Even Misdemeanor Offenses Have Serious Consequences

A recent article published by Slate highlights the severe consequences of misdemeanor convictions and the fact that these consequences are often unknown to the defendants even after they have entered a guilty plea. The other troublesome aspect of the misdemeanor arm of the criminal justice system, as pointed out by the article, is the fact that despite actually being innocent of the charges filed against them, many misdemeanor defendants actually plead guilty for a variety of reasons. Among them are:

  • Just to get out of jail
  • Inadequate knowledge of their rights
  • Inadequate knowledge of the evidence in their favor
  • Pressure from over-worked public defenders
  • Pressure from Judges who assume the defendant’s guilt

As the article correctly states, “The repercussions of a petty conviction can be anything but minor. These offenses are increasingly punished with hefty fines that low-income defendants cannot pay. A conviction of any kind can ruin a person’s job prospects. A petty conviction can affect eligibility for professional licenses, child custody, food stamps, student loans, and health care or lead to deportation. In many cities, a misdemeanor makes you ineligible for public housing.”

If you’ve been charged with a seemingly minor offense, take the time to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney with a proven track record of success. Hiring a private attorney doesn’t guarantee a successful outcome, but hiring the right attorney can guarantee that your rights are protected and your questions are answered.

Protect Your Commercial Driver’s License

For truck drivers or anyone with a commercial driver’s license, accumulation of points against your driving record can have a serious negative impact on your ability to remain employed. Additionally, taking time away from work to appear in traffic court takes time out of your schedule and money out of your pocket.  By hiring an experienced traffic defense attorney, you can protect your commercial driver’s license.  The Law Office of Joel E. Lueck has a proven track record of getting traffic cases dismissed, reducing “point” violations to “non-point” violations, and getting fines substantially reduced, all without the need for the client to ever appear in court!

Whether you are an out-of-state commercial driver who can’t appear in court, or a local driver who would simply prefer not to, contact the Law Office of Joel E. Lueck today to speak with a respected and experienced defense attorney.  With the ability to pay by credit card and set up easy payment plans, you CAN AFFORD TO HIRE AN ATTORNEY to protect your license.  We handle cases in ALL KERN COUNTY COURTS — Bakersfield, Taft, Lamont, Mojave, Ridgecrest, Kern Valley, Shafter, and Delano.

Now Offering Red Light Camera Ticket Defense

If you’ve received a “Photo Enforcement Citation” for allegedly running a red light in Bakersfield and wish to contest the citation, or simply have the violation reduced to a “non point” offense that won’t affect your driving record and not require completion of traffic school, contact the Law Office of Joel E. Lueck today.  Recent case law from around California has favored the dismissal of these citations on a number of different grounds and it is only a matter of time before Kern County Courts begin to follow suit.  Whether you wish to fight your ticket all the way through an appeal if necessary, or are just looking to have the violation and fine reduced, we can help.

The Benefit of Hiring a Respected, Local Attorney

In communities such as Bakersfield, many people who are faced with the need to hire a criminal defense attorney mistakenly believe that retaining a “Big City” attorney from Los Angeles gives them a better chance at successfully defending themselves.  Unfortunately, often times this could not be further from the truth.  As a case in point, consider the circumstances of Mike R., a resident of Los Angeles who was stopped in Kern County on his way to the Bay Area.  After being pulled over for DUI, Mike was also found to be in possession of Ecstasy.  He was arrested and charged with Transportation of a Controlled Substance (Health & Safety Code section 11379) and DUI (Vehicle Code section 23152) among other charges.  Due to the fact that he had a Strike Prior and had been sentenced to prison within the past five years, he was facing a potential sentence of 9 years in state prison.  Initially, Mike was represented by an attorney from Los Angeles.  That attorney represented him through the preliminary hearing stage, but in an effort to settle the case before trial, was only able to obtain an offer from the Kern County District Attorney’s Office of 4 years in prison.  Realizing that a local attorney may benefit him, Mike retained the Law Office of Joel E. Lueck and today was placed on probation and sentenced to 6 MONTHS in county jail.

The point is that although every county is bound by the laws of the State of California, each county interprets and applies those laws differently.  Having an attorney who practices in the community and has a proven track record of success is what those charged with crimes should look for, rather than falling prey to the mistaken belief that an attorney from Los Angeles is their best option simply based upon the location of their office.

LAPD Plan to Lessen Impound Fees on Unlicensed Drivers Stymied

The LA Times is reporting that a California state agency has issued an opinion causing the Police Commission to put on hold a vote to alter how the LAPD treats impounded vehicles of unlicensed drivers.  Under current California law, vehicles of unlicensed drivers can be impounded, and if they are, they must remain in impound for 30 days, often costing the owner of the vehicle in excess of $1,000.  LAPD Chief Charlie Beck had hoped to lessen that financial impact by allowing certain drivers to retrieve their vehicles as early as the next day following impound.  However, the Police Commission now believes Beck’s plan may run afoul of state law.

The real issue here is the impact of exorbitant impound fees on undocumented residents who cannot obtain a valid California driver’s license.  Many times, these residents obtain a valid driver’s license from a neighboring state, but because they reside in California, they nonetheless are in violation of California Vehicle Code Section 12500, requiring residents of California to have driver’s licenses issued by this state if they wish to drive.  Furthermore, the Vehicle Code allows law enforcement to impound vehicles involved in a violation of section 12500.

Chief Beck should be applauded for attempting to address the obvious issue this creates with good drivers, who are insured, but nonetheless undocumented residents.

Former LAPD Detective on Trial for Murder Shows Why Suspects Should NEVER Talk to Cops

Former LAPD Detective Stephanie Lazarus is currently on trial for the 1986 homicide of her former boyfriend’s wife.  The story of how the cold case was cracked is a case-study in police investigation and interrogation.  The lesson to be learned, especially from the interrogation of Lazarus, is that interrogating officers often know answers to questions they pose to suspects and often have enough evidence for an arrest even before the questioning starts.  If this is the case, their goal becomes to secure a confession, not determine the truth and they will “lie, cheat, and steal” to get it … all of which is perfectly legal.

Watch an ABC News story on the case here.

Man Acquitted by Jury, Still Sentenced to 15 Years

The South Florida Sun Sentinel is reporting that a man acquitted in two separate jury trials of fondling pre-teen girls has been sentenced to fifteen years in prison based upon the same evidence which amounted to a violation of his probation. The case underscores the very real possibility of being sentenced on a probation violation despite being found not guilty of the same conduct by a jury. The legal basis for such an outcome lies in the different standards of proof applied to jury trials versus that applied to hearings on violations of probation. While the standard of proof in a jury trial is “proof beyond a reasonable doubt,” in order to be found in violation of probation, in Florida, as in California, the prosecution bears the much lower standard of proof known as “preponderance of the evidence.” Additionally, whereas convictions on new law violations generally are determined by a jury, violations of probation (even if based upon the same evidence) are decided by a judge.  In essence, while a jury may acquit a defendant based upon a failure of the prosecution to meet the higher standard of proof, a judge considering the same evidence may still nonetheless conclude that the lower standard of proof has been met and thus sentence a defendant based upon a violation of his pre-existing probation.

Jailers More Likely to Use Force on Mentally Ill Inmates

The LA Times is reporting that deputies in LA County jails are more likely to use force on mentally ill inmates than other prisoners. According to a report by the Sheriff’s Department, although inmates classified as mentally ill make up only 15% of the inmate population, approximately one-third of deputy use-of-force cases involved those inmates.

Although mental illness issues often lead to violent outbursts necessitating use of force, the report highlights the need for better training for law enforcement when it comes to identifying and dealing with mental health issues in detainees. As stated by Peter Eliasburg, legal director of the ACLU of Southern California, “You have to be on guard that some of them behave differently and they often do things that if they didn’t have mental illness, it would be a real true sign of aggression … . But if you’re sensitive that this is an inmate with mental illness, you realize it’s not a deliberate attempt to incite.”

Study Shows Wrongful Conviction Rate of Up To Six Percent

As reported by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, a comprehensive study by the Urban Institute has found that wrongful conviction rates in violent felony cases is as high as six percent. Samuel R. Gross, a professor at the University of Michigan Law School and a former criminal-defense lawyer, attended the presentation made by the Urban Institute in November and said that “this is a very big surprise. I would have guessed an error rate of 1 or 2 percent. Six percent is surprisingly high.”

Given the fact that the study focused on only violent felony cases, and that those are the types of cases that the most prosecutorial resources are devoted to, it is likely that the rate is even higher for cases that don’t rise to the level of “violent felonies.”

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Arson Investigation Burn Pattern Theory Debunked

A November 2011 study by The Arson Project has confirmed the hypothesis that ‘the presence or absence of an ignitable liquid in a post-flashover setting cannot be determined through visual examination of the resulting burn patterns. Any attempt to do so is no more reliable than a flip of a coin.”

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