Federal Judge Halts California Ban on 10 Bullet Gun Magazines

California has one of the strictest gun laws in the nation. After voters on November 8, 2016 passed Proposition 63, the state legislature concurred and the Governor signed into law a ban on possessing high capacity ammunition magazines (those that hold 10 or more bullets), which law was to go into effect July 1, 2017, making it a misdemeanor with punishment of a $100 fine and up to one year in County Jail. Previously in 2000, it was only unlawful to sell or buy high capacity gun magazines. On June 29th, a San Diego Federal District Court Judge ruled the ban was an unconstitutional violation of the Second Amendment to the U.S Constitution.  A Sacramento Federal Judge previously declined to take such action. At this time, therefore, those that already possess large capacity gun magazines can now keep them until a higher court rules on the temporary injunction or it becomes final.

Proponents of the ban have claimed it forces those using guns to reload by changing smaller capacity gun magazines, thereby allowing a victim to subdue the assailant and/or have an adequate period of time to flee.

Opponents state that argument does not apply to law-abiding citizens who previously were allowed to keep the high-capacity magazines they owned, as part of their constitutional right to defend themselves and their families. Additionally, they argued the law would have taken away private property without compensation.

Although not the subject of this blog, the U.S. Supreme Court decided on June 31st to not hear a case in which gun owners had complained their right to carry a concealed weapon for self-defense outside of one’s home was denied because they could not prove their desire to do so in public was no different than the right to self-protection of the general population. Both Justice Clarence Thomas and President Trump’s recent nomination of Justice Neil M. Gorsuch came out with a very strong dissent to that of the majority essentially criticizing the indefensible power of the State to regulate.

California Bail Policies

There are over one million adult arrested in California on an annual basis. Current statistics reveal that approximately one third of these individuals are bailed out, and only about three percent (3%) fail to appear in court for one or more legal proceeding.

The Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees equal protection of the law and the right to reasonable bail, but this subject is not simple and for some it is controversial. The intent of the bail system is to protect an individual who is presumed innocent  from being punished unless and until proven guilty. It involves the payment of money or a deposit of security to assure a defendant who is charged with a crime will be present in Court on each of the hearing dates. A fixed amount of bail is established by case law or statute, and it is based upon the severity of the crime(s) and the flight risk of the defendant. In other words, bail is used as an incentive for the defendant to  show up for each of the court proceedings

It has often been argued that being required to post bail places an unfair and unreasonable burden on the middle class, and even a far greater challenge for the poorer population who cannot afford to post large sums of money to be released from jail. Because one is considered innocent until proven guilty, which requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt, the opponents of California bail policies point to the fact far too many are required to remain in jail because they cannot afford to post bail, and these very same individuals may later be deemed not guilty and/or likely enter into a plea agreement of a much lesser crime, which if that reduced offense was charged in the beginning, the bail would have been much lower. These opponents of the California bail system also argue taxpayers have to pay for the time and costs to maintain a defendant in jail, such as the salary of the Deputy Sheriffs, food and many other expenses related to the incarceration. It is further postulated that lawyers who have contested bail by taking the case to one of the six districts of the California Courts of Appeal, universally have been unsuccessful in reversing the Superior Court’s Order re: Bail.  

Proponents of the bail system in California contend that Superior Court Judges do an excellent job in their role of determining at a bail hearing or arraignment whether the facts support no bail (O.R. or free on one’s own recognizance); and/or imposing a lesser or higher bail amount. The Court reviews the defendant’s prior criminal history, if any; the seriousness of the current charges; whether there is  potential danger to the victim(s) of the crime and/or their family; the potential risk of harm to the public safety and, therefore, society at large; whether the defendant has ever failed to appear and, therefore, may now as well be a flight risk; and/or a host of other facts, including the “ties” the defendant has to the community, such as full time employment, a lease or ownership of his/her residence; and, family members; all of which tend to be relevant to the Court’s order regarding the extent of bail, if any.

California Government Considering Law to Become Sanctuary State

California Senate Bill 54 has recently been introduced; it proposes to establish a new law to prohibit law enforcement agencies from cooperating with Federal Immigration Authorities. Whether state law enforcement (State Police; CHP, etc.), county (Sheriff), city (local police),  school police or security departments, organization or individual, they would be prohibited from investigating, detaining and/or arresting anyone suspected of a crime that would constitute or be characterized as aiding, assisting, helping or facilitating the enforcement of immigration laws. The Attorney General of the State of California will also be mandated to publish model policies limiting assistance with immigration enforcement by the U.S.  Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). In addition, the bill would require the University of California, public schools and libraries, along with all other facilities that provide services related to education, wellness, physical or mental health, and courthouses to implement a similar policy.

ICE would still be permitted to conduct deportation raids in California, however, they could not rely upon or be assisted by state or local law enforcement (police, sheriffs, etc.). Basically, California would become a “sanctuary state” and countless numbers of individuals claim the state would be protecting criminal felons from being deported. In addition, ICE would be banned from entering jails to interview inmates suspected of living in the United States illegally.

You may be against the idea of sanctuary cities, but as you can see from SB 54, our California government is currently in the process of establishing it as a “state sanctuary.”

Opponents have argued against this bill because it would allow those with criminal records, such as violent felons, to remain on the streets. Proponents  claim by protecting immigrants, even those who have committed violent crimes and/or other felonies,  it is the only humane thing to do for anyone who lives in California. They cannot accept the proposition that there have been many innocent citizens who have been murdered at the hands of undocumented immigrants with prior criminal felony records.

Additionally, Senate Bill 54 does not distinguish between those non-documented immigrants who have a minor infraction, such as driving with an expired vehicle registration tag or broken taillight, and those who are extremely serious and heinous criminal offenders, such as having been convicted of murder, rape, arson and child molestation. Hence, California’s 2013 Trust Act that protects unauthorized immigrants who came to the United States before the age of 16 and other undocumented individuals living in California, who otherwise have been law-abiding, would be superseded by SB 54 and, therefore, these individuals would then be subject to deportation by ICE officers if they were arrested for an infraction.

 It has been reported that California gets about $1 BILLION A DAY from the federal government, and if that is withheld as a sanction against stopping immigration officers from picking up non-documented individuals (politically correct name for illegal immigrants) who have a criminal record, there will inevitably be budget shortfalls in California.

Even if the majority of the California  population oppose sanctuary cities, and no doubt will oppose SENATE BILL 54 that otherwise will make California a “sanctuary state,” if you want this to go to a referendum (to be put on a forthcoming ballot so everyone can have a chance to vote their conscience), you should place your name, city and email address on the web page posted by and this link from California State Senator Jeff Stone.

CAUTION: You May Get An Email, Text or Pop Up And It May Not Be Authentic !!

One of the newer scams is pop ups; these are windows that automatically appear on your cell phone screen, desktop monitor, laptop, tablet or notepad. Originally they were intended and, therefore, designed as a form of online advertising to attract business to a website. More recently, some have become a tool to not only capture the email addresses on your device, but some may also be fraudulent, using 1000’s of popular site names.

Be extremely cautious before you do anything on your device, such as replying to an email, &/or acting on a text message, or a pop up.

Sadly, they can easily copy genuine logos and addresses.  +The following are examples merely listed to remind each of us these are elusive criminals preying on billions of people and businesses on a daily basis +using all too familiar and very common genuine business names like: Microsoft, Intel, Norton’s, Facebook, iTunes, HP, Epson, Apple, Yahoo, Google, AT&T, Gmail, AOL,  National, Regional or Local Banks, Maps, Media Player, Real Player, Music, Weather, Flashlights, Apps, Texts, a nd many other popular applications that are used by hundreds of billions of individuals, including each of us.

It is not that you have yet to see any of these scams, but when this will occur.

Merely shutting down your device might not be a solution, as it might also be the trigger for them to gain access, if not already!!

They look genuine and are intended for you to simply:

push “ok” 

or

click ” here

or

update now

or to simply

reply

and your Computer, Cell phone, Tablet &/or Laptop is open to them to see everything, including your usernames, passwords, and anything you want to be private; and, then face the huge problem of getting them off, if they have not also “ locked your device ” so you cannot access it without calling or texting a number to pay a ransom.

It has been suggested that the alternative is to go online and find the “actual” and “genuine” business, then search to see if they have and use a genuine app, and/or call and speak to their customer service to inquire if there is a link to their app and the online page for you to click. Remember, to be extra cautious and really certain the email, text message, popup and app is authentic before you click, update, open or reply.

Some cyber specialists also recommend we do not provide our identification information to a retailer; nor to anyone when surfing the internet. Take the same precautions whether you have contacted a business to make a purchase or sought a service through the internet This cautionary note is also important when providing your private information to anyone who has contacted you, whether in person, via text, email or on the telephone.

It is a sad commentary that we have to be guarded when we get an email, text message, see a pop up or we are asked to update a particular software on any of our devices. Now we may even need to have a concern, for example, when we get a call from a charitable organization asking us to make a contribution; here as well, we may want to ascertain if they are the authentic entity who they say they are, and/or do not adequately protect the credit card information you decide to give to them. Some individuals do not respond at all; others have chosen to use a money order or check, and send it through the U.S. Postal Service.

California Recent Change to Marijuana Law

Under the ballot measure designated as Proposition 64 that was passed by 57% of the voters in the November 8, 2016 election that became effective November 9th:

1) those convicted of a felony as a result of possession, transportation &/or cultivation of marijuana can have it reduced to a misdemeanor;

2) the County Public Defender in San Diego has offered to file the Petition for free even if the crime occurred years ago, and even if the defendant was previously represented by private counsel;

3) if the San Diego District Attorney decides there is a basis to have the felony reduced to a misdemeanor, the defendant may not even have to appear in Court;

4) the current process in San Diego allows the Superior Court to re-sentence a defendant from a felony to a misdemeanor, or dismiss the charges [it would seem beneficial to have private counsel if one hopes to obtain a full dismissal of a prior felony conviction];

5) the law also now permits anyone over age 21 to possess up to 28.5 grams of marijuana, or grow at any one time up to six marijuana plants at their residence.

6) the maximum penalty is now up to six months in the County Jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000 for those who grow, transport or sell marijuana, which are now misdemeanors.

7) there are certain exceptions causing the case to be charged as a felony, such as:

  • the defendant has prior convictions for the sale of drugs;
  • the defendant is charged with transporting marijuana into the United States &/or across state borders. For example, one cannot obtain marijuana in a state in which recreational use is legal and bring it into California;
  • the defendant has a prior conviction of certain felonies that are deemed “strikes;”
  • the defendant is a Registered Sex Offender [RSO].

8) in addition, there are miscellaneous restrictions in connection with marijuana, such as:

  • there are Federal laws that apply to the use, possession, sale, transportation and/or cultivation of marijuana;
  • driving while impaired by the use [under the influence] of marijuana is a crime in California;
  • smoking marijuana (a joint) (pot) in public is still illegal;
  • a store, shop, or retail establishment that sells recreational marijuana must check ID’s to be certain they are not selling marijuana to a minor; and such a business cannot be within 600 feet of a school, daycare or youth center;
  • unless the law is amended, a medical marijuana dispensary and/or an entity that cultivates marijuana cannot legally sell to an adult recreational user [includes social, personal or nutritional uses] until January, 2018;
  • advertising that is aimed to minors is prohibited;
  • a city or municipality has the power to issue an ordinance to ban the sale of marijuana; and if they permit such a commercial entity to do business, they have the power to regulate those entities under zoning laws.
  • an employer can lawfully require all prospective employees to pass a drug test as a condition of employment for certain positions as long as no individual or group is unlawfully selected, such as discrimination on the basis of race, nationality, religion, sexual preference, etc.
  • an employer can lawfully refuse to hire an employee who has tested positive for marijuana, even though it was legally prescribed for a medicinal purpose

9) nonetheless, there are still advantages to have a felony reduced to a misdemeanor, including but not limited to allowing an individual to maintain &/or obtain current and future: employment, security clearance, insurance, rent or lease property, and, in specified instances to possess a firearm, etc.

On the other hand, it is still likely if one has a professional or occupational license in California, or seeks to obtain such a license,  the state licensing Board, Bureau, or Department will require one to report a crime, whether a felony or misdemeanor; and, they will investigate and likely file an Accusation even if a misdemeanor is expunged. At Spital and Associates, we aggressively seek to present a comprehensive and cogent treatise with a compelling defense and offense and utilize forensic experts (adding the technical science) to marginalize any such investigation or Accusation.

Any discussion of marijuana of necessity has to include what opponents consider to be the dangers of such use. The short term effects include but are not limited to causing changes in a person’s mood, but  it can also impair body movement; as well as difficulty in attention and/or memory (learning) and/or problem solving (thinking). It has also been reported that marijuana raises one’s heart rate, which can increase the risk of a heart attack, particularly with older individuals and/or those with congenital or later developed or contracted heart problems.

The long term effects can adversely impact the previously mentioned mental abilities, and possibly cause permanent loss of certain brain functions. In some individuals,  the long term use of marijuana can cause temporary symptoms such as paranoia and hallucinations, as well as anxiety and depression that has been linked to mental illness. Not only can there be a loss of physical and/or mental health, but it has also been described as a “gateway drug” because it can lead to the use of other drugs and narcotics (some of which are highly addictive and deadly).  In addition, the smoke can harm a person’s lungs and, therefore, cause lung cancer. The risk to the development of a child during and after pregnancy is still unknown. When one seeks to stop using marijuana, there may be withdrawal symptoms.

You are encouraged to consult with a physician in terms of  medical and psychological issues; and, it is recommended that you obtain the advice of an experienced lawyer in regards to each and all of the above items to determine whether and to what extent any apply to you, a loved one, and/or a friend or associate. If you desire a Free Attorney Consultation, call 619.583.0350 and ask for Sam Spital, Managing Lawyer or send an email

Court of Appeal Recuses Orange County District Attorney’s Office in Murder Case

On November 23, 2016, the Fourth District Court of Appeal affirmed the Superior Court’s Decision  recusing the entire District Attorneys Office in Orange County [OCDA] in the penalty phase of a case in which the defendant had previously pled guilty to eight counts of murder. The Superior Court concluded the OCDA had such a severe conflict of interest (its duty to fairly prosecute a case under the rule of law) with the [OCSD] Orange County Sheriff’s Department (in which the loyalty by prosecutors to  the sheriffs conflicted). As a result, the court held  it was unlikely the defendant could have a fair trial. This determination came after hearings over a period of six months in which nearly forty witnesses testified as to the systemic, known and prejudicial use of confidential informants that violated the constitutional rights of inmates, along with substantial discovery failures of the OCSD.

The ruling came after a  murder trial heavily reported by the media involving a defendant who with a barrage of gunfire killed eight individuals at a hair salon where his former wife was working. Although the Deputy Public Defender representing the defendant eventually discovered sheriff’s deputies were using confidential jailhouse informants to solicit incriminating statements from high-profile defendants, the District Attorney’s Office and its prosecutors on an ongoing basis failed to disclose this practice.

 

California Death Penalty. Vote November 8th

There are two measures  that deal with the death penalty in California that are on the ballot in the forthcoming November 8th election. California has the largest number of inmates awaiting the death penalty of all the states. The last execution in California was about ten years ago when it was legally challenged because of a claim, among other things, that the process of using lethal injections was inhumane. The last attempt to abolish the death penalty occurred in 2012.

The first measure on the ballot is Proposition 62, which replaces the death penalty with life in prison without any possibility of parole and applies retroactively to all previous and existing cases in which anyone is currently incarcerated and facing the death penalty. If enacted into law, it will [also] apply to all future first degree murder convictions in which the death penalty would have been the sentence. In September of this year, a Field poll was conducted of likely voters and found that a plurality of voters (the most posted online votes, but not a majority of all votes which would be over 50%) wanted to abolish the death penalty and, therefore, voted that it be repealed. It is noteworthy that there were a substantial number of “undecided” voters, however,  and they will likely make the difference in the outcome on November 8th.

Those that oppose the death penalty cite, among other things, the following reasons: it is unfairly applied to minorities, the procedure is inhumane, and the process is costing far too much to the people of the State of California. Proponents of execution as the form of punishment assert this penalty is reserved for what can best be described as a most heinous and despicable crime against humanity, causing unparalleled and life long suffering to the families of such victims; and, there are newly developed procedures associated with death penalty cases that are being considered.

The second measure on the ballot, Proposition 66, is considered a competing measure and much different than Proposition 62 in that it speeds up executions and the death penalty process by requiring the outcome of a defendant’s appeal to not take more than five (5) years. A little over 1/3 of those in the Field poll noted above were in favor of this Proposition, but more importantly, about 42% of those who were polled were “undecided” and will indeed make a difference in the outcome of this Proposition.

To promote justice for whom they claim at this point in time are at least 1000 victims and their families, there are District Attorneys in the multitude of California counties, the California Highway Patrol Association and Peace Officers Association, along with victim advocates who are among those behind Proposition 66 declaring it to be much needed. The Office of the California Legislative Analyst reported when it last made a study it costs nearly $50,000 per year per inmate to be incarcerated in our State Prisons. The cost of a death row inmate is about $90,000 more per year due to the costs of lengthy and complex appeals to the California Supreme Court, which currently has a backlog that can take ten or more years for a ruling.

Today, there are about 750 Death Row inmates that for decades have been incarcerated in prisons. Proponents of Proposition 66 also note such inmates get three meals a day in state prisons that have heating and air conditioning; with access to cable TV and a library; and each receive nearly unlimited heath care, including but not limited to eyeglasses; dental care; hearing aids; hip, kidney, knee, heart and sex change surgery, all of which are often far better than most of us who do not get free health care, including senior citizens who often cannot afford the escalating cost of living, prescription medicine and/or a satisfactory long term care facility. In summary, these are stated as further grounds to support Proposition 66 and limit the current delays and streamline the criminal justice system in California.

If both measures were to pass on November 8th, then the one with the greatest number of votes will become law in California.

You are urged to vote on these and other critical issues that concern all of us in the forthcoming election.