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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.

Pomona Teen Arrested for Making Criminal Threats on Social Media

A 15-year-old Pomona teen has been arrested and is facing criminal charges for making criminal threats with a weapon. Reports indicate that the teen filmed himself holding a weapon and threatening the safety of another student at his high school. The video was uploaded onto a popular social media site for the intended victim and others to see. Police were notified of the video and promptly visited the threat-making teen at his home. A handgun was discovered in the home and the boy was arrested on suspicion of making criminal threats.

Criminal Threats

While we generally have the right to speak our minds and communicate our feelings, we do not have the right to threaten others. It is a crime to make criminal threats in California. Criminal threats are defined in Penal Code 422 PC to mean specific threats to kill or physically harm another person that put victims in a reasonable fear for their safety. Criminal threats can be communicated electronically, verbally, or in writing.

Elements of a Criminal Threat

In order to be convicted of making criminal threats the state must be able to prove each element of the crime. The elements that are required to make a criminal threat include:

  1. You willfully threatened to kill or injure another person.
  2. You made the threat orally, in writing, or electronically.
  3. You intended that the statement be understood and comprehended as a threat.
  4. The threat you made was clear, immediate, unconditional, and specific.
  5. The threat caused the victim to suffer a reasonable fear for his/her safety, or the safety of his/her loved ones.

Threats Can Be Empty

You don’t have to follow through on a criminal threat for it to be a crime. It is enough to issue a threat that puts a victim in a reasonable state of fear for his/her imminent safety. Whether or not fear is reasonable is a question of fact that will depend on the specific circumstances of each case. Factors that may be relevant in determining if fear is reasonable include:

  • The existing relationship between the parties,
  • The actual substance of the threat itself,
  • The proximity of the parties, and
  • The criminal history of the defendant making the threat.

Consequences of Making a Criminal Threat

Making a criminal threat can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony in California. The exact nature of the charge will depend on the substance of the threat and the defendant’s criminal history. If you make multiple threats you will face individual charges for each of those threats.

When charged as a misdemeanor, making a criminal threat is punishable by one year in a Los Angeles County jail and/or $1,000 in criminal fines.

When charged as a felony, making a criminal threat is punishable by up to three years in a California state prison and/or $10,000 in criminal fines.

Making a criminal threat, when charged as a felony, is considered to be a strike offense and a crime involving moral turpitude. This means that the consequences of a conviction will likely result in harsher criminal (and noncriminal) penalties. You may face additional jail time, adverse immigration consequences, and the loss of certain professional rights.

Fighting Criminal Threat Charges in Los Angeles

If you have been accused of making criminal threats in Los Angeles do not hesitate to speak with an attorney. You have the right to assert a defense. Hiring an attorney to handle this defense will increase the odds of beating these charges. A persuasive defense will limit the state’s ability to build a case against you. This will force prosecutors to the negotiating table. There, your attorney can leverage your arguments to secure favorable plea bargains or a dismissal of the charges.

Call the Los Angeles Criminal Law Center to request a free consultation and find out how we can help you fight the criminal charges you face. We offer a free consultation to prospective clients, so do not hesitate to call us today.

A drive-by shooting may have caused a Los Angeles man to permanently lose vision in one of his eyes. The drive-by was untraditional and likely a juvenile prank carried out by three young men. The three men reportedly drove around Torrance and fired paintballs at pedestrians from the car. Police responded to reports of the incident and tracked down the drive-by vehicle. The three men, who were found in the possession of a paintball gun and several paintball pellets, were arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon.

Almost Anything Can Be a Deadly Weapon

When we think of deadly weapons we tend to imagine the traditional handgun or a knife. However, a deadly weapon is broadly defined to include any object, instrument, or weapon that has the capability and likelihood to cause death or injury. Over the years, people have gotten creative in their choice of weapon in attacks. Corkscrews, X-Box gaming consoles, musical instruments, prosthetic limbs, and high heels are a few examples of seemingly innocuous items that have been used as weapons. Courts have held that items that are not deadly per se can be classified as “deadly” if they are used in a manner that is likely to cause serious harm. When deciding if an item should be classified as a deadly weapon for the purposes of the law, courts will consider:

  1. The manner in which the item is used,
  2. The nature of the object, and
  3. Any other relevant facts and circumstances.

Creating such a broad definition allows the law to keep up with changes in technology. Years ago, when the law was being written and the term for “deadly weapon” was being defined, lawmakers probably didn’t envision people running around and hurting others with paintball guns, screwdrivers, and gaming consoles. However, the vague definition and broad scope applied by the courts allow the law to apply to almost anything. As long as an item is used in a way that can (and is likely to) produce harm, that item will probably be considered a deadly weapon.

Assault With a Deadly Weapon

Assault with a deadly weapon, as defined in Penal Code Section 245 PC, occurs when:

  1. A person willfully performs an act,
  2. With a deadly weapon,
  3. That by its nature would directly and probably result in the application of force to a person.

In simpler terms, assault with a deadly weapon occurs when you engage in behavior with a deadly weapon that is likely to hurt another person. It is not necessary to actually harm another person. The fact that your behavior was likely to cause harm is sufficient.

The three young men discussed above have been charged with assault with a deadly weapon because:

  1. They drove a vehicle and intentionally fired paintball pellets at unsuspecting pedestrians,
  2. They used a paintball gun to commit the act, and
  3. Firing a paintball gun at unprotected and unsuspecting people is likely to cause harm.

Consequences of a Conviction

Criminal Consequences

In California, assault with a deadly weapon can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. The charges will depend on the following factors:

  • The type of deadly weapon that was used in the attack,
  • Whether any victims were harmed in the attack,
  • The seriousness of the injuries sustained by the victims,
  • Whether the victims were members of a protected class (e.g., police, law enforcement, disabled, elderly), and
  • If you have a criminal record.

A misdemeanor conviction for assault with a deadly weapon carries a maximum criminal penalty of one year in a Los Angeles County jail and $1,000 in fines. A felony conviction for assault with a deadly weapon is punishable by two, three, or four years in prison and $10,000 in fines.

The three young men will likely face felony charges since at least one of their victims has suffered an incredibly serious injury.

Collateral Consequences

Driving around town with a paintball gun in hand was probably the result of youthful indiscretion. The three young men may have thought that their actions were harmless and that they were just out having a good time. This good time could ruin their futures. If they are convicted they will have to adjust to life with a criminal record. Having a criminal record will expose them to harsh social and civil penalties in life. These penalties, which are known as collateral consequences, can include:

  • Inability to get a job in certain fields, including healthcare and education,
  • DIfficulty finding any employment, at all,
  • Difficulty renting or buying a home,
  • Loss of gun ownership rights,
  • Revocation of professional licenses,
  • Adverse decisions in child custody and/or visitation matters, and
  • Inability to participate in government welfare programs.

Fighting Criminal Charges in Los Angeles

Poor choices can change a life forever. The best thing these three young men (and anyone else charged with a crime) can do is speak with an attorney. Criminal matters are incredibly serious and can have life-altering consequences. Hiring an attorney to handle the matter will increase the odds of securing the best possible outcome. If you are facing criminal charges in Los Angeles do not hesitate to call the Los Angeles Criminal Law Center for help.

Man Arrested for Attempted Murder of Los Angeles Deputy

A 21-year-old Los Angeles man has been arrested for stabbing a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy. According to reports, Donald Chinchilla approached the deputy in the parking lot of a Canyon Country restaurant and asked if he was, in fact, a deputy. When he acknowledged that he was, Chinchilla stabbed him with a large kitchen knife and then fled the scene. He was found in a nearby backyard later that day and immediately arrested for the attempted murder of the deputy.

Attempted Murder

Just because an attempt to kill another person is unsuccessful doesn’t mean that a person will escape criminal charges. In California, it is a crime to attempt to commit a crime. This includes acts of homicide. When is conduct considered an attempt to commit a crime? California law says that an attempt to commit a crime occurs when you:

  1. Intend to commit a specific crime, and
  2. Perform a direct but ineffective step to commit that crime.

In order to be convicted of attempted murder, a person must (1) have the specific intent to kill another person and (2) take some direct action to commit the crime.

What is a Direct Step?

What kind of behavior will be considered to be a direct step for the purposes of attempted murder? In California, a direct step requires something more than planning. Direct steps are those taken after the planning and preparation have been completed. Courts have described direct steps as “putting [a] plan into action,” an “immediate step that puts the plan in motion,” and those which “indicate a definite and unambiguous intent to kill.”

Taking a large kitchen knife and willfully thrusting it into the torso of another person will likely be classified as a direct step. As long as Chinchilla also had an intent to kill the deputy he will likely be found guilty of attempted murder.

Abandoning the Intent to Kill

What happens when your attempt to kill another person is unsuccessful, and you later decide not to follow through on your original plan? You will still face criminal charges for attempted murder despite your change of heart. The fact that you did take a direct step in an effort to kill another person is enough to warrant criminal charges. However, it is important to know that if you simply prepare and plan to kill another person, but never take a direct step toward committing the crime, you cannot be charged with attempted murder. The fact that you abandoned your intent to kill before you took any steps will limit your criminal liability.

Attempt to Kill a Peace Officer

Crimes can become more serious when the victims are in certain protected classes. Children, the elderly, and the disabled are great examples. When a person commits a crime where the victim is a member of one of these protected classes the consequences become more severe. The same is true when a crime is knowingly committed against a peace officer. Not all crimes are aggravated when the victim is a cop. In order to warrant aggravated charges, the perpetrator of the crime must:

  • Know that their victim is a peace officer engaged in his or her official capacity; or
  • Specifically target that victim because they are a peace officer.

Will Chinchilla face aggravated penalties because the victim of his crime was a sheriff’s deputy? Early reports do not indicate whether or not the sheriff’s deputy was on duty at the time of the stabbing. However, it is clear that Chinchilla specifically asked his victim if he was a sheriff’s deputy. Immediately after his suspicion was confirmed Chinchilla drove a large knife into the victim’s body. If prosecutors can prove that Chinchilla targeted the deputy because of his position as a law enforcement officer Chinchilla will likely face additional time in prison.

Penalties for Attempted Murder

In most situations, the penalty for unsuccessfully attempting to commit a crime is half of whatever the punishment is for the intended crime. When the crime is attempted murder, however, the penalties are a bit more severe. The following penalties will apply when a person attempts to commit a specific type of murder in California:

Attempted Premeditated Murder: A willful, deliberate, or premeditated attempt to commit murder is punishable by life in prison with the possibility of parole.

Attempted Acts of Murder Punishable By Life In Prison: An attempt to commit murder, where that murder would be punishable by life in prison or death, is punishable by up to nine years in a California state prison.

Attempted Murder of a Peace Officer: Any attempt to purposefully kill a person who you know (or should know) is a peace officer is punishable by life in prison with the possibility of parole.

Fighting Attempted Murder Charges

When faced with criminal charges it is important to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Hiring an attorney will significantly increase your chances of securing the best possible outcome in your case. Contact the Los Angeles Criminal Law Center to schedule a free consultation with one of our skilled attorneys. We will review your case, determine the best defense(s) for your specific situation, and explain your legal rights.