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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.

You don’t normally equate shoving with attempted murder. However, that’s precisely why one Los Angeles man may face serious criminal charges. According to reports, the man was sitting on a bench when he stood up and randomly pushed another man into the street in front of oncoming traffic. The victim fell under the wheels of a large truck and sustained critical injuries, including a collapsed lung and broken bones.

The suspect picked up what appeared to be the victim’s watch and fled the scene. Police officers were able to locate the man approximately one hour after the shoving incident. He was arrested and may be charged with attempted murder.

What is Attempted Murder?

In California, it’s not just a crime to commit a crime successfully. It can also be a crime to attempt to do something that’s against the law. For most crimes, the state simply has to prove that you intentionally took a “direct but ineffective” step toward committing a particular offense. Things get a bit more complicated when the attempted crime is murder.

Penal Code 664/167 PC

Attempted murder is governed by two sections of the California Penal Code: 664 PC (attempt) and 187 PC (murder). When you’re accused of attempted murder, the state must prove:

  • You took a direct but ineffective step toward killing another person, and
  • You had the specific intent to kill that person.

Direct Step: A direct step involves more than a plan to commit a murder. You can’t be charged with attempt if all you’ve done is prepare, obtain materials, or make arrangements to carry out your plan. Instead, a direct step is an immediate step that puts your plan into action. A direct step will “indicate a direct and unambiguous intent to kill.”

Specific Intent to Kill: It’s not enough to take a direct step to put your plan in motion. You must also have the specific intent to end another person’s life. You cannot be guilty of attempted murder if you only intended to cause serious bodily injury or disfigurement.

Can You Be Guilty of Attempted Murder if You Abandon Your Plan?

It depends. If you haven’t taken a direct step in carrying out your plan, the answer is no. However, you can be convicted for attempted murder if, after taking a direct step, you changed your mind and abandoned the plan. The direct step, when paired with specific intent to kill, is enough to satisfy the elements of the crime.

Penalties for Attempted Murder

Attempted murder is a felony in California. The penalties will ultimately depend on whether you’re charged with attempted first-degree murder or attempted second-degree murder.

Attempted First-Degree Murder: First-degree murder requires a willful, deliberate, or premeditated attempt to kill someone. The maximum penalty for attempted first-degree murder is life in prison without parole.

Attempted Second-Degree Murder: Second-degree murder does not involve actions that are deliberate or premeditated. The maximum penalty for attempted second-degree murder is 9 years in a California state prison.

How Can I Defend Myself If I’ve Been Accused of Attempted Murder?

Attempted murder is a complicated crime. It can be tough for the state to prove everything it needs to get a conviction. Remember, the state has to prove that you (a) took a direct step toward committing the crime and (b) you had the specific intent to end another person’s life.

You can make the state’s job even more difficult by asserting a strong defense. The arguments you use in your defense should explain, excuse, or justify your alleged behavior.

Defenses to attempted murder include:

  • You didn’t take a direct step to put your plan in motion
  • You intended to injure, but not kill, another person
  • Your actions were not deliberate or intentional, and
  • You have been falsely accused or mistakenly identified.

It’s also possible to raise any issues that may affect the legality of the evidence in your case. If your rights have been violated, the state cannot be allowed to benefit from its unlawful actions. Your attorney can file a motion to suppress any evidence that’s been gathered in violation of your Constitutional rights. Without evidence, the state may not be able to satisfy its burden of proof.

 

Have you been accused of attempted murder? Contact our experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys for immediate assistance. We’ll review your case and help you understand your legal rights. A strong defense can make a huge difference. Our attorneys are prepared to help you fight for your future. Call today to learn more.

LA Special Victims Detective Suspected of Raping Young Victim

A Sheriff’s detective with the Las Angeles Special Victims Bureau was recently arrested on suspicion of rape. According to reports, the detective was assigned to investigate a 2014 sexual assault involving a 14-year-old girl in Ventura County. However, rather than investigating the case, the detective allegedly forced the young girl to have sex with him. After the sexual assault, he reportedly took steps to suppress testimony that may have been offered by the victim or witnesses. The detective has been suspended from his job with pay and is currently being held in a Los Angeles County jail on bail of $2 million.

What are the Penalties For Forcible Rape of a Minor?

The Los Angeles Sheriff’s detective has been arrested for the forcible rape of a 14-year-old girl. Rape, as defined in Penal Code 261 PC, is the crime of forcing another person to have sex without his or her consent or knowledge. The crime of rape is always a felony offense in California. Minimum penalties, for crimes without aggravating factors, can include three, six, or eight years in a California state prison. There are very limited situations in which the penalty for rape can be reduced to one year of felony probation. However, these situations do not involve young victims who cannot consent to the act.

The penalties for the crime of rape are enhanced when the victim is a minor.

Under the Age of 18: Penalties enhanced to seven, nine, or eleven years in a Calfornia state prison.

Under the Age of 14: Penalties enhanced to nine, eleven, or thirteen years in prison.

Anyone convicted of the crime of rape will also be required to register with the state as a tier-three sex offender. Tier-three offenders must maintain their status on the sex offender registry for life.

Could the Detective Face Other Criminal Charges?

Yes. In addition to those for rape, the detective could also face charges for lewd or lascivious acts with a child. He’s more likely to face these additional charges because his alleged victim was only 14 at the time of the sexual assault.

Lewd acts with a minor child, as defined in Penal Code 288 PC, is the crime of touching the body of a child for sexual gratification. The penalties for this crime depend on the age of the child and/or the age difference between the child and the perpetrator. This would be a lesser-included offense of the felony rape charge. If the crime involved a 14-year-old victim, the penalty could include either (a) one, two, or three years in a California state prison or (b) up to one year in county jail. Lewd acts that inflict bodily harm are punishable by life in prison.

What is Witness Tampering?

In addition to rape, the detective is accused of witness tampering. Witness tampering, as defined in Penal Code 136.1 PC, is the crime of knowingly and maliciously attempting to dissuade a victim or witness from either:

  • Reporting a crime
  • Aiding an arrest
  • Aiding in the prosecution of a crime, or
  • Testifying in a criminal proceeding.

Simply put, witness tampering involves any behavior that’s intended to dissuade or prevent someone from aiding in a criminal case.

Witness tampering can be a misdemeanor or a felony. The detective likely used his status as a peace officer to intimidate his victim or a witness. This could be considered the use of force or fear. When the crime is committed using force or fear, it will be charged as a felony. Penalties for felony witness tampering can include up to four years in a California state prison and $25,000 in fines.

The detective is convicted for both rape and witness tampering, the penalties for the crimes could be imposed concurrently (at the same time) or consecutively (one after another).

 

Have you been arrested in Los Angeles? You have the right to defend yourself. Hiring an attorney will help to ensure that your rights are protected. Contact the experienced criminal defense team at the Los Angeles Criminal Law Center. We’ll review your case and help you fight to protect your future.

In 2010, Daniel Wozniak shot and killed two people. According to reports, he committed the murders because he was feeling significant financial pressure because of his upcoming wedding. He was arrested at his bachelor party days after the bodies were discovered. Earlier this month, Wozniak’s former fiance was convicted for her role in the crime. A jury found that Rachel Buffett, Wozniak’s fiance at the time of the murders, had been an accessory to the crime after the fact for “lying to police” and helping him “try and get away with his crimes.”

What is an Accessory After the Fact?

It’s illegal to help another person commit a crime. It’s also unlawful to help another person try to get away with a crime. If you do anything that is intended to help another person escape responsibility for a criminal act that’s already been committed, you can be considered an accessory after the fact.

You’ll be considered an accessory after the fact under Penal Code 32 PC if you “harbor, conceal, or aid” a principal in a felony after it has been committed if you have the intent to help that person “avoid or escape from arrest, trial, conviction, or punishment.”

What Does the State Have to Prove?

Remember, you can only be convicted of a crime if the state can prove that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Prosecutors can only do this if they establish each element of the crime. When you are accused of being an accessory after the fact, the state must prove:

  1. Someone committed a felony;
  2. You knew that the person had committed the felony, or had been charged with or convicted of a felony;
  3. You harbored, concealed, or aided that person after the felony had been committed; and
  4. You intended to help the person evade arrest, trial, conviction, or punishment.

In other words, you had to have intentionally offered assistance to help someone avoid the consequences of a felony offense.

Examples of Accessory After the Fact

You may be considered an accessory after the fact in violation of Penal Code 32 if you:

  • Intentionally mislead or lie to police
  • Offer a false alibi
  • Help another person hide evidence related to a felony
  • Destroy evidence related to a crime, or
  • Allowing a person to hide in your home after a crime.

If you know that someone has committed a felony or been charged with a felony, it is a crime to offer any assistance that would help them escape the consequences.

Is Being an Accessory After the Fact a Felony?

Accessory after the fact, as defined in Penal Code 32 PC, can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony in Los Angeles. The charges you’ll face will depend on an analysis of several factors, which may include:

  • Your criminal record
  • The aid you offered to the perpetrator
  • The underlying felony offense, and
  • Any harm caused by your actions.

Misdemeanor Accessory After the Fact: As a misdemeanor, accessory after the fact is punishable by 12 months in a Los Angeles County jail and/or $5,000 in fines.

Felony Accessory After the Fact: As a felony, accessory after the fact is punishable by up to 3 years in a California state prison and $5,000 in fines.

How Can I Defend Myself If I’ve Been Accused of Being an Accessory After the Fact?

You have the right to defend yourself when you’re accused of a crime in Los Angeles. The best defenses will make it tough for the state to build a case against you. When you are charged with being an accessory after the fact, the following defenses may be helpful:

  1. You didn’t know the perpetrator had committed a felony
  2. You didn’t know the perpetrator had been charged with or convicted of a felony
  3. The perpetrator didn’t commit a felony
  4. You did not conceal, harbor, or aid the perpetrator
  5. You did not intend to help the perpetrator avoid arrest, trial, or penalties
  6. You were forced to provide assistance, or
  7. You have been falsely accused.

Did the state gather evidence in violation of your rights? Were you the victim of an illegal search, seizure, or arrest? You can also demand to have any evidence tainted by illegal state action excluded from your case. If prosecutors don’t have direct evidence of your crime they may be forced to drop the charges or offer a plea. If you need a criminal defense attorney, see the top 7 questions you need to ask when hiring a criminal lawyer.

 

If you’ve been arrested for a crime in Los Angeles it’s important to ask for help. Hiring an attorney will help you secure the best outcome in your criminal case. Contact the Los Angeles Criminal Law Center to learn more.