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Law Office of Ronald G. Brower Blog


Tuesday, July 24, 2018

California Bar Requires Attorney Fingerprinting

California attorney
As of June 1, 2018, most active attorneys in California are required to be re-fingerprinted, according to The State Bar of California. Under California Rule of Court Rule 9.9.5, active lawyers and multijurisdictional practitioners must comply before the prescribed deadline of April 30, 2019, or face penalties.

It turns out that up until last year the state was out of compliance with a statutory mandate that requires the State Bar be notified of attorney arrests and convictions from the California Department of Justice (DOJ). While attorneys always get fingerprinted upon admission to the State Bar, neither the Bar nor the Department of Justice held onto said fingerprints. Which means, if an attorney found themselves on the wrong side of the law, both organizations have nothing in the records for future notification services.

Of the 190,000 active attorneys in the state, as many as 19,000 may have unreported criminal activity, according to the State Bar of California.


Failure to Comply

As mentioned above, the deadline for compliance before the penalty period begins is April 30th of next year. If the Bar’s requirements are not met, noncompliant lawyers will be required to pay a fine of $75 and will have approximately three months to get the problem situated before paying monetary penalty number 2 of $100. Attorneys found not cooperating at that juncture will have until December 1, 2019, to comply before their status with the bar is changed to “involuntary inactive.”
  • Monetary Penalty I - $75 — May 1, 2019
  • Monetary Penalty II - $100 — Aug 1, 2019
  • Final Warning Notice of Status Change — Nov 1, 2019
  • Status Change to Involuntary Inactive — Dec 1, 2019
According to the California State Bar, Foreign Legal Consultants and Registered In-House Counsel have until February 1, 2019, to submit fingerprints when renewing their registration. If you have more questions about the fingerprinting process, please contact the State Bar's Office of Attorney Regulation and Consumer Resources — 888-800-3400.


Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney

Attorney Ronald G. Browser has more than three decades of experience helping clients receive favorable outcomes in the courts. If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges, please contact our office to learn how we can advocate on your behalf.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Marijuana-related Arrests Fell Significantly Last Year

prop 64
It is legal to use marijuana in California recreationally provided however you are an adult over the age of 21. Proposition 64 brought about significant changes concerning offenses related to cannabis use and distribution, for instance, people above the legal age restriction can travel with up to an ounce without fear. Individuals caught selling the drug face a misdemeanor rather than a felony as was the case before Prop 64 going into effect.

While practically every cannabis-related offense was either downgraded or done away with, it is still possible to find one’s self on the wrong side of the law. People who use minors to sell marijuana and individuals who are caught cultivating substantial amounts of the drug—on numerous occasions—can be subject to felony charges.

Advocates of the legislation didn’t expect Prop 64 to put an end to marijuana offenses, but they are pleased to see the arrest rates drop across the state, The Orange County Register reports. Although, some people have concerns about racial disparity when it comes to arrests, which is a trend that has persisted for decades.


Marijuana-related Arrests Last Year

Last week, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra released several reports about crime in California, which included post-Proposition 64 findings. The data indicate that marijuana-related arrests fell significantly last year; total arrests dropped 56 percent, and felony arrests decreased 74 percent. The number of people facing possible incarceration and other adverse effects resulting from cannabis charges fell by almost 8,000 from the year before. All told, 6,065 people were charged with a marijuana-related offense in 2017.

“Overall, I think it bodes well for marijuana legalization in California,” said Jolene Forman, an attorney with the Drug Policy Alliance. “It shows… that law enforcement resources are not being wasted on marijuana arrests anymore and can be used on more serious offenses.” 

As mentioned above, racial disparity continues concerning weed busts. Despite data showing that white, black, and Hispanic individuals use and sell cannabis at roughly equivalent rates, whites are charged with felonies less often. The recent report shows that Hispanic people accounted for 40 percent and black people accounted for 21 percent of marijuana felony arrests, compared to 24 percent for whites.


Southern California Criminal Defense Attorney

Are you facing criminal charges related to cannabis? If so, The Law Office of Ronald G. Brower can help. Please contact Attorney Brower to learn how he can advocate on your behalf and help you achieve the best possible outcome in your case.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Ending the Felony Murder Rule in California

Felony Murder Rule
A bill under consideration in California would end a rule that allows people involved in certain serious felonies—that lead to death—to be subject to the same penalties as the killer, ABA Journal reports. SB-1437: Accomplice liability for felony murder (2017-2018) would “prohibit a participant in the commission or attempted commission of a felony inherently dangerous to human life to be imputed to have acted with implied malice, unless he or she personally committed the homicidal act.”

Senate Bill 1437 was approved by the California State Senate and is now before the California State Assembly’s Public Safety Committee, which recommends the bill move forward. If SB- 1437 becomes law, it could lead to monumental changes regarding whose liable for murder. The Felony Murder Elimination Project reports that of women serving life sentences for murder in California, 72 percent were not the murderer.

Felony Murder Rule

California judges have long railed against the state’s felony murder rule, according to the article. In fact, judges in the 1960’s called the rule “highly artificial.” The California Supreme Court called felony murder a “barbaric” rule of “dubious origins” from a “bygone age” in 1983, but stated that the state legislature was the only body with the power to amend the practice, according to The Marshall Project. And in 2011, in a ruling on California's overpopulated prisons, the U.S. Supreme Court said it violated the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.

California isn’t the only state confronting the felony murder rule. The Pennsylvania Legislature is considering limiting the rule as well, the article reports. Other states like Ohio already addressed the law four years ago, when the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that “attempted felony murder” is “impossible” to commit. While Hawaii, Kentucky, Massachusetts, and Michigan have abolished the rule; 45 states still adhere to the law, and in 24 states such cases are eligible for capital punishment.

California’s SB- 1437, if approved, has provisions that go beyond ending the rule. The legislation provides those already convicted the ability to be re-sentenced or have their case vacated altogether.

“Many times in California, if you didn’t commit the murder, didn’t know the murder occurred, you could be charged and have the same sentence as the actual murderer,” said State Sen. Nancy Skinner, the legislation’s sponsor. “They had bad judgment, but they didn’t commit a murder—and when I understood this, I knew we had to fix that.”


Southern California Criminal Defense Attorney

If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges, The Law Office of Ronald G. Brower can help. Attorney Brower continues to provide clients with that same level of commitment and excellence as he did when he began practicing law more than 30 years ago. Please contact us today.

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Friday, July 6, 2018

California Money Bail System

money bail
The battle to reform California’s money bail system continues, and it would seem that this problem should have been resolved years ago given the progressive nature of the Golden State. Almost one year ago we discussed the topic of cash bail on this blog, specifically how the system favors the rich and discriminates against the poor. As it stands right now, people awaiting trial have one of two options, either pay 10 percent (nonrefundable) of the set bail to a bondsman or bide one’s time in jail until the proceedings come to a close.

For the wealthy, what is ten-percent of $10,000 bail but a forgettable drop in the bucket? To people of lower socioeconomic standing, $1,000 might cover bills for an entire month. What’s more, opting out of bail could mean a lengthy jail stay, during which an individual may lose their job, apartment, and possibly even child custody.

Most of the developed world, it turns out, has long since done away with the practice of nonrefundable money bail. In many places, defendants can pay the 10 percent of their bond and get a refund after the trial comes to an end, provided of course that they show up to court. The Philippines and most American states are the only places where private bail guarantors reign supreme, The Los Angeles Times reports. In the United States, the industry has influential lobbyists with the ear of many a lawmaker.

Ending Money Bail

The UCLA's Luskin School of Public Affairs published a report showing the median bail amount in California is about $50,000—five times higher than anywhere else in the nation. Around 90 percent of people detained pretrial are only behind bars because they can’t cover the cost of bail.

"While defendants await trial in jail custody, they are unable to attend to their obligations, such as working, going to school, paying rent, or caring for family members," the report states. 

Some 39 years ago, California had an opportunity to end the divisive practice of nonrefundable cash bail. The state Senate approved a measure that would reform the system, but then Gov. Jerry Brown was unable to sign the bill because lobbyist won in the end, according to the article. Once again, an opportunity has arrived to end this punishing practice once and for all; last year, the Senate passed SB 10; however, Gov. Brown has yet to sign the bill, and you can probably guess why, lobbyists.


Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney

Please contact The Law Office of Ronald G. Brower if you are in need of legal assistance. Attorney Brower brings over 30 years of experience to the table, and he is committed to achieving the best possible outcome for you and your loved ones.

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