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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.

Brothers Killed in Highland Park Hit and Run

Two men in their early 20s were recently killed in a Highland Park hit and run accident. According to reports, a truck plowed into another vehicle a little after 1 a.m. Sunday morning. The driver of the truck fled the scene.

Police are still searching for the hit-and-run driver. When he is located, he will face felony hit and run charges for his role in causing the deaths of the two young men.

Hit and Runs Are Illegal in Los Angeles

It illegal to hit another vehicle, person, or property and knowingly flee the scene of the accident. This is known as a hit-and-run. If you are involved in an accident, you can’t leave the scene. You have an obligation to assist anyone who may be hurt. You must also notify the police if there are any injuries.

In California, a hit-and-run can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. The charge will ultimately depend on (1) the extent of damage caused by the accident and (2) whether anyone is injured or killed.

Here, the truck driver struck another vehicle and immediately hightailed it out of town. Since the two men died in the accident, he will face felony hit-and-run charges when he is located by the police.

Prosecutors can get a conviction for a felony hit-and-run, as defined in California Vehicle Code 20001 VC, if they can prove:

  • The driver was involved in a car accident
  • The driver knew or should have known that someone else was injured or killed in the crash, and
  • The driver fled the scene and did not provide assistance, as required by law.

The state can rely on both direct and circumstantial evidence to support their criminal case.

Hit and Run Drivers May Face Additional Charges

drivers who are involved in a fatal hit-and-run accident may not just be charged with a hit-and-run. The state may also choose to file charges for gross vehicular manslaughter.

Gross vehicular manslaughter, as defined in Penal Code 192 PC, occurs when a driver commits an infraction or misdemeanor behind the wheel while driving with gross negligence. A driver might be charged with gross vehicular manslaughter if they were speeding, texting, or engaged in another unlawful act behind the wheel.

Fatal Hit and Runs Carry Severe Penalties

Absent any aggravating factors, a felony hit-and-run conviction can be punished by anywhere between 24 and 48 months in a California State prison. Defendants may also be responsible for paying criminal fines and completing court-imposed terms of felony probation.

It’s a driver is convicted of both felony hit-and-run and vehicular manslaughter, at least five years will be tacked onto the manslaughter sentence. on its own, grocery hit you or manslaughter is punishable by up to six years in prison and $10,000 in fines.

In addition to criminal charges, the driver may also be sued by the families of the two young men who were killed in the crash. California law allows family members to file wrongful-death lawsuits to recover compensation for their personal losses after a fatal accident. Criminal and civil cases are separate and distinct, so even if the driver avoids criminal charges, he may be required to pay those families a significant amount of money.

Hesperia Parents Arrested for Child Neglect, Endangerment

An Oak Hills High School student revealed that she and her siblings had been abused and neglected by their parents. An investigation revealed that the child, ages 10 to 14, were the victims of neglect and abuse.

The parents reportedly spent time producing rock cocaine at the family home, rather than concentrating on taking care of their children. The kids were routinely left home alone to fend for themselves while the parents traveled to Los Angeles to sell drugs.

A search of the family home uncovered rock cocaine, packing equipment, and scales, all of which indicate the sale of the controlled substance. Police also discovered that the family home lacked adequate food and hygiene supplies for the children. Warrants were issued for the parents’ arrest.

Police located and arrested the parents in Los Angeles outside of their children’s school. They were in possession of rock cocaine and cash at the time of the arrest. They face criminal charges for child endangerment and child neglect.

What is Child Endangerment?

Parents have to make sure that their kids aren’t put in situations that are potentially dangerous or harmful. Actions that endanger a child are considered acts of child abuse.

Child endangerment is defined in California Penal Code 273a PC. Parents are guilty of endangerment if they willfully cause or permit:

  1. A child to suffer unjustifiable pain or suffering under conditions likely to cause great bodily harm or death;
  2. The person or health of a child to be injured while having custody or care of that child; or
  3. The child to be placed in a situation where his or her person or health is endangered.

In other words, any parent or caretaker who allows a child to be put in a position that could reasonably cause them physical or mental harm can be guilty of child endangerment.

Child Neglect Under California Law

Parents in California also have an obligation to take care of their kids. This includes protecting their children and providing them with the things they need to be safe, happy, and healthy. Failing to provide for a child is considered neglect. Under California law, neglect is a form of child abuse.

Child neglect is defined in California Penal Code 270 PC. A parent or caretaker can be guilty of child neglect if they “willfully omit, without lawful excuse, to furnish necessary clothing, food, shelter…or medical care for [their] child.”

The Hesperia parents have been accused of failing to provide their children with food and a hygienic place to live. Under California law, this can be considered neglect.

Examples of Child Neglect and Child Endangerment

Child neglect and endangerment can take many shapes and forms. Examples of child neglect can include:

  • Failing to provide adequate food, water, or shelter for a child
  • Allowing a child to live in filth
  • Knowingly permitting a child to spend time with an abusive person
  • Employing unnecessarily cruel or unusual punishments
  • Chastizing, berating, or degrading a child verbally
  • Leaving a child alone for extended periods of time, and
  • Engaging in dangerous activities in a child’s home or with a child nearby.

Child endangerment can include almost any behavior that puts a child’s physical, emotional, or mental well being in danger.

Penalties for Child Neglect and Endangerment

Child neglect and child endangerment are both wobblers in California. This simply means that both crimes can be charged as misdemeanors or felonies. The charge will ultimately depend on the facts of each specific case.

Child Neglect

Child neglect is usually charged as a misdemeanor in California. Penalties for misdemeanor child neglect can include up to 12 months in a Los Angeles County jail, $2,000 in fines, and/or probation. Probation is commonly used to punish a parent for first-time offenses.

There are situations when a parent can be charged with felony child neglect. This may happen if a parent is repeatedly arrested for neglect or if they intentionally refuse to provide for their child. Penalties for felony child neglect can include 12 months plus one day in a California state prison and $2,000 in fines.

Child Endangerment

Child endangerment is charged as a misdemeanor unless there is evidence to show that a parent acted under circumstances likely to cause great bodily harm or death.

As a misdemeanor, child endangerment is punishable by 12 months in a Los Angeles County Jail, $1,000 in fines, and/or probation.

As a felony, child endangerment is punishable by up to 6 years in a California state prison and $10,000 in fines.

The parents in this particular case will also face criminal drug charges for the possession and sale of rock cocaine. Penalties imposed for drug convictions will be imposed in addition to those for child endangerment and abuse. As a result, the parents could face several years behind bars and lose their children in the process.

The parents should immediately seek the assistance of an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney. Hiring a lawyer will put them in the best position to secure the best possible outcome in their respective criminal cases.

A Burbank birthday celebration took an unexpected turn when a guest was shot and killed. According to reports, 21-year-old Christian Guevara got into a dispute with two men on the front lawn of a Burbank home around 2:30 in the morning. One of the men fired a gun during the struggle and shot Guevara in the stomach. Party guests did not call 911 but did transport him to a local hospital. He was transferred to a trauma center but ultimately died from the gunshot wound.

Two men, Robert Stout and Jose Valdivieso, both 19, were arrested in connection with the murder. Police claim that Stout confessed to pulling the trigger and killing Guevara. Valdivieso is believed to have been an accessory to the murder.

Murder vs. Accessory to Murder

How can two people be arrested for murder if only one person pulled the trigger? Both men may not be charged with murder. Instead, one will face murder charges, while the other will face charges for being an accessory to the murder.

Murder

Murder, as defined in Penal Code 187 PC, is the “unlawful killing of another person with malice aforethought.” Malice aforethought doesn’t mean that a murder has to be planned. Rather, it’s a state of mind that a defendant must have to be guilty of the crime.

There are two types of malice aforethought: express and implied. Express malice means that the defendant “unlawfully intended to kill” the other person. Implied malice means that the defendant intentionally committed an act that was dangerous while knowing that the consequences could be deadly.

Murder charges are broken down into two different categories: first and second degree.

First-degree murder is one of the most serious crimes a person can commit. A defendant can be charged with first-degree murder if the act is:

  • Willful, deliberate, and premeditated
  • A result of torture
  • Committed after lying in wait, or
  • Carried out with a destructive device or explosive.

Second-degree murder is a catch-all for all other intentional homicides.

Accessory to Murder

Just because you don’t pull the trigger doesn’t mean that you can’t face consequences for your involvement in an act of murder. Under Penal Code 31 PC, it is illegal to aid and abet a crime. You can be charged with aiding and abetting a murder if you “advise and encourage its commission.” In other words, aiding and abetting means that you know that someone intends to commit a crime and help by aiding, facilitating, promoting, encouraging, or instigating the offense.

In the Burbank murder case, one man pulled the trigger. The other man is believed to have encouraged the act of murder in some way. As a result, they can both be criminally liable.

Accessories Can Face the Same Penalties For Murder

Is it better to be an accessory to murder, rather than committing the murder itself? Not really. The person who commits a murder and the person who aids and abets that murder can face the same penalties. If the man who pulled trigger faces life behind bars, the man who instigated or encouraged the crime can also face life behind bars.

Why are the penalties the same? California law is designed to discourage anyone from participating in a crime, even in an advisory role.

Defending Murder Charges in Los Angeles

The two men have not been formally charged for their involvement in the Burbank murder. If they are, they will have the opportunity to defend themselves in court. The best thing they can do is hire experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys to handle their respective cases. Their attorneys will review the details of their cases and determine the most appropriate defenses.

Defenses that may be helpful in fighting murder charges include:

  • Lack of malice aforethought
  • Accident
  • Insanity
  • Mistaken identity
  • False accusation
  • Self-defense, or
  • Violation of Constitutional rights.

The stronger their defense arguments, the tougher it will be for the state to satisfy its burden of proof.