On January 1, 2019 Senate Bill 1437 – the new “felony murder law” in California – went into effect. It implements yet another dramatic change to the criminal justice law system in California, by limiting the circumstances that a person can be convicted of first degree murder under the “felony murder doctrine.” What is the
Prop 57 – What is it and can it help me?
Proposition 57, passed by California voters in November of 2016, will have important implications for both the adult and juvenile criminal justice systems. Here is a brief summary of the law. For Juveniles Prop 57 requires a judge, not a prosecutor, to decide whether juveniles should be tried in adult court. Previously, prosecutors could “direct
What is a reasonable probation condition?
Two recent cases have ruled on the question of what is a reasonable probation condition for a judge to impose on a defendant who has been convicted of a crime and placed on probation. In People v. Moran the California Supreme Court ruled that a probation condition prohibiting the defendant (who had been convicted of
Criminal Justice News
Here are some recent stories in the news related to criminal justice that were somewhat dispiriting. Warrantless Searches In June, the Supreme Court issued an opinion in the case of Utah v. Strieff which further whittles down our Fourth Amendment right to be free from warrantless searches. In a five justice majority opinion by Judge
Police brutality and Excessive Force
Reports of police brutality and excessive force have become a fixture of the news cycle over the past several years. In July of 2014, Eric Garner died in Staten Island, New York City, after a New York City Police Department officer put him in what has been described as a choke hold for about 15 to 19
What is a Wet Reckless?
If you have been arrested for a DUI in California you may have heard the term “wet reckless.” What exactly is a wet reckless and how is it related to a DUI charge? A wet reckless is a type of plea bargain If you have been charged with a DUI (a violation of Vehicle Code 23152),
Domestic Violence Pendulum
Recently, while many around the world were following news of the 2014 World Cup tournament in Brazil, an Olympic gold-medal winning soccer star in the United States made headlines for her “off the field” conduct. Last weekend, Seattle Reign FC goalkeeper Hope Solo was arrested and charged with domestic violence in Kirkland, Washington, for allegedly
Warrantless Cell Phone Searches Are Unconstitutional
Today, in the case of Riley v. California, the United States Supreme Court ruled unanimously that police need to obtain a warrant before searching a suspect’s cell phone, a sweeping endorsement of Americans’ 4th Amendment right to digital privacy. The decision applied to two cases – one from Massachusetts and the other from California –
Even With a DUI Charge, You Are Innocent Until Proven Guilty
If you believe the conventional wisdom, when you are stopped by the police and placed under arrest for driving under the influence, you have already been found guilty. Why fight the charges when a conviction is inevitable? Because the presumption of innocence still applies and the state has a heavier burden of proof than you
Public Opinion Re-set
Most Americans know that a person charged with a crime in our legal system is entitled to a presumption of innocence. As a practical matter, however, when there is extensive media attention after an arrest, the public often hears an initial narrative of guilt which is difficult for a defendant to overcome later. Skilled