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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

LAPD Seen Planting Evidence

planting evidence
A CBS News investigation uncovered some troubling misconduct on behalf of the Los Angeles Police Department. The news provider obtained body cam footage showing a police officer planting cocaine in a man’s wallet. The action led to a cocaine possession charge for suspect Ronald Shields, who was initially pulled over for hit-and-run.

In the footage obtained by David Goldstein, a CBS 2 investigative reporter, viewers can clearly see LAPD Officer Samuel Lee placing a small bag of white powder (that later tested positive for cocaine) into Ronald Shields' wallet. In response to the investigation’s airing, the LAPD said:

"The LAPD takes all allegations of misconduct seriously and, as in all cases, will conduct a thorough investigation."


Planting Evidence


Naturally, Shields' attorney challenged evidence against his client. Officer Lee and fellow officer "Gaxiola" were called into to court to explain themselves, according to the article. In court, Lee echoed what he wrote in his police report, that the cocaine was found in Shields' left front pocket. When you watch the video however, you see something altogether different. Please take a moment to watch:

If you are having trouble watching please click here.

Mayor Eric Garcetti released a statement, saying he "expects the highest integrity from everyone who wears the badge."

The hearing challenging evidence will commence in December, this is the first time body-cam video used in a case has been obtained by the media. We will continue to follow this story as it develops.


Orange County Criminal Attorney

If you have been charged with a drug offense, please contact Ronald G. Brower. With over thirty-years of experience, attorney Browser is able to provide you the best defense.

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Tuesday, November 7, 2017

CalGang Database Reform

California has struggled with gang violence for a long time. The 18th St gang and 38th St gang, the Mexican Mafia, and several outlaw motorcycle gangs have all had a hand in making the streets of Southern California unsafe for years. One could say that when Americans across the nation think of gang violence, Los Angeles comes to mind.

Policing gang activity isn't an easy task, there are thousands of individuals affiliated with gangs throughout the state. The matter of combating gang violence and going after suspects is greater complicated by the fact that a significant number of members are not citizens. The international criminal gang MS 13 originated in Los Angeles in the 1980s, mainly comprised of Central Americans.

In an attempt to keep track of people believed affiliated with gangs, the State of California employs the use of a database. However, as San Diego Assemblywoman Shirley Weber pointed out, the state’s gang database is full of errors. Weber’s assertions were accurate, the California State Auditor found a preponderance of people in the database that didn’t belong, according to Voice of San Diego. The findings, naturally, led to reform in the way of Assembly Bill 90, which was approved by Governor Jerry Brown last month.


Purging the Gang Database

The audit of the database, known as CalGang, showed that 42 individuals were supposedly younger than one year of age at the time of entry. Of those individuals, 28 were entered for ‘admitting to being gang members," the article reports. The auditors found many flaws, people remained in the database for longer than federal regulations permit. The audit showed that CalGang didn’t allow for public input or oversight.

“Probably people are pretty shocked about just how deep the problems are in the CalGang system in terms of lack of transparency, lack of consistency in terms of how the standards are used,” Weber said. “I was not shocked at all. If you don’t live in a community that has had concerns about this … I’ve heard these complaints for years. As most folks know, my own son was threatened to be put on the gang list, and he hadn’t done anything. I hear these things from parents on a regular basis. But I think some of my colleagues were shocked.”

A.B. 90 sets new standards and regulations for operating CalGang, which will include audits for accuracy and proper use, according to Electronic Frontier Foundation (the leading nonprofit organization defending civil liberties in the digital world).


Southern California Criminal Attorney

If you were charged with a crime, you are in need of an experienced attorney. For more than three-decades Attorney Brower has successfully defended clients throughout the Southland, he can give you or a loved one the best chance at a favorable outcome. Please reach out for help.

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Wednesday, November 1, 2017

California Hiring Practices

criminal history
A couple of major changes are on the horizon for employers in the State of California regarding hiring practices. On more than one occasion we have covered the topic of employers inquiring into an applicant's criminal history. As we mentioned in the past, one’s criminal history can make or break an applicant's prospects for being hired.

Employers and the respective Human Resources departments should be preparing themselves for the changes ahead. If hiring adjustments are not made respecting such alterations, the result could be quite costly for employers.


Changes in Hiring Ahead

At the turn of the year, Assembly Bill 1008/California Government Code Section 12952 goes into effect, which means significant changes for how all California employers with five or more employees treat new hires, this includes state and local governments, The National Law Review reports. Effective January 1, 2018, employers can no longer inquire into applicant's criminal conviction history before a conditional offer of employment is offered.

If a conditional offer is made, employers can only use a person's history as a reason to not hire if one’s previous crimes have a "direct and adverse relationship with the specific duties of the job that justify denying the applicant the position." If an employer decides that a person's criminal past disqualifies them for hire, the employer must inform the applicant in writing before a final decision, so that he or she can respond. The notification must include:
  • The disqualifying conviction(s) that lead to the decision.
  • A copy of the applicant's conviction history report.
  • An explanation of the applicant's right to respond and dispute the accuracy of the conviction history report.
Before a final decision, the employer must consider the applicant's response. If the steps mentioned above aren't respected, an applicant may sue for damages under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act.

Assembly Bill 168/Labor Code Section 432.3 prohibits employers from inquiring about an applicant's salary history, according to the article. One’s salary history can’t be a factor in deciding to hire. If an applicant voluntarily discloses their previous salary, employers can’t use it to excuse any disparity in compensation.


California Criminal Defense Attorney

Ronald G. Brower is a criminal defense lawyer with over three decades of experience. Attorney Brower has represented in state and federal court individuals charged with a range of crimes.

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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Voting Rights for Felons

AB 2466
The United States is a democracy, which means that every citizen has the right to vote after maturing to the proper age. It’s a right that's never taken for granted; a significant number of countries around the world do not permit their citizen's such liberties. When we vote for someone running for office or a piece of legislation that could have an impact on our lives, it's a reminder that our voice matters. That we are just as crucial to the entire process as those elected to lead us.

There are instances when one can lose their right to take part in the democratic process. The majority of states have laws on the books prohibiting those convicted of certain crimes (felony crimes) like murder from voting. Each state handles it differently, but the result is usually the same. Convicted felons cannot vote.

As you can imagine there are some who take issue with disenfranchising a considerable swath of the American populate. It’s one thing to strip one’s right to vote while incarcerated, but after felons are released, they still can’t vote in most cases. Despite any efforts made to rehabilitate oneself while behind bars, individuals do not have their constitutional right to vote reinstated.


Voting Rights in California

At the end of September, California Governor Jerry Brown restored voting rights to thousands of felons, CBS News reports. With the passage of Assembly Bill 2466, felons not serving time in Federal prisons will be allowed to vote even if they are still doing time in a county jail. AB 2466 will apply to low-level convicted felons.

The bill, authored by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber (D-San Diego) and Senator Holly Mitchell (D-Culver City), is the direct result of a lawsuit arguing that felons doing time in county jail should not be treated commensurately with Federal inmates, according to the article. The suit won and, as a result, as many as 50,000 felons will be voting again. The ACLU claims that current laws prohibiting felons from voting were modern-day “felony disenfranchisement” and a “legacy of Jim Crow.” However, opponents of the bill say that the bill rewards criminals for their bad choices.

“Close elections, especially at the local level, could now turn on a handful of ballots cast by people in jail,” said Senator Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) in a statement.


Orange County Criminal Attorney

If you have been charged with a felony, please contact The Law Office of Ronald G. Brower. His stellar track record over 30 years of legal practice, means that Attorney Brower will give you the best chance of favorable outcomes.

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Miranda Rights for Youth

Miranda rights are straightforward for most Americans, even for people who have never had a run-in with the law. Millions of people have heard them read, time and time again, on television and in the movies. One doesn’t need to be a criminal to grasp the importance of not saying anything that is self-incriminating. A person's Miranda rights, essentially, are a right to silence when in the presence or custody of law enforcement officers. Your rights are as follows:
  • You have the right to remain silent and refuse to answer questions.
  • Anything you say may be used against you in a court of law.
  • You have the right to consult an attorney before speaking to the police and to have an attorney present during questioning now or in the future.
  • If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you before any questioning if you wish.
  • If you decide to answer questions now without an attorney present, you will still have the right to stop answering at any time until you talk to an attorney.
  • Knowing and understanding your rights as I have explained them to you, are you willing to answer my questions without an attorney present?
An adult reading the above rights shouldn’t struggle to see that saying anything without the guidance of an attorney is risky business. Many adults do forego their right to consult with an attorney before questioning or exercise their right to remain silent. It’s a decision that, in a significant number of cases, is made at considerable cost. If some adults are unable to comprehend the value of their Miranda rights, it’s more than likely that the majority of adolescents don’t have a clue about their rights. This is a reality that has been exploited far too often resulting in innocent young people receiving punishment for crimes they didn’t commit.


Protecting Miranda Rights for Young People

Last week, California Governor Jerry Brown signed three pieces of relevant legislation written to protect children, Human Rights Watch reports. The three bills:

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.

Senate Bill 394: minors sentenced to life without parole can now earn parole after 24 years of incarceration. “No other country outside the US imposes life without parole sentences on children. By signing SB 394 into law, Governor Brown removes this shameful exception in California,” said Elizabeth Calvin, senior children’s rights advocate at Human Rights Watch.

Assembly Bill 1308: will extend through age 25, “Youth Offender Parole,” a special process that allows the Board of Parole Hearings commissioners to take into consideration various factors that may have led to a youth’s crime—thus reducing culpability. The bill extends the age limit from 22. Please take a moment to watch a short video:

If you are having trouble watching, please click here.


Criminal Attorney for Juveniles

If your son or daughter is charged with a crime, then an attorney should be present from the onset. Please contact Ronald G. Brower, his experience spanning over three-decades can dramatically improve your chances of achieving a favorable outcome.

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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

SB 239 Signed Into Law

SB 239
The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a retrovirus that practically every American adult has feared contracting at some point or another. One could even say that people growing up in the 1980’s and after were taught to always use protection, for fear of contracting a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Particularly HIV, which can lead to the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).

It could also be said that a number of forces collided at the onset of the HIV/AIDS epidemic which cast the potentially deadly condition into a different light than that of other STDs. If you were a teenager or adult in the ‘80’s and early 1990’s, then you can probably remember the falsehoods being spread about HIV. One that led to several stereotypes, rooted in fear, not fact. Resulting in legislation being passed in certain states that made it a felony to not disclose knowledge of a person’s illness to a sexual partner. Yes, that’s right: People who fail to tell their partner(s) about it, can land them in jail. No other blood-borne pathogens carry the risk of jail time for failing to disclose.


HIV: From Felony to Misdemeanor

Last week, California's Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation changing the punishment for the crime of knowingly exposing a sexual partner to HIV/AIDS, The Los Angeles Times reports. One of the reasons for the alteration is modern medicine, according to the bills authors. Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and Assemblyman Todd Gloria (D-San Diego) point out that people with HIV live longer lives and the use of medication nearly eliminates the possibility of disease transmission.

“Today California took a major step toward treating HIV as a public health issue, instead of treating people living with HIV as criminals,” said Wiener. “HIV should be treated like all other serious infectious diseases, and that’s what SB 239 does.” 

SB 239 applies to HIV-positives who donate blood without disclosing knowledge of their condition, the article reports. Sen. Wiener argues that the risk of felony had lead some people to not get tested for the virus. Reasoning that not getting tested would protect them from being charged with a felony after exposing someone else. Thus, reducing the designation of the crime is in the interest of public safety.

“We are going to end new HIV infections, and we will do so not by threatening people with state prison time, but rather by getting people to test and providing them access to care,” Wiener said.


Orange County Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you have been charged with a committing crime, please contact The Law Office of Ronald G. Brower. With over 30 years of experience, attorney Browser can help you or a loved one achieve the best possible outcomes.

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Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Menendez Brothers Murders

menendez brothers
In the United States, we have long been fascinated by the genre known as “true crime.” There is hardly a household in America that does not dedicate a block of time to watching shows like Law & Order and CSI which are often inspired by real events. Others opt for the reality TV approach, such as The First 48. But, at the end of the day, most people tune in to Law & Order, and the spin-offs Special Victims Unit and Criminal Intent created by Dick Wolf.

In recent years, there has been a desire to redirect TV viewer attention to murder cases which captured America’s attention in the 1990’s. The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story was aired last year, and for those too young to remember the details it was like watching the horrific story unfold for the first time. A few years before the O.J. trial, there was another murder case that grabbed the attention of people across the country. The Menendez Brothers of Beverly Hills, California.


True Crime In America

In 1989, Lyle and Erik Menendez brutally murdered their father and mother in their upscale Southern California home. In 1994, the two brothers were convicted of two counts of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder; they were sentenced to life in prison for their crimes. Now, 28 years later, Dick Wolf has decided to bring the case back into the spotlight. "Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders" premiered on September 26, 2017, on NBC. The eight-part mini-series is the first installment of Law & Order True Crime. The show airs at 10 PM EST every Tuesday for the next several weeks.

The case of the Menendez brothers, much like the Simpson case, was unique. Being some of the first high profile trials to be televised from the courtroom. Thus, allowing Americans a “fly-on-the-wall” experience to the criminal justice system. Recently, Lyle Menendez spoke with Today’s Megyn Kelly by telephone from Mule Creek State Prison in Ione, CA, saying that he and his brother were “blinded by emotion,” and hopes that God is “very forgiving.” You can take a moment to watch below:

If you are having trouble watching, please click here.


Orange County Homicide Attorney

Attorney Brower has extensive experience in homicide defense and is prepared to provide the quality representation for you or a loved one. If you are in need of sound representation, please contact us at your convenience.

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