Violations of California Penal Code 330 PC are considered misdemeanors in California, and the possible penalties include misdemeanor probation, up to six months in county jail, and/or a fine of at least $100 and no more than $1,000.

It’s unknown whether any of the over 35 people detained by police were charged with violations of 330 PC, or if the proprietors received any additional charges. However, due to the presence of narcotics, it’s highly likely that additional charges will be pressed.

The Carjacking and Kidnapping that Never Happened … or Did it?

| Police Blotter | May 30, 2019

On Thursday, May 23, LAPD officers responded to an alleged carjacking and kidnapping reported to have occurred near Wilshire and Orange Grove in Mid-City Los Angeles. Officers were able to locate the missing vehicle from the report, however, the owner’s 7-year-old son, who was said to have been kidnapped during the carjacking, was not immediately located. After several odd twists and turns in the story, police now believe that there was no carjacking or kidnapping.

The incident began when police arrived at the scene, where the father of the “missing” boy told them a man had punched him in the face, taken his vehicle and his child, and drove away. Things began to get strange when later police locate the said stolen vehicle on Elm Drive in Beverly Hills. Which happens to be where both the boy and his father live.
A local news reporter attempted to interview the father, but was sternly rebuffed. However, another man who said he is “friends” with the father was more willing to speak. According to the friend, there was really no kidnapping or carjacking at all. He went on to say that Angelo, who is the father of the “missing” boy, got into a minor altercation with Nicky. It was Nicky who punched Angelo in the face. The whole story about a kidnapping, according to the friend, was made up by Angelo to get back at Nicky whom he “couldn’t beat up because Nicky was bigger and stronger.”

Hours after the interview, the LAPD contacted Angelo and told him his son had been brought to the LAPD Wilshire Station by a man named Nicky Jace – who described himself as a longtime family friend. Mr. Jace was arrested by officers on suspicion of carjacking and kidnapping.

After questioning Jace, investigators believe they may finally have gotten to the bottom of what actually happened. According to them, the incident started when Angelo, Jace, and the boy were all in the vehicle together, and then Angelo decided to get out of the vehicle to get some food. Jace became angry because he had somewhere else to be. Therefore, Jace took the vehicle (with the boy still sitting in the back). Investigators at this point are uncertain as to whether or not there was actually a fight at all.

Regardless, the boy was unharmed and Angelo said he did not want to press charges against Nicky Jace, 25 who was still booked on carjacking and kidnapping charges. Which is likely why Angelo, the boy’s father and owner of the vehicle, is not being charged with making a false report of a crime. If he was, he’d be facing up to six months in county jail.

Domestic Violence Call Leads to Hours-Long Standoff with LAPD

| Police Blotter | May 23, 2019

At around 7:00 a.m. on the morning of Sunday, May 20, LAPD officers responded to a call at a downtown Los Angeles high rise. Police were told a man was forced out of a room by a suspect with a gun during an overnight party at the residence. When the people in the room refused to leave after being told to do so, SWAT was called in and a female was taken into custody. What her connection was to the incident is unclear.

After a three to four hour standoff, during which nearby streets were blocked off, a man was taken into custody. He was later charged with domestic violence, though other charges are still pending.

Domestic violence is covered under several California laws, though the two most commonly charged are: 273.5 PC – corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant and 243(e)(1) PC, which covers domestic battery.

Under California Penal Code 273.5 PC, it is illegal to willfully inflict “corporal injury” on a spouse or cohabitant. “Corporal injury” refers to any injury, whether serious or minor. Some examples include:

Grabbing or squeezing a spouse’s arm hard enough to leave bruises
Pushing a spouse or significant other
Hitting and/or kicking a spouse or significant other

The crime is a “wobbler” under California law, which means 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 1 year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $6,000. Felony convictions are punishable by two, three, or four years in California state prison and/or a fine of up to $6,000. Additionally, when prosecuted as a felony, domestic violence is subject to other penalties, including the loss of gun-owning privileges, and the potential loss of a professional license.

California Penal Code 243(e)(1) PC, domestic battery, is described as the willful and unlawful touching that is harmful or offensive, and is committed against: the defendant’s current or former spouse, cohabitant, or fiancee, someone with whom the defendant had a past dating relationship with, or the defendant’s child. As with other forms of battery, it’s possible to be convicted of domestic battery even if the victim doesn’t suffer any injury at all. The requirement to be charged is simply to use force or violence against one of the people listed above.

Unlike 273.5 PC, domestic battery is not a “wobbler” – it’s a misdemeanor. The possible penalties include up to 1 year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000. Also, when convicted, the defendant is required to attend 52 weekly domestic violence classes.

Luckily nobody was hurt during the standoff. Unfortunately for the suspect, the standoff is likely to result in additional charges besides domestic violence.

The Dangers of Dating Apps

| Police Blotter | May 16, 2019

A 40-year-old named A. Clark was recently arrested on suspicion of two sexual assaults that occurred on April 13 and 14. It’s believed that Clark used dating apps to meet women whom he lied to about having entertainment industry connections. He allegedly told the women he was a photographer in order to lure them into his home.

This isn’t the first time Clark has run afoul with the law. As a matter of fact, he’s already a convicted sex offender, though the victims in his previous crimes were minors. In 2003, Clark was found guilty of sexually assaulting two minors and was required to register as a sex offender. In 2014, 11 years later, Clark was again convicted of a sex crime – this time child molestation – and returned to prison. He was released on parole in March of 2017.

Currently, Clark is being held in lieu of $1.2 million bail, according to the LAPD.

There are Risks Associated with Online Dating

Dating apps can be a fantastic way to meet people you otherwise may never come into contact with in your day-to-day life. However, these sites are meant for adults, and minors should never use them. While most sites have age limits associated with their use, there’s no real way to enforce it, and minors can (and do) get on them from time-to-time, therefore, parents need to be mindful of that fact as more dating sites are popping up all of the time.

If you’re of age and have had an interest in using dating apps or websites in order to meet new people, here are a few important precautions you should take to help ensure your safety.

Plan Ahead and Maintain Control

No matter for how long you’ve chatted or spoken over the phone with someone, treat your first meet-up like a blind date. Pick a public, well-trafficked location, such as a restaurant or coffee shop, and meet there. Never go someplace private, secluded, or into their home, no matter how much they may ask you to. You don’t owe anyone anything; if you don’t feel comfortable, don’t go.

Avoid Giving Out Personal Information

This one is especially pertinent when you first begin speaking with a prospective date over the internet. Avoid giving them information they can use to track you down in the real world. If you talk about your job, don’t let them know where or when you work. Also, giving out your phone number is a huge no-no. Instead, use a Google Voice phone number. You can easily download the app no matter which brand of phone you use, and when they call that number, it will ring on your end as though they’d called your actual number. It is way easier to block someone who is creeping you out using a Google phone number than it is trying to do it with your actual number.

Never Give People Money

This one might seem obvious, but there’s a reason this warning was added to the list. Just like email phishing scams, Nigerian Princes love trolling dating sites looking for lovelorn souls to exploit. If someone you’re speaking to tries to get you to send them money, no matter how trivial the amount, it’s almost certainly a scammer. If it isn’t, well, is that really someone with whom you want to go on a date?

Give the Details to a Friend

Before you meet anyone for the first time, make sure one or more people know where you’ll be going, who you’ll be meeting, and what time you expect to be back. It can be tempting to change your plans and extend your evening if you find that you and your date are firing on all cylinders the first time you meet – but don’t. Last minute changes of venue, even if it seems like the reason is valid, can be a red flag. As mentioned in the first tip, make your plans and stick to them.

The realm of online dating can be fun and exciting, but the fact is, some people use online sites in negative ways. Don’t ever shy away from protecting yourself and your personal information first. Good people will understand if you ask a lot of questions to vet them out. And for those who don’t… Well, these sites have a blocking feature for good reason.

Has a Friend or Loved One Been Arrested in Canyon Country?

| Canyon Country Magazine | May 11, 2019

Here’s how to find them…
Finding out that someone you care for has been arrested can be gut-wrenching. What did they do? Where are they now? Are they okay? These questions and others can be incredibly difficult to deal with when you don’t know what to do.

Hopefully, you’ll never find yourself in a situation like this. But if you do, there are steps you can take to get the answers you need.

The First Three Days after Arrest

In order to find someone who has been arrested, you can use the LASD Inmate Locator tool. If you find no information in the first few hours after their arrest – don’t worry! First they’re booked and processed into the system, which can take anywhere from 45 minutes to several hours, depending on the sheriff’s station’s activity level.
Once an individual is booked and processed into the system, it’s likely they’ll remain at the Santa Clarita Sheriff’s Station for anywhere from one to three days – once again, depending on how busy it is. If the jail gets overcrowded or if an inmate has been there for about 72 hours, deputies will transfer them to larger, long-term jails in downtown Los Angeles. If the person you’re looking for is male, he will probably go to Twin Towers. If a female, she’ll be at the Lynwood Jail.

Three Days or More after the Arrest

If the defendant has been transferred and you’re still searching, it could be because they haven’t been properly booked into the jail yet. Upon transfer, inmates need to go through another round of booking and processing at the new location, and the jails in downtown L.A. are almost always busy. It can take as many as 24 hours to be properly booked and processed, and during that period the inmate may not show up on any locating tools.

Finding out someone you care for has been arrested can lead to a lot of questions, but there are steps you can take to find answers.

If for some reason you’re still having trouble locating your friend or loved one with the automated jail systems available to the public, you can always call us. We have worked closely within the jail system and with the Santa Clarita Sheriff’s Station for years, and a licensed, professional bail bondsman is available 24 hours a day to help you get the information you need. Our goal is to assist our clients and the community with a very difficult, stressful situation in the best way possible, and our consultations are always free of charge.

Jake Paul in the News Again After Birthday Bash Goes Awry

| Police Blotter | May 8, 2019

Infamous YouTuber Jake Paul has made the news once again after throwing a party where multiple people may have been drugged. According to reports, a phone call was made on Sunday, May 5, to the Malibu Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station alerting authorities to a possible occurrence of unwilling impairment related to Paul’s party on Saturday evening. Authorities have stated that detectives are only in the beginning stages of their investigation, and are as yet unable to speak on what may or may not have happened.

However, media sources claim that the alleged victim had attended a birthday party for a clothing designer held by Paul and located at his residence, where she unknowingly ingested some substance that caused significant impairment.

The young woman who filed the police report may not have been the only one who unwillingly ingested a toxic substance at the party. Multiple calls were made to paramedics throughout the night, two of which resulted in transporting partiers to the hospital, while one was to treat a person who fell and hurt themselves. Medical personnel were stationed at the party as part of the initial planning, though the 911 calls made during the celebration received responses from county firefighters.

As mentioned above, the investigation into the alleged incidents is only in its initial stages, and law enforcement have not yet mentioned any clear evidence of wrongdoing. However, spiking someone’s drink is illegal in California, and if the investigation turns anything up, it could result in criminal charges.

California Penal Code 347 PC makes it illegal to “poison” any food, drink, water, or medicine in California. The term “poison” as described by PC 347 does not limit the definition only to actual poisons. Instead, it describes the act of “poisoning” as “mixing any poison or harmful substance with any food, drink, medicine, or public water supply.” Under this definition, narcotics and other substances can be included as “poisons,” and spiking someone’s drink may therefore lead to charges.

Poisoning someone under PC 347 is a felony, and the possible penalties include 2 to 5 years in California state prison. However, if the poisoning results in great bodily injury or death, the defendant will likely receive an additional three years in prison. It should be noted that these penalties apply ONLY if a person is charged with violating California Penal Code 347 PC. Should information come to light over the course of a police investigation that the would-be poisoner intended for their victim(s) to suffer great bodily injury, the defendant may also face assault charges. If they intended for their victim to die, it’s likely they would face murder or manslaughter charges instead.

Sale of Narcotics Still Illegal in California – Health and Safety Code 11351 HS

| Police Blotter | May 2, 2019

Not long ago, LASD deputies arrested a man they found in possession of several baggies of cocaine and a “large amount” of U.S. currency. The deputies were in the area as part of a program that deploys deputies to patrol specific areas where there have been concerns about large amounts of illegal drug activity. While patrolling, the deputies made contact with the suspect, T. Dixon, and found the illegal narcotics during a search. He was then arrested on suspicion of possession of narcotics for sale and transported to the Santa Clarita Sheriff’s Station to undergo booking and processing.

California Health and Safety Code 11351 HS makes it a felony-level offense to possess certain controlled substances with the intention of selling them. Some of the substances are run-of-the-mill narcotics, such as cocaine and heroine, while others are prescription pain medications including Oxycodone, Vicodin, and codeine.

Of course, simply possessing one or more of these substances does not in and of itself mean that the person was intending to sell them. For a charge of violating 11351 HS, a prosecutor must be able to prove that the person had the controlled substances in their possession with the specific intent of selling them. To do so, the prosecutor looks to certain indicating criteria, including:

The possession of large amounts of one or more controlled substances
Packaging the substance in separate baggies, bundles, or other ways
Large amounts of cash (particularly in small denominations of $20 or less)
Possession of a scale
Frequent visitors to your home or location who only remain there for a few minutes

When you take the presence of one of the criteria listed, it isn’t too terribly hard to explain it away in court. Proving intent isn’t always a simple thing to do, but when several of the listed criteria are present in a given situation, it becomes much simpler.

As a felony, 11351 HS is punishable by probation AND up to 1 year in county jail, or 2 to 4 years in county jail, and/or a fine of up to $20,000. If, during the course of the trial, the prosecutor is able to prove that the defendant intended for multiple sales, it’s possible that the defendant faces the penalties above for each intended sale, as opposed to the overall crime.

If a person is convicted of violating 11351 HS and the substance they were selling is heroine, cocaine, or cocaine base, the individual faces an additional 3 to 25 years in jail, and additional fines that could reach as high as $8 million – depending on the amount of the controlled substance they were convicted of selling.

Alcohol is not Required to be Charged with a DUI

| Police Blotter | April 25, 2019

Recently, a statement from the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department was released warning Santa Clarita residents not to drive under the influence of marijuana, and that it would be treated the same as any other DUI if caught. Anyone found to be driving erratically after having ingested marijuana, or prescription medications, including barbiturates, opiates, and even anti-depressants or over-the-counter cold medicine can be considered “driving under the influence” and will be held to the same standards as a drunk driver.

How Does Marijuana Impair Your Ability to Drive?

While the effects of marijuana may feel different than the effects of alcohol, there are some key similarities in the ways they affect your ability to drive. A large enough dose of THC, the psychoactive chemical found in marijuana, has been shown to affect your psycho-motor performance, and therefore your ability to drive. It can also affect your attention span, concentration, and slow your reflexes.

What Happens When You’re Caught Driving Under the Influence?

In California, DUI penalties will vary pretty dramatically, depending on a couple different things: how many DUI’s you have on your record, and whether or not anyone was injured or killed as a result of your driving under the influence.

Generally, a first-offense in which nobody was injured will result in a misdemeanor charges. However, if a person has four or more previous DUI charges, or if someone was injured or killed as a result of a first DUI, the charge could be upgraded to a felony.

DUI Punishments

As previously mentioned, a first-offense DUI charge for an incident in which nobody was injured will be charged as a misdemeanor. The possible penalties include up to six months in county jail, a fine of $390 to $1000, three or nine months of DUI school, and a possible six-month period in which the defendant must have an ignition interlock device attached to their vehicle.

A second DUI in which nobody was injured will net you 96 hours to one year in county jail, the same amount of fines as a first offense, up to one year mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device, and anywhere from 18 to 30 months worth of DUI school.

A third offense is punished by 120 days to one year in county jail, two years of using an ingnition interlock device on their car OR three years of a suspended license, and 30 months of DUI school.

If a DUI is charged as a felony, the potential penalties include 16 months to three years in California state prison, the same fines, up to five years license suspension, and 18 or 30 months of DUI school.

It should be kept in mind that the initial fine of $390 to $1,000 can be a bit misleading. While the fine itself will fall within that range, there are many additional court fees, DUI school costs, and other charges that cause DUI penalties (even those imposed for first-time offenders) to cost significantly more. It isn’t unheard of for a DUI to cost a defendant upwards of $10,000 to $14,000 dollars.

LAPD Ends Controversial LASER Program

| Police Blotter | April 18, 2019

Recently, the top brass at the LAPD decided to do away with a predictive policing program that residents say is rife with racial bias. The program used specific crime data to identify what law enforcement referred to as Los Angeles Strategic Extraction and Restoration (LASER) zones. The program was one of several data-driven predictive policing programs that the LAPD used to identify places where violent crimes were most likely to occur, as well as persons most likely to commit these crimes. Once a LASER zone was identified, a surge of LAPD officers would be sent to the area in an effort to deter the crimes that their data indicates would be happening there, as well as to keep tabs on individuals.

At a police commission meeting on Tuesday, April 9, LAPD Chief Michel Moore stated that the program had led to the lowest crime rates in years. Residents and skeptics of the program, however, have questioned whether or not data-driven strategies that rely on computer algorithms and other computer data to identify areas where violent crime is most likely to happen is effective at all. A recent audit found that the program itself lacked oversight, and that the data used by officers to label individuals as likely to commit violent crimes was inconsistent.

Predictive policing has been a source of contention between the police and the public since its inception. The public is highly suspicious of data-driven policing, especially residents of neighborhoods targeted by programs like LASER. Law enforcement believes that the practice has given them useful information that allows supervisors to allocate resources more efficiently. Detractors of predictive policing have been saying for a long time that the practice is focused on poor neighborhoods and areas populated primarily by people of color. According to those in the know, the data used by the predictive policing algorithm doesn’t include race or gender.

Interestingly, while LASER was the most recent predictive policing program to be shut down, it wasn’t the only one. A much more controversial segment of the program, which involved the identification and monitoring of so-called chronic offenders who are most likely to commit violent crimes, was scrapped last summer. The segment of the program involved identifying the chronic offenders, adding them to a list, and then distributing that list to officers in the area. Though the lists and database were discontinued in August, the public was only informed last month.

Ultimately, the end of the LASER program does not spell the end of predictive policing entirely – it was just one of several programs already in action. Increased oversight as well as more consistency in how the data is used may very well help quell the public outcry and increase the efficiency and effectiveness of predictive policing.

Parole – What is It?

| Canyon Country Magazine | April 15, 2019

Recently, SCV Sheriff’s Station deputies attempted to contact a vandalism suspect currently on parole and ended up being led on a high-speed chase on the northbound 14 Freeway. The suspect was a parolee from Acton who, during his attempt to flee law enforcement, hit an occupied CHP patrol vehicle in a head-on collision. The suspect continued to flee after the collision, and was able to elude a spike strip placed in the road before ending up in a single-car collision, from which he fled on foot. He was eventually apprehended and taken to the Palmdale Sheriff’s Station to undergo booking and processing.

Parole is a confusing concept for a lot of people. It’s often mistakenly used interchangeably with probation, though they’re actually two very different concepts. Probation is used as part of sentencing once a defendant is convicted of a crime. The individual can be sentenced to probation, jail time, or both. Generally, probation is part of someone’s sentence when a judge wants to reduce or eliminate the time they spend in jail.

The terms of a defendant’s probation will depend on the circumstances of the specific case involved, but for the most part, probation allows a defendant to avoid going to jail if they live within certain restrictions placed upon them by the judge. Sometimes a defendant’s probation is supervised by the court (usually in felony cases and referred to as “formal probation”) and sometimes it isn’t (“informal probation” is often used in misdemeanor cases). As long as the defendant does not violate the terms of the probation or commit any additional crimes, he/she will be able to stay out of custody. But if caught violating probation, the individual can be sent to jail for anywhere between one year and the entirety of their sentence.

Parole, on the other hand, is also a supervised program but it only applies to felony cases when the defendant has spent time in custody at a California state prison. Parole does not begin until the individual is released from prison, but it is similar to probation once the inmate is released. In order for someone to be granted parole, the inmate must agree to abide by certain conditions and limitations once released from prison. And they are required to do so for the amount of time set forth by the judge.

When paroled, an inmate will be assigned a parole agent who will supervise the inmate and ensure he or she is complying with the conditions of the parole. When inmates violate one or more of these conditions, they can be subject to a California parole violation and revocation hearing, during which it will be decided if the defendant should be allowed to remain on the street or to go back to prison. Once the period of their parole is over, they will no longer be supervised and will be able to live their lives as regular citizens.

Since the suspect in the vehicle chase undoubtedly violated his parole, it is likely he will be going back to prison. Unfortunately, since he broke several laws during the process of violating his original parole, he will probably face a much longer, harsher sentence this time around.

Management May be Forced to Live in Crime-Ridden SFV Motel and Other Unusual Sentences

| Police Blotter | April 11, 2019

The Studio 6 Motel in the San Fernando Valley has long been a hotbed of criminal activity including prostitution, narcotic sales, and gang activity.

Law enforcement and community members have long tried to curb the issues stemming from the motel to no avail. For management, the gangs, prostitutes, and drug dealers were also customers, so there was little incentive to do anything about it since it affects their bottom-line.

However, in a recent twist, management may have no other choice. The Los Angeles City Attorney’s office wants a judge to force three members of the motel’s management to live on-site until they’re able to clean things up.

Not only has law enforcement’s previous efforts to clean up the property been stymied, but the criminal activity has actually gotten worse. Now, city attorneys are hoping that if management is forced to face the problem with crime every day, they’ll finally do something about it.

This isn’t the only incident where unusual sentences, court orders, or other obligations are mandated that fit squarely outside the box. Most crimes have minimum and maximum sentences mandated by the state that provide judges with guidelines along which a convicted person’s punishment may fall. However, judges are also given a great deal of leeway and freedom when it comes to sentencing and court orders. While some judges stick to the books, others prefer to get creative.

A Texas metal-plating business owner was ordered to get rid of toxic chemicals from his property but failed to comply. He was later convicted of illegally dumping chromium, after which the presiding judge chose to sentence the man to drink a glass of nasty, toxic sludge. The intent was to make the man think twice before dumping toxic chemicals in places where they can taint wildlife or the water supply.

Judge Michael Cicconetti of Ohio has garnered quite a reputation for unusual sentencing. He’s previously ordered a woman to walk 30 miles after she stiffed a cabby out of his fair for a trip of the same distance. The judge also told a man convicted of drunk driving he could avoid jail time if he instead spent time looking at car crash corpses.

Judges who recommend unusual sentences are rare, and typically reserve the practice for first-time offenders and impressionable young people. Career criminals and those convicted of serious and/or violent crimes typically face traditional sentences. Also, not every sentence handed down by a judge stands up to scrutiny, either. It’s highly unlikely the previously mentioned Texas business owner was forced to drink a cup of toxic chemicals, for example. The judge was likely attempting to make a point with the sentence rather than make the man sick.

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