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Van Nuys California Criminal Law Blog

3 things you need to know about civil demand letters

When you walk into a store and loss prevention officers greet you, you may wonder exactly what authority these people actually have. No law enforcement agency authorizes them, and they likely receive the same low wage as the rest of the employees in a retail environment. Still, you do not want to find out what power they have and find yourself in a bad situation. 

If a security guard detains you and accuses you of shoplifting, though, there are a few things you should know. You may have to deal with law enforcement officers who are called to the scene, but alternately, you might receive a civil demand letter. Such a letter typically demands a sum of money paid to the store with the threat of further action if you do not pay it.

Cleaning your criminal record in California

Having a criminal record can impact numerous aspects of your life, potentially affecting everything from where you can live to who will hire you. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your conviction and criminal history, you may be able to take certain steps to minimize the hardship your criminal record causes you.

Sealing your records, for example, essentially shields them from public record, meaning members of the public will not be able to reference them. Dismissing your record, meanwhile, involves reopening your case and having it dismissed, which, by most accounts, makes it appear as if your crime never occurred.

Recreational marijuana and DUIs

You may assume you are completely free to smoke marijuana whenever you want in California, but that is not the case. Despite the fact that it is now recreationally legal, there are restrictions that are important to keep in mind, especially when it comes to driving. 

Drug driving is just as serious of a crime as drunk driving. Do not think you will be safe if you get behind the wheel after getting high. Here is how marijuana legalization in California is affecting DUI arrests:

Do suspected drunk drivers have to do blood tests in California?

In California, and any other state, the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution deems any search and seizure to be illegal unless there's probable cause for it to occur. When you're issued your driver's license in California, however, one of the documents you sign is a consent form to have your blood, urine or breath tested by police. This implied consent law is only enforceable if you're already been placed under arrest though.

Even then, in recent Supreme Court rulings, the panel has continued to err on the side of upholding protections afforded to citizens under the Fourth Amendment. Therefore, while a police officer can advise a motorist of the penalties he or she faces by not submitting to requested testing, in the absence of a warrant, any forced submission may be seen as unconstitutional.

The difference between petty and grand theft in California

The terms larceny and theft are used interchangeably to refer to a crime in which an individual takes possession of a piece of property that's not their own. It's a criminal offense that can happen with or without the victim's knowledge of it. Under the theft umbrella, an individual can blatantly steal a tangible item, take possession of a piece of real estate or money or allow services to be completed without paying for them.

It's even possible for an individual to initially voluntarily loan or rent a piece of property to someone, only to accuse an individual of theft after not returning it on time as agreed.

A Van Nuys man is arrested for murdering wife in front of his son

A 39-year-old Van Nuys man was arrested on Monday, Aug. 28 on suspicion of having stabbed his 31-year-old wife to death in front of his 12-year-old son. The man is alleged to have fatally wounded the woman that previous Sunday. He is believed to have fled the couple's home at 4900 Woodman Avenue after someone in the home called 911 to report that she had been assaulted with a deadly weapon.

When officers with the Los Angeles Police Department arrived at the scene of the incident, they found the woman incapacitated. She had apparently been stabbed multiple times. Although she was able to be stabilized enough to be transported to the hospital, she succumbed to her injuries soon after arriving there.

A Whittier man reportedly impersonates a pharmacist twice

A 58-year-old Whittier man was arraigned on charges of identity theft and related offenses at the Los Angeles Superior Courthouse in Van Nuys on Aug. 7. He stands accused of having engaged in unlawfully impersonating a licensed pharmacist not just once, but twice during the last decade. That individual claims he knew nothing of the alleged theft.

According to a statement released by the California Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA), the one-time pharmacist tech began using the credentials of a licensed pharmacist back in 2001. In the years since, he's worked at various pharmacies across Los Angeles. Each time he was hired on, he would produce a fake ID, Social Security card, and pharmacist license in the name of the pharmacist whose identity he had stolen.

How graffiti crimes are punished in California

In driving around California's inner cities, it doesn't take long before you encounter graffiti. It's virtually everywhere. In fact, as soon as one community service worker paints over one surface, it seems like another tagger comes and puts graffiti on it all over again.

If you've ever been caught with a spray can in your hand, then you're probably all to aware that tagging is illegal in California. Section 594 of California's Penal Code highlights that taggers can be either charged with either a misdemeanor or felony depending on the extent of the damage they leave behind. Additionally, each location tagged counts at a separate offense.

How marijuana possession is controlled under California's Prop 64

Many California residents who voted Proposition 64 (Prop 64) into law in November of 2016 did so with the expectation that that marijuana would become largely deregulated much like alcohol and cigarettes are. Despite their hopes, the final legislation, crafted in part by the Drug Policy Alliance, spans 60 pages. Within those, it covers when it's appropriate to consume marijuana and not.

Under the Prop 64, it's not possible for individuals to purchase pot at dispensaries unless they have a medical marijuana prescription. However, for those who are 21 and over, they are allowed to use, share and possess the one-time illicit drug in select locations without fear of being carted off to jail.

3 downsides of going to trial with your case

Many people facing criminal charges mistakenly assume that a prosecutor will not have any interest in taking the case to trial. Unfortunately, this is often not the case, and even small cases are often brought to trial rather than dismissed or offered plea bargains. If you want to get your life back on track, it is sometimes advantageous to avoid a trial, and consulting with a legal representative may be the best way to do so.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, there is a 68 percent conviction rate for felony cases in the United States. With odds like these, it is imperative that you proactively do everything within your power to fight for your rights. When you hire a legal representative, you do not have to do this alone. 

Kestenbaum Law Group | 14401 Sylvan Street, Suite 100 | Van Nuys, CA 91401 | Phone: 818-616-4312 | Van Nuys Law Office Map