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Law Office of Ronald G. Brower Blog


Thursday, April 30, 2020

COVID-19 in Orange County Jails

Orange County Jails
Over the last couple of months, COVID-19 has been a main topic of conversation. The coronavirus dominates the 24-hour news cycle, which makes sense considering few people alive today have lived through a public health crisis of this magnitude.

The situation worsens each day; more and more people test positive for COVID-19 in the United States and abroad; 3,245,105 people have contracted the virus globally. The U.S. has significantly more cases than any other country, even though we only represent about 5 percent of the global population.

As of today, April 30, 2020, 1,050,493 of our citizens are infected with the potentially fatal virus, but experts warn that a lack of testing could mean the number is exponentially higher. Sadly, in fewer than three months, 61,408 Americans have passed away owing to complications related to COVID-19. You might be aware that 58,220 Americans died in the Vietnam war over nearly two decades, from November 1, 1955, to April 30, 1975.

Nearly every aspect of our lives has changed in a short time, and such alterations in how we conduct our lives – social distancing and wearing face masks – are not expected to end anytime soon. We are instructed by public health officials not to gather in large numbers, especially in confined spaces where the virus can easily be transmitted and contracted.

It should go without saying that jails and prisons, housing millions of Americans, across the country meet the definition of confined spaces. So, it should hardly come as a surprise to learn that COVID-19 cases are surging in penal institutions across the country, including those in the Golden State.

Coronavirus Spike in Orange County Jails

Last Wednesday, Orange County Sheriff's officials ramped up testing when it was discovered that 26 inmates tested positive for the virus, Patch reports. As to be expected, more inmates were found to have the virus; 82 tested positive for COVID-19.

The original 26 positive cases were individuals who exhibited symptoms. However, public health experts have warned that many carriers of COVID-19 are asymptomatic, which means that they do not show the telltale signs of potentially having the virus. Such people can have and spread the coronavirus unknowingly.

"We're not seeing a drastic increase of symptomatic individuals," said Carrie Braun of the Orange County Sheriff's Department. "But because of more tests available, we're seeing a high amount of those people (who had been asymptomatic in quarantine) coming back positive." 

Braun reported that of the 147 tests administered since the first inmate tested positive in the jails last month, 56 came back negative, according to the article. Of course, correctional officers at Orange County jails are at risk too; three deputies tested positive for coronavirus. None of the inmates nor deputies have required hospitalization.

Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney

At the Law Office of Ronald G. Brower, we specialize in many areas of the law, from aggravated-assault to white-collar crimes. If you are facing criminal charges, then please reach out to Attorney Brower for a consultation. With more than three decades of experience, he has the expertise to advocate for you effectively.

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Thursday, April 23, 2020

Southern California Face Mask Orders

face mask orders
The United States is quickly approaching a million cases of COVID-19, with 856,057 infected as of today. Sadly, 47,269 Americans have died as a result of complications related to the coronavirus.

Most people are aware that the majority of cases (269,756) and deaths (19,551) are in the State of New York. If the Empire State were a country, then it would have the fifth-highest death toll in the world behind the U.S., Spain, Italy, and France. Pretty stark when you look at New York in that respect.

Fortunately, California was quick to take measures to slow the spread of coronavirus. As a result, we are faring exponentially better than New York. The current number of cases in the Golden State are 37,788, and 1,440 have died. Nevertheless, there is a threat of an exponential rise in new cases, and more deaths are a reality.

Over the past few weeks, we have shared how the pandemic has impacted the courts in California. Now, there are new orders that impact Southern Californians.

Face Mask Orders in Southern California

COVID-19 can be contracted and transmitted in several ways; the mouth and nose being the primary port of entry and escape for the virus. With that in mind, the use of personal protection equipment (PPE) like face masks is strongly recommended.

The use of face masks when outside the home is not a statewide order. However, some city and county officials have decided to make the use of face masks mandatory owing to a rising death toll across the Southland.

Last Wednesday, Los Angeles County had the most deaths in a single day, according to SFGate. The previous record only lasted one day. Riverside County isn’t faring much better either, which led officials to make the use of face masks in public mandatory. Those who ignore the order could face a fine of $1,000 per violation per day.

Orange County issued a recommendation “strongly encouraging” employees at open businesses to wear face coverings while at work. A new City of Los Angeles order requires both shoppers and workers to wear a face covering. Beverly Hills requires people to wear face coverings when they leave their homes, even when taking walks.

Orange County Criminal Defense Lawyer

The Law of Ronald G. Brower can help if you or your loved one is facing legal challenges. Please contact our office to learn more about how attorney Brower can assist you with your difficulties. Our phone number is 714-997-4400.

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Friday, April 17, 2020

Zero Dollar Bail for Low-Level Offenders

Money Bail
The escalating pandemic is having a dramatic impact on everyone's life. We are mourning the losses of more than 30,000 Americans, and over nearly 700,000 people have tested positive in the United States.

In previous blog posts, we discussed how the COVID-19 public health crisis had impacted the criminal justice system in California. Superior courthouses are shuttered, and only the most "essential and emergency" functions are taking place. It isn't safe for jurors, attorneys, and defendants to be in close proximity. Social distancing guidelines are of the utmost importance.

We also shared with you that people who violate "stay at home" orders or enter public spaces like beaches face the risk of arrest and financial penalties. A handful of arrests have taken place, and some Californians have been fined.

Other changes to the criminal justice system are afoot too regarding juvenile justice and a topic we have discussed before—money bail. Due to fears of the coronavirus spreading through jails, the California Judicial Council took action to deter overcrowding.

Zero Dollar Bail for Low-Level Offenders

The money bail system is a hot-button topic in California. Last year, lawmakers passed Senate Bill 10, which was supposed to go into effect in October 2019. The measure did away with cash bail and gave judges the authority to decide who would be released during pretrial.

You might remember that groups against SB 10 got enough signatures to qualify for a referendum. Now, voters will decide the fate of money bail at the polls this November 2020. Time will tell the future of the legislation.

November is still a long way away, but money bail is back in the news. The California Judicial Council – the policymaker for the state's Superior Court system – voted to set bail for all misdemeanors and low-level felonies at "zero dollars," The Orange County Register reports. The mandate will not apply to violent offenders. California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, who chairs the council, said:

"We are at this point truly with no guidance in history, law or precedent. And to say that there is no playbook is a gross understatement of the situation. Working with our court stakeholders, I'm confident we can preserve the rule of law and protect the rights of victims, the accused, litigants, families and children, and all who seek justice." 

 The council's action was one of several taken this month, including:
  • Allowing local courts to set up remote hearings via teleconference technology.
  • Attorneys can appear on behalf of defendants in pretrial hearings.
  • Extending the statute of limitations for civil proceedings.
  • New rules for prioritizing juvenile proceedings.
  • Allowing electronic depositions in civil cases.
  • Extending time frames for certain temporary restraining orders.

Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney

Please reach out to Attorney Ronald Brower if you are facing legal challenges. The Law Office of Ronald G. Brower can advocate for you and your family, and help you achieve the best possible outcome.

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Thursday, April 9, 2020

"Safer at Home" Order Leads to Arrests

safer at home
Slowing the spread of COVID-19 is of vital importance in all 50 states and U.S. territories. Accomplishing such a feat has proven to be a challenge, although some states have had an easier time than others.

In America, 455,243 people have tested positive for the deadly coronavirus; 24,723 have recovered, and 16,191 have died. The numbers continue to climb at an alarming rate, but they may begin to slow thanks to actions taken by people across the country.

Social distancing, sheltering in place, and self-quarantining are effective ways to prevent disease transmission. Wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) like face masks can help stop the spread of the disease as well. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone wear a mask when in public.

You have probably noticed in California and other states, nonessential businesses have been ordered to shutter until the crisis is contained. In most cases, companies have been adhering to the above mandate.

Naturally, it’s challenging for authorities to enforce the new rules that have emerged in the wake of the pandemic. As such, some stores are choosing to ignore state and city orders and are failing to comply with the law.

Cracking Down on Scofflaws

In California, public beaches are closed, and nonessential businesses are ordered to do the same, all part of the “Safer at Home” order. You might be wondering about what happens when people ignore the new mandate? Well, arrests are being made, and criminal charges are being filed, according to The Los Angeles Times. Those who think that flouting coronavirus orders is in their best interest should think again.

Los Angeles County prosecutors filed charges against two businesses for failing to comply with the "Safer at Home" order. Criminal charges were filed against two smoke shops, a shoe store and a discount electronics retailer.

Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies arrested a paddleboarder who ignored lifeguards’ orders to come ashore near the Malibu Pier, the article reports. A surfer in Manhattan Beach received a $1,000 citation for ignoring warnings to stay out of the ocean.

“The mayor’s order is clear: Only essential businesses, such as healthcare providers, organizations serving vulnerable populations, and grocery stores, may remain open during the COVID-19 emergency,” said City Attorney Mike Feuer. “We’re all safer at home. Nonessential businesses remaining open at this time jeopardize public health and safety, and my office is committed to vigorously enforcing the mayor’s order.” 

Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney

Please reach out to the Law Office of Ronald G. Brower if you are being charged with a crime in California. Attorney Brower has the experience to help you find a favorable outcome in your case.

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