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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Officer Found Guilty of Sexual Assault and Soliciting Sex While on Duty

 A former Los Angeles Police Department officer was sentenced to 8 1/2 years in prison for the sexual assault of a woman and soliciting sex from another woman. Russell Mecano, a 10 year veteran officer, propositioned a 19-year-old homeless woman to have sex with him for $200 in 2007, after she was arrested on suspicion of battery. She refused and reported the officer to the authorities.

In 2008, Mecano told an 18-year-old girl that he would not arrest her for possession of drug paraphernalia if she had sex with him. He then sexually assaulted her. She reported him to authorities and he was arrested soon after.

He was charged with one misdemeanor count of solicitation and one felony count each of sexual battery and penetration with a foreign object by a public safety official and penetration with a foreign object by force or duress. A jury found him guilty of these crimes last month and he was sentenced this week to 8 1/2 years in prison. Mecano will also have to register as a sex offender.

Sexual assault or battery refers to unwanted or non consensual sexual contact. It carries serious penalties, including: probation, jail time, prison time, parole, sex crimes registration, and classes.  Some possible defenses include: mistaken identity, an unreliable witness, insufficient physical evidence, or false accusations.

If you are charged with sexual assault or battery, please contact an experienced criminal defense attorney right away to assist you in your case.

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Marijuana Plants Worth Millions Seized, Four Men Arrested

Source: Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

After a four week investigation, approximately 1,979 marijuana plants were found inside of four units of a business complex in Los Angeles last week. The approximate value of the plants was between $2-$5 million dollars, depending on where they were being sold. Usually plants grown indoors are more potent then outdoor plants, and are therefore sold to medical marijuana dispensaries for more money. There is no word yet on if these plants were being grown legally or illegally, but four men were arrested while the investigation continues.

California marijuana laws makes it a crime to cultivate, sell, possess or use marijuana. The sale of large quantities of marijuana, like in this case, if done illegally, will result in felony charges and long prison sentences. Simple possession of more than an ounce or marijuana can result in either felony or misdemeanor charges, as well as jail or prison time, fines, and drug classes. However, possessing less than an ounce of marijuana is not even considered a misdemeanor and instead, you will just be charged with an infraction.

Possible defenses to charges of possession for the sale of marijuana include an unlawful search and/or seizure, entrapment, or unreliable confidential informants. Possible defenses to charges of possession include all of the above defenses but also the lack of evidence that the drugs belonged to the person charged. Therefore, if you are charged with a drug crime, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney right away to assist you. The attorney may be able to reduce your charges or sentence, or even get your charges dismissed.

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Friday, May 13, 2011

Third Strike Conviction for Home Invasion Robber With Deadly Weapon

Pictured Above: Hung Trong Do. Source: Orange County District Attorney's Office.

A Stanton man faces his third strike for a home-invasion robbery that he pleaded guilty to today. Hung Trong Do broke into the home of a woman who was running a day care business caring for six children. Do was armed with a gun that he pointed at the caretaker while demanding money. He stole $100 from the caretaker's purse before her husband came home and he fled. Police found Do in a nearby apartment complex and arrested him. On Friday, he was convicted of five felonies, including robbery, burglary, assault with a deadly weapon and possession of a firearm by a felon.

Do had already been convicted for attempted murder in 1996, residential burglary in 2008 and a prison conviction for possession of a firearm in 2005. This home-invasion robbery was his third strike, therefore, Do is expected to be sentenced to at least 22-25 years in prison for this crime.

Under California's three strike laws, if a person is convicted of any felony, and already has two or more strikes, (prior convictions for violent or serious felonies) he or she must be sentenced to at least 25-years-to-life in state prison. Violent and serious felonies include: murder, rape, robbery, arson, attempted murder, kidnapping, assault with a deadly weapon, and any other felony punishable by death or life sentence.

Three Strikes Laws are a very serious sentencing structure enforced by California due to the "get tough on crime" motto. Therefore, if you are charged with a felony, and it is your second or third strike, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney right away to assist you in fighting your strikes and assisting you through the complicated court process.

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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Child Custody Dispute Leads to Murder of Two in Orange County

Pictured Above: Emily Ford and her father Russell Ford. Source: DMV.

On Tuesday afternoon, a man who had just lost custody of his daughter, shot and killed his ex-wife and her father. Robert Allan Lehmann had been married to Emily Ford for about 10 months. After getting a divorce, they got into a nasty custody battle over their 7-year-old daughter. Lehmann and Ford were to work on the custody agreement on Tuesday of this week in family court, but Lehmann never showed up. Therefore, custody was granted to Ford.

When Ford and her father went to go pick up the 7-year-old from Lehmann's house, Lehmann allegedly pulled out a semi-automatic handgun, in view of the neighbors, and shot his gun 15-20 times, striking Ford and her father. Police were called immediately by neighbors, who all said that they saw Lehmann on the phone during the shooting. He was arrested and taken into custody on suspicion of two counts of murder with special circumstances.

California Penal Code Section 187 (a) defines murder as "the unlawful killing of a human being or a fetus with malice aforethought." Murder can be in the first degree, in the second degree, voluntary or involuntary. Sentences for murder range from a few years in prison to the death penalty. However, sentencing enhancements are tacked onto a murder sentence when a firearm is personally used by the defendant or the murder is in furtherance of an illegal street gang.

Therefore, if you are charged with murder, call an experienced criminal defense attorney right away. Common defenses to murder include self-defense or the defense of others, accidental killing, insanity, or false or coerced statements.

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