DISCLOSURE OF CONVICTIONS TO EMPLOYERS

Effective January, 1, 2018, employers in California with five or more employees cannot make employment decisions regarding convictions unless first performing an individualized assessment. The Assessment entails consideration of: [1] the underlying facts of the crime as they relate to the nature and seriousness of the conviction; [2] the period of time that has elapsed since the crime was committed and whether the terms and condition of the sentence have been completed, along with [3] the duties and functions of the employment position [nature of the job] in question. Under the existing law through and including December 31, 2017, only governmental entities (City, County and State) were barred from making such personnel decisions.

Additionally, a private employer cannot ask questions, whether during a face to face interview and/or on the Application for Employment form, regarding a criminal history of a prospective employee until after a preliminary decision has been made that the applicant is qualified for the open position. Essentially, an employer cannot consider a person’s criminal history until after a preliminary or conditional job offer has been made to the prospective employee. As such, the employer is prohibited from having a background check performed until after making a conditional employment offer.

Assembly Bill 1008 (AB 1008) was signed into law on October 14, 2017 and, as a result, a new section has been added to the Fair Employment and Housing Act, commonly referred to as FEHA, to wit: Government Code Section 12952.

Shortly before signing into law the above mandate, on October 12, 2017, the Governor took a quite similar position as above when he made it a misdemeanor for violating AB 138, which prevents an employer from asking questions of a prospective employee regarding their previous salary, nor could employers consider the salary history as a factor in making decisions regarding an applicant for employment. The new law does not prohibit an applicant from voluntarily providing salary history information and it can be used by the prospective employer in making its own decisions in connection with the salary to be offered. Labor Section 432.3

None of the above should be interpreted as a prohibition against any Governmental agency (Board, Bureau and/or Department) from inquiring as to a conviction, commonly referred to as a background check, as part of the process of obtaining a professional or occupational license; similarly, this inquiry is an integral part of the renewal process regarding any such license. It should be remembered, there are approximately 50 agencies, including the California Department of Consumer Affairs. All of these state agencies have the power to investigate, deny, suspend or revoke a license, in the interest of the health and safety of the public, and thereby rely upon the underlying facts of the crime, as they relate to the duties and functions of a licensed professional or occupational license. Business and Professions Code Section 475-499.

For additional information, see Administrative Law Attorney.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU GET PULLED OVER?

Knowing what to do in the event you get pulled over is very important. However, it is equally important to know the reasons for getting stopped by a law enforcement officer so as to avoid being pulled over in the first place.

Here are a few of the top reasons:

  1. Speeding. Clearly, driving above the speed limit is most likely going to catch the attention of the police, sheriff or C.H.P. Because it will take longer to react to an unexpected event, and the braking distances increase the faster one drives, this is the number one reason law enforcement pull over drivers as it obviously helps prevent accidents.
  2. Cell Phones. With the proliferation of mobile devices, nearly everyone is using a cell phone throughout the day and night. However, using a cell phone to text and/or talk with another person while driving a vehicle is another major reason you will get pulled over. And, to deny you were using the phone or to throw the phone on the seat next to you may not be as clever as it might seem; cell phones not only maintain their own records on the device, but can be traced to the cell towers to identify the time and location of our communications.
  3. Unsafe & Hazardous Driving. It should be no surprise that, among other things, following too closely; driving through a stop sign or red traffic signal; making an illegal U-turn; failing to yield to other vehicles; unsafe and/or improper lane changes; driving too slowly; not wearing a seat belt; and, failing to signal are at the top of the list of the various reasons for getting pulled over by law enforcement.
  4. Vehicle Equipment. At the top of the list of equipment violations are improperly (extremely) tinted windows; headlights that are inoperative (such as burned out); expired registration license plate stickers; and, having no license plate on the front bumper. These are vehicle equipment reasons officers make traffic stops.

 

Considerations:

Once you become aware an officer intends for you to stop your vehicle, you should cautiously pull over to a safe area of the road or freeway as soon as possible. When the vehicle is at rest, the motor should be turned off.

The officer will request your driver’s license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance. Being evasive or denying any wrongdoing when it is clear you violated the law is not likely to be in one’s best interest. Also, do not argue with the officer. Being polite as in most situations we face is generally the wisest decision.  By talking back to or arguing with an officer, it is likely the officer will be angered; and, being confrontational, probably will exacerbate the situation. Since an officer has discretion on how to proceed, there is little or no reason to get into a conflict with him/her. On the other hand, if the officer asks “Do you know why I stopped you,” it is noteworthy that anything you say can and will be used against you (see information below).

Some Relevant Laws:

The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: This Amendment to the Constitution guarantees one the right to remain silent and to be free from self-incrimination. In the situation of a traffic stop, however, refusing to talk to an officer can result in unintended consequences. Ordinarily, a traffic stop is deemed an investigatory process; at the outset, you are not considered to be in custody and, therefore, there is no requirement to be admonished by law enforcement as to your rights. If you are asked to “voluntarily” come in to the police or sheriff’s station for questioning, you can refuse. On the other hand, once an individual is arrested, you will be taken into custody and, therefore, should obtain the advice of a criminal defense lawyer before making any statements. And, if the traffic stop escalates into an arrest, you should affirmatively invoke your Miranda rights under the Fifth Amendment and remain silent. However, it is important to do all of the above calmly and politely.

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: If an officer decides to detain you, there may be sufficient evidence to do so. If there is probable cause to make an arrest, however, the situation as noted earlier becomes one in which you are in “custody;” then, the officer must state (commonly referred to as the Miranda rights)  you have a right to remain silent; anything you say or do can and will be used against you in Court; you have a right to an attorney; if you cannot afford a lawyer, the court will appoint one. At the point of what can be characterized as a custodial interrogation, it is highly recommended you do not answer any questions nor voluntarily provide your own narrative of the facts without the prior advice of legal counsel.

This blog is not intended as legal advice. Each situation requires a proper and thorough evaluation of all of the facts and circumstances. It is noteworthy that there are many articles on the above subject matter. In addition, you can view more information by clicking the topic Probable Cause and Miranda rights.

Appeals Court Upholds California Death Penalty

On November 12, 2015, the United States 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld
the constitutionality of the California Death Penalty and in so doing reversed the ruling by the US District Court that decided under the 8th Amendment it was unconstitutional as cruel and unusual punishment because of lengthy and unpredictable delays. The California Attorney General argued the delays were a result of the number and length of time involved in the legal maneuvers and appeal process that affords inmates their constitutional right to file appeals and writs of habeas corpus.

The history of the case is that in 2003, the California Supreme Court upheld the underlying conviction of the defendant/inmate on first-degree murder and rape charges.

In California since 1978, there have been approximately 900 defendants sentenced to death, with only 13 actual executions, and none in about ten years. Executions at San Quentin State Prison have been on hold since 2006 when a Federal Judge deemed there to be legal issues with the then current and past combined multi-drug lethal procedures. Since there is now a national shortage of single lethal drugs that too poses additional problems. In California, there are now about 750 inmates on death row (about 100 died while imprisoned due to other causes).

Should law Enforcement Be Permitted to Stop and Search on the Basis of an Anonymous Tip of Reckless Driving?

In the U.S. Supreme Court case of PRADO NAVARETTE et al. v. CALIFORNIA, 12-9490 (April 22, 2014), the Court held the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was not violated and, therefore, the traffic stop by a CHP law enforcement in which the officer searched the bed of a pickup truck and found about thirty pounds of marijuana was lawful since he had a reasonable suspicion of criminality, smelling marijuana and having a belief the driver was intoxicated.as a result of an anonymous tip given by a 911 caller.

The Dissenting opinion in this case captured the essence of the issue by writing a compelling summary stating all of us are at risk of losing our freedom of movement by an anonymous telephone tip such as this one regarding a reckless driver, whether true or false. Further, other opponents of these types of searches argue law enforcement should not be able to stop and search the public on an en masse basis. Criminal and constitutional lawyers maintain this Supreme Court opinion constitutes a further loss of our freedom to be secure from government intrusion.

“Buckets of Money” creator faces charges

Ray Lucia Sr., the creator of the retirement strategy called “Buckets of Money,” was charged by a judge with knowingly and fraudulently misleading potential investors.

Lucia has promoted his investment plan for years, both in books and on his San Diego-based financial show. However, he claimed that he performed backtests, which are methodical calculations. But when he was asked about the calculations, he said he did some in 1990 and no longer had copies.

The Securities and Exchange Commission, if they agree with the judge’s decision, will fine Lucia $300,000, bar him from associating with investing firms, and strip him of his investment adviser registration.

When it comes to investments, people should think twice about who they trust. Consult with multiple experts to find the best path.

 

Feds raid 17 Calif. auto stores for nitrous oxide

Several Southern California auto shops and other businesses suspected of illegally selling nitrous oxide for recreational use were raided by hundreds of law enforcement officers on Friday. This drug raid has been considered the largest of its kind in the nation.

During 17 simultaneous raids conducted in Orange County, Los Angeles, and Riverside County, four federal arrest warrants were also served. At least two individuals were arrested on misdemeanor charges.

This nitrous oxide raid is the result of a year-and-a-half-long investigation conducted by the FDA’s Administration Office of Criminal Investigations and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.  Although this type of drug has been commonly used at raves for a long time, the drug has quickly grown into mainstream use. Furthermore, because it is not a controlled substance, law enforcement does not have the ability to control it.

This drug is legally used by dentists when needing to administer anesthesia, but authorities have stated that its illegal use has contributed to dozens of car accidents, rapes, and deaths among teenagers.

O.C. swim coach banned for life; other coach resigns

A Mission Viejo swimming coach has been banned for life by swimming’s national governing body after he admitted to having inappropriate conduct with a female teenage swimmer. According to the report, the coach became involved with a 15-year-old when he was 28-years-old and developed a long-term sexual relationship with the teen girl.

In a separate case, an Orange County swim coach resigned from his position at Golden West Swim Club (GWSC) after a story reporting his alleged sexual misconduct and inappropriate behavior toward female teen swimmers. As a result, the GWSC has implemented policies and programs through a non-profit foundation designed to prevent inappropriate behavior toward athletes.

The swimmer involved in the case of the Mission Viejo Natadores coach case chose not to file a complaint or participate in the investigation. The coach however, stated that an inappropriate relationship occurred and thus he elected not to contest the sanctions imposed, including a lifetime ban.

The case for the Golden West Swim Club coach remains under investigation.

 

Suspect accused of killing California doctor was a patient with an appointment (Sam Spital)

COMMENTARY BY SAM SPITAL, Criminal Defense Lawyer, San Diego:

“The Fox.com news reported on January 30, 2013 that a 52 year old Newport Beach Urologist, Dr. Ronald Gilbert, was shot and killed by a 75 year old patient who had a scheduled appointment and brought a handgun with him into the exam room and fired multiple times. The article noted that the murder suspect had not previously seen Dr. Gilbert, but he had suffered from incontinence after a recent surgery although it was not revealed who performed it.

Two neighbors were interviewed and one said the accused claimed: ‘I had surgery and now I am worse than before the surgery.’ Another neighbor said he declared: ‘he wasn’t going to be around much longer.’ These facts and more may be the basis of the prosecution arguing this was a premeditated murder. The defendant can face life in prison or the death penalty.

In 1972, the California Supreme Court outlawed the death penalty. However, the California Constitution was modified through the voter-initiative process passing Proposition 17, thereby reinstating the death penalty. The statute was subsequently modified making the death penalty mandatory for specified crimes including murder one with special circumstances. Only a voter approved ballot measure can alter this statute, and in 2012 when the California voters had the opportunity to do so with Proposition 34, they rejected doing so by 53%.

At the time of the arraignment, the Defendant told the Superior Court he did not have the financial means to hire a private attorney, and the Judge set the matter over so that a Deputy Public Defender would be appointed on his behalf.”

–Sam Spital

Officers Fatally Shoot Pursuit Suspect-The suspect driver allegedly accelerated toward the officers at a dead end (Sam Spital)

Commentary by Sam Spital, Criminal Lawyer- San Diego:

“NBC Channel 39 in its electronic news on January 12, 2012 reported an officer had shot an assailant at about 1:15 a.m. when there was a pursuit of a vehicle driving at an excessive speed that in spite of the police siren and red lights flashing eventually only came to a halt at a dead end street when it made a u-turn. When the officers stopped the vehicle and ordered the occupants to exit the unreported stolen vehicle, they did not do so and instead the car was accelerated towards the officers. Even after the officers admonished the 21 year old female driver to stop, she did not. Fearing their safety, the officers who had been on the police force from 4 to 6 years fired their weapons and the driver was shot and killed in the process.

It would be unreasonable to attribute blame to the officers in such exigent circumstances because enough facts are not known as to whether the officers could have prevented the situation if they had blocked the street to prevent the car from escaping and/or obtained assistance from other patrol cars to do the same. Suffice to say, the reporter did not interview the officers and obtain more information, nor did she contact any of the passengers in the stolen vehicle to develop a more complete account of the events in question.”

–Sam Spital

15 to face indictments in South Bay case (Sam Spital)

Commentary by Sam Spital, Criminal Defense Lawyer:

“A previous criminal probe involving officials in three school districts in San Diego County has expanded to now include 15 who were indicted for 232 felony and misdemeanor charges related to bribery and conspiracy in an ongoing ‘pay for play’ corruption case in connection with construction contracts entered into by district officials was reported by the UT News on January 7, 2013. The case involves campaign contributions, tickets to plays and sporting events as well as lavish meals, etc. in exchange for multi-million dollar school construction bond contracts.

At least one defense counsel was reported to be discussing a severance of the multiple cases so all of the defendants are not prosecuted together. The public’s interest in receiving information regarding the criminal case and the defendants’ right to due process and to have a trial free of adverse publicity has to be balanced by the court, with such a claim likely to be made by at least one of the defense counsel. The court will also have to manage this complex case with over a dozen defense counsel seeking to make a series of arguments and motions on behalf of their respective clients. Also, this case will no doubt proceed over many months, and here will be some defendants who will enter guilty or nolo contender pleas (plea in which one declines to admit or dispute the charges); it is even possible immunity may be given by the prosecution to some of the offenders if they have not done so already in helping to build their case. In spite of all of the allegations and innuendos, one always needs to be cognizant of the fact a person must be deemed innocent until proven otherwise.”

–Sam Spital