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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.


If I Plan on Pleading Guilty, Do I Still Need A Lawyer?

Whether you committed the crime or not, you know the facts look bad and you just want the case to go away. You plan on pleading guilty. Do you still need an attorney?

97% of criminal cases in California are settled before trial with a plea bargain. Plea bargains save the court time and resources. In a plea bargain, you agree to plead guilty to a lesser charge in order to receive a less severe punishment. Of course, this means you don’t go to trial.

There are many reasons to work with an experienced criminal defense attorney, even if you are going to plead guilty. Prosecutors will try to rush things along and take advantage of your inexperience in legal matters. There is still a complicated court process even when you are taking a plea bargain. An experienced criminal attorney can make sure things are handled correctly and ensure that you aren’t opening yourself up to further legal troubles by saying the wrong thing at the wrong time during this process.

An Attorney Can Protect Your Rights and Your Best Interests

Your attorney will make sure that your rights are protected during the plea process. During a plea deal, the prosecution needs to present the case they have against you and share the evidence that will be used. If there was a problem with the way evidence was obtained, an attorney can identify the problem and move to have the evidence thrown out.

Without an attorney, you have no one looking out for your best interests. During the plea process, an attorney may be able to spot weaknesses in the prosecution’s case that could lead to a reduced sentence or even the case being dismissed.

You Need A Properly Negotiated Plea Deal

A seasoned attorney will understand the implications of the charges against you. They will know the strengthens and weaknesses of the prosecutor’s case and help you understand the reasons why a plea deal may be in your best interest. If that is the case, an attorney will secure the right plea deal.

An experienced attorney may have dealt with your prosecutor in the past and have a good sense of how to negotiate with them. Every county, every judge and every courtroom plays by their own unofficial rules. An experienced criminal defense attorney knows how a courtroom and the prosecutor operates; this is useful in creating a strategy for your case. 

An attorney experienced with negotiating a plea deal can make sure that you get a less severe punishment than what may be initially offered. You may even be able to negotiate a plea deal with no jail time at all. Your attorney can even negotiate a plea bargain that doesn’t leave you with a criminal conviction.

A plea bargain is nearly impossible to undo. This is something that needs to be negotiated correctly the first time. You want to make sure that a criminal defense attorney reviews all the terms of the plea bargain.

Even a simple matter can quickly get complicated without the insight of an experienced criminal defense attorney.  

A Santa Ana woman is facing charges for attempted kidnapping after she was recorded trying to separate a newborn child from its mother. According to the police, the 38-year-old tried to convince the new mother that she had to give up the baby to comply with a protective custody order. The mother was told that the police would have been called if she wasn’t willing to cooperate.

The family contacted the police and coordinated with the local media. Television stations showed the video on air and asked for help identifying the suspect. The woman surrendered herself to police shortly after seeing the footage.

An Attempt to Commit a Crime is Still a Crime

The woman never took custody of the newborn. She was never successful in separating the mother from her child. Despite this, she is still facing criminal charges. Why? It’s a crime to attempt to commit a crime.

The crime of attempt is defined in California Penal Code 21a PC. You can be convicted of an attempted crime if you:

  • Have the intent to commit a specific crime, AND
  • Perform a direct, but ineffective act toward committing that crime.

In other words, you have to try to commit a crime, but fail. You have to do more than plan or prepare. You must take a direct step toward putting your plan to commit the crime into motion. Once you take that step, your intent to commit the crime is crystal clear.

Abandoning Your Crime Won’t Get You Off the Hook

What if the Santa Ana woman never tried to kidnap the woman again? What if she gave up sooner and walked away? It wouldn’t matter. She’d still face charges for attempted kidnapping.

Why? In California, you’re guilty of attempt once you take that direct step. The fact that you weren’t successful, abandoned “further efforts to complete the crime,” or were interrupted while trying to commit the crime don’t matter.

Penalties for Attempt Depend On the Underlying Offense

There’s no one penalty for attempted crimes. Instead, the punishment for an attempted offense simply mirrors the punishment for the intended crime.  According to Penal Code Section 664 PC, a person convicted of attempt should be sentenced to half of whatever the jail time is for the intended crime.

Here, the woman is accused of attempted to kidnap a child. If convicted, she’ll face half of the time in prison that she’d face if she was successful in taking the child.

Kidnapping a Newborn is a Felony

Kidnapping, as defined in Penal Code Section 207 PC, involves using force or fear to take or detain another person without their consent. The crime becomes aggravated when a child under the age of 14 is involved.

In California, kidnapping a newborn child is a felony punishable by up to 11 years in a state prison. So, the attempted kidnapping of a newborn is punishable by a maximum of five-and-one-half years in a California prison.

Someone convicted of an attempted crime can also face other penalties, including fines, probation, and restraining orders.

Defending Charges For an Attempted Crime

Everyone accused of a crime has the right to offer a legal defense. A defense can explain or excuse alleged criminal behavior. A person accused of an attempted crime can offer the following defenses:

  • There was no intent to commit a specific crime
  • No direct steps toward committing the crime were ever taken, or
  • Criminal behavior never went beyond planning or preparing.

It can also be helpful to consider whether your rights were violated in any way. If you were arrested illegally or subject to an unlawful search, you might be able to escape all of your criminal charges.

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.