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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.

Street Racers Facing Murder Charges for Deadly Accident

Street racing has become incredibly popular across Los Angeles. Since The Fast and the Furious hit theaters in 2001, more than 180 people have been killed in residential Los Angeles street racing accidents. Despite the known dangers of the practice, young drivers across the city continue to make Los Angeles roads more dangerous.

The drivers who decide to race are not the only ones who put their lives and safety on the line. Unfortunately, anyone else who happens to be on the road at the time of a race is in danger. Most recently, two young boys – ages 6 and 8 – lost their lives because two young men felt the urge to race one another down a street in Perris.

Deadly Perris Street Racing Crash

According to reports, two cousins, Ricardo Zuniga and Josue Leyva-Gallegos, were both stopped at a traffic light in Perris on May 15. The pair chatted through open windows and agreed to meet back at Zuniga’s home to hang out. As the light prepared to turn green, Gallegos turned to his cousin and said “you ready?”

As soon as the light changed, both men hit the gas and sped off down the road. Driving at high speeds is dangerous enough. Driving at high speeds on the wrong side of the road, which is what Zuniga was doing, is even more dangerous. As the men raced in one direction, a young man driving his two young brothers home from school in a Nissan Versa approached. Zuniga, who was driving against traffic on the wrong side of the road, was unable to avoid a collision. The two young boys were killed in the crash and the older brother was hospitalized with serious injuries.

Charges for Street Racing Fatalities

The two street racers fled the scene immediately. Police investigating the crash were ultimately able to locate both men and arrest them on suspicion of street racing. Zuniga was charged with two counts of murder, as well as driving without a license and proof of insurance, while Gallegos was charged with two counts of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence. The consequences of their actions may be more severe since they fled the scene.

Murder vs. Vehicular Manslaughter

One of the cousins was charged with murder, while the other was charged with vehicular manslaughter. Why? Both men are equally responsible for the deaths of two young boys, but the roles they played in the accident were not identical. As a result, they face unique criminal charges that are very specific to their actions.

Murder

Zuniga was driving a car against traffic on the wrong side of the road when he collided with the Nissan Versa. It is this specific crash that caused two young boys to lose their lives. Since Zuniga operated the vehicle that caused the fatal crash, he is facing criminal charges for murder.

In California, murder is defined in Penal Code 187 PC as the “unlawful killing of a human being, or a fetus, with malice aforethought.” Murder charges are generally split into two different categories: first-degree and second-degree.

First-degree murder, which carries a sentence of 25-year-to-life in prison, generally involves willful and deliberate acts of murder that are planned in advance.

Second-degree murder, which carries a sentence of 15-years-to-life in prison, generally involves willful acts that result in another person’s death, but that are not planned out or premeditated. In other words, another person is killed because of actions that are so incredibly reckless and dangerous that you should know that death is a likely consequence.

Zuniga will likely be charged with second-degree murder for this actions. He did not get into the car and drive it with the specific intent to kill those young boys. However, he did willfully drive a car at high speeds on the wrong side of the road. He should have known that this behavior was very dangerous and likely to result in death.

Vehicular Manslaughter

Gallegos was charged with two counts of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence. While he was not driving the specific car that was involved in the fatal crash, he played an important role in the accident. Had he not been racing his cousin, the crash would likely have never happened.

In California, vehicular manslaughter is defined in Penal Code 192(c) PC to mean causing the death of another person while “driving a vehicle in the commission of an unlawful act, not amounting to a felony, and with gross negligence.” If the unlawful act is a felony, murder charges can be substituted.

Since street racing is a misdemeanor offense in California, Gallegos can only face charges for vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence. If convicted, he can face up to 6 years in a California state prison.

Fighting Criminal Charges in Los Angeles

Street racing is incredibly dangerous and can have devastating consequences. While the act of street racing itself is only a misdemeanor offense in California, unintended accidents can have life-changing results.

If you or someone you know has been arrested for a street racing accident, it is important to speak with an attorney as soon as you can. You have the right to defend yourself, and the Los Angeles Criminal Law Center can help. Contact us to schedule a free consultation with our skilled Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys today.

Drinking and driving in Los Angeles can have serious consequences. This is true even if you are involved in a single car accident that involves no reported bodily injuries. Rapper Mac Miller recently learned this the hard way after he was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence.

According to reports, Miller was driving his SUV in Hollywood Hills when he lost control of the vehicle, hit a curb, and struck a utility pole. The accident caused significant damage to the area and, fearing the consequences, Miller and his two passengers fled the scene on foot. Police promptly found Miller and placed him under arrest for drunk driving.

Driving Under the Influence in Los Angeles

There are two ways you can be arrested for driving under the influence (“DUI”) in Los Angeles.

Per Se Intoxication

The first is if chemical testing shows that your blood alcohol level (“BAC”) exceeds the legal limit. For adults, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle if your BAC exceeds .08 percent. If you are driving a commercial vehicle, your BAC cannot exceed .04 percent. Drivers who haven’t yet reached the legal drinking age of 21 cannot drive if their BAC exceeds .01 percent. Chemical tests can include roadside breath tests and/or more conclusive blood tests.

Reasonable Suspicion

The second way you can be arrested for DUI is if police have reason to believe that you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In fact, you can be arrested for DUI even if your BAC does not exceed the legal limit. This type of DUI is left solely to the discretion of the arresting officer.

In order to make an arrest for this type of DUI, however, police must have probable cause to believe that it is unsafe for you to drive. Police may have cause to believe that you are under the influence if you:

  • Fail field sobriety tests
  • Have difficulty concentrating
  • Cannot communicate effectively
  • Or the vehicle smell like drugs or alcohol
  • Have slurred speech
  • Cannot keep your eyes open
  • Cannot balance or stand still
  • Have drugs and/or alcohol in plain sight in the vehicle.

Police will thoroughly document why they executed the traffic stop as well as why they believe you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The state will rely heavily on the officer’s report and testimony during your case.

Consequences of a DUI in Los Angeles

How serious is a DUI arrest in California? The answer will depend on the specific circumstances of each case. Absent any aggravating factors, most first and second DUI offenses will be charged as misdemeanors. Misdemeanor DUIs are punishable by time in jail, significant fines, probation, and the suspension of your driver’s license. The more times you’re convicted of DUI, the harsher the consequences.

  • First DUI Conviction: maximum of 6 months in jail, $1,000 in fines, and the loss of your driver’s license for 6 months
  • Second & Third DUI Conviction: maximum of 1 year in jail, $1,000 in fines, and the loss of your driver’s license for 1 year.

If DUI results in serious bodily harm or if an offender has multiple DUI convictions, the crime may be charged as a felony. In California, felony DUI is punishable by between 16 months and 3 years in prison, $25,000 in criminal fines, and the possible revocation of your driving privileges.

Defending DUI Charges in Los Angeles

Just because you’re arrested on suspicion of DUI does not mean that you’ll be charged, tried, and convicted of the crime. You have the right to defend yourself by presenting arguments on your behalf. These arguments should help to explain your behavior and/or undermine the prosecution’s case against you. Defenses that may be helpful in a Los Angeles DUI case include:

  • You were not under the influence of any drugs or alcohol
  • Police did not administer chemical test or field sobriety tests correctly
  • There is no proper chain of custody of the evidence in your case
  • Police did not have reasonable suspicion to stop your vehicle
  • You have been falsely accused
  • The results of the chemical testing are inaccurate or flawed, or
  • Your Constitutional rights were violated in some way.

If your rights were violated the state should not be allowed to benefit from its own misconduct. Your attorney can file a motion to suppress any evidence that has been tainted by the state’s unlawful actions.

Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorneys

Have you been arrested on suspicion of DUI in Los Angeles? Contact the Los Angeles Criminal Law Center to schedule a free consultation. Our skilled Los Angeles criminal lawyers will review your case, explain your rights, and devise a strategy to protect you from the consequences of your arrest. The state will start to build its case against you immediately, so it is important to call us now.

Celebrity homes in Los Angeles continue to the be the target of break-ins. Earlier this month, local police arrested a man on suspicion of burglary after he was seen entering Rihanna’s Los Angeles home. The pop star and actress was not home at the time of the breach. However, police were forced to use force to remove the intruder from her home. The state is currently investigating the incident and determining if there is sufficient evidence to charge the intruder with residential burglary.

Burglary in Los Angeles

What exactly is burglary? California law defines the crime to mean entering another person’s property with the intent to commit a theft or felony. Burglary is classified as “residential burglary” or “first-degree burglary” when the property is another person’s home or residence. Burglary is classified as “commercial burglary” or “second-degree burglary” when the target property is not a home or residence.

Does Burglary Have to Occur at Night?

The man suspected of burglarizing Rihanna’s home was arrested around 10 o’clock in the morning. Doesn’t the crime of burglary have to occur at night? Contrary to popular belief, there is no requirement that a burglary take place at night. While this may have been true years ago under the common law definition of the crime, burglary can occur at any time of the day.

How Do Police Prove Entry With Intent to Commit a Crime?

In order to be guilty of burglary, you must enter another person’s property with the intent to commit a felony or theft. If you enter property and then subsequently develop the desire or intent to commit a crime, you would not be guilty of burglary. (You would, however, likely be guilty of another crime if you followed through with your plan.)

How do police prove that this intent existed when you entered a house or property? The answer will depend on each specific case. However, the state will generally search for various pieces of evidence to support the argument that you were equipped with intent to commit a crime before entering property. This may include:

  • Possession of tools commonly used in breaking and entering
  • Possession of items belonging to the property owner
  • Evidence showing that you surveilled the home and/or owner to determine when the property would be empty, and/or
  • Prior arrests and/or convictions for similar crimes.

One piece of evidence may not be sufficient to satisfy the state’s burden of proof in a criminal case. Multiple pieces of evidence considered together, however, may be more persuasive.

Consequences of Burglary in Los Angeles

Burglary is a serious crime in Los Angeles, and a conviction can have devastating consequences for your future.

Residential Burglary: Residential, or first-degree, burglary is always a felony in California. A conviction is punishable by:

  • 2, 4, or 6 years in a California state prison
  • $10,000 in criminal fines
  • Formal probation
  • Counseling
  • Restitution, and/or
  • Community service.

Commercial Burglary: Commercial, or second-degree, burglary can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony in California. The specific charge will often depend on the factors of the crime itself, whether any victims were harmed because of your actions, as well as your criminal record.

When charged as a misdemeanor, commercial burglary is punishable by 1 year in a Los Angeles jail and/or $1,000 in fines. When charged as a felony, commercial burglary is punishable by a maximum of 3 years in prison and/or $10,000 in fines.

Defending Burglary Charges in Los Angeles

An arrest does not automatically mean that a person will be charged, tried, and convicted of a crime. The best way to protect yourself from the consequences of an arrest is by asserting a strong defense. The state has to prove that you are guilty of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Any arguments you present in your defense will help to cast doubt on that guilt and limit the consequences of your arrest.

Arguments that may be helpful in defending yourself from charges of burglary include:

  • False accusation
  • Mistaken identity
  • You did not enter with the intent to commit a crime
  • You mistakenly entered property unlawfully, and/or
  • You thought you had consent to enter the property.

If evidence was gathered in violation of your Constitutional rights, you can also seek to have any tainted evidence suppressed. Without evidence to support its case, the state may be forced to offer a plea or drop the charges.

Arrested for Burglary? Contact the Los Angeles Criminal Law Center for Help

When you are facing criminal charges in Los Angeles you need the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. At the Los Angeles Criminal Law Center, our attorneys are prepared to help you defend your future. Call us today to schedule a free consultation with our legal team. We will review your case, explain your rights, and answer the questions you have.