Risks Inherent When Relying on Public Defender’s Office

Kern County’s Public Defender’s Office appears to be pushed to the brink in terms of their ability to competently handle their caseload.

It is no secret that, over the past couple of years, a huge number of experienced and highly competent attorneys have left the Kern County Public Defender’s Office for private practice. And that Office has responded by repeatedly hiring fresh batches of new attorneys, usually straight out of law school, or with very little criminal defense experience. While this mentality certainly saves money, it leaves clients who depend on the service of the Public Defender (mainly for relatively minor offenses such as DUI, narcotics possession and sales, theft, spousal abuse or domestic violence, etc.) with added risks in their criminal cases that are already fraught with inherent potential pitfalls. Let me refer to two cases that I have handled just within the past week that prove my point:

Late last week a new client came in with a very straightforward possession of narcotics (H&S 11379 and H&S 11377) case. The case had been filed with the court in November. The client had been to court at least three separate times and each time the case was continued because she had not yet spoken with her assigned public defender, despite making numerous attempts and leaving several un-returned voice mail messages.

Another case that I inherited from the Public Defender’s Office in November when it was set for jury trial was dismissed today after only my third appearance. Not because of any magic trick or loophole that I was able to find, but rather simply because I had the time to take the extra step that the Public Defender did not.

The point is, when caseloads get so big that individual clients and cases are neglected, either in terms of client contact or preparation, it is the clients who suffer. Having an attorney who doesn’t have time to return calls and can only speak to you in court is nearly akin to having no attorney at all. Likewise, pushing a case to the brink of trial because even an experienced attorney doesn’t have the time or resources to “turn over every stone” is an unnecessary addition of risk to an already inherently risky situation.

To be fair though, the Kern County Public Defender’s Office does have a small core of dedicated and HIGHLY professional, experienced, and competent criminal defense attorneys and support staff; however, those attorneys are almost always assigned only the most serious and complex criminal cases.  If you or someone you know has been charged with a relatively minor offense (DUI, narcotics possession and sales, theft, spousal abuse or domestic violence, etc.), there can still be some very serious consequences.  Don’t take chances if you don’t have too! Hire an experienced and respected criminal defense attorney.  CALL THE LAW OFFICE OF JOEL E. LUECK TODAY

Robbery Penal Codes

Robbery offenses are quite serious, not only because of the potential for lengthy prison commitments, but also because they amount to “Strikes” on your record and require that you serve 85% of any prison sentence imposed upon conviction.  In California, simple petty theft offenses can easily turn into robbery charges if there is any allegation that force or violence was used or threatened in order for the suspect to retain possession of the stolen merchandise.  The key to successfully defending against robbery charges is often an immediate and thorough investigation by a private investigator, at the direction of an experienced criminal defense attorney.


Robbery Penal Codes

211.  Robbery is the felonious taking of personal property in the possession of another, from his person or immediate presence, and against his will, accomplished by means of force or fear.

212.  The fear mentioned in Section 211 may be either:

1. The fear of an unlawful injury to the person or property of the person robbed, or of any relative of his or member of his family; or,

2. The fear of an immediate and unlawful injury to the person or property of anyone in the company of the person robbed at the time of the robbery.

212.5.         (a) Every robbery of any person who is performing his or her duties as an operator of any bus, taxicab, cable car, streetcar, trackless trolley, or other vehicle, including a vehicle operated on stationary rails or on a track or rail suspended in the air, and used for the transportation of persons for hire, every robbery of any passenger which is perpetrated on any of these vehicles, and every robbery which is perpetrated in an inhabited dwelling house, a vessel as defined in Section 21 of the Harbors and Navigation Code which is inhabited and designed for habitation, an inhabited floating home as defined in subdivision (d) of Section 18075.55 of the Health and

Safety Code, a trailer coach as defined in the Vehicle Code which is inhabited, or the inhabited portion of any other building is robbery of the first degree.

(b) Every robbery of any person while using an automated teller machine or immediately after the person has used an automated teller machine and is in the vicinity of the automated teller machine is robbery of the first degree.

(c) All kinds of robbery other than those listed in subdivisions (a) and (b) are of the second degree.

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