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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.

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.

A Los Angeles-area man has been arrested for a handful of crimes, including indecent exposure, after hugging a young teen girl while naked. According to reports, the man, who appeared to be under the influence of drugs, was wandering around a neighborhood and asking to go inside random homes. Concerned neighbors called the police, but not before he had the chance to take off his clothes and go into a residential backyard. Dogs outside of the family home began to bark, which prompted a young teen girl to go outside. The man allegedly grabbed and hugged her while completely naked.

What is Indecent Exposure?

Indecent exposure, as defined in Penal Code 314 PC, is the crime of exposing your private parts to another person with the intent to sexually gratify, offend, or annoy. It’s actually a very broad offense that can cover a wide range of behaviors.

When a person is accused of indecent exposure, the state has the burden of proving they:

  • Willfully and lewdly;
  • Exposed his private parts; and
  • In a public place or any place in which there are others who would be annoyed or offended.

Willfully: Willful acts are those that are done with purpose and intent. This prevents simple accidents, like forgetting to zip the fly of your pants, from evolving into criminal acts.

Lewd: Lewdness refers to the intent behind the act. Lewd can mean doing something with the intent to:

  • Sexually gratify or arouse yourself
  • Sexually gratify or arouse another person, or
  • Offend another person in a sexual way.

Public or Private Place With Others: You can be charged with indecent exposure if you committed a lewd act in public or in a private place where other people, who are likely to be offended or annoyed, are present. Whether or not a person would be offended or annoyed is a question of fact. It will depend on the specific circumstances of each specific case.

Indecent Exposure Can Be a Misdemeanor or Felony

Indecent exposure is typically a misdemeanor in California. Without any aggravating circumstances, indecent exposure is punishable by:

  • 6 months in a Los Angeles County jail; and/or
  • $1,000 in fines.

Indecent exposure can also be charged as a felony. The charges can be aggravated when indecent exposure occurs in an inhabited dwelling (e.g., house, building) that you didn’t have permission to be in. In certain cases, the crime can still be charged as a misdemeanor. Felony indecent exposure is punishable by:

  • 16 months to 3 years in a California state prison; and/or
  • $10,000 in criminal fines.

Whether or not you face misdemeanor or felony charges will depend on the specific circumstances of your case.

Indecent Exposure Conviction Requires Registration as a Sex Offender

Anyone convicted of indecent exposure in California will be required to register as a Tier One Sex Offender with the state. This is true whether you are convicted of a misdemeanor or felony. Tier One Sex Offenders are required to register with the state for a minimum of 10 years. The 10-year period begins once you are released from detention and custody.

Failure to register with the state as a sex offender can make you vulnerable to additional criminal charges and penalties. Once you have successfully complied with the terms of the registry for 10 years, you have the right to file a petition to terminate your status as a sex offender.

Defending Indecent Exposure Charges in Los Angeles

Even though you have been charged with a crime, you still have the power to fight for your future. The state has to prove that you are guilty of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. You can make this difficult for them by asserting a strong defense. The best defenses will explain, excuse, and/or justify your alleged behavior.

Defenses can include:

  • False accusation
  • Mistaken identity
  • Acts not done in public or in view of others
  • The victim should not have been offended or annoyed
  • Illegal search and seizure, or
  • Unlawful arrest.

You also have the option of attacking the state’s evidence against you and undermining their case. Get help by visiting our guide on the questions you need to ask when hiring a criminal defense attorney.


It’s important to defend yourself against any criminal charges in Los Angeles. Hiring an attorney will help you secure the best result in your case. Call our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers today to schedule a free consultation.

Section 1983 Lawsuits

The Constitution provides you with certain inalienable rights and protections. When police are performing their job duties, they are required to respect your rights. There are certain times when your rights can be lawfully infringed. However, police must have verifiable justification for those actions. When police illegally violate your rights or engage in acts of misconduct, you have the right to hold them accountable. Section 1983 of the US Code provides you with the authority to file a civil lawsuit against an officer for abuses of power. If you are in the Los Angeles, CA area and need assistance, contact Citywide Law Group today to discuss your case. Sherwin Arzani is a personal injury attorney with over 15 years experience in handling police abuse cases.

Police Officers Are Generally Immune From Civil Lawsuits

Without Section 1983, victims of police misconduct may have no way to hold officers accountable for their actions. Why? Police officers (and other government actors) are generally immune from civil lawsuits. Immunity exists to protect police officers from actions conducted in an official capacity.

There are two types of immunity that can protect officers: qualified immunity and sovereign immunity.

Qualified Immunity: Qualified immunity protects officers from civil action for performing their discretionary job duties in good faith.

Sovereign Immunity: Sovereign immunity protects officers from civil action for actions performed in an official capacity.

In most situations, you can only sue the government (including individual officers) if the government decides to allow the legal action. However, thanks to Section 1983, there is another way for victims of abuse to circumvent the issues presented by immunity. Section 1983 essentially voids any blanket immunity from civil action that may otherwise exist. The law provides victims of police misconduct and abuse to hold those officers personally responsible for their actions. There is no need to get the government’s permission to file the civil claim.

Your Section 1983 case will be most successful if an officer:

  • Did not act in good faith while performing his or her essential job duties
  • Deliberately interfered with your rights and freedoms, or
  • Intentionally or consciously disregarded your rights.

Overcoming Immunity By Filing a Section 1983 Lawsuit

Section 1983 creates the right to sue a police officer (or other person acting in an official capacity) for abuses of power.

You may have a valid Section 1983 lawsuit if:

  • Your Constitutional rights have been violated
  • By a person acting under the color of state law, and
  • The violation caused you to suffer an injury.

What Kind of Violations Can Support a Section 1983 Case?

Police officers are prohibited from infringing, violating, or depriving your fundamental rights. Most Section 1983 claims involve violations of the Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments.

Fourth Amendment: The Fourth Amendment provides you with the right to be free from unwarranted searches and seizures. Violations of the Fourth Amendment may include:

  • Excessive Force (excessive force resulted in an illegal seizure of a suspect)
  • Illegal Arrest (arrest without probable cause)
  • Unreasonable and unwarranted searches of a home, or
  • Unreasonable searches of cars and passengers.

Fifth Amendment: The Fifth Amendment protects you from saying or doing anything that would incriminate yourself. Violations of the Fifth Amendment may include:

  • Forcing a suspect to unlock his or her personal cell phone
  • Coercing an involuntary confession
  • Failing to deliver a Miranda warning, or
  • Engaging in abusive conduct to elicit a confession.

Eighth Amendment: The Eighth Amendment protects you from cruel and unusual punishment. Eighth Amendment violations are typically brought by individuals who are detained prior to trial or serving time in jail or prison. Violations of the Eighth Amendment may include:

  • Intentionally depriving an inmate of necessary medical care
  • Permitting an inmate to be assaulted by officers, inmates, or personnel, or
  • Excessive force used by prison guards or personnel.

Fourteenth Amendment: The Fourteenth Amendment provides you with equal protection under the law. Violations of the Fourteenth Amendment may include:

  • Police brutality
  • Excessive force, or
  • Negligent loss or destruction of a detainee’s property.

Violation By a Person Acting Under Color of State Law

Section 1983 creates the right to sue a person for violations of your rights if they were acting under color of state law. The Supreme Court has held that a person can include individuals, municipalities, and local governmental bodies. State and federal government agencies are specifically excluded from the definition of “person.”

For the purposes of Section 1983, a “person” can include:

  • Police officers
  • Sheriff’s departments
  • School districts
  • Prison guards and/or wardens
  • Prison facilities
  • City employees and agencies
  • County employees and agencies
  • Non-governmental agents, and
  • Government employees.

However, for a person to be liable under Section 1983 the violation must have occurred because they were acting “under color of state law.” This simply means that they were empowered with certain authority because of a state law or custom.

What Injuries Can Support a Section 1983 Case?

The violation or deprivation of your rights must cause you to suffer an injury. The injury can be physical, psychological, emotional, social, or even financial. The most important thing to establish is that the police officer’s misconduct caused your injury.

You can ask to recover monetary damages for your injuries. Damages can include compensation for:

  • Medical bills
  • Therapy
  • Lost wages
  • Disability
  • Injury to reputation
  • Embarrassment
  • Emotional distress
  • Legal fees, and more.

You may also be able to recover punitive damages if the officer’s conduct was intentional, malicious, or fraudulent. Punitive damages are intended to punish the officer for his or her illegal actions. Any punitive damages will be awarded in addition to other financial awards.

Have you been the victim of police misconduct? Has a person acting under color of state law violated your rights in some way? Section 1983 gives you the right to hold the officer who hurt you personally responsible. Contact our personal injury attorneys to learn more about filing a Section 1983 claim. We are dedicated to helping you recover the compensation you deserve. Call us today to schedule a free consultation.