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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Voting Behind Bars in California

AB-2466
People who are found guilty of committing a felony in California are not allowed to vote in an election until they complete their parole. But what about felons currently serving time in California county jails, do they get to vote? Well, as of right now they cannot, but that could change if Governor Jerry Brown signs a bill put forward by the California State Legislature, numerous news agencies report, including CBSNews Sacramento. The Governor has until September 30, 2016, to sign AB-2466, which would effectively amend the language in the state’s constitution by defining imprisoned as “currently serving a state or federal prison sentence.”

It is reported AB-2466 has the support of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The organization believes that that laws which disenfranchise minorities are a vestige of Jim Crow. The ACLU notes that “three out of every four men in California prisons are men of color,” which means that “felony disenfranchisement laws are a legacy of Jim Crow.” AB-2466 is “a step towards ending the shameful legacy of Jim Crow in California.”

“While national attention is focused on a few states, many fail to realize that in California voters of color have suffered new restrictions on their right to vote in recent years. I wrote AB 2466 because I want to send a message to the nation that California will not stand for discrimination in voting,” said Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, the author of the bill. 

Here is how California compares to other states regarding felon voting rights:
  • Felons have the right to vote while behind bars in both Maine and Vermont.
  • Voting rights are restored automatically upon release in fourteen states.
  • Felons can vote again after completing parole in four states (including California).
  • Voting rights are returned after the completion of a sentence thirty-eight states.
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.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

OC Court Clerk Racketeering Indictment

court clerk
When it comes to breaking the law, it appears that who you know and how much money you have to spend could help you skirt the long arm of the law. Or at least that was the case in Orange County (OC), California, up until recently, when county clerk Juan Lopez Jr. was arrested for accepting bribes to forge electronic documents, The Los Angeles Times reports. For the right price, one could have their drunk driving, speeding and red-light running charges in Orange County—all but disappear.

This is a story that you may think came right out of Hollywood, serious corruption involving a low-level paper pusher for a county court. The investigation stems back to 2010, when word of the 'get out of jail' scheme was spreading around upper crust circles of car enthusiasts in the "O.C." A federal indictment unsealed last Wednesday indicates that Lopez closed out more than 1,000 cases that were favorable for the defendant. Once payment was received, Lopez would use the court computer to make it appear that people had, when in fact they had not:
  • Served Jail Time
  • Had Charges Dismissed
  • Paid Fines
With the assistance of 11 middlemen collecting and delivering payoffs, Lopez helped people beat the system, according to the article. As a result, the indictment includes 38-counts of racketeering.

“This defendant allegedly assumed the roles of judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys to line his pockets in a staggering abuse of his position. Very simply, he compromised the entire justice system in Orange County,” said U.S. Atty. Eileen Decker.

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.

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Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Rape Statute of Limitations

statute of limitations
Not too long ago, when people thought of formerly beloved comedian Bill Cosby it would bring smiles. Today, amidst a pile of rape and assault allegations, people are typically disgusted when thinking about Cosby. Many people are outraged about two different aspects of the allegations: the fact that there are so many, and that fact that many of them are well beyond the statute of limitations.

The Cosby rape fiasco has led a number of states to amend the statute of limitations on rape cases. While lengthening the time that prosecutors have to try those indicted on rape charges may not affect Cosby, it could help countless women in the future—those victims who may not have been ready to confront what happened to them at the time of the offense. In the state of California, unlike rape, there isn’t a time limit on filing:
  • Murder Charges
  • Embezzlement of Public Funds
  • Rape Involving Serious Injury or Weapons
Most sex-related crimes in California carry a 10-year statute of limitation, The Los Angeles Times reports. That time limit could be extended in the near future. Both California houses of the Legislature passed a proposal that would increase the legal deadline for rape crimes, following a new law in Nevada that increases the legal deadline for rape prosecutions. California SB 813 will now go to the governor for review.

Nevada recently extended their deadline from four to 20 years on rape cases, after an alleged Cosby victim fought for amending the length, according to the article. While old sex crimes may be difficult to prove and difficult for a defendant to contest, San Bernardino County Dist. Attorney Mike Ramos, a co-sponsor of the bill, points out:

“But at least it gives victims an opportunity for law enforcement to really look into this. At least they have their day to sit down and say what happened.” 

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.

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Friday, September 2, 2016

Unanimous Support for AB 2888

sexual assault
Over the course of the summer, we have discussed the controversial case of the former Stanford University swimmer, Brock Turner. The case made national headlines because of the light sentence Turner received from Santa Clara County Judge Aaron Persky. After being found guilty of numerous sexual assault charges, Persky decided that six (6) months in prison and three (3) years of probation would be an adequate sentence. Naturally, the sentence caused millions of Americans to become enraged, calling for the Persky’s resignation and stricter sentencing laws.

As we pointed out in a previous post, California law separates rape from sexual assault. Those found guilty of rape face much stiffer punishments than those convicted of sexual assault. But that is about to change in the near future.

Sexual assault in California made the news again on Monday, after legislation was passed that would place mandatory prison sentences for those convicted of certain sexual assaults, The Los Angeles Times reports. AB 2888, passed in the California Assembly with unanimous support, next stop for the legislation is Governor Jerry Brown’s signature.

“If we let a rapist off with probation and little jail time, we re-victimize the victim, we dissuade other victims from coming forward and we send a message that sexual assault of an incapacitated victim is just no big deal,” said Assemblyman Bill Dodd (D-Napa), a coauthor of the measure. 

The bill would require that sexual assailants serve time in prison when their victims are unconscious or incapable of giving consent while under the influence alcohol, according to the article. While the bill would appear to be a step in the right direction, there are some people who are concerned about mandatory minimum sentences, historically disproportionately affecting minorities.

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.

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