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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.

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, 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.

An up-and-coming rapper was recently arrested in Los Angeles on felony gun charges. According to reports, police received a tip that Blueface and a number of other rappers wearing expensive jewelry and showing off a lot of money in a dangerous part of town. Officers, believing that the rappers would be easy targets for robbery, responded to the tips. When they arrived on the scene, Blueface and others attempted to run away and get rid of the weapons they were holding at the time.

Blueface was stopped by police, who discovered that he was in possession of a loaded firearm. He was promptly arrested and is facing felony gun charges.

California Has Strict Gun Laws

The Second Amendment protects the right to bear arms. However, like other Constitutional Amendments, this right is not without limitations. Some federal and state laws limit the right to own and possess weapons. These laws are permissible if they are intended to protect the public and are not overly burdensome on gun owners.

Over the past few decades, California has implemented some of the strictest gun control laws in the country. These laws regulate:

  • Who can possess a firearm
  • When and where guns can be carried, and
  • How guns can be used.

Violations of these laws can carry harsh and severe consequences.

Gun Possession Laws in California

Who Can and Cannot Possess A Gun?

In California, guns and other firearms can be legally purchased by adults over the age of 21. However, there are limitations to who can purchase and possess a firearm. You may not buy a gun, even if you are over the age of 21, if you:

  • Have been convicted of a felony
  • Have been convicted of brandishing a weapon at least two times
  • Have certain misdemeanor convictions
  • Are addicted to certain drugs, including narcotics, or
  • Suffer from a mental illness.

Where Can Guns Be Legally Possessed?

If you are legally eligible to purchase and possess a gun, you may:

  • Keep it in your home or place of business, or
  • Transport it in a locked container.

You may also be able to carry a concealed firearm if you have a concealed weapons permit. This permit is only granted if you are of good moral character, have good cause for needing to conceal a weapon, and have completed mandatory training courses. Carrying a concealed weapon without a permit carries severe penalties.

Is It Ever Legal to Possess or Carry a Loaded Gun?

Yes. You can legally carry a loaded weapon if you have a concealed weapons permit. You may also possess a loaded firearm in the safety of your own home or place of business.

If you don’t have a concealed carry permit, you cannot possess a loaded gun in public. Under California Penal Code 25850 PC, it is illegal to “carry a loaded firearm on the person or in a vehicle while in any public place.”

How can police know if a firearm is loaded in violation of 25850 PC? State law grants officers the right to examine weapons carried in public or in vehicles in public. If you refuse to let an officer inspect your firearm, you can be arrested for violating the state’s prohibition on carrying a loaded gun in public.

Possession of a loaded weapon can be a misdemeanor or a felony.

Misdemeanor: You may be charged with a misdemeanor if this is your first offense and there are no aggravating factors involved in your case. As a misdemeanor, possession of a loaded gun in public is punishable by 12 months in a Los Angeles County Jail, fines, and probation.

Felony: You may be charged with a felony if you have prior misdemeanor or felony convictions or are not the gun’s registered owner. As a felony, possession of a loaded gun in public is punishable by between 16 months and 3 years in a California state prison, fines, and probation.

Once you are convicted of a crime it can be tough to restore your gun rights. Hiring an attorney can help to limit the consequences of your arrest. Call our criminal defense team today to learn more about how we can help you fight gun possession charges in Los Angeles.

Last month, several men suspected of armed robbery led police on a high-speed chase through the city of Los Angeles. According to reports, the getaway car exceeded 100 MPH as it raced down several Los Angeles Highways and surface streets in North Hollywood and Universal City. The high-speed chase eventually came to an end when the men ditched the car and attempted to escape officers on foot.

K9 officers were called to the scene and able to track down the suspects. Five men were arrested on suspicion of armed robbery and for their roles in leading a police chase. Since the men tried to escape with a vehicle and on foot, it’s possible that they could face charges for both resisting arrest and evading a police officer.

Pursuits: Running vs. Driving From Police

In California, you have an obligation to follow a police officer’s lawful order. This includes times when an officer tells you to stop, pull over, or remain where you are. It’s a crime to ignore the order or try to evade arrest. However, how you try to evade arrest will ultimately determine which criminal charges you’ll face. If you try to run from police you can be charged with resisting arrest. If you try to drive away from police you can be charged with evading a police officer.

Resisting Arrest

California Penal Code 148 PC explains that it is a crime to “willfully resist, delay, or obstruct” a peace officer or EMT “in the discharge or attempt to discharge any duty of his or her office.” In other words, it’s illegal to intentionally try to prevent a police officer from doing his or her job.

Example: Let’s say that a police officer has reasonable suspicion to believe that you’ve just participated in an armed robbery. They approach you and order you to remain where you are. You’re afraid that you’ll be arrested and begin to run away. Running away has obstructed the officer from performing his or her job duties. As a result, you could be charged with resisting arrest under 148 PC.

Penalties for Resisting Arrest

Resisting arrest is a misdemeanor in the state of California. The maximum penalty is 12 months in a Los Angeles County Jail and a fine of $1,000.

Evading a Police Officer

The consequences of running from police can be much more severe if you’re in a vehicle. Evading a police officer, as defined in California Vehicle Code 2800.1 CVC, occurs when you “operate a motor vehicle and with the intent to evade, willfully flee or otherwise attempt to elude a pursuing peace officer’s motor vehicle.”

In other words, it’s a crime to use a car to escape arrest or prevent a police officer from doing his or her job.

When is a police officer in “pursuit” for the purposes of 2800.1 CVC? The officer’s vehicle must:

  • Be distinctively marked
  • Be operated by a peace officer
  • Have at least one red light “on” and visible from the front of the vehicle, and
  • Sound a siren, if reasonably necessary.

Other signs of a police suit include issuing a verbal command, using hand signals, or sounding a horn with a sound of at least 115 decibels.

However, you can only be guilty of evading a police officer if you knew, or should have known, that you were fleeing or eluding the officer.

Example: Let’s say you are driving and a marked police car pulls up behind you. An officer issues a verbal command to pull over and turns on the vehicle’s sirens. You begin to speed up and attempt to make it through an intersection before the light changes, hoping that the officer gets caught behind. You have willfully attempted to elude a police officer. Since you were driving a vehicle, you can be charged with evading a police officer under 2800.1 CVC.

Penalties for Evading a Police Officer

Evading a police officer is a misdemeanor in the state of California. The maximum penalty is 12 months in a Los Angeles County jail and $1,000 in fines.

Evading an officer can be charged as a felony if you:

  • Drive recklessly with a wanton disregard for the safety of others, or
  • Cause injury or death.

Felony evading arrest is punishable by up to seven years in a California state prison and $10,000 in fines.


Have you been arrested for trying to escape or elude police? You need the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Contact the Los Angeles Criminal Law Center for immediate assistance. We’ll help you fight any criminal charges you face.