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Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Preventing Indecent Content Sharing Act

Preventing Indecent Content Sharing Act
Last month, we discussed a California lawmaker’s intention to introduce legislation that would ban the practice of sending unsolicited nude photos. California Senator Ling Ling Chang (R-Diamond Bar) would like to make this disturbing trend illegal.

Sen. Chang recently introduced Senate Bill 798: The Preventing Indecent Content Sharing (PICS) Act, according to CBS Sacramento. The bill would outlaw “cyber flashing,” which is when someone sends unsolicited nude photos via the internet either by computer or smartphone.

CBS cites data collected by the Pew Research Center, which indicates that more than half of young women report being victims of cyber flashing.

The PICS Act

As we pointed out in our previous post, Sen. Chang reported that she had received unsolicited nude photos. So, SB 798 is personal for the lawmaker. The bill is modeled after a law in Texas, where punishment for the practice is a $500 fine. The PICS Act states:  

Existing law creates a private right of action against a person who intentionally distributes a photograph or recorded image of another that exposes the intimate body parts, as defined, of that person without their consent, knowing that the other person had a reasonable expectation that the material would remain private, if specified conditions are met. Existing law also makes it a misdemeanor for a person, with intent to annoy, to make contact with another person by means of an electronic communication device and to address to or about the other person any obscene language or threat to inflict injury. 

This bill would state the intent of the Legislature to enact legislation, entitled the Preventing Indecent Content Sharing (PICS) Act, that would deter egregious forms of online harassment, including sending unsolicited lewd images. 

Please take a moment to watch a short video on the subject:

If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

We will continue to follow this critical piece of legislation as it moves through the California Senate.

Orange County Attorney At Law

Attorney Ronald Brower has decades of experience in the California criminal justice system. He has worked on many high-profile cases over the years. Attorney Brower can assist you or a loved one and help to bring about a favorable outcome during this challenging time. Please contact The Law Office of Ronald G. Brower to learn more.

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Wednesday, January 15, 2020

OC Sheriff's Officials Engaged in Misconduct

Even law enforcement is not above the law. Orange County public defenders have alleged in court filings that Orange County sheriff's deputies mishandled evidence, lied, and were promoted instead of prosecuted, The Sacramento Bee reports. They also claim that while district attorney's officials hid record of the deputies' repeated acts of misconduct.

On December 30th, Orange County deputy public defender Scott Sanders states that sheriff's officials who engaged in misconduct received insignificant punishments and OC prosecutors covered-up the misdeeds of sheriff's deputies.

"The deputies referred to for criminal prosecution wrote reports in which they collectively described having seized well in excess of 100 items of evidence that were never booked — or, alternatively, lied about having seized items in the first place," Sanders argued. 

We recently reported on the audit that revealed the potential misdeeds of the OCSD.

No Charges for OCSD Sheriff's

Last month, The Orange County Register discovered two secret audits revealing that deputies failed to book evidence on time. The findings were the impetus for the recent filings by Sanders.

The audit showed that a handful of deputies were fired, and a small number more were merely disciplined for their actions, according to the article. The audits also revealed that many deputies lied about the evidence they collected and never booked evidence they claimed to have seized.

Even though Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer admitted that the misconduct potentially jeopardized dozens of cases, he decided not to press charges against a single deputy. The officers, according to the article, should've been added to the roster of "Brady" cops, a list of officers who are chronically untruthful.

Brady v. Maryland is a 1963 Supreme Court decision that compels prosecutors to hand over all evidence to the defense that might clear defendants' names, such as officers who have engaged in misconduct.

Some of the officers in question were promoted, despite the evidence of their misconduct, the article reports. Another officer kept his job after a three-week unpaid suspension. We will continue to follow this story as it develops.

Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney

Please contact the Law Office of Ronald G. Brower for legal assistance relating to criminal charges. Attorney Brower has the experience to advocate for you effectively. 714-997-4400

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Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Rapid DNA: The Future?

rapid DNA
Last fall, we wrote about a revolutionary new method for evaluating deoxyribonucleic acid or DNA evidence, known as “rapid DNA.” At the time, we covered a couple of the basics: the two companies behind the technology, and we shared with you some privacy concerns that have been expressed by forensic scientists.

ANDE and Thermo Fisher Scientific created instruments that can test DNA in 90 minutes, a speed significantly faster than the current method utilized by law enforcement agencies. While the tech is expensive, carrying a price tag of up to $250,000, it may be worth it; the quicker agents can analyze specimens, the faster they can apprehend suspects of serious crimes.

Currently DNA analysis can take months or as long as year. In that time, victims are left waiting and wondering if their assailant will ever be arrested. Countless cases could be closed at an exponentially speedier pace with the introduction of rapid DNA testing.

Rapid DNA Leads to Quick Arrests

A 29-year-old woman’s rape assailant was apprehended in weeks because the Kentucky State Police laboratory was testing rapid DNA, according to NBC News. Even though the case still hasn’t gone to trial, it’s an example of the future of DNA testing.

We must point out that judges do not allow rapid DNA evidence to be used by prosecutors at trial, currently. So, while the new technology can bring in suspects much faster than the old tech, laboratories still must go through the time-consuming process of testing the old way for trial purposes. Moreover, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) urges caution, even though ANDE and Thermo Fisher Scientific continue to try and sell their devices to local law enforcement agencies.

The reason judges haven’t signed off on rapid DNA stems partly from concerns from privacy advocates, according to the article. Defense lawyers and some crime laboratory officials have voiced their concerns too; they say there are risks that technology could lead to both mistakes and abuse.

Errors, like false hits, make it hard for suspects to overcome a presumption of guilt, says Terri Rosenblatt, the supervisor of the DNA unit at the Legal Aid Society in New York. Rape kits involve mixtures of multiple people’s DNA. Rosenblatt points out that rapid DNA has not been proven reliable with testing admixtures of DNA.

“This blunt-force instrument that is designed to get results fast, especially with sexual assaults, is problematic,” said Rosenblatt.

OC Criminal Defense Attorney

Please reach out to the Law Office of Ronald G. Brower for a consultation if you or someone you care about is charged with a crime. Attorney Brower’s extensive experience in criminal defense makes him the ideal candidate to advocate for your family in California. 714-997-4400

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Thursday, January 2, 2020

Parole in America: A Rising Tide

When a person is released from prison in the United States, they go on parole, which is a form of supervision that is meant to keep an eye on and ensure that a former inmate is truly rehabilitated. Violating one’s parole, such as committing a new crime or failing a drug test, could mean recidivism.

In December 2017, former California Governor Jerry Brown commuted the sentence of Kelly Savage, The Atlantic reports. Gov. Brown’s decision allowed the 46-year-old inmate at the Central California Women’s Facility (a state prison) to ask the parole board for release. Ms. Savage, along with her former husband was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole after being convicted of first-degree murder. The victim was Savage’s 3-year-old son who died of blunt force trauma in 1998.

So, after 23 years in prison, Kelly was granted parole, according to the article. She is now among the hundreds of thousands of Americans in what has become a ballooning parole system.

Criminal Justice Reforms Lead to Parole Overload

On numerous occasions we have written about criminal justice reform legislation in California. In recent years, men and women serving lengthy prison systems have been given second chances via new laws that were partly meant to address prison overpopulation.

Such laws, according to the article, in California and beyond led to a significant decrease in the national prison population. What’s more, the decline coincided with a decline in the number of people on probation. However, with all the men and women receiving pardons, commutations, and parole, it meant far more people than ever would require post-incarceration supervision.

In 2016, nearly 875,000 Americans were on parole, according to the article. Such people are subject to specific conditions they must meet, or risk being locked up again. Studies indicate that the number of restrictions placed on ex-convicts has steadily increased over the years, thus increasing recidivism rates.

Nearly 30 percent of men and women admitted to state and federal prisons in 2017 had committed the crime of violating community-supervision programs such as parole and probation. What’s more, parole officers have broad powers and very little oversight.

“Parole officers have tremendous power when deciding how to deal with a parolee, and there is very little oversight of those decisions,” said Yale Law School professor, Fiona Doherty. 

Orange County Attorney at Law

Please contact The Law Office of Ronald Brower if you are facing criminal charges in California. Attorney Brower has decades of experience and can help you achieve a favorable outcome in your case.

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