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Right to Confront and Cross-Examine Witnesses in Domestic Violence Cases – Contesting the Forfeiture by Wrongdoing Exception

Under Crawford v. Washington, ((2004) 541 US 36), out of court statements by witnesses that are testimonial are barred under the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment, unless witnesses are unavailable and the defendant had prior opportunity to cross-examine witnesses. (Id. at 54). “Testimonial” statements are those that are made in circumstances that reasonably suggest…

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Prior Domestic Violence Reports as Evidence in Trial: The Exception to the Rule against Using Past Allegations to Show Present Guilt

Domestic violence allegations are complex cases for a number of reasons. One of the areas that such cases differ from average criminal cases is that ordinary rules that govern the admission of evidence related to reports, arrests, or convictions suffered by a defendant can be admitted to show that the defendant is guilty of present…

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Ability to Reduce Felony Convictions to Misdemeanors after PC 1203.4 Expungements

Felony convictions can have devastating consequences for those who suffered such convictions even in the distant past. While Penal Code section 1203.4(a) permits “expungement”, or a dismissal, of a felony charge if the defendant completed probation and was not sentenced to State Prison, the felony stigma and status of the prior conviction still stands to…

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Benefits of Mental Health Diversion under New Law PC 1001.36

Penal Code sections 1001.35-1001.36 were added to the California Penal Code June 27, 2018 to create a new statutory scheme that provides the Court the discretion to place qualified criminal defendants into “Pretrial Mental Health Diversion”. On June 21, 2018, Penal Code section 1001.35 through 1001.36 became effective after enactment of Assembly Bill 1810 by…

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DUI Offenses – Definition of “Driving”

DUIs Require that “Driving” be Proven Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or With a 0.08 Percent or Higher Blood Alcohol Content, are described  by Vehicle Code section 23152, subsections (a) and (b) respectively. Cal. Vehicle Code § 23152(a)-(b). Driving Under the Influence arrests and prosecutions, although exceedingly common, can have some of the most…

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Negative Immigration Consequences of Ineffective Lawyering or Wrongful Conviction – Hope after the Passage of PC 1473.7

Our country is a nation of immigrants and is the best country in the world for that reason. Yet, immigrants convicted of criminal offenses can face draconian consequences, even for offenses that may be considered minor by the general public or even by those in the legal community who do not fully grasp the labyrinthine…

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Mandatory Supervision – Presumption of Period of Supervised Release from Felony Jail Sentences

Before 2011, felonies in which a defendant was denied probation required that the term of imprisonment be served in the State Prison system. County Jails were for those sentenced to only misdemeanor offenses, or those awaiting trial or sentencing on felony matters. However, after the 2011 “Realignment”, Penal Code section 1170(h) created a new subset…

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Statutes as the “Black Letter” Law in California

Almost all states, as well as the Federal Government, have codified their criminal laws into statutes that one can refer to in text form. The Courts interpret the statutes and determine the intent of the Legislature, and, when the statutes are challenged as unconstitutional, rule as to their validity. When the Courts interpret a statute,…

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Allegations in Baltimore PD Corruption Trial More Common than Public May Think

The recent news coming from a Baltimore Police corruption trial has unearthed appalling accusations that Baltimore Officers were fabricating search warrant affidavits to illegally search homes, possessed BB guns with the intent to plant them in case of unlawful police shootings, profiled various types of peoples and vehicles, and illegally tracked citizens with GPS devices,…

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