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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 you need to know if you were charged with drug trafficking

Drug trafficking charges are serious business and depending on the type of drug and the amount in possession, and whether you are being charged and prosecuted at the federal level or state level, they can carry stiff penalties including significant jail time. 

If you have been charged with drug trafficking there is a lot of information you need to know in order to put up the best defense and determine what the next steps are in your case. It almost goes without saying that the first step is hiring a qualified criminal defense lawyer who understands the complexities of federal and state drug trafficking laws. That way, you’re set up to minimize your sentence or, better yet, work toward getting the charges against you dropped.

To help you begin to navigate this complex topic, here is what you need to know if you have been charged with drug trafficking.

Definition of Drug Trafficking

For starters, it is helpful to have a simple definition of drug trafficking. One workable definition is that drug trafficking is the “selling, transporting or importing [of] illegal drugs.” It should also be noted that the term drug distribution is interchangeable with drug trafficking. However, drug trafficking is different and carries heavier fines and penalties than drug possession.

Federal Drug Trafficking Laws

Drug trafficking is a federal offense, meaning no matter what state you are in you can be arrested and prosecuted for drug trafficking. It is also worth mentioning that under federal law, drug trafficking is a felony and may be subject to mandatory minimums (prison sentences that are required by law to be at least a certain length of time).

Penalties vary depending on the drug and the quantity of the drug. For example, a person found with one kilogram of heroin would be subject to a prison sentence of ten years.

State Drug Trafficking Laws

As you might expect, drug trafficking laws vary from state to state. By way of example, a look at Arizona’s drug trafficking laws can shed light on some of the valuable information you might want to know if you have been charged with this serious drug crime 

Because Arizona shares a border with Mexico, drug trafficking charges can be a common offense. However, you do not need to cross the border in the possession of drugs in order to be arrested and prosecuted for drug trafficking. As we’ll see in a minute, Arizona has what are known as threshold amounts, which mean that if you have more than a certain amount of a particular drug you could be charged with drug trafficking.

Drug trafficking in Arizona ranges from a class 6 to a class 2 felony depending on the drug and quantity found in position. For example, the selling or distribution of heroin is a class 3 felony and can be punishable by up to more than twelve years in prison if you were dealing to minors.

Threshold Amounts

According to Arizona law, if a person has more than a specific amount of a particular drug in their possession, they can be charged with drug trafficking. The schedule for the threshold amounts of various drugs is as follows:

  • nine grams of cocaine
  • nine grams of methamphetamine
  • one gram of heroin
  • two pounds of marijuana

While it is still illegal to have any amount of these drugs in your possession in Arizona, if you have less than the above amounts you can argue that you were merely in possession of them and thus face lesser charges. However, if you have the above amounts or more, under state law you would automatically be charged with drug trafficking.

Defenses for Drug Trafficking

If you have in your possession the above amounts or more of an illegal narcotic, possession and personal use are not an acceptable defense.

There are, however, several defenses that can be used in a drug trafficking case. If you have been charged with drug trafficking and can prove that you were under duress when you imported, transported, or sold the drugs, you can claim duress as your defense. Other viable defenses include lack of knowledge, illegal search and seizure by law enforcement, and lack of probable cause.

Hiring a Criminal Defense Lawyer

Even if you think you can handle your defense yourself because you believe you were under duress or didn’t know you were in possession of an illegal narcotic, it is best to hire a qualified criminal defense attorney to help you with your case. A good drug trafficking lawyer in Phoenix will be able to review your case and determine which defense suits your situation best. They will also know how to make sure your sentence is minimized or the charges are thrown out altogether. 

George Floyd’s death has sparked a movement toward changing the way police interact with potential suspects. From protests to legislative halls, states and communities have emerged to take up this moment and mark it down in our history books. What started out as a series of protests has morphed into the Black Lives Matter movement. 

California lawmakers have drafted a series of 11 legislative bills enacting police reform. California legislators have until August 31 to approve these bills before sending them to Governor Gavin Newsom.

Limitations on Types of Contact and Force

Chief among the types of limitations is a prohibition on using chokeholds. If approved, AB1196 would ban police from using carotid restraints, chokeholds or similar techniques when making an arrest, preventing an escape or overcoming resistance from a potential suspect. It would prevent any mode of transportation that involves a substantial risk of asphyxia.

AB66 would prevent the use of teargas and pepper spray on crowds and other types of “non lethal” types of projectiles. This would ban rubber bullets, which have caused skull fractures in some recent protests, and bean bag projectiles. A bean bag round is a type of baton round, fired from a shotgun. A bean bag round can cause severe injuries or death.

Police Officer Duty to Intercede

AB1022 would create a duty on the part of other officers at the scene to intercede when they witness the use of excessive force. It would also mandate police to immediately report the use of excessive force to their superior.

The bill also creates a mechanism for ending a police officer’s career when that officer uses excessive force. Finally, if an officer fails to intercede, the bill allows that officer to be charged as an accessory.

Journalists: the Right to Investigate

In the face of recent violence used by police against journalists, California legislators have drafted SB629 . The bill prohibits police interference with journalists’ right to investigate. The bill allows journalists access to areas closed to the general public and prohibits police officers from assaulting, obstructing or interfering with a journalist.

 Victim’s Rights and Compensation

AB767 would remove obstacles and hurdles currently in place that prevent victims of police violence and their families from collecting restitution and help with medical bills and funeral expenses. The bill would expand the types of crimes that would allow victims compensation.

Current law limits the types of crime eligible for compensation. The bill would also allow the consideration of evidence beyond the police report. This would remove a significant barrier to compensation.

Police Records, Decertification of Officers, and Sheriff Oversight

A trio of bills would change how police are treated after engaging in excessive violence. SB776 would continue to expand public access to police disciplinary and misconduct records. 

SB 731 would revoke officer certification once an officer is fired for misconduct or convicted of certain crimes. This would make it harder for an officer to be hired as an officer elsewhere.

AB1185 would allow county supervisors to name inspectors general to oversee elected county sheriffs.

Other Bills

Three other reform bills await legislative approval. SB205 prohibits juveniles 17 years old or younger from being interrogated or waiving their rights before speaking with an attorney. Currently, that age restriction pertains to juveniles 15 years or younger. This would protect the rights of a greater number of younger suspects.

SB480 would prohibit police from wearing military style uniforms. This is in response to the recent events in Portland that frightened so many protestors.

Finally, AB1506, one of the most important of the proposed legislative actions, would allow a state prosecutor to investigate an officer-involved shooting or other use of force that kills an unarmed civilian if requested to do so. That body would also have the ability to prosecute officers in violation of the law.

The Nation Watches With Interest

The eyes of many have turned toward California to see the outcome of these proposed bills of police reform. As the nation takes a collective breath and ponders its next move toward racial and social justice, the clock is ticking to see if emotional determination will be channeled into viable police reform.

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.