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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Recourse for Marijuana Convictions in California

The list of states allowing the adult recreational use of marijuana is growing. Meaning, people can use the drug without fear of prosecution in such states. With more than half of Americans in favor of either decriminalization and/or legalization, you can safely bet that the current trend is not going to change.

If you are one of the thousands of Americans whose only conviction on their criminal record is marijuana, it’s possible you are wondering what legalization will do for you. Aside from not having to worry about a repeat of history, in some states, who loosened their stance on the drug, individuals with previous convictions have some recourse. In fact, in states like California, people with felony “pot” convictions can petition the courts to have the sentence downgraded to a misdemeanor.


Sealing Your Record

When Californians voted to legalize adult cannabis use last November, they were also in favor of allowing some residents to clean up their criminal record, The Huffington Post reports. It’s not just allowing the changing of felonies to misdemeanors; people with a cannabis-related crime can have it changed to an infraction, and in some cases, the charged can be erased entirely from one’s record.
“We call it reparative justice: repairing the harms caused by the war on drugs,” says Eunisses Hernandez of the Drug Policy Alliance, a nonprofit that helped write California Proposition 64.
Having a criminal record, even a charge for something as benign as marijuana, can seriously impact the course of one’s life. Such charges make it difficult to find employment and places to live; some landlords will not rent to people with past convictions. Allowing people to petition the courts, can result in drastically improving the quality of one's life. California is not alone, the states listed below all have legislation allowing for reducing marijuana-related crimes, including:
  • Colorado
  • Maryland
  • New Hampshire
  • Oregon


Orange County Criminal Attorney

Were you charged with a crime? If so, please reach out to Ronald G. Brower. With over thirty years of experience, attorney Brower can provide you the best defense. Please contact our office today.

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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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