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Thursday, December 26, 2019

New Gun Laws in 2020

gun laws
Guns are a hot-button topic in America, as such, changing laws regarding gun use and ownership is notoriously challenging. We do not have to remind you of the most recent massacres and school shootings for you to know that firearms are a significant issue in the United States.

Most Americans are well aware that powerful gun lobbies and the manufacturers that fund them go to significant lengths to obstruct any legislation that would make buying a gun more difficult. What's more, many politicians' campaigns receive large sums of money in an effort to prevent lawmakers from getting behind what are known as "common-sense gun laws."

Each state has the right to enact laws regarding gun ownership as they see fit. Some states have strict firearm laws, while others make it pretty easy for just about any adult to acquire a handgun or rifle.

It will probably come as little surprise California is leading the charge in making it harder for specific individuals to buy a gun. Three new laws will go into effect in 2020 that will hopefully reduce gun violence.

Buying a Gun Will Be More Difficult in 2020

On January 1, 2020, Assembly Bill 12, Assembly Bill 1968, and Senate Bill 61 will go into effect, according to ABC 10 reports. Below we will break down the coming changes, starting with AB 12.

In California, family members or a law enforcement officer can request a judge to issue a gun violence restraining order on someone. They must prove that an individual poses danger to him or herself or others, according to the article. The order lasts a year and can be terminated early or extended after 365 days. AB 12 changes how long a restraining order can last from one to five years; it also allows a law enforcement officer to request a restraining order on behalf of their agency.

Current law places a five-year ban on someone from owning a gun if they are admitted to a mental health center for being a danger to themselves or others, the article reports. Individuals who are found not guilty of a crime by reason of insanity are prohibited from owning a gun unless a judge finds that he or she had "recovered sanity." AB 1968 places a lifetime gun ownership ban on an individual admitted to a mental health center, because they were either a danger to themselves or others. Said persons could petition the court to have the ban lifted, and it would be up to the district attorney to prove he or she is still a danger.

Existing law prevents Californians from buying more than one handgun a month. SB 61 enhances current law to include the purchase of rifles. The bill also restricts men and women under the age of 21 from buying a gun.

California Criminal Defense Attorney

Please reach out to the Law Office of Ronald G. Brower if you are facing criminal charges in California. Attorney Brower has a long history of achieving favorable outcomes for various types of criminal cases. He may be able to help you, or a loved one similarly.

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Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Prosecutors Rely On Secretly Recorded Conversations

Proposition 8
Did you know that it is against the law to record someone else's conversations in the State of California? It makes sense; each private citizen should have an inherent right to privacy, a freedom outlined in the California Constitution. With that in mind, one might think that a secretly recorded conversation could not be used against a person as incriminating evidence. However, one would be wrong in thinking that to be the case.

A little known law approved by voters in 1982 allows all "relevant evidence" to be introduced in any criminal trial or pretrial hearing, The San Francisco Chronicle reports. It may come as little surprise that prosecutors sponsored the measure to change privacy laws written into the California Constitution.

Naturally, the measure allowing prosecutors to introduce evidence that had been obtained in violation of state law has been challenged several times since 1982. However, the California Supreme Court has repeatedly let prosecutors introduce evidence that had been obtained in violation of state law.

Secretly Recorded Conversations Admissible

In 1985, the State's highest court upheld – 4-3 – the will of the voters to narrow criminal defendant's rights, according to the article. On December 5, 2019, the Supreme Court once again upheld the provision.

The measure, passed by voters with a 56 percent majority in 1982 allowing prosecutors to use secretly recorded conversations, included several other provisions that impacted the rights of criminal defendants. Proposition 8 or The Victims' Bill of Rights restricted the rights of convicts and those facing criminal charges. It also extended the rights of victims by allowing such individuals to testify at parole and sentencing hearings. Proposition 8 also:
  • Increased sentence lengths for specific crimes.
  • Narrowed the insanity defense.
  • Permitted prosecutors to introduce evidence that had been obtained in violation of state law.
"The court can interpret Proposition 8 narrowly or broadly, but the genie's out of the jar," said George Nicholson, the 1982 Republican candidate for attorney general and principal draftsman of the initiative. "The public knows it can play a role in criminal justice."

Orange County Attorney at Law

At Law Office of Ronald G. Brower, we have a long history of successfully advocating for criminal defendants. If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges, you will be pleased to know that Attorney Brower has more than three decades of experience practicing law in California. Please contact our office today for assistance.

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Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Appeals Court Judges Uphold SB 1437

SB 1437
On several occasions, we have discussed California's "felony murder rule." We have mentioned that recent changes in the law mean that some inmates (those who were a part of a crime that lead to death but didn't commit a murder) stand to receive reduced sentences.

The old felony murder law allowed prosecutors to charge accomplices in crimes that resulted in murders with the same punishment as those who actually carried out the homicide. However, in an effort to create a fairer justice system, Senate Bill 1437 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."

SB 1437 raises the standard that prosecutors must meet to prove that an accomplice defendant:
  • Had an intent to kill,
  • was a major participant in the killing;
  • and behaved in a way that showed a reckless disregard for life.
Now, SB 1437 is being put to the test as those convicted under the old law petition the courts for re-sentencing, The Orange County Register reports. If successful, thousands of Californians could potentially receive lower terms in state prison.

Appeals Court Upholds SB 1437

One of the cases in question is that of Patty Ann Lamoureux. In 2013 she was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for the murder of Bradley Capen, according to the article. While evidence suggests she was involved in the crime, the Appeals Court determined that the evidence against Lamoureux "was insufficient to support the finding that Lamoureux had an intent to kill or acted with reckless indifference to human life."

Therefore, Lamoureux shouldn't have qualified for a life sentence. However, many prosecutors are not pleased with the new law; there is a chance that the California Supreme Court will review the appellate court's decision.

It's worth noting that prosecutors in Orange County challenged the new felony murder rule earlier this year. Moreover, Orange County Superior Court Judge Gregg L. Prickett ruled that the new law was unconstitutional. However, Presiding Justice Judith McConnell and Associate Justice Joan K. Irion of the state appeals court disagreed with Prickett's argument in their written statement.

We will continue to follow this story as it develops.

Orange county Attorney at Law

If you require legal assistance in the State of California, then you have come to the right place. For more than 30 years, Attorney Ronald Brower has helped thousands of individuals achieve favorable outcomes in their cases. Please contact The Law Office of Ronald G. Brower to learn more about how we can help you or a loved one.

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Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Banning Unsolicited Nude Photos

nude photos ban
Smartphones, with their high-resolution cameras, make it easy for people to document their lives. Men and women use their phones to take pictures of everything, from delicious food to beautiful landscapes. Users then share their captured experiences with friends and family via text messages or social media.

Unfortunately, advancements in smartphone technology have also resulted in some disturbing trends that are cause for concern. Most adult Americans are familiar with the practice of taking nude photos and sharing them with romantic partners and spouses.

Intimate photography, when kept private, is a seemingly benign practice; however, there are many instances of people sharing private photos with the public. There are also some who would share nude pictures with people who did not ask for them; this concerning trend is nothing short of online harassment.

Women, in particular, receive unwanted photos from men that are sexual in nature on a regular basis. California Senator Ling Ling Chang (R-Diamond Bar) would like to make this practice illegal, according to California Globe. She has personally received nude photos from her constituents. Sen. Chang plans to introduce the bill in January when the Legislature returns to work.

“I’d say 95% of the women I have talked to have experienced something like this,” stated Senator Chang. “We have to send a message that this culture of online harassment must go.”


Legislation to Ban Unsolicited Nude Photos

The California Legislature has already taken steps to outlaw the practice of revenge porn, that is, sharing revealing photos online in an attempt to harm an ex. Sen. Chang is working with the dating app Bumble to draft the new legislation, according to the article. Bumble previously worked with lawmakers in Texas to pass a similar bill: HB 2789; the law makes sending an unsolicited nude picture a misdemeanor that includes a $500 fine.

The app has added technology to erase nude photos that are sent and support legislation that would mitigate the risk of online harassment. As it stands now, all indications suggest that a bill similar to Texas HB 2789 would receive bipartisan support in California.

“It’s a gateway to more extreme forms of harassment and abuse and it should not be taken lightly, and it deserves consequences,” said Bumble CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd. 

Attorney at Law: Criminal Defense

Please contact the Law Office of Ronald G. Brower to learn how we can help you with a legal challenge. Attorney Brower has a long history of bringing about favorable results for his clients.

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