1043 Civic Center Drive
Suite 200
Santa Ana, CA 92703


714-997-4400

Law Office of Ronald G. Brower Blog

 

Friday, July 29, 2016

Manson Family Member Denied Parole

parole
It has been 47 years since the Charles Manson “Family” wreaked havoc on the Los Angeles area. Over a period of five weeks, the Manson Family committed a series of nine murders, of which included the slaying of the actress Sharon Tate. One of the most interesting aspects of the notorious crime spree was the revelation that Manson did not commit the murders himself, but rather instructed his cult followers to do so. One of those “family” members, who was found guilty of murder, was then 19-year old Leslie Van Houten.

For her role in the crimes Van Houten, the youngest of Manson’s cult following, was sentenced to life in prison. Last week, California Governor Jerry Brown denied Van Houten’s, now 66, request for parole, NPR reports. The denial came despite the fact that a California parole panel recommended that Van Houten be granted parole in April, the recommendation was due to her decades of good behavior in prison. However, Governor Brown was not convinced, stating that, "she remains an unacceptable risk to society if released."

"The shocking nature of the crimes left an indelible mark on society," said Brown. "The motive - to trigger a civilization-ending race war by slaughtering innocent people chosen at random - is equally disturbing." 

Van Houten admits that she stabbed Rosemary La Bianca more than a dozen times, according to the article. Yet, she claims that her reason for doing so was because she was "emotionally troubled and under the sway of LSD and Manson's charismatic personality."

Ronald G. Brower is a criminal defense attorney in Southern California. Based out of Orange County, Attorney Brower has represented individuals charged with crimes in state and federal court.

Contact the Law Office of Ronald G. Brower online or by telephone at 714-997-4400.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Posted by Ronald Brower at 0 Comments Links to this post

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Prop 47 for Nonviolent Offenders

Prop-47
The prisons and jails of California are home to a number of convicted non-violent offenders, many of which are serving lengthy sentences. Others who have already served their time often find that it is hard to find employment and are also faced with other restrictions. Such convictions are typically linked to drug or theft crimes. Such cases beg the question, “does the sentence or conviction classification match the severity of the crime?”

Accordingly, California Proposition 47 allows for certain nonviolent offenders the opportunity to reduce a felony conviction to misdemeanor, which can greatly improve one’s quality of life. Those eligible for Prop 47, include:
  • Simple drug possession.
  • Petty theft under 950 dollars.
  • Shoplifting under 950 dollars.
  • Forging or writing a bad check under 950 dollars.
  • Receipt of stolen property under 950 dollars.
Naturally, people who are found guilty of heinous crimes, such as violent/sexual assault, are not eligible to remove a felony conviction. But for the scores of nonviolent drug offenders out there, taking advantage of Prop. 47 could open up doors that were previously closed. Felony burglars may find that they are eligible to be reclassified as shoplifters under Prop. 47.

As was the case of one Michael Fusting, who appealed his second-degree burglary conviction. Fusting’s conviction stems from his attempt to fence a stolen surfboard, which he now argues was a form of shoplifting.

Interestingly, he and his legal counsel did in fact manage to convince the California Court of Appeals that his argument was sound. As such, the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Appellate District determined that Fusting could request to petition the lower court for a resentencing hearing.

Ronald G. Brower is a criminal defense attorney in Southern California. Based out of Orange County, Attorney Brower has represented individuals charged with crimes in state and federal court.

Contact the Law Office of Ronald G. Brower online or by telephone at 714-997-4400.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Posted by Ronald Brower at 0 Comments Links to this post

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Fingerprinting Databases Are Often Inaccurate

fingerprinting
Fingerprinting is a vital asset to law enforcement, prosecutors and defense attorneys—they can make or break case. They have the power to both prove guilt and innocence. People arrested and booked for crimes are fingerprinted as a standard practice across the country. They are then uploaded and stored in state and national databases. Such prints are linked to one’s past offenses and can be used as a tool to link one to new crimes.

Since 2001, in the wake of 9/11, many places of employment will require background checks and fingerprinting. While such practices are used by employers to avoid hiring people who have unsavory backgrounds which could jeopardize the company, it turns out that in many cases the information about one’s past is incorrect. Inaccuracies regarding one’s past can have a catastrophic effect on their future.

In fact, as many as one-half of the criminal records stored in the FBI's fingerprint database could have “missing or inaccurate” information about how people’s criminal cases concluded, ABC News reports. The findings come from research conducted by the federal Government Accountability Office and the Department of Justice.

In the United States, first-time drug offenders are often able to have their record expunged if they complete certain requirements. Simply put, those who follow the direction of the state could have felony charges disappear, allowing them to have more options in their future. It is no secret that those who have a felony on their record—have a hard time finding employment and as well as other limitations depending on which state you live.

Unfortunately, just because someone completes all the requirements to have their record expunged, does not mean that the FBI and state databases will be updated. The lack of due diligence has civil rights and employment rights advocates up in arms, according to the article. The nonprofit National Employment Law Project, conducted a study in 2013 which found the database(s) often lack information about how a particular case ended, whether there was an acquittal or the charges were dropped for instance.

"You have to work with what you've got, but what we've seen is that in states like California where they track down the missing dispositions, then the information is more reliable," said Maurice Emsellem, the program director for the National Employment Law Project, "Otherwise, without that kind of follow-up, you're going to continue to see a lot of workers, mostly workers of color, fall through the cracks." 

Ronald G. Brower is a criminal defense attorney in Southern California. Based out of Orange County, Attorney Brower has represented individuals charged with crimes in state and federal court.

Contact the Law Office of Ronald G. Brower online or by telephone at 714-997-4400.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Posted by Ronald Brower at 0 Comments Links to this post

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

ACLU Threatens to File Lawsuit Against Orange County

jailhouse informants
The use of a jailhouse informant is a common practice among district attorneys across the country. Informants, known as “rats” or “snitches” among inmates, are often responsible for providing information that can prove invaluable for meeting the burden of proof. Inmates typically become informants with the hope of shaving time off their sentence. While there is nothing illegal about using informants, the practice can be and is sometimes abused by the district attorney (DA).

It turns out that right here in Orange County, California, the district attorney's office may be guilty of both prosecutorial misconduct and improper use of jailhouse informants. In March, a request was made by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), calling on the county to turn over internal documents, The Orange County Register reports. In response to the ACLU's request, District Attorney Tony Rackauckas turned over some 300 documents.

The ACLU claims that that the OCDA failed to meet their request in full. The organization sent a letter to the OCDA office, which said it would file a lawsuit against the county if Rackauckas doesn’t respond by July 14, 2016, according to the article. The ACLU is interested in cases dating back to at least the mid-1980’s.

“We do not believe that what you produced satisfies your obligations under the California Public Records Act. Nor does it provide the public with desperately needed insight into the functioning of the District Attorney’s Office,” said ACLU attorney Brendan Hamme in the letter. 

Improper use of jailhouse informants has led to a least two convicted murderers being released, the article reports. Cases are still being reviewed, but charges dropped in a number of cases and sentences were reduced in six murder and attempted cases—the instances are of great interest to the ACLU.

“It is, therefore, deeply troubling that your office refuses to make public the policies and practices that were in place and failed to prevent these constitutional violations from occurring,” wrote Hamme. “Given the breadth of records to which this claim applies ... we are very concerned about the way your office maintains these critical documents.” 

Ronald G. Brower is a criminal defense attorney in Southern California. Based out of Orange County, Attorney Brower has represented individuals charged with crimes in state and federal court.

Contact the Law Office of Ronald G. Brower online or by telephone at 714-997-4400.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Posted by Ronald Brower at 0 Comments Links to this post