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Law Office of Ronald G. Brower Blog


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Woman Pleaded Guilty To Hate Crime Battery Causing Injury

Pictured Above: Jennifer Vanveldhuizen. Source: Orange County District Attorney's Office.

On October 3, 2011, a Hispanic male worker was cleaning the streets of Huntington Beach when Jennifer Renee Vanveldhuizen approached him and yelled racial slurs at him. Vanveldhuizen, who was intoxicated, then punched the worker in the face, causing his lip to swell. Authorities thought this was an unprovoked hate crime and charged Vanveldhuizen with one felony count of hate-crime battery causing injury. After pleading guilty to the charge, the court sentenced Vanveldhuizen to one year in jail that will be stayed pending completion of three years of probation, 90 days in an alcohol-rehabilitation program and 10 weeks in an anger-management program. If Vanveldhuizens completes her programs, her felony conviction will be reduced to a misdemeanor.

In order to be convicted of battery, the state needs to prove that you willfully used force or violence upon another. California Penal Code 422.55 defines a hate crime as a crime that is committed because of one of more of the following actual or perceived characteristics of the victim: disability, gender, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, and sexual orientation. Being motivated by hate or discrimination when committing a crime will result in its own charge or a sentencing enhancement. Therefore, if you are charged with a hate crime, battery, assault, or any other serious crime, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney right away to assist you in fighting your charges and reducing your sentence.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Off-Duty Officer Charged With Drunk Driving

Around 2 a.m. this morning, off-duty Orange County Sheriff's Department deputy Mario Manual Castro was arrested for driving under the influence. Castro was driving to Orange from a bar in Costa Mesa and was pulled over by officers after driving on the wrong side of the road into oncoming traffic. Castro had a blood alcohol level of .24 percent blood alcohol concentration. He was charged with one misdemeanor count of driving under the influence with a prior offense, one misdemeanor count of driving with a blood-alcohol level of .08 percent or more with a prior offense, and a sentencing enhancement allegation for having a blood-alcohol level more than .15 percent. If Castro is convicted of all of these charges, he faces a year in prison or jail.

In California, it is illegal to drive under the influence (DUI) of drugs and alcohol. It is a separate crime to drive with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent or higher. Once you are stopped by officers, they will often administer a Preliminary Alcohol Screening to measure your blood alcohol concentration. This screening test often yields incorrect results, which is a common defense to DUI charges. If you are convicted of driving under the influence, you face jail/prison time, fines, probation, and getting your driver's license suspended. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs also puts you at risk of hurting or killing yourself or others. Therefore, if you are charged with driving under the influence, please contact an experienced criminal defense attorney right away.


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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Soccer Coach and Pastor Suspected of Child Molestation

Pictured above: Christopher Raymond Olague. Source: Huntington Beach Police Department.

Christopher Raymond Olague was arrested last week on suspicion of child molestation. Olague is a pastor at Refuge Southland Church and also a soccer coach for AYSO Region 55, which is located in Huntington Beach. Allegedly, Olague picked up an 8-year-old girl from her family's home and was supposed to take her on a play date with his kids. Instead, Olague allegedly drove the girl to a park in Huntington Beach and molested her inside of his car. He then gave the girl $40 to keep quiet and not tell her parents what happened. The girl told her parents and Olague was arrested on suspicion of committing a lewd act on a child less than 14 years of age and attempting to dissuade a witness.

In order to be convicted of committing a lewd act on a child under 14, the state needs to prove that you wilfully touched a child's body with the intent of arousing you or the child.  If convicted of child molestation, you can be subject to fines, jail/prison time, counseling and are required to register to be put on the sex offender registry.  Registering on the sex offender registry will affect a person's reputation, career and where they can live.  Possible defenses to child molestation include: false accusations and lack of intent. If you are charged with child molestation or any other sex crime, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney right away to assist you in fighting your charges.


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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Bank Robber Robs Second Orange County Bank in One Day

Pictured Above: Stare Down Bandit. Source: FBI.

On Monday, a man authorities call the "Stare Down Bandit" attempted to rob a bank in Huntington Beach by giving the teller a note and demanding money and then staring her down before leaving. He was unsuccessful in robbing the teller in Huntington Beach and left without receiving any money from the bank. He then went to a bank in Irvine and also gave the teller a note demanding money. In his second attempt to rob a bank that day, the man was successful and left the bank with an undisclosed amount of money. Authorities are still looking for the Stare Down Bandit, who may be tied to other bank robberies in the area.

The crime of bank robbery is the taking of money by force, violence or by intimidation from a bank, credit union or savings and loan association. Since most banks are federally insured, bank robbery is usually a federal crime and is usually a punishable felony. Usually, when a bank robber uses a note to demand money, it is considered using force or intimidation to get money. Convictions of bank robbery come with a jail or prison sentence, restitution and fees, and probation. A common defense to bank robbery is mistaken identity. If you are charged with robbery, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney right away to assist you.


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