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About Los Angeles Criminal Law Center

Los Angeles Criminal Law Center is sponsored by The Rodriguez Law Group, a criminal defense firm serving Los Angeles, CA and the surrounding areas. The Rodriguez Law Group was founded by Ambrosio E. Rodriguez, a former prosecutor with over 18 years experience. During his time as a prosecutor, Mr. Rodriguez handled serious criminal matters including sex crimes and death penalty cases. The information on this site is intended to assist anyone going through the criminal justice process.

Lady Justice

Have you recently been arrested and are facing criminal charges in Los Angeles? You should not hesitate to contact an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney. There are thousands of criminal defense attorneys to choose from…so how can you know which one is right for you? Most criminal lawyers offer a free consultation, which can be a great way to learn about an attorney and determine if they best suited to handle your case. We have compiled a list of seven questions that you need to ask when you hiring a criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles.

How long have you been practicing law?

Some attorneys will have been practicing law for decades, while others will be fresh out of law school and just getting used to the job. Some clients may be more comfortable hiring an experienced attorney who has established relationships with judges, prosecutors, and investigators and has proven to be a successful advocate in the past.

Other clients may want to invest their hope and future in a younger attorney who is full of energy and has a limited number of cases. The experience an attorney has will generally be reflected in their legal fees. A more experienced attorney may charge a higher rate than an attorney who is still making a name for himself or herself.

How long have you been a criminal defense attorney?

Just because an attorney has been practicing law for years does not necessarily mean that they have spent their entire careers in criminal defense. Many attorneys begin working in different fields as prosecutors, corporate lawyers, and personal injury lawyers, and then transition to criminal defense later in their careers.

If you would prefer to hire a lawyer who has years of experience working as a criminal defense attorney, it is important to ask specific questions about their legal background.

How many jury trials have you handled?

If you think that your case may go to trial it is important to know if your attorney has any trial experience. You may find that many attorneys lack significant experience working in front of a jury.

This is because the majority of misdemeanor cases – and many felony cases – conclude before the set trial date. However, some attorneys will have a significant amount of jury experience and success, which can be comforting when you are not inclined to take a plea bargain.

How many jury trials have you won?

One of the best ways to get the state prosecutor to the negotiating table is by hiring an attorney they don’t want to see in court. When you hire an attorney who has established a track record of success in the courtroom, a prosecutor will be more inclined to negotiate the charges (and penalties) in your case.

How many cases have you handled in front of the judge in my case?

When charges are formally filed against you a specific judge will be assigned to your case. Some attorneys have better relationships and experiences with some judges, rather than others. Find out if the attorney you’re speaking with has direct experience arguing before the judge that is assigned to your case.

Who else in your office will be working on my case?

You may feel entirely confident putting your future in the hands of the attorney you meet with. However, many law firms use secretaries, paralegals, and less-experienced attorneys to handle a large percentage of the cases they handle. You may not want your attorney to pass off your case to someone you don’t know and trust.

If the attorney you meet with routinely delegates work to others, you may want to consider a smaller firm. At a smaller firm, more of the work will generally be done by the attorney you meet with and a very small staff. You will have to gauge what kind of situation you will be comfortable with.

Do you have any experience handling cases like mine?

Many criminal defense attorneys are comfortable handling a specific type of criminal case. Some attorneys may specialize in cases involving domestic violence, while others will routinely handle cases involving driving under the influence (DUI). Ask the attorney you meet with about any prior experience they have dealing with cases like yours. The more experience they have handling your specific type of criminal case, the better equipped they will be to help you.

Are you facing criminal charges in Los Angeles? Contact the Los Angeles Criminal Law Center today for immediate legal assistance. Our legal team, led by criminal defense attorney Ambrosio Rodriguez, has more than 18 years of experience handling complex criminal matters. We will intervene early on in the criminal proceedings and fight to get the charges in your case reduced or dismissed. When you call, we will review your case, explain your rights, and answer any of the questions you may have.

Downtown Los Angeles Office Location:

The Rodriguez Law Group is conveniently located in Downtown Los Angeles, CA at 626 Wilshire Blvd Suite 900, Los Angeles, CA 90017. Contact our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys today.

What is the Disarm Hate Act?

California Disarm Hate Act

California has some of the strictest gun laws on the books in the country. On January 1, 2018, the state’s gun regulations became even tighter. The California legislature passed a bill in 2017 that would prevent individuals convicted of a hate crime from owning a gun within 10 years of their crime.

California’s governor signed the bill when it was on his desk, and it will become effective during the new year. California’s criminal defense attorneys must be aware of what this means for their future clients. The law has wide-reaching consequences and will likely affect a large number of California residents in the future.

Previous California Law

In most cases, a person who is convicted of a violent crime in California will have their gun ownership rights suspended or revoked. This includes a laundry list of violent misdemeanor offenses.

However, there was a loophole under California’s previous laws. Specifically, it excuses violent behavior that is committed with a biased motive. Under the old law, a person who was convicted of a violent misdemeanor hate crime would not lose their right to own or possess a firearm. 

Imagine that a defendant is arrested and charged with two distinct crimes: assault and committing a violent hate crime. The charges are based on the fact that the defendant displayed a firearm and used it to threaten another person because of his race. A violent hate crime is seemingly more serious than assault.

However, California’s laws, as previously stated, only listed assault as a crime that, if convicted, would result in the loss of gun ownership rights. If the prosecution was only successful in getting a conviction for the hate crime charges, the defendant would not automatically lose their right to own a firearm. On the other hand, if the state was only successful on the assault charge, the defendant would lose his right to own a firearm for 10 years. 

Disarm Hate Act

The Disarm Hate Act closed this loophole and explicitly prevents individuals who have been convicted of a violent misdemeanor hate crime from possessing or acquiring firearms within 10 years of their criminal conviction. Violent misdemeanor hate crimes, as defined in California Penal Code 422.6 PC, occur when:

  1. A person uses force or threat to willfully injure, intimidate, interfere with, oppress, or threaten another person who is exercising their free rights in California, or
  2. A person knowingly defaces, damages, or destroys the property of another person in order to intimidate them or interfere with the exercise of their free rights. 

As it currently stands, this violent hate crime is a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of one year in a county jail and $1,000 in criminal fines. The statute itself is silent regarding gun ownership rights. The Disarm Hate Act explicitly amends the law to include 422.6 PC as an offense that will automatically trigger a 10-year suspension of the right to own or acquire firearms.

Fighting Hate Crime Charges in California

It will be extremely important for criminal defense attorneys in California to fight hate crime charges against their clients. As of 2018, a conviction for a hate crime will not only result in possible jail time and fines, but also mandate the loss of certain rights.

Some attorneys may have strategized to use this loophole for their clients in the past, but may want to think twice about how to approach similar cases in the future. A conviction for a hate crime will significantly impair a client’s ability to have a successful future.

It will likely be advisable to tenaciously fight hate crime charges and secure a less harsh alternative. A conviction for assault or battery will not carry the same social and civil stigma that a hate crime conviction has. As a result, it may be best to secure these lesser charges whenever possible. 

Understanding the Burdens of Proof in Criminal and Civil Cases

Let’s say that, after getting into a car accident, you’re arrested for drunk driving. You’re charged with DUI and then, to make matters worse, you’re named in a personal injury lawsuit. The driver of the other car claims that they’ve sustained severe injuries and that you’re to blame. 

Here’s the good news – the results of your criminal case won’t necessarily impact the results of your civil case. The reverse is true, as well. You could find that you walk away from your criminal DUI case scot-free, only to find that you’re held liable in the civil suit. This is often the case when defendants face both criminal and civil repercussions after an accident.

Why? One of the biggest reasons is that different burdens of proof are required to prevail in criminal and civil cases. Here’s what you should know.

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt: The Burden of Proof in Criminal Cases

When you’re charged with a violation of state or federal law, the government has to prove that you’re guilty. In order to do this, prosecutors must demonstrate that you are guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.” What’s involved with meeting this burden of proof? There’s no hard and fast definition at the federal level. In fact, the definition has been the source of contention in the courts for years. Most states have taken it upon themselves to provide a definition and clarify the meaning in jury instructions.

In California, the state tells jurors that a “reasonable doubt” exists when they are left “with an abiding conviction that the charge is true.” Jury instructions continue, explaining that “evidence need not eliminate all possible doubt because everything in life is open to some possible or imaginary doubt.” So, in the simplest possible terms, beyond a reasonable doubt means that, based on the evidence, the charge is very likely true. Upon analysis, you’re left with the impression that there’s a very slim chance – if any – that the charge is false.

This is an extremely high burden of proof. It’s also quite subjective. One juror might decide that they are persuaded that the charge is true beyond a reasonable doubt, while another might disagree. 

Beyond a reasonable doubt is the highest burden of proof, which is why it’s reserved for criminal cases. The government cannot secure a conviction unless this lofty burden is satisfied by direct and/or circumstantial evidence.

A Preponderance of the Evidence: The Burden of Proof in Civil Cases

The burden of proof in civil cases is much less than in criminal ones. In personal injury cases, the burden of proof rests with the plaintiff. So, the accuser – or person who got hurt – has to convince a factfinder that their allegations are true based on a preponderance of the evidence.

A preponderance of the evidence means that the allegations are more likely true than not. Specifically, it means “the burden of proof is met when the party with the burden convinces the fact finder that there is a greater than 50% chance that the claim is true.” So, in theory, a plaintiff could convince a jury to decide in their favor just by making it seem that their side of the story is slightly truer than the defendant’s.

Are There Other Burdens of Proof?

Yes. Sometimes there are situations when different burdens of proof will come into play. This is true in both criminal and civil matters. Here are some other burdens of proof that might be relevant to your criminal or civil case.

Reasonable Suspicion: A police officer must have a “reasonable suspicion” that you’ve broken the law or done something wrong before you can be stopped. This involves more than a hunch or gut feeling. Rather, this suspicion must be based on articulable facts and the totality of the circumstances.

Reasonable to Believe: A police officer can go back and search a vehicle again if they have “reason to believe” that there is additional evidence of a crime. The level of proof needed to establish this burden is somewhere between reasonable suspicion and probable cause.

Probable Cause: Probable cause means that there’s “a fair probability that contraband or evidence of a crime will be found.” There’s no set percentage that establishes this probability. However, courts have traditionally reasoned that 51% is a good threshold.

Clear and convincing evidence: Clear and convincing evidence requires a higher degree of certainty than a preponderance of the evidence. One court held that this burden is satisfied if a factfinder believes that the “evidence is highly and substantially more likely to be true than untrue.”

Whether you’ve been charged with a crime or involved in a civil lawsuit, burdens of proof will play a critical role in your case. That’s why it’s always best to make sure that you are represented by a qualified attorney who specializes in the type of case you have.

How Long Does Alcohol Stay on Your Breath?

It is well known that alcohol can stay in your system for a while and it is not safe to drive after you have been drinking. It is also known that if alcohol is detected on your breath you will get you in trouble if you are caught drinking and driving.

But how long does it stay in your system? Does it take hours or days to clear your body? How does your body process alcohol? When will it no longer be detectable if you are pulled over? Are there ways to reduce the effects of alcohol on your system?

How long is alcohol measured in your system?

There are two main ways that are used to detect alcohol in your system: urine and breath. Urine is a more accurate test but it is harder to administer in the field if a police officer has pulled over someone suspected of driving drunk.

For this reason, breath is the preferred method that is used to determine someone’s alcohol level fairly quickly. A urine test can tell if you have been drinking in the past 12 to 48 hours.

A breathalyzer is a small machine that measures your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). It is portable and easy to use by police officers in the field. BAC is the amount of alcohol you have consumed over the past 24 hours.

It is measured in percentage points and the total is usually below 0.10%. Any result higher than 0.02% is considered not safe for driving. However, each state has a different number that indicated drunk driving. In California, that number is 0.08%.

How long is alcohol in your system?

Alcohol is classified as a depressant. It begins to metabolize in your body quickly and it does not stay in your system for long. Length is relative though, and it will be in your system for at least a few hours.

The rate of metabolization is virtually the same for every person. The rate is about 0.015 BAC every hour. This means that a person with a BAC of .15% will have no traceable alcohol in their system after about 10 hours.

As soon as you start drinking, the alcohol enters your digestive system. From here, about 80% goes to your intestine and is digested like other drinks or food. The other 20% is absorbed into your blood vessels and goes to your brain.

This is when you start to feel buzzed or drunk. After the alcohol makes it through your blood vessels and brain, it is finally removed from your body through your liver. If you have issues with your liver, it can take even longer for the alcohol to leave your system.

What factors can affect how long alcohol is in your system?

How much and what type of alcohol you drink has an impact on how long it stays in your system. The stronger the drink, the longer the effects will last. One beer takes around two hours for your body to metabolize. One glass of wine can take three hours. Having several drinks in a row or drinking some hard liquors will take several hours longer to digest.  

Other factors that can affect how long alcohol stays in your system include age, weight, and medications you may be taking. For example, a smaller person will feel the effects of alcohol faster than a larger person.

It also matters if you are drinking on an empty stomach or have just had a big meal. Additionally, sipping one drink slowly affects you less than binge drinking several drinks quickly.  

Ways to reduce the effects of alcohol

Food and water are great ways to help minimize the effects of alcohol. Food may help your body absorb and metabolize more quickly. Water can help reduce your BAC, but it will still take time for this to work. If possible, while drinking, try to alternate drinks between water and alcohol. This will help lessen the effects of the drinks and it will also help lessen the chances of a bad hangover the next day.  

It is a myth that coffee or energy drinks will help speed up your metabolism and make the effects wear off quicker. The only thing that can help do that is time. Remember, if you have had any form of alcohol, you need to exercise caution before getting behind the wheel of a car and driving. If you do drive after a few drinks, you risk being arrested for a DUI.