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.

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.

Methamphetamine is a growing problem throughout San Diego

Methamphetamine drug use and distribution are some of the most prevent drug crimes in San Diego. According to this news report, methamphetamine killed an estimated 174 people in this Southern California city in the year 2012.“It’s prevalent and I don’t know if people know how much it is,” said the founder of a rehab facility for teen and adult addicts.
In the 90s, San Diego became known as the meth capital of the world because of an increase in labs that emerged throughout the city. Methamphetamine drug use and problems in San Diego did not end there. Today, meth is considered to be the number 1 reason why people seek rehabilitation.

DEA says San Diego drug ring stops with arrests

Despite the beauty that is San Diego, it is not free from the perils of crime. Due to location and accessibility, San Diego is often home to a plethora of drug crimes. The article referenced below is a great example of the threat that drug crimes pose. A total of 13 individuals have been arrested by federal officials and as a result, a drug ring that was bringing methamphetamine and cocaine into San Diego County was stopped.

According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the drug ring was profiting highly from the drug ring. Out of the 12 suspects that were arrested on Wednesday, 7 are from Vista and two from San Marcos. The rest are believed to be from Spring Valley, Los Angeles, and Oceanside. The arrests are a result of a year-long investigation.




“On January 24, 2013, according to the UT San Diego electronic news, U.S. District Judge Irma Gonzalez sentenced 32 year old Joshua Hester after a guilty plea to more than eight years in Federal Prison for money laundering, maintaining a drug-related business, conspiracy to distribute more than a ton of marijuana, and other charges. The Federal Government lawyer argued and the Judge agreed in imposing the sentence that Hester operated a multi-million dollar business in two medical marijuana dispensaries and used the state law to seemingly shield his operations for dealing in the sale of illegal drugs.

In 1996, Proposition 215 was passed in California as an Initiative (commonly known as the Compassionate Use Act of 1996. The purposes of the Act are to ensure seriously ill individuals have the right to obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes as long as the medical use is deemed appropriate and has been recommended by a physician who has determined the health of such individuals will benefit from the use of marijuana in the treatment of medical disorders and diseases such as cancer, AIDS, chronic pain and arthritis,  migraine headaches and/or any other illness for which marijuana is deemed to provide relief.

Essentially, under California law, one can use marijuana for medicinal purposes as long as there is a recommendation by a physician.  In addition, the Medical Marijuana Program (MMP) was established in 2003, pursuant to Senate Bill number 420 that was passed as an extension and clarification to provide qualified patients and their caregivers a registration program and the issuance of a voluntary medical marijuana identification card. The problem is that since 1972, the United States Congress has listed marijuana in Schedule I of the federal Controlled Substances Act, which means that it has no accepted medical use and is illegal under Federal law. Since that time, however, 17 of states and the District of Columbia have legalized the medical use of marijuana given the opinion that medical marijuana dispensaries are operated for the public good to serve those who are seriously ill and as such have found relief from marijuana. The debate will continue as long as there is a conflict in State and Federal law.”

–Sam Spital

Smith v. United States (Sam Spital)

Commentary by San Diego Criminal Defense Lawyer Sam Spital:

“On January 9, 2013, the United States Supreme Court in a unanimous 9-0 opinion written by Justice Scalia in the case of Smith vs. U.S., (Case No. 11–8976, affirmed the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that held a defendant who had been charged with conspiracy to distribute narcotics and his role in an illegal drug business (RICO conspiracy) could not argue the charges were barred by the five (5) year Federal statute of limitations because he allegedly withdrew from the scheme. A conspiracy is deemed to continue until it is terminated or at the time a particular defendant withdraws, if at all. In this case, the Petitioner was in prison for the last six years of a criminal conspiracy that spanned over a decade. This was the basis for his argument that he could not be prosecuted since he had withdrawn from the conspiracy more than five years before the criminal indictment was filed.

However, the court concluded a defendant has the burden of proving the affirmative defense of withdrawal from the conspiracy by a preponderance of evidence, and it is not the obligation of the Assistant U.S. Attorney to prove a particular defendant participated in the conspiracy during the limitations period; further, this requirement did not violate the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The Court ruled that ‘unless an affirmative defense negates an element of the crime, the Government has no constitutional duty to overcome the defense beyond a reasonable doubt.’ A defendant would not be liable for the acts of the co-conspirators after an actual withdrawal from a conspiracy. Based upon such a principle, the defense lawyer contended an element of the crime of conspiracy is one’s membership and, therefore, when one withdraws it negates that component. The Court held the contrary is true and the proposition that one has withdrawn from a conspiracy does not negate any element of the crime since it presupposes there indeed was a conspiracy. In other words, the conspiracy still took place, but it establishes the point in time at which a defendant is no longer liable.

In summary, in order for a defendant to have had a complete defense to the within conspiracy charges, he had to prove by a preponderance of evidence his withdrawal occurred outside of the applicable statute of limitations period of time.”

–Sam Spital

22 students arrested in drug sting (Sam Spital)


“Fox 5 digital news reported on December 12, 2012 an illegal drug ring was discovered by an undercover drug investigation in which officers posed as students in several high school campuses in the Temecula Valley area of Riverside County, a community adjacent to San Diego. In total there were 22 arrests of which 20 minors were taken to Juvenile Hall and 2 adult students taken into custody were arrested for sales of narcotics and child endangerment. Seized in the sting were cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine (meth), ecstasy, LSD, marijuana and illegal prescription drugs.

It strains credulity that so many of our youth fall into the trap of experimenting with and/or using drugs to feel good. Life has many challenges, but equally true is the fact there are far greater opportunities. However, we have to question whether our schools are providing sufficient information, case studies and material in their curriculum as well as using appropriate resources to build self-esteem, positive values, goals and dreams to motivate students to achieve happiness. Instead, far too many students experiment with drugs in order to get ‘high.’ Substituting artificial, extremely dangerous and addictive drugs only to provide an extremely short lived result can only lead to a trap as in the case of quick sand, offering no long term pleasure, relief &/or remedy while posing the risk of a life time of further complications as well as death. Although so much money is spent to solve social ills and problems, it hardly seems to have had a sufficient impact to reduce the scourge of illegal possession, use and sales of drugs and narcotics.”

–Sam Spital

Teen Recruits Smuggling Drugs Across Border: Feds (Sam Spital)


“Channel 7 San Diego online news on November 16, 2012 reported both Mexican and American teenagers, as young as 12 years old, are being recruited by drug cartels to smuggle drugs (referred to as “mules”) across the border. Federal Agents of the Homeland Security report that last year there were 190 and so far this year nearly 130 teens who were recruited at malls, arcades and outside schools, as well as through social media, such as Facebook, were caught smuggling narcotics.. These minor children are told they will not face serious penalties in the Juvenile Court system and can earn from $50 to $500 to carry drugs under their clothing. Initially only targeting young boys, the drug cartels are using young girls as well.

At one time marijuana was the drug of choice, and now it is methamphetamine (commonly referred to as “meth”), which is a stimulant and highly addictive narcotic. Some people use meth because it can help them lose weight, although the results are extremely short lived as the body builds a tolerance and more and more has to be taken to the point it has little or no value, but by that time the individual has become addicted to it and cannot stop. Others use meth for increased energy, sexual pleasure and by those who suffer depression. Without strict controls and supervision by a competent physician, the drug can lead to brain damage and even death. Parents need to maintain open communications with their children to the point they dialogue on life issues, pick up on their children’s activities, who are their friends and are alert to changes in behavior. While society has seemingly advanced in technical ways, open and regular communications and everyday discussions seem to have been lost to text messaging and chat rooms.”




Agents seize $500,000 in drugs (Sam Spital)

“On September 13, 2012, the UT News printed an article about Border Patrol agents in several check points in both the counties of San Diego and Orange stopping vehicles and finding hidden in various parts of the automobiles a total of about a half-million dollars in street value of illegal drugs.As long as there are individuals that use drugs illegally, there will be those that profit from others’ misfortunes. The scourge in society continues to a level that seems worse every year. Some argue we should legalize certain drugs; others contend this would only lead to those that use drugs to eventually seek out and use more drugs to help them deal with their life issues. Unfortunately, people who abuse drugs become addicted and the result seems to inevitable lead to increased social problems, including suicides, serious crimes and accidents. The challenge for our education system and the press is to seek greater solutions and better intervention programs.”

Sam Spital, Criminal Defense Lawyer

San Diego CBP agents seize drugs worth $253,550 (SAM SPITAL)

“Clearly, the continued escalation of drug smuggling evinces the growing use of and seemingly unending reliance upon drugs by individuals who cannot tolerate their daily life challenges.

~ Addiction is a never ending cycle that demands rigid adherence to known and successful recovery programs.

~ Better education, developing proven life skills, and utilizing accepted and successful support systems can help reduce this scourge.

The role of defense counsel, among other things, is to identify weaknesses in the prosecution’s evidence; find all of the procedural errors, if any; marginalize the opponent case; and, emphasize the mitigating facts and circumstances.

The overriding premise is that everyone deserves a full and fair hearing, and even though accused of a crime are innocent unless and until proven guilty. It is too easy to rush to judgement based upon media accounts that far too frequently do not provide a balanced report.”

Sam Spital, Criminal Defense Lawyer

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