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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 may remember that, earlier this year, a social media video showed a now 21-year-old Los Angeles man using his feet to drive an SUV on a busy Saugus road. Moments after the social media video was recorded, the SUV was involved in an accident that injured five people. According to reports, the SUV veered from its lane of traffic over a double yellow line and was broadsided by another vehicle. Most of the reported injuries were minor. However, one victim did suffer a significant chest injury.

The now infamous “foot driver” has been arrested for drunk driving after police investigated the crash.

Age and Drunk Driving in San Diego

When police arrived on the scene of the accident both drivers were tested for drugs and alcohol. The driver of the SUV tested negative for drugs but had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .05 percent. In California, it is illegal for a driver under the age of 21 to operate a motor vehicle with a BAC exceeding .02 percent.

At the time of his arrest, the SUV driver was 21 years old. However, back in February when the accident occurred, the SUV driver was only 20. As a result, he was unlawfully operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. Could the SUV driver have escaped drunk driving charges if the accident had happened after he turned 21? Not necessarily.

Per Se Intoxication vs. Reasonable Suspicion of Intoxication

In California, there are two situations in which you can be arrested for drunk driving.

The first, defined in Vehicle Code 23152(b), is when your BAC exceeds the legal limit. For adults, the limit is .08 percent. For drivers under the age of 21, the limit is .02 percent. If you have a commercial driver’s license (CDL), the limit is .04 percent. Any time your BAC is above the limit, you can be arrested for per se intoxication.

The second, defined in Vehicle Code 23152(a), is when police have reasonable suspicion to believe that you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This type of DUI does not require you to have a certain amount of alcohol in your system. Instead, it is a subjective assessment made by police that you are unfit to drive safely. Specifically, “under the influence” means that your “mental or physical abilities are so impaired that [you are] no longer able to drive a vehicle with the caution of a sober person, using ordinary care, under similar circumstances.”

Since you can be arrested for DUI even if your BAC is not above the legal limit, the SUV driver would likely still be facing criminal charges if he were 21 at the time of the accident.

DUI Causing Great Bodily Harm

The SUV driver is not just being charged with a straightforward misdemeanor DUI. Since a victim suffered a serious injury in the crash, the SUV driver is facing charges for DUI causing great bodily harm. This is a much more serious DUI crime that is charged as a felony.

The penalties for DUI causing great bodily harm can be incredibly harsh. The specific consequences that a person will face will depend on the extent of harm suffered by the victim and the driver’s criminal record.

DUI causing great bodily harm is punishable by:

  • 16 months – 16 years in a California state prison
  • $5,000 in criminal fines
  • Loss of your driver’s license for 5 years
  • Probation
  • Community service, and/or
  • DUI School for 30 months.

Fighting DUI Charges in Los Angeles

The SUV driver has likely contracted an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney for assistance with his defense. The state must be able to prove that he is guilty of the offense by a reasonable doubt. In this case, they will likely rely on the social media video, breathalyzer results, and eyewitness testimony. The defendant’s attorney will argue any defense that helps to (a) cast doubt on his guilt and (b) attacks the validity of the state’s evidence. A strong defense can help a defendant secure a favorable plea deal or even get the charges dropped altogether.

If you have been arrested for DUI in Los Angeles do not hesitate to contact the Los Angeles Criminal Law Center for help. We will review your alleged crime, explain your rights as a defendant, and determine the best defense for your case.

 

Think twice before sending sexually-explicit photographs to a minor. A Long Beach doctor was recently arrested after he sent lewd photographs to a person he believed to be a 16-year-old girl. The doctor actually sent the photographs to an undercover police officer posing as a teen. He is facing felony pornography charges and a misdemeanor charge for arranging a meeting with a minor for a lewd purpose.

Sending Sexually-Explicit Photographs to a Minor

Sexting is a popular form of communication amongst America’s youth. Sending sexually-explicit messages and photographs can be perfectly fine, as long as both parties involved are (a) adults and (b) willing participants. Things can become messy when a recipient of sexually-explicit communications is a minor.

In California, sending sexually-explicit communications to a minor is a crime under Penal Code 288.2 PC. You can be arrested for sending pornographic material to a minor if you:

  1. Knew, should have known, or believed that a person was a minor
  2. Distribute, send, exhibit, or offer
  3. By physical delivery, photo, electronic communication, or in person
  4. Sexually-explicit communications
  5. To a person under the age of 18
  6. With the intent of arousing and seducing

Penalty for Sending Porn to a Minor

What is the penalty for distributing or showing pornography to a minor in Los Angeles? When charged as a felony under Penal Code 288.2 PC, sending porn to a minor is punishable by:

  • 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years in a California state prison
  • $10,000 in criminal fines, and
  • Formal probation.

Mandatory Sex Offender Registration

Penal Code 288.2 PC prohibits sending sexually-explicit communications to a minor with the intent to arouse and seduce. If convicted of targeting a minor in this way, the state requires a defendant to register as a sex offender.

Specifically, violating 288.2 PC mandates the life-long registration as a Tier 3 sex offender. In California, registered sex offenders are required to keep the state apprised of any changes about where they live, work, and travel. Registered sex offenders must also submit usernames, aliases, and other online user information to the state for monitoring purposes. In some cases, registered sex offenders may also be prohibited from using the internet or online communications.

Failure to register as a Tier 3 sex offender in California can result in additional jail time, fines, and consequences.

Is Mistake of Age a Defense?

The LA doctor believed that he was sending lewd photos to a 16-year-old girl. The fact that he was actually communicating with an undercover police officer is irrelevant. Penal Code 288 PC specifically states that a person’s belief that a recipient is a minor is sufficient.

The fact that his intent was to distribute pornographic materials to a 16-year-old is enough to warrant his arrest and the filing of criminal charges.

Is Entrapment a Defense?

The Long Beach doctor sent pornographic materials to a person he thought was a 16-year-old girl. As it turns out, the recipient was an undercover cop. Can he argue that he was entrapped? Entrapment occurs when police trick someone into committing a crime that they would not have committed on their own. In this case, the Long Beach doctor reportedly found the 16-year-old online himself and engaged in conversation. He was not approached by the 16-year-old or influenced by anyone to communicate with her.

Had police initiated the conversation and encouraged him to engage in illegal behavior, the end result may be different. However, as long as police did not trick him into committing a crime, entrapment is not a defense to his actions.

Fighting Criminal Charges in Los Angeles

Have you been arrested for a sex crime involving a child in Los Angeles? You have the right to defend yourself, and the Los Angeles Criminal Law Center can help. Contact our experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys today to request a free consultation. We will review your case, explain your rights, and answer the questions you have.

What is the California Street Gang Enhancement Law?

Two Los Angeles men have been arrested in connection with a gang-related shooting at a homeless encampment in Highland Park. Reports indicate that at least one homeless man was killed and another was seriously injured in the attack. The men believed to have been involved were charged with murder and attempted murder. Police believe that the shooting was gang-related, which could aggravate the criminal penalties imposed if the men are convicted.

California’s Gang Enhancement Law

Crimes committed in connection with a street gang can have serious consequences. In 1988, California enacted the Street Terrorism Enforcement and Prevention Act to protect citizens from “fear, intimidation, and physical harm caused by the activities of violent groups and individuals.” The law, which is also known as the STEP Act, makes it a crime for individuals to participate in street gang activities and/or aid in the commission of any felony criminal conduct by street gang members. When the STEP Act is violated, the state is permitted to impose harsher criminal penalties for those gang-related crimes.

Conduct Prohibited Under the STEP Act

California STEP Act prohibits a wide range of gang-related activities. Under the Act, as defined in Penal Code 186.22 PC, it is illegal to:

  1. Actively participate in any criminal street gang,
  2. With knowledge that its members engage in, or have engaged in, a pattern of criminal gang activity, and
  3. Willfully promote, further, or assist any felony criminal activity by gang members.

In order to understand when the STEP Act may apply, it is important to know what each of these elements means.

What is a Criminal Street Gang?

In California, a criminal street gang is defined to mean:

  1. Any group, organization, or association having three or more people
  2. Which engages in criminal activity as one of its primary activities
  3. With a common name or identifying symbol
  4. Whose members engage in (or have engaged in) a pattern of criminal gang activity.

In other words, a criminal street gang is a group of at least three people that regularly engage in criminal activity and has an identifying name or symbol.

What is a Pattern of Criminal Gang Activity?

Generally speaking, a pattern of criminal gang activity is engaging in multiple acts of criminal behavior in furtherance of a gang. More specifically, California law defines criminal gang activity to mean:

  1. Committing at least two crimes listed in Penal Code 186.22(e) within a three year period, and
  2. Committing these crimes on at least two separate occasions or by at least two different people.

Crimes that are listed in Penal Code 186.22(e) include:

  • Assault with a deadly weapon
  • Robbery
  • Homicide or manslaughter
  • Sale, distribution, or manufacture of controlled substances
  • Arson
  • Grand theft
  • Intimidation of witnesses
  • Rape
  • Burglary
  • Looting
  • Money laundering
  • Kidnapping
  • Carjacking
  • Mayhem, and more.

Enhancements to Criminal Sentences

When you are convicted of a gang-related crime, you will face criminal penalties for the underlying crime and your activity in connection with a gang.

Violations of 186.22(a), active participation in a street gang, is punishable by an additional:

  • One year in a Los Angeles County jail, or
  • 16 months, two years, or three years in a California state prison.

Violations of 186.22(b), assisting a gang member with the commission of a felony, is punishable by an additional:

  • Two, three, or four years in a California state prison
  • Five years in prison for committing a serious felony (defined in 1192.7 PC), or
  • Ten years in prison for committing a violent felony (defined in 667.5 PC).

Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorneys

Have you been arrested for a crime that police believe is connected to a criminal street gang? If you are convicted of the crime, you can face additional criminal penalties under California’s gang enhancement law. This could mean spending an additional one to ten years in prison. Call the Los Angeles Criminal Law Center for help fighting any criminal charges you may face.

Our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys understand that your future is on the line and will fight to minimize the consequences of your arrest. Call today to request a free consultation and learn more about how we can help you protect your future.