Get the latest crime news in Los Angeles County

Request a Free Consultation

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 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.

Hesperia Parents Arrested for Child Neglect, Endangerment

An Oak Hills High School student revealed that she and her siblings had been abused and neglected by their parents. An investigation revealed that the child, ages 10 to 14, were the victims of neglect and abuse.

The parents reportedly spent time producing rock cocaine at the family home, rather than concentrating on taking care of their children. The kids were routinely left home alone to fend for themselves while the parents traveled to Los Angeles to sell drugs.

A search of the family home uncovered rock cocaine, packing equipment, and scales, all of which indicate the sale of the controlled substance. Police also discovered that the family home lacked adequate food and hygiene supplies for the children. Warrants were issued for the parents’ arrest.

Police located and arrested the parents in Los Angeles outside of their children’s school. They were in possession of rock cocaine and cash at the time of the arrest. They face criminal charges for child endangerment and child neglect.

What is Child Endangerment?

Parents have to make sure that their kids aren’t put in situations that are potentially dangerous or harmful. Actions that endanger a child are considered acts of child abuse.

Child endangerment is defined in California Penal Code 273a PC. Parents are guilty of endangerment if they willfully cause or permit:

  1. A child to suffer unjustifiable pain or suffering under conditions likely to cause great bodily harm or death;
  2. The person or health of a child to be injured while having custody or care of that child; or
  3. The child to be placed in a situation where his or her person or health is endangered.

In other words, any parent or caretaker who allows a child to be put in a position that could reasonably cause them physical or mental harm can be guilty of child endangerment.

Child Neglect Under California Law

Parents in California also have an obligation to take care of their kids. This includes protecting their children and providing them with the things they need to be safe, happy, and healthy. Failing to provide for a child is considered neglect. Under California law, neglect is a form of child abuse.

Child neglect is defined in California Penal Code 270 PC. A parent or caretaker can be guilty of child neglect if they “willfully omit, without lawful excuse, to furnish necessary clothing, food, shelter…or medical care for [their] child.”

The Hesperia parents have been accused of failing to provide their children with food and a hygienic place to live. Under California law, this can be considered neglect.

Examples of Child Neglect and Child Endangerment

Child neglect and endangerment can take many shapes and forms. Examples of child neglect can include:

  • Failing to provide adequate food, water, or shelter for a child
  • Allowing a child to live in filth
  • Knowingly permitting a child to spend time with an abusive person
  • Employing unnecessarily cruel or unusual punishments
  • Chastizing, berating, or degrading a child verbally
  • Leaving a child alone for extended periods of time, and
  • Engaging in dangerous activities in a child’s home or with a child nearby.

Child endangerment can include almost any behavior that puts a child’s physical, emotional, or mental well being in danger.

Penalties for Child Neglect and Endangerment

Child neglect and child endangerment are both wobblers in California. This simply means that both crimes can be charged as misdemeanors or felonies. The charge will ultimately depend on the facts of each specific case.

Child Neglect

Child neglect is usually charged as a misdemeanor in California. Penalties for misdemeanor child neglect can include up to 12 months in a Los Angeles County jail, $2,000 in fines, and/or probation. Probation is commonly used to punish a parent for first-time offenses.

There are situations when a parent can be charged with felony child neglect. This may happen if a parent is repeatedly arrested for neglect or if they intentionally refuse to provide for their child. Penalties for felony child neglect can include 12 months plus one day in a California state prison and $2,000 in fines.

Child Endangerment

Child endangerment is charged as a misdemeanor unless there is evidence to show that a parent acted under circumstances likely to cause great bodily harm or death.

As a misdemeanor, child endangerment is punishable by 12 months in a Los Angeles County Jail, $1,000 in fines, and/or probation.

As a felony, child endangerment is punishable by up to 6 years in a California state prison and $10,000 in fines.

The parents in this particular case will also face criminal drug charges for the possession and sale of rock cocaine. Penalties imposed for drug convictions will be imposed in addition to those for child endangerment and abuse. As a result, the parents could face several years behind bars and lose their children in the process.

The parents should immediately seek the assistance of an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney. Hiring a lawyer will put them in the best position to secure the best possible outcome in their respective criminal cases.