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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.

Man Arrested for Attempted Murder of Los Angeles Deputy

A 21-year-old Los Angeles man has been arrested for stabbing a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy. According to reports, Donald Chinchilla approached the deputy in the parking lot of a Canyon Country restaurant and asked if he was, in fact, a deputy. When he acknowledged that he was, Chinchilla stabbed him with a large kitchen knife and then fled the scene. He was found in a nearby backyard later that day and immediately arrested for the attempted murder of the deputy.

Attempted Murder

Just because an attempt to kill another person is unsuccessful doesn’t mean that a person will escape criminal charges. In California, it is a crime to attempt to commit a crime. This includes acts of homicide. When is conduct considered an attempt to commit a crime? California law says that an attempt to commit a crime occurs when you:

  1. Intend to commit a specific crime, and
  2. Perform a direct but ineffective step to commit that crime.

In order to be convicted of attempted murder, a person must (1) have the specific intent to kill another person and (2) take some direct action to commit the crime.

What is a Direct Step?

What kind of behavior will be considered to be a direct step for the purposes of attempted murder? In California, a direct step requires something more than planning. Direct steps are those taken after the planning and preparation have been completed. Courts have described direct steps as “putting [a] plan into action,” an “immediate step that puts the plan in motion,” and those which “indicate a definite and unambiguous intent to kill.”

Taking a large kitchen knife and willfully thrusting it into the torso of another person will likely be classified as a direct step. As long as Chinchilla also had an intent to kill the deputy he will likely be found guilty of attempted murder.

Abandoning the Intent to Kill

What happens when your attempt to kill another person is unsuccessful, and you later decide not to follow through on your original plan? You will still face criminal charges for attempted murder despite your change of heart. The fact that you did take a direct step in an effort to kill another person is enough to warrant criminal charges. However, it is important to know that if you simply prepare and plan to kill another person, but never take a direct step toward committing the crime, you cannot be charged with attempted murder. The fact that you abandoned your intent to kill before you took any steps will limit your criminal liability.

Attempt to Kill a Peace Officer

Crimes can become more serious when the victims are in certain protected classes. Children, the elderly, and the disabled are great examples. When a person commits a crime where the victim is a member of one of these protected classes the consequences become more severe. The same is true when a crime is knowingly committed against a peace officer. Not all crimes are aggravated when the victim is a cop. In order to warrant aggravated charges, the perpetrator of the crime must:

  • Know that their victim is a peace officer engaged in his or her official capacity; or
  • Specifically target that victim because they are a peace officer.

Will Chinchilla face aggravated penalties because the victim of his crime was a sheriff’s deputy? Early reports do not indicate whether or not the sheriff’s deputy was on duty at the time of the stabbing. However, it is clear that Chinchilla specifically asked his victim if he was a sheriff’s deputy. Immediately after his suspicion was confirmed Chinchilla drove a large knife into the victim’s body. If prosecutors can prove that Chinchilla targeted the deputy because of his position as a law enforcement officer Chinchilla will likely face additional time in prison.

Penalties for Attempted Murder

In most situations, the penalty for unsuccessfully attempting to commit a crime is half of whatever the punishment is for the intended crime. When the crime is attempted murder, however, the penalties are a bit more severe. The following penalties will apply when a person attempts to commit a specific type of murder in California:

Attempted Premeditated Murder: A willful, deliberate, or premeditated attempt to commit murder is punishable by life in prison with the possibility of parole.

Attempted Acts of Murder Punishable By Life In Prison: An attempt to commit murder, where that murder would be punishable by life in prison or death, is punishable by up to nine years in a California state prison.

Attempted Murder of a Peace Officer: Any attempt to purposefully kill a person who you know (or should know) is a peace officer is punishable by life in prison with the possibility of parole.

Fighting Attempted Murder Charges

When faced with criminal charges it is important to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Hiring an attorney will significantly increase your chances of securing the best possible outcome in your case. Contact the Los Angeles Criminal Law Center to schedule a free consultation with one of our skilled attorneys. We will review your case, determine the best defense(s) for your specific situation, and explain your legal rights.

Recreational marijuana is now legal in the state of California. Before you go out and celebrate it is important to understand what “legalized weed” really means. What behaviors are now acceptable in California? Which conduct is still prohibited under the law? The criminal defense attorneys at the Los Angeles Criminal Law Center have answered a few frequently asked questions about the recent legalization of marijuana in California.

Where can I buy marijuana in California?

Under the new law, it is legal to purchase limited amounts of marijuana and marijuana concentrates from licensed retailers. These retailers must petition the state for a special license. One it is provided, the merchants must comply with certain rules and regulations. Violating the terms of the license will open that merchant up to criminal penalties, civil sanctions, and the loss of that license. According to the Bureau of Cannabis Control, nearly 90 licenses have been distributed in the state of California.

Purchasing marijuana from someone other than a licensed retailer could be problematic. This is especially true if you purchase more than a person is legally permitted to possess at one time. Possession of a large quantity of the drug will likely result in criminal charges for possession with the intent to distribute. It is important to note, however, that it is not a crime for one person to gift small amounts of marijuana to others.

Is marijuana legal everywhere in California?

No! Before you light up it is important to check out your local laws. Some counties and towns in California have passed legislation to ban the sale and cultivation of marijuana, despite the popularity of Proposition 64. 

Is it okay to use marijuana in public?

No. Smoking or consuming marijuana in any way is prohibited in public. This includes public areas that are specifically designated for smoking cigarettes. Given the controversial nature of the drug, California law requires marijuana to be consumed in private. Violations of this provision will result in a fine of at least $100. It is safe to say that these penalties will be aggravated when the drug is consumed on or near school grounds, on government property, or near daycare centers.

Can I use marijuana in the car?

No. Marijuana is being regulated in a manner that is very similar to alcohol. It is against the law to consume marijuana – in any form – while you are in a motor vehicle. This includes the driver and any passengers in the car. If you consuming marijuana in a motor vehicle while it is operational, that could lead to criminal charges for driving under the influence. Other penalties that can be imposed for consuming marijuana in a car will be determined on the local level.

Can I grow marijuana under the new law?

Yes and no. Cultivating marijuana plants is no longer a crime in California, as long as you have no more than 6 plants. When you grow more than 6 plants you may face criminal charges.

How much marijuana can I possess at one time?

Under the new law, California residents who are over the age of 21 can legally possess up to 28.5 grams of marijuana at one time.

Can I buy marijuana at any time of the day?

No. Marijuana cannot legally be sold between the hours of 10 PM and 6 AM.

Questions? Call the Los Angeles Criminal Law Center

It is important to understand that even though marijuana is legal in California there are still limits on how, when, and where you can buy and use the drug. It is also important to remember that buying, selling, growing, and possessing marijuana are still classified as crimes at the federal level. Breaking the new law could result in significant fines and, in some cases, criminal charges. Federal charges could also lead to significant time behind bars.

If you have any questions about the changes in the law, or if you are facing criminal charges for marijuana-related crimes, do not hesitate to call the Los Angeles Criminal Law Center for help. We offer a free consultation to new clients and would be happy to answer any questions you may have. For immediate assistance, see our guide on the questions to ask when hiring a criminal lawyer.


Consequences of a DUI This Holiday Season

This holiday season, think twice before getting behind the wheel of a car after you’ve enjoyed a few drinks. Drunk driving accidents occur more frequently around this time of year and, as a result, Los Angeles-area police are trying to do something about the problem. You can expect an increased patrol presence and additional DUI checkpoints as you travel over the next few weeks. If you are found driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you may want to visit our guide on the top questions to ask when hiring a criminal lawyer

What is a DUI?

DUI is short for “driving under the influence,” and it is a crime in Los Angeles. Specifically, it is the crime of driving a motor vehicle while you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. What does it mean to be under the influence of alcohol? In the most general sense, it means that your consumption of alcohol has impaired to ability your senses in a way that prevents you from operating the car in the way a sober person would. There are two different ways you can face charges for a DUI.

A DUI can be based on the amount of alcohol that is in your system at the time of your arrest. You will legally be considered to be under the influence of alcohol when your blood alcohol level is above the legal limit of .08. Your blood alcohol level is generally determined by using chemical testing, such as a breathalyzer or blood test.

A DUI can also be based on a law enforcement officer’s reasonable judgment. If an officer, after reviewing your conduct, behavior, and field sobriety tests, believes that you are intoxicated, you can face charges for a DUI. This is true even if your blood alcohol content does not exceed the legal limit. If, for example, your blood alcohol content was .06, but you were unable to complete the field sobriety tests and exhibited slurred speech, an officer may have reasonable belief that you are intoxicated and not fit to drive.

Criminal Consequences of a DUI

In Los Angeles, a DUI can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony offense. Most first-time DUIs will be charged as misdemeanors. Your second and third DUIs may also be misdemeanors, but may carry a mandatory minimum sentence. This means that you may have to spend at least a few days behind bars if you are convicted. Misdemeanor DUI charges carry a maximum penalty of one year in a Los Angeles County jail and $1,000 in fines. In addition to jail time and fines, a judge has the discretion to impose the following penalties:

  • 3-5 years of probation;
  • Court-ordered substance abuse counseling;
  • DUI school; and/or
  • Community service.

A DUI will also result in the automatic loss of your driver’s license for six months. You have the right to initiate a separate hearing to contest the suspension of your license, but you must act quickly.

When a DUI involves aggravating factors the crime may be elevated to a felony. Aggravating factors could include causing bodily harm or death, driving while intoxicated with a passenger under the age of 16, or having prior DUI convictions. A felony DUI can carry a criminal sentence of up to 16 years in prison, depending on the circumstances of your specific case.

Collateral Consequences of DUI

In addition to facing jail time, fines, mandatory counseling, and the loss of your license, you will also be burdened with a criminal record. Simply having this criminal record will expose you to certain social and civil collateral consequences. These collateral consequences can affect every aspect of your life and pose serious challenges for your future. Collateral consequences of a Los Angeles DUI conviction include:

  • Increased car insurance rates;
  • Difficulty getting to work, resulting in the loss of your job;
  • Inability to secure employment in certain industries, including healthcare, education, and government;
  • Inability to participate in certain California welfare programs;
  • Difficulty finding housing for you and your family;
  • Financial strains related to the cost of getting your license back; and
  • Suspension or loss of professional licenses.

Fighting DUI Charges in Los Angeles

This holiday season, the best way to avoid DUI charges is by not getting behind the wheel after you’ve consumed alcohol. Police will be aggressive and do everything in their power to find drivers who are not fit to operate a vehicle. If you find that you are facing charges for a DUI call the Los Angeles Criminal Law Center for help.

Our experienced DUI attorneys know that your future is at stake and will do everything in our power to minimize the consequences of your arrest. We will fight every piece of evidence presented by the state and prepare a custom legal argument for your defense. Our aggressive approach often allows us to negotiate a favorable outcome for our clients. Call us today to schedule a free consultation with our DUI attorneys and learn more.