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Law Office of Ronald G. Brower Blog


Wednesday, January 17, 2018

SB 395 Impacts Juvenile Investigations

Sb 395
Last October, California Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 395: police cannot interrogate children 15 and under until a child has consulted with an attorney. Before, children of any age were allowed to waive their right to an attorney, even when parents had no idea their child was in custody. The legislation came about due to law enforcement officers exploiting young people’s ignorance regarding their rights.

As you might expect, SB 395 is hailed as a victory by defense attorneys, while law enforcement views it as something altogether different. As of January 1, 2018, police officers can no longer interrogate minors until suspects have consulted with an attorney, which law enforcement says will only make investigations more difficult, Bakersfield.com reports. The law "definitely complicates things," says Bakersfield Police Department spokesman, Sgt. Ryan Kroeker.


Understanding the Law

Defense attorney Kyle J. Humphrey points out that teenagers cannot grasp what can result from waiving their right to speak with an attorney before interrogation, according to the article. The bill highlights research indicating that young people tend to “either ignore or discount future outcomes and implications and disregard long-term consequences of important decisions." Humphrey says SB 395 is seriously past due.

"It may make it a little harder for law enforcement to do their job, but when you’re talking about someone’s freedom, or giving someone a 'scarlet letter,' it should be difficult to get a conviction," Humphrey said.

In Kern County, for instance, the Public Defender's office started a program to comply with SB 395, the article reports. A defense attorney is available 24 hours a day to consult with minors, either in person or via teleconference.


Criminal Defense Attorney

If your son or daughter is charged with a criminal offense, please contact the Law Office of Ronald G. Brower. Juvenile cases can have a severe impact on the course of a person’s life; Attorney Brower can help you achieve the best possible outcome.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

New U.S. Attorney Eastern California on Marijuana

Despite the fact that medical marijuana is legal in California since 1996, and as of January 1, 2018, adult recreational use is permitted, the U.S. Department of Justice is resistant. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has decided to change course from the previous administration which could result in a return to prosecuting people making a living in the billion-dollar industry.

Some of you may remember a memo sent out by President Barack Obama during his tenure? A statement issued directed prosecutors to take a “hands-off approach” regarding marijuana-related cases in states with legalized marijuana. Last week, AG Sessions voided president Obama’s memo, The Sacramento Bee reports. Sessions gave federal prosecutors the authority to pursue marijuana cases in states with legal weed, once again.

While it’s difficult to say what any of this will lead to at this point, some advocates are concerned that the order will cripple California’s new industry, one that is already off to a shaky start.


Marijuana’s Future in California

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Lori Ajax of the Bureau of Cannabis Control, and Hezekiah Allen of the California Growers Association have all spoken out against Sessions' move last week, according to the article. Even though Becerra and Ajax have made encouraging statements in favor of legalization, Hezekiah Allen still has concerns that Sessions’ move could prompt some growers to stay in the black market.

The new U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of California has a history of going after people in the cannabis industry. President Donald Trump appointed to the Eastern District, McGregor Scott, who had previously served as an appointee of President George W. Bush. Before leaving office in 2009, Scott had a history of prosecuting people in California’s medical marijuana industry, including some high-profile cases. Scott’s re-appointment has some advocates reeling; it stands to reason that he may return to a similar approach.

Again, it’s still too early to tell what the Obama memo rescission will mean for California’s legal marijuana industry. After all, the voters have spoken, and the state’s AG has expressed his intention to uphold the will of the people. Sacramento cannabis consultant Jacqueline McGowan is optimistic:

“We are fortunate to live in a state where our attorney general has stated several times that he will respect the will of the voters and will defend compliant operators,” she said. “What the new era looks like will depend on us continuing to be a compliant and responsible industry. A memo being rescinded doesn’t change any of this.”


Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are facing charges for a cannabis-related crime in California, please contact Attorney Ronald G. Brower. With more than three decades of experience, he can provide you with a sound legal defense and ensure you find the best outcome possible.

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Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Prop 57 Means Early Parole, For Some

Prop 57
In November 2016, voters in California opted to give some criminal offenders a second chance, voting in favor of Proposition 57. Individuals who’ve used their time behind bars wisely, i.e., good behavior and pursuing higher education, now have a better shot at achieving parole. Prop 57 is intended for nonviolent offenders, and by this law parole decisions no longer fall under the purview of prosecutors. The legislation aims to end the practice of prison ‘warehousing.’

Under the law, the state Board of Parole Hearings has more authority when it comes to determining which non-violent inmate may be eligible for parole, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune. Giving the parole board greater power is considered a good thing. However, there are still reasonable concerns about fast-tracking parole. After all, just because a crime is nonviolent, doesn’t mean it’s not heinous and should not call for punishment reflective of the severity of the act.


35 Years In Prison to Five

Proposition 57, approved by California voters in late 2016 was to reduce the state prison population and give nonviolent offenders an early second chance to mend their ways. One of the two men found guilty of a medical syringe scam could get out of prison in 5 years under the new law, the article reports. Five years in jail for a $3.3 million investment scam is likely to anger some and for good reasons. In November, a jury found Matthew Mazur guilty of 36 counts mainly tied to fraud and grand theft after duping those who invested in his companies SafeSnap syringe. The judge piled on one consequential sentence after another, totaling more than 35 years. Prop 57 could result in him serving only a seventh of his term.

“I personally will be arguing against it [early parole],” said Deputy District Attorney Hector Jimenez, who prosecuted Mazur and co-defendant Carlos Manjarrez. 

It will be interesting to see how Mazur’s sentence plays out, especially when you consider that Proposition 57 takes parole decisions out of the hands of prosecutors. We will continue to follow this story as it unfolds.


Criminal Defense Attorney

If you have been charged with a crime in California, please contact Attorney Ronald G. Brower. With more than three decades of experience, he can provide you with an effective legal defense and ensure you find the best outcome possible.

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Thursday, December 21, 2017

Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over This Christmas

Christmas Eve is around the corner, a time for celebration and jubilation. It’s not a secret that Christmas is a time of heavy imbibing for adults across America. Scores of parties, friends, family and booze; what could go wrong? If you’ve ever been convicted of a DUI in the state of California, you know exactly “what could go wrong!” Heavy fines, temporary loss of license, and potential jail time. Those unfortunate enough to make the same error more than once know that the penalties only get more severe.

Driving under the influence is a serious crime, the punishment can have serious impacts on one’s life. Such penalties are in place for good reason, deterring people from getting behind the wheel with alcohol in their system saves lives. And not just the life of the driver, when someone is driving under the influence—no one is safe. Fatal car wrecks linked to alcohol often steal the lives of innocent bystanders.

Local police departments know that many people will take the risk and drive drunk in the coming days, which means they will double their efforts to enforce drunk and drugged driving laws. DUI checkpoints will be set up all across the State of California, so if you are planning to spike the eggnog, then it’s best to have a designated driver. If you don’t have a “DD,” call a cab or friend to pick you up. The risk does not outweigh the reward of making it home without a DUI on your record.


Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over

Together with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD), Newport Beach Police officers started a campaign to stop drunk driving in Southern California. Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over runs through January 1, it is designed to educate Californians about the dangers of driving under the influence and steps up enforcement in the way of checkpoints, OC Weekly reports. The campaign was created in partnership with the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The Newport Beach Police Department will conduct a DUI checkpoint on Friday, Dec. 22. Other cities throughout the county will have their own checkpoints in the coming days as well. If you are going to drink, take it from us, you will be glad you didn’t decide to get behind the wheel.


DUI Help

If you or a loved finds encounters law enforcement this Christmas due to DUI, sound legal advice is in order. Attorney Ronald Brower has been achieving successful outcomes in DUI cases for decades. Please contact us following the holiday, we can help. The Law Office of Ronald G. Brower would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas.

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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Moving Forward With Cannabis Legalization

cannabis legalization
Ready, or not, cannabis legalization goes into effect at the start of the New Year, which means big changes in a multibillion-dollar industry. California is no stranger to the spotlight when it comes to the drug, being the first state to pass medical marijuana legislation in 1996. While the state lagged behind others in the recreational use department, how well this transition goes will set the example for others states in the future.

It is important for people in the Golden State to remember that even though the contentious substance is legal statewide, the drug is still banned on the federal level. For the most part, individuals shouldn’t have too much to worry about, whereas companies planning to wheel-and-deal in the product need to makes sure they have all their bases covered. With less than a month to go, it appears that there are still more questions, than answers, regarding what legalization will look like.


Moving Out of The Black Market

On January 1st, recreational use of marijuana will be legal for adults over the age of 21. Companies planning to dispense the product must comply with both state and municipal rules to avoid fines and legal headaches. However, it seems that various cities have yet to agree with the state concerning regulatory compliance, permits, and taxes. As it stands right now, each city has created their own standards, The Sacramento Bee reports. The overall goal is to get companies in the industry to move out of the shadowy black market that has long typified the weed business.

The process of moving into the light is not without complications. The fact that the drug remains illegal on the federal level presents problems. Banks are hesitant to work with companies moving an illicit product. What’s more, the current federal government does not appear to be keen on helping states, who are passing legal cannabis laws, make the necessary transition.

If rules are too strict in California, companies will choose to keep things business as usual; if they are not firm enough, it could have a devastating impact on the public perception of an already tenuous industry. At this point, it’s anybody’s guess as to how smooth the transition will go come the new year, but there is certainly cause for concern.


Southern California Criminal Attorney

If you’ve been charged with a crime are in need for representation, Ronald Brower has the experience and expertise to help you achieve the best possible outcome. Please contact us today.

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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Stanford Swimmer Appeals Conviction

sexual assault
It seems like everyone is discussing sexual assault these days, especially those on college campuses, in Hollywood, and at the White House. It’s fair to say that at no other time in modern history has the conversation been so fierce or have so many women found the courage to speak out against their assailants. This kind of spotlight has the potential of being a watershed moment in American history; a time we will look back on and remember when women around the country said enough is enough and men realized that their positions of power in society would no longer protect them from recourse.

What is happening in Washington and Hollywood is of the utmost importance, but we must remember that the topic at hand is a societal issue involving young and old alike. Sexual misconduct, assault, and rape happen every day on college campuses; these are environments where many victims are unwilling to come forward and assailants often face no punishment for their actions. What’s more, even when young women do muster up the strength seek justice, perpetrators either receive a slap on the wrist or escape discipline completely.

Who could forget the former Stanford swimmer, Brock Turner, caught in the act of sexually assaulting a fellow female student; who, after being found guilty of multiple offenses, was handed a six-month jail sentence and some probation time.


Sexual Assault Conviction Appeal

The above case brought the passing of legislation like AB 2888, which attached a mandatory minimum sentence for similar incidents in the future; and AB 701, which widens the scope of the state's definition of rape. Naturally, millions of people around the country and beyond were disturbed by Turner’s punishment. Such individuals got even angrier when they learned that he only served 3-months of his sentence before being released for good behavior.

The case is inciting people’s outrage even more upon learning that not only would Turner do little jail time, but his attorney also filed an appeal last week, SF Gate reports. Turner’s attorney alleges prosecutorial misconduct and deprivation of due process and have decided to resort the age-old tactic of victim blaming — calling into question the amount of alcohol Emily Doe consumed on the night of the assault.

“How often are we manipulated into prioritizing the abuser over the abused?” said Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, D-Bell Gardens (Los Angeles County), author of AB 701. “How often are we being suckered into a side of a debate that we shouldn’t even be having?” 

Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen initially called for a six-year sentence for Turner, according to the article. Rosen doesn't appear all that concerned about the appeal.

“Brock Turner received a fair trial and was justly convicted,” Rosen said in a statement. “His conviction will be upheld. Nothing can ever roll back Emily Doe’s legacy of raising the world’s awareness about sexual assault.”


Orange County Criminal Attorney

If you are in need of legal representation, please contact the Law Office of Ronald G. Brower. He has over 30 years of experience practicing law in Southern California and is committed to helping you achieve the best possible outcome.

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Friday, December 1, 2017

Wrongfully Convicted Man Pardoned

A Simi Valley mother and son were killed in 1978, leading to the arrest and eventual conviction of Craig Richard Coley in 1980. This month Governor Jerry Brown pardoned Mr. Coley after DNA testing revealed that the now 70-year old inmate was wrongly convicted, KTLA reports. Coley was serving a life sentence (without the possibility of parole) for allegedly strangling his former girlfriend Rhonda Wicht and smothering her 4-year-old son to death.

Ever since being convicted, Coley has been fighting to prove his innocence. His efforts didn’t look like they would result in a favorable outcome when the conviction was upheld during an appeal. Then, in 2015, Coley petitioned for a new investigation by the Board of Parole, according to the article. Somewhere along the way a former detective, captain, and an officer became convinced of Coley’s innocence.


DNA Saves The Day

Coley’s case was reopened in October 2016 at the behest of Simi Valley Police Chief David Livingstone, The Los Angeles Times reports. A reëxamination of a piece of evidence that was used to convict him was conducted, revealing others’ DNA, but not Mr. Coley.

Those who advocated for the pardon believe that the original detective who worked on the case “mishandled the investigation or framed” Mr. Coley, according to the article. Michael Schwartz, a prosecutor with the Ventura County district attorney’s office, said the agency has:

“...not determined at this point that a detective engaged in misconduct, but our office and the Simi Valley Police Department are continuing to investigate all aspects of the case to determine what happened and who is responsible.”

The murder of Rhonda Wicht and her four-year-old son Donald was the first double homicide in Simi Valley.


Orange County Criminal Attorney

Please contact Ronald G. Brower if you or a loved one has been charged with a crime. With over thirty years of experience, attorney Brower can provide you the best defense.

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