Senate Committee Approves Eliminating and Reducing Certain Criminal Sentences

On January 30, 2014, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill that would abolish mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenders who do not have a prior criminal history, as well as reducing by 50% mandatory minimum sentences for specified nonviolent drug offenses. The proposed law among other things eliminates mandatory minimum sentences if there is a finding by the Judge that the defendant does not have any previous conviction for crimes involving a firearm, violence, terrorism, a sex offense, racketeering or conspiracy involving illegal drugs. It would also reduce mandatory minimum sentences from 20 to 10 years, from 10 to five years, and from five to two years. There would be no change lowering the maximum sentence.

Opponents believe this law could result in prosecutors being unable to curtail gangs and drug organizations (drug cartels, etc.). Moreover, it is argued that there are very few criminals in federal prison for only simple drug possession, and the rest are mainly drug dealers that are the subject of the bill.

Proponents site the overcrowding and excessive costs of our Federal prisons, the latter estimate being as much as $3 billion over 10 years. They also claim the current laws do not sufficiently distinguish career criminals from low level offenders, and further that nonviolent drug offenses only would be the subject of the new law if it is passed by the full Senate, and goes through the rest of the process in which new laws are made.

Sex offenders, criminals allowed to be counselors

The lax credentialing system in California has allowed convicted sex offenders and people with substance abuse problems to work with clients.

California is one of only two states that does not require background check on people who are registering to become substance-abuse counselors. No criminal background check is run, and in fact applicants are never asked to disclose any past trouble with the law.

An investigation run by the Senate Office of Oversight and Outcomes revealed that, since 2005, there are 23 sex offenders who have been registered or certified to work as substance-abuse counselors.

 

Statutory Rape Suspect Arrested in San Diego

A Canadian man has been charged with statutory rape and arranging to have sex with a minor in San Diego. In addition to rape charges, the man is accused of possessing child pornography.

San Mateo detectives believe the 26-year-old had been speaking with a 16-year-old San Mateo girl online and was allegedly planning on meeting the minor. Detectives began posing undercover as the teen girl and arranged a meeting with the man at a San Francisco airport. The man flew in from Canada and was then arrested.

A follow-up investigation led detectives to the discovery of child pornography on an electronic device belonging to the suspect. As a result, authorities obtained an additional arrest warrant for him.

 

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.

 

Pimp sentenced for child sex trafficking

The U.S. Attorney’s Office has reported a 600% increase in human trafficking in the last 5 years; most of these involve sex trafficking of children:

A San Diego man has been sentenced to 12 years prison after he pleaded guilty to sex trafficking of children. The man was identified as a “pimp” when detectives discovered his connection to online advertisements for escorts involving underage girls working as prostitutes.

One of the girls who worked for the suspect, described him as “ruthless” and “crazy”. She also stated that he physically assaulted for hiding money from him. Court documents further showed that the man beat the girl and took the money she made from prostitution to buy sneakers from a Gucci store.

 

PREGNANT TEACHER TO BE LET OUT OF JAIL – Woman who had sex with teen will be freed early for birth

http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2013/feb/07/tp-pregnant-teacher-to-be-let-out-of-jail/

“According to the UT San Diego news on February 7, 2013, a teacher at the New Haven Youth & Family Services in Vista, a residential and educational facility in the northern part of San Diego County that treats boys from about 8 to 17 who suffer from emotional and behavioral challenges, was charged with having sex with a 16 year old former student at the facility. The Court ordered 35 year old Kelly McKenzy Watson, to be incarcerated in County Jail for one year with probation for 3 years. Although the Judge did not require her to register as a sex offender (RSO), he did include in his Order that she not work with minors in the future.

The article revealed the teenager had not considered himself a victim, he cares for and did not want the soon to be mother of his child to go to jail, and he wants to be involved in the life of their child. The Judge noted that Watson would be released from jail early in consideration for the health of the unborn child, and if she successfully completes probation Watson will not serve the remainder of her jail sentence.

It is clear such a sexual relationship is inappropriate, inexcusable and illegal. This conduct cannot be condoned in society, particularly since teachers hold a position of trust. In reviewing many of these cases, however, there does not appear to have been deviant sexual behavior, and the individuals have often evinced a strong bond of love and affection. On September 5, 2012, the Commission on Teaching Credentials suspended Watson for this misconduct pursuant to Education Code section 44940.. There are many unintended consequences in this tragic story, and in particular the loss of a Special Education teacher who are otherwise much needed in the school system. Click this link for the licensing status of the former educator who received her initial teaching credential in 2004:

Military Sex Crimes Increasing Despite Training – Officials struggle to explain why the problem has grown (Sam Spital)

Commentary by Sex Crime Defense and San Diego Criminal Attorney Sam Spital:

“On January 21, 2013, in the digital edition of the NBC Channel 39 news, an article was published regarding the growing sexual crimes, including sodomy, adultery, pornography and related offenses such as sexual harassment. It was revealed that about 30% of commanders in the military were ousted because of sex crimes and misconduct during the past eight years.

Some top officials believe a policy of zero tolerance equally and more consistently enforced across all ranks within the military service, whether generals or admirals may curb this increased problem. Others believe the ethics training that is given in the military needs to be implemented earlier in everyone’s career.

Whether it is declining ethical values &/or alcohol and drug related issues, these problems are pervasive in the military as we have also seen in various other positions in government, all the way up the ladder to those who have been respected as leaders in the House, the Senate and even former Presidents. Perhaps the situation is no different than what exists in society today, however, we expect those in governing positions to be models for the rest of us who should be able to emulate great qualities and not substantial lapses in judgment. There may be a silver lining in that more misdeeds are being reported and the public is not ignoring such offenses &/or these transgressions, but demanding justice.

The role of the defense lawyer not only serves to refute any or all of the elements of a crime, but most often to establish the redeeming qualities of the offender, if any, as well as remorse and rehabilitation.”

–Sam Spital

Nurses Videotaped in Sex Acts Worked for Unlicensed Company (Sam Spital)

Commentary by SAN DIEGO CRIMINAL LAW AND PROFESSIONAL LICENSE DEFENSE ATTORNEY:

“This story was updated and published on November 8, 2012 by San Diego Channel 6 News regarding two registered nurses who were caught by home surveillance equipment and videotaped masturbating and performing oral sex on each other near, as well as kissing and fondling, a female stroke victim who was 98 years old. The nurses were referred by AMS Home Care Solutions, which reportedly is not currently and never was licensed by the California Department of Public Health to provide skilled nursing care (apparently AMS applied in May, 2011 for, but was not granted, a license). On October 24, 2012, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) issued an Interim Suspension Order (ISO) against the nurses. For further information regarding both cases before the Board of Registered Nursing, see: http://rn.ca.gov/public/rn575494.pdf andhttp://rn.ca.gov/public/rn673160.pdf.

Pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure, Section 1094.5, either or both of the nurses can obtain judicial review of their respective ISO by filing a Petition for a Writ of Mandamus in San Diego Superior Court in which the judge will decide if there was an abuse of discretion by the ALJ in imposing the interim Order. The Board of Registered Nursing has up to 15 days to file an Accusation in connection with the above case in which the nurses face an outright revocation of each of their RN licenses. If a Notice of Defense is timely filed the nurses or either one are entitled to a hearing or trial within 30 days. There were no responses by defense counsel and, therefore, it is uncertain what strategy or arguments will be made on behalf of their respective clients.”

 

Scout files show abuse in county – During sleepovers to “work on merit badges,” molestation occurred (Sam Spital)

COMMENTARY BY SAN DIEGO CRIMINAL LAWYER – SAM SPITAL:

“On Thursday, November 1, 2012, the UT SAN DIEGO NEWS reported thousands of Boy Scouts of America (BSA) files were released in which lawsuits were brought by and/or on behalf of abused boy scouts alleging the leaders of the BSA were liable for failing to protect them. Between 1970 and 1991, there were about 10 individuals from San Diego among ‘nearly 1,900 known or suspected child molesters’ who were expelled from BSA. In addition, a Seattle, Washington lawyer that filed over 150 lawsuits stated ‘the organization didn’t do a good job of vetting volunteers before they were allowed into the organization or catching and reacting to sexual abuse allegations against volunteers who were working with scouts.’

It is both appalling and heartbreaking for enormous numbers of innocent young boys to have experienced sexual abuse from leaders they looked up to as models to train them in self-confidence, self-esteem, ethics, and citizenship skills in the service of others and to become responsible adults. The taint associated with the BSA reflects adversely on its long history of doing good deeds and performing well for society as a result of its failure to properly and fully investigate, evaluate, supervise and monitor its volunteers to prevent even a suggestion or possibility of sexual abuse. Parents need to clearly know and be able to undeniably trust those with whom they allow their children to be involved.”

 

 

Sex predator released from supervision (Sam Spital)

“On October 2, 2012, in a UT San Diego News article, a Defendant who pled guilty to and was convicted of child molestation in 1989 was reported to have been released from further custody after two psychological evaluations opined he was unlikely to engage in violent sexual criminal behavior. This followed a recent hearing in which the Superior Court Judge ruled that Matthew Hedge did not pose a danger to others even though classified during the intervening two decades as a sexually violent predator. He is still required to register with law enforcement as a sex offender (RSO).

Previously sentenced to Atascadero State Hospital, the defendant voluntarily participated in a lengthy sex offender treatment program. During the past seven years while in the State Department of Health program, there were several rule breaking incidents, including at least one arrest, but none were charged as any new crime. In 2005, he became the first sexually violent predator to be released in San Diego under the California’s conditional release program, where he was ordered to live in a trailer adjacent to the Donovan Correctional Facility. He was under heavy supervision and a GPS monitor on his ankle.

The above scenario clearly has caused anger and outrage by many; others have been proponents of the use of alternative means to handle sex offender cases, and some of whom cite the huge cost of this type of confinement in our penal system, which is claimed to be over $150,000 a year.”

SAM SPITAL, CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER