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Sentencing Enhancements: New Law Change Offers Opportunity to Fight Excessive Charges in the Interests of Justice

Enhancements: The Prosecution Tool to Maximize Potential Punishment Sentencing enhancements are allegations made by the District Attorney that attach to an underlying charge that increase, or “enhance”, punishment for that crime. There are conduct enhancements, such as an allegation that an assault or other offense was committed with “great bodily injury” (See Cal. Penal Code…

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US Supreme Court Rules Police Must Seek Warrant and Cannot Rely on Catchall Phrase “Community Caretaking” To Violate the Fourth Amendment

The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution provides: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched,…

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The “U-Visa” and False Allegations in Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, and Related Cases

U-Visas – Gaining Legal Residency Status as a Crime “Victim” A “U visa”  permits undocumented individuals to gain legal status to remain temporarily in the United States on the basis of her status as the victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or other qualifying offense, where they assist law enforcement with an investigation or prosecution…

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Misdemeanor Diversion without Conviction – New PC § 1001.95 Offers New Hope to Thousands Charged with Misdemeanors

Misdemeanors and the Traditional Power of the Prosecutor While a misdemeanor is considered a lower-level criminal offense compared to felonies, it is still a criminal offense, carrying no more than 364 days in the County Jail. Misdemeanors, though considered lower level,  can still be devastating to those seeking new job opportunities, admission to university, who…

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Los Angeles DA Gascon Declines to File Sentencing Enhancements – Solano, Napa, & Yolo Defendants Still in Jeopardy of Overzealous Prosecution

New Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon has indicated that his office will no longer file sentencing enhancements when charging crimes against defendants, representing a major step forward toward ending the draconian sentencing laws that have filled California prisons beyond capacity. Effectively, this means that the LA District Attorney will no longer seek death penalty…

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New Law Reduces Standard Lengths of Probation in Felony & Misdemeanor Cases as of January 1, 2021 – AB 1950

After a person pleads guilty, no contest, or is convicted after trial, “probation” can be granted at sentencing instead of an order committing a person to county jail or state prison, either under the supervision of a probation officer (“formal” probation), or subject to conditions established by the court without the supervision of a probation…

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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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