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Law Office of Ronald G. Brower Blog

 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Juveniles Who Allegedly Raped 11-Year-Old Girl Are Arrested

Pictured above: Michael Sykes. Source: Los Angeles Times.


Six male juveniles and a 19-year-old man, Michael Sykes, have been arrested in connection with a gang rape of an 11-year-old girl in a park bathroom in Moreno Valley on March 10, 2011. The juveniles were booked in Riverside County Juvenile Hall. Sykes was the last suspect arrested. Also arrested was a teenage girl that was believed to have lured the alleged victim into the park bathroom before the rape occured. Police believe that the rape was gang related.

Juveniles who are charged with crimes do not go through the regular court system. Instead, they go through the juvenile court system. The goal of the juvenile court system is to rehabilitate the minor. The goal of the adult or regular court system is to punish the offender. If a juvenile is almost 18 and commits a serious felony, they can be charged as an adult and would therefore go through the regular court system and then be sentenced to an adult jail or prison. 

In this case, the rape of an 11-year-old is considered a serious felony, therefore these juveniles may be charged as adults. Being charged as an adult means that the suspects face time in prison time instead of juvenile hall and they also face longer sentences. A conviction as a juvenile may also stay on your record and affect your ability to receive a driver's license or a job. Therefore, it is imperative to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney right away if you are charged with a juvenile crime, rape or gang charges. An experienced attorney may be able to reduce your charges or sentence, or get the charges against you dismissed.

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

O.C. Sheriff Convicted of Domestic Violence and Gun Charge

Source: Orange County Register

Travis Unholz, pictured above, was a former Orange County Sheriff Deputy, working at both the Men's Central Jail and on the SWAT team. He recently pleaded guilty to one felony count of attempted possession of a firearm in violation of a protective order and one misdemeanor count of domestic battery with corporal injury.  Unholz's initial charges included felony charges of inflicting corporal injury on a spouse and purchasing a firearm in violation of a protective order, misdemeanor charges of child abuse and endangerment and disobeying a domestic relations court order, and was denied a sentencing enhancement for committing a crime while released from custody.

His domestic violence charge resulted from an argument with his wife in which he pushed her, causing her to fall down and hit her head while their children were around. After she was hurt, she filed for a protective order against Unholz. As part of the order, he was prohibited from possessing a gun. Nevertheless, he asked a colleague to borrow a semiautomatic rifle because he "wanted to keep his options open."

Unholz was sentenced to 19 days in jail and three years of formal probation, including participation in a 52-week batterers treatment program. He will never be able to be an officer again.

Committing an assault or battery on another person has its repercussions. However, if you assault your spouse or partner, you will be charged with the more serious crime of domestic violence. Common defenses to the crime of domestic violence include false allegations or self defense. If you are charged with domestic violence, a criminal defense attorney may be able to dismiss your charges or lower your sentence. If convicted, the criminal defense attorney may be able to get the conviction off of your permanent record so that it will not appear on a background check.

If you are charged with domestic violence, a violation of a restraning order, or a gun charge, call an experienced criminal defense attorney right away to assist you.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Jail Cook Charged with Sexually Assaulting Two Female Inmates

Pictured Above: Jose Arroyo. Source: Orange County Register

        James Arroyo, an Orange County Sheriff's Department jail cook, was recently charged with one misdemeanor count of sexual battery and one misdemeanor count of being a detention facility employee engaging in sexual activity with a confined consenting adult against one inmate. He was also charged with misdemeanor counts of assault and battery as well as one misdemeanor count of being a detention facility employee engaging in sexual activity with a confined consenting adult and one misdemeanor count of being a detention facility employee attempting sexual activity with a confined consenting adult.

       Prosecutors argued that Arroyo forced one female inmate to let him squeeze her breast and another female to kiss him. These women worked for him in the kitchen as he supervised them. He is also accused of having inappropriate relationships with other women in the jail and providing them favors like snacks or jail account funds. He is even accused of having naked pictures of some of the inmates that they sent to him after they were released from jail.

       Once Sheriffs realized what Arroyo was doing, they placed him on administrative leave after his arrest. If Arroyo is convicted of all the sex crimes he is charged with, he faces a maximum of three years and six months in jail. He would also have to register as a sex offender.

      California was the first state to require a registry of sex offenders starting in 1947.  California's Megan's Law was enacted in 1996, and allows local law enforcement agencies to notify the public about sex offender registrants found to be posing a risk to the public. Now, the Sex Offender Registration Program is maintained by the California Department of Justice (DOJ). 

      If convicted of any sex crime, you will likely have to register as a sex offender. Being placed on the sex offender list comes with difficulties finding a place to live and a job. If you are charged with a sex crime, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney right away to assist you.

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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Woman Charged with Commercial Burglary, Fraud & White Collar Crime Sentencing Enhancement

Pictured Above: Anastasia Darlena Mendezkestler. Source: OC Register.

Anastasia Darlena Mendezkestler, pictured above, was arrested on Friday and charged with two felony counts of accessory after the fact and receiving stolen property, second-degree commercial burglary, fraudulently using an access card and sentencing enhancements for loss over $100,000, property loss over $200,000 and white collar crime over $500,000. She was charged as a co-defendant in her parents' fraud case.

Her mother, Norma Casini, was a caretaker for the elderly. Prosecutors allege that Ms. Casini stole $610,000 from her elderly clients and then used the stolen cash and credit cards to pay for dog care, laser eye treatment, vacations and entertainment. Prosecutors also allege that Casini would give the stolen money and credit cards to her husband, Leno Casini, and her daughter Anastasia, to use. If Anastasia and Leno are convicted of these felony counts, they could face up to 12 years in prison. If Norma is found guilty of the 60 counts she is charged with, she could face 49 years in prison.

Second-degree burglary, often called “commercial” burglary, generally occurs in a business, not in a home. If more than $400 is stolen, it is considered a felony offense. Here, Anastasia, Norma and Leno all stole well over $400, so they have all been charged with felony second degree commercial burglary, among other charges.

Fraud is the intentional deception or misrepresentation of the truth with the intent to deprive another person of something that belongs to him or to cause him injury in some other way. Credit card fraud, generally involves the illegal counterfeiting of credit cards and/or the illegal use of lost or stolen credit cards.  Here, Norma would steal the credit cards and then give them to her family members who would misrepresent the truth by using them as if they were their own credit cards.

These charges are considered white collar crimes which are defined as those illegal acts which are characterized by deceit, concealment, or violation of trust and which are not dependent upon the application or threat of physical force or violence. Even though there is no violence, these crimes are very serious since they are economic crimes and if you are charged with them, you can face serious prison time.

Please contact an experienced criminal defense attorney if you are charged with any white collar crimes, commercial burglary or fraud because that experienced attorney may be able to reduce you charges or your sentence.
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