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Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Overturning A Felony Murder Conviction

Felony Murder Conviction
Last summer we covered a California bill up for consideration that would significantly alter the felony murder law. At the time, we pointed out a startling statistic from The Felony Murder Elimination Project, that 72 percent of women in California serving life sentences for murder are not the murderer.

As of January 1, 2019, Senate Bill 1437 went into effect. The law prohibits a participant in the perpetration or attempted perpetration of one of the specified first-degree murder felonies in which a death occurs from being liable for murder unless specific caveats are met. The legislation also provides a means of vacating the conviction and resentencing a defendant when a complaint, information, or indictment was filed against the defendant that allowed the prosecution to proceed under a theory of first-degree felony murder.

The Accomplice Liability for Felony Murder (2017-2018) law means that a good many people serving life sentences in California could soon find themselves free.

Overturning A Felony Murder Conviction

Last week, a Contra Costa County judge following the mandate of Senate Bill 1437 overturned a San Quentin State Prison inmate’s felony murder conviction, The San Francisco Chronicle reports. On Friday, Judge Laurel Brady vacated Adnan Khan’s murder conviction and resentenced him on his robbery conviction. The vacated conviction came in the wake of former Gov. Jerry Brown commuting Khan’s sentence from 25 years to life to 15 years to life in December. The move makes Khan the first inmate in California to be released under new CA murder law.

Mr. Khan had served 15 years in San Quentin for his involvement in a robbery in 2003 that involved a fatal stabbing, according to the article. While in prison, Adnan spearheaded a media project titled FirstWatch; the film was about incarcerated men in San Quentin.

“Adnan’s case was the inspiration for SB1437, and for Adnan to be the first one to be released, it feels like things have come full circle,” said Kate Chatfield, Khan’s attorney.

Individuals currently serving felony murder conviction sentences in California, but did not commit the killing, are eligible for resentencing on a case-by-case basis.

Orange County Homicide Defense Attorney

Those facing a murder charge find themselves in the most severe form of legal jeopardy; it is vital that such people have the best representation possible. With more than 30 years of extensive experience in homicide defense, The Law Office of Ronald G. Brower can provide the quality representation you or a loved one requires. Please contact us today.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

New Gun Laws In California 2019

California Gun Laws
Following the 2017 Las Vegas Mandalay Bay massacre and the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting last year, discussions about firearms went into overdrive. The use of “bump stocks” and powerful assault rifles are at the top of the list of concerns. As is the question of whether people with a history mental illness or violence should be allowed to own a gun?

Gun ownership has long been a hot button topic and will likely continue to be; the Second Amendment is a subject that millions of Americans take seriously. However, and despite many person’s enthusiasm for firearms, public safety is something that all citizens care about especially in the wake of mass shootings.

It is widely understood that California is a progressive state. Naturally, the recent horrific gun massacres have not gone unnoticed. Last year, several new gun laws were passed that go into effect this year. Below you will find a brief breakdown of some of the more significant gun ownership changes affecting Californians.

Stricter Gun Laws In California

Federal law currently prohibits the sale of handguns from a licensed retailer to people under age 21. However, in many states, eighteen-year-olds can buy assault rifles (long guns) capable of doing severe damage in a short period. In California, a new law raises the minimum age from 18 years old to age 21 for the purchase of long guns, CNBC reports. There are several other gun ownership law changes that Californians should be aware of moving forward.

Assembly Bill 1968 takes effect at the end of 2019. The bill places a lifetime gun ownership ban on individuals who are involuntarily admitted to a mental health facility, on more than one occasion within a year, for being a danger to themselves or others. Such people can appeal the ban every five years, according to the article.

Existing law requires a 10-year ban on possessing a gun for those convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence. Assembly Bill 3129 puts a lifetime ban on individuals sentenced for such crimes on or after January 1, 2019. The lifetime ban also pertains to those convicted of battery on a spouse, cohabitant, ex-girlfriends, and ex-spouses.

California Domestic Violence Attorney

Please contact The Law Office of Ronald G. Brower if you are facing domestic violence charges in California. Attorney Brower is experienced in all aspects of the law; he has the knowledge and experience for aggressively presenting your defense.

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Wednesday, January 9, 2019

California Criminal Justice, 2019

Crinial Justice System
With the New Year underway, adults in California should take a moment to consider some significant changes to the criminal justice system. At Law Office of Ronald G. Brower, we make a point of sharing legislative changes that could affect current and future clients. Understanding of the law can help persons prevent future run-ins with the legal system.

One of the most drastic changes to the criminal justice system is the end of cash bail or money bail. Later this year, most defendants awaiting trial will be able to do so from the comfort of their own home without having first to make bond. In October, the severity of one’s crime and the likelihood a defendant will show up to their court date will be the deciding factor in whether a person awaits trial in jail or not. Instead of money bail, judges will rely on a pretrial risk assessment to decide who is eligible for release.

Another significant change is a follow up to California Proposition 64, the bill legalizing adult recreational use of cannabis. Under the terms of a new law, the California Department of Justice is ordered to review the cases of thousands of people with marijuana convictions, to determine if sentences should be reduced or expunged, according to KCRA 3. The California DOJ has until July 1st to compile a list of such people.

One more item that Californians should know about has to do with driving under the influence and driver privileges.

Ignition Interlock Devices

Practically every adult in California – and particularly those with driver’s licenses – understand that driving under the influence is a serious matter. Each state handles intoxicated driving a little differently, but some states are exceedingly strict. Senate Bill 1046 pertains to the use of DUI Ignition Interlock Devices or IIDs. Under the new law, drivers convicted of DUI can stay on the road but with the caveat of installing an IID.

“Starting January 1, 2019, individuals convicted of a DUI will only be able to regain their full driving privileges if they install an ignition interlock device in each of the vehicles they own,” said San Diego Assemblyman Todd Gloria.

As the California Department of Motor Vehicles points out on their website, Californians convicted of more than one DUI are now subject to new rules under SB 1046. The DMV writes:  

From January 1, 2019 to January 1, 2026, this law mandates repeat offenders for driving under the influence (DUI) and first DUI offenders whose violations resulted in injury, to install an ignition interlock device (IID) for a period ranging from 12 to 48 months. This law also allows those who receive a suspension under the Administrative Per Se law to obtain an IID-restricted driving privilege, and receive credit toward their required IID restriction period if they are later convicted of a DUI. These provisions apply to DUI violations that involve alcohol or the combined use of alcohol and drugs. They do not apply to drug-only violations. Additionally, courts have the discretion to order a non-injury first DUI offender to install an IID for a period of up to 6 months. If the court does not order IID installation, a non-injury first offender may apply for a driver license for IID restrictions or restrictions that allow them to drive to, from, and during their employment and to and from a DUI treatment program for 12 months. Previously, an IID pilot program was only in effect in Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento and Tulare counties.


Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney

If you or a family member are experiencing legal troubles, Attorney Ronald Brower can assist you in finding a favorable outcome. With decades of experience, attorney Brower has the expertise, knowledge, and understanding of the law to advocate for your family and secure the most favorable result. Please contact us today to learn more.

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Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Governor Orders New DNA Tests for Kevin Cooper Case

DNA test
On Christmas Eve, Governor Jerry Brown granted 143 pardons and 131 commutations; but, he also ordered new DNA tests that could clear Kevin Cooper of involvement in a 35-year-old murder case, CBS News reports. Cooper was charged and convicted of killing four people with a hatchet in Chino Hills in 1983. However, he and his attorneys contend that evidence was planted and that a new DNA test will prove Cooper’s innocence. In the executive order, Brown writes:

"I take no position as to Mr. Cooper's guilt or innocence at this time, but colorable factual questions have been raised about whether advances in DNA technology warrant limited retesting of certain physical evidence in this case."

Governor Brown’s decision came in the wake of several public figures pushing for new tests, including U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, according to the article. New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and California State Treasurer John Chiang are among the other notable figures imploring Brown to order new tests.

Proving Innocence

Cooper's been on death row since 1985, but his scheduled execution in 2004 was stayed, the article reports. At the time, a federal appellate court deemed that a review of the scientific evidence was necessary; however, Cooper’s appeals have been rejected by both the California and U.S. Supreme Courts.

At the time of the quadruple homicide, Cooper was a convenient suspect—a black man who escaped from prison just 48 hours before the slayings of Doug and Peggy Ryen, 10-year-old Jessica Ryen, and 11-year-old Christopher Hughes who was a neighbor of the Ryen family. There may have been evidence that implicates another suspect, but a sheriff's deputy destroyed it, according to CBS News correspondent Erin Moriarty. She has been following this case for two decades.

The ordered tests are meant to show whether DNA other than Cooper’s is on a tan T-shirt, orange towel, or the hatchet handle and sheath. A retired Los Angeles County Superior Court judge is acting as a special master overseeing the case.

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Orange County Criminal Defense

Please contact the Law Office of Ronald G. Brower if you are currently facing criminal charges. Attorney Brower, with his extensive legal experience, can advocate for you and your family to help bring about the best possible outcome.

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