Elements Of A Crime

In the July 2013, California Supreme Court case People v. Davis, Mr. Davis was arrested at a rave party after he sold blue pills to an undercover officer. The California Health and Safety Code lists methylenedioxy amphetamine (MDA), commonly known as Ecstasy, as a controlled substance. However, subsequent tests revealed that the blue pills contained […]
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The Hearsay Rule and Its Exceptions

Whether watching court trials on the news, movies or popular television shows, we all have been exposed to some kind of court proceeding. Perhaps one of the most memorable events during a trial is when you see an attorney yell “objection!”, when opposing counsel is questioning a witness. While there are many objections an attorney […]
Continue Reading

Aaron Hernandez and First Degree Murder

There are several different violent crimes a person can be charged with in the United States of America. One such example is Murder; which is defined as the intentional and unlawful killing of another human being. However, there are different degrees of murder a person can be charged with. Professional athlete Aaron Hernandez (formally of […]
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Negligence and Michael Jackson

On October 2, 2013, a jury found AEG Live not liable for negligence in the case of KATHERINE JACKSON, ET. AL. VS. AEG LIVE LLC, ET. AL. (Los Angeles Superior Court Case #: BC445597). The case was filed by the family of Michael Jackson, one of the world’s biggest Pop Stars. The verdict shocked not […]
Continue Reading

Court Upholds Broad-Based Expungement

While some states restrict expungement of records to cases in which the defendant was innocent or wrongfully prosecuted, California is more willing than other states to give criminal defendants a fresh start following a criminal conviction. In People v. Parker, a June 24, 2013 decision from the Second Appellate District, the Court considered the case […]
Continue Reading

Man Held In Solitary Confinement For 41 Years

71-year-old Herman Wallace died on October 8, 2013, approximately one week after being released from prison in Louisiana. Mr. Wallace, a member of the Black Panthers and one of the Angola 3, was convicted of armed robbery in 1971 and sent to Angola State Prison. The next year, he was accused of fatally stabbing a […]
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Law Enforcement and Qualified Immunity

The Supreme Court of the United States of America is the highest court in the country. The Court hears cases that are on appeal from a United States Circuit Court decision. The Supreme Court can choose to overturn the opinion of the lower court, or they can rule Stare Decisis, which is Latin and translates […]
Continue Reading

Revenge Porn Now Illegal in California

In October 2013, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a law that expanded the definition of disorderly conduct and invasion of privacy. Senate Bill 255 outlaws so-called “revenge porn,” which involves the posting of private, pornographic photos of another person as a means of revenge against an ex-partner. The bill, which goes into effect immediately, specifically […]
Continue Reading

Murder Suspect Gives Up

A woman accused of murdering her two children has requested the death penalty. In September 2013, police in Orange County arrested 42-year-old Marilyn Edge of Scottsdale, Arizona in connection with the murder of her two children, aged 9 and 13. Prosecutors allege that Ms. Edge poisoned her children after she lost a custody battle with […]
Continue Reading

Expunging California Criminal Records

A criminal conviction can cause problems long after the actual sentence is served. Even a misdemeanor conviction can make it difficult to find a job, to find a place to live and to obtain a professional license. Expungement can help reduce or eliminate these problems. Expungement in California is more akin to sealing the records, […]
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When Criminal Law And Immigration Law Collide

The question often arises: can a criminal conviction be a snake in the grass as far as your immigration status is concerned? The California Supreme Court recently considered this question in the September 11, 2013 case of People v. Martinez. In 1992, Mr. Martinez was arrested for and charged with possession of marijuana. He pled […]
Continue Reading

The 4th Amendment and Illegal Search of Property

As a citizen of the United States of America, it is always good to know your legal rights. Perhaps one of the most common questions that people ask is whether it is legal for police to search one’s personal property without the consent of the owner and/or a warrant? The 4th amendment forbids unreasonable searches […]
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Felony Pretrial Procedure

After the arrest and before the trial, there are a number of important events that take place in the life of a felony criminal case. Once a person is arrested, a judge determines the amount of bail. Bail cannot be tied to the evidence against the person — instead, the judge determines the likelihood that […]
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The Heat Of The Moment

A sudden passion can separate murder from manslaughter, in a legal sense — but, where is that line drawn? On June 3, 2013, the California Supreme Court delivered People vs. Beltran, (124 Cal.App.3d 335). Mr. Beltran shared a residence with Claire Joyce Tempongko and Ms. Tempongko’s son. While the son called Mr. Beltran “Dad,” Mr. […]
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Discovery In Criminal Cases

Traditionally, discovery in criminal cases was a one-way proposition: the prosecutor had a duty to disclose evidence to the defense, but the defense had no duty to reciprocate. That dynamic changed with Proposition 115. Proposition 115, narrowly approved by voters on June 5, 1990, made reciprocal discovery the rule in California criminal cases. While the […]
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Thurgood Marshall – The First Black Supreme Court Justice

When one thinks of the Civil Rights Movement two names might come to mind. The first, without a doubt, is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; and the other may be Malcolm X. These two people were both huge contributors to the movement, and moved the public with famous and powerful speeches. However, one important and […]
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Johnnie Cochran

“If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit!” That line was made famous during the O.J. Simpson trial by a man who himself became a household name in America. His name was Johnnie Cochran. However, few seem to know that Johnnie Cochran was a well accomplished attorney and famous in his own right prior to the […]
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Taking & Storing DNA Evidence During The Booking Process in California

On March 20, 2014, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that California’s taking and storing DNA profiles from anyone arrested on suspicion of a felony is Constitutional. This caused a bit of controversy throughout the State, because some argue that this practice should not be legal. The state of Maryland practices the same […]
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In the July 2013, California Supreme Court case People v. Davis, Mr. Davis was arrested at a rave party after he sold blue pills to an undercover officer. The California Health and Safety Code lists methylenedioxy amphetamine (MDA), commonly known as Ecstasy, as a controlled substance. However, subsequent tests revealed that the blue pills contained methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), a similar substance that is not on the list of prohibited drugs. At trial, the officer testified that MDMA was a party drug that could affect a person for up to 24 hours — the officer did not give any further details. The jury — apparently reasoning that MDMA contained the word “methamphetamine” — convicted Mr. Davis.

On appeal, Mr. Davis’ criminal defense attorney challenged the conviction. The Court noted that the Health and Safety Code does include a provision that similar substances are implied to be on the prohibited list, if the defendant had the intent to circumvent the law by selling a slightly different substance. Because there was no evidence in the record that Mr. Davis had the requisite criminal intent, the conviction was reversed.

Basic Elements of a Crime

Some criminal offenses are regulatory offenses, such as DUI and running a stop sign. These offenses require no proof of criminal intent. All other crimes require proof of both:

  • A criminal act (actus rea)
  • Criminal intent (mens rea)

Criminal intent depends on the statute, but is most often defined as intentionally or knowingly committing a criminal act. Mr. Davis committed a criminal act by selling the MDMA, but he lacked the intent to violate the law.

At the Law Offices of Arash Hashemi, we provide clients with passionate and experienced representation. If you have been charged with drug possession or any other crime and would like to schedule an initial consultation with a lawyer at our firm, contact us by phone at (310) 894-8548 or contact us online. We promptly return phone calls and emails. Our office is conveniently located in the Westside Towers in West Los Angeles, within minutes of Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, and Westwood. We have flexible and weekend office hours, and we will visit you in jail to discuss your case.

hearsay

Whether watching court trials on the news, movies or popular television shows, we all have been exposed to some kind of court proceeding. Perhaps one of the most memorable events during a trial is when you see an attorney yell “objection!”, when opposing counsel is questioning a witness. While there are many objections an attorney can use in court, a fairly common one is hearsay. Hearsay is usually defined as: an out of court statement (not made under oath) introduced to prove the truth of the matter of the asserted, and is not admissible evidence in court. However, there are numerous exceptions to the rule of hearsay, some examples are: a statement made under impending death, an admission, a excited utterance, prior testimony, etc …

Hearsay can be written, oral, or even a gesture. Any piece of information that is intended to infer a fact is defined as hearsay. When an attorney objects on the grounds of hearsay, the main reason is to prevent any statements that are made outside of a courtroom from being used as evidence in court. Usually the witness is telling what has been said to them, and not what they know personally. However, hearsay evidence is excluded only in actual court trials, and is admissible in other judicial proceedings, such as a DMV Hearing or any other Administrative Hearing.

One exception to the hearsay rule is a statement that is made under the belief of an impending death or “Dying Declaration.” This means that if the statement in questions was made by a person who was dying, or believed to be dying, the statement is admissible in court. For example, if a person who had a malignant brain tumor made a statement prior to his impending death, what that person said would be allowed into evidence under the Dying Declaration exception of the Hearsay rule.

Just as hearsay can be admissible, there are certain circumstances when it is inadmissible: such as journals, word of mouth, rumors, etc … For example in the case of The People of California vs. Orenthal James Simpson (O.J Simpson), Nicole Brown Simpson’s journals were not able to be used in court as evidence because they contained her personal written words about events that occurred. Because the defense had no way of questioning Nicole Simpson about the writings in the journals, the journals were not allowed to be used as evidence. This is an example of evidence that is inadmissible under the hearsay rules.

In conclusion, hearsay is a common objection used by attorneys during trial. It is defined as second hand information that is introduced to prove the truth of the matter asserted. It does not only have to be by spoken words, but can also be documents, journals, gestures, etc … There are several exceptions to the rule of hearsay where evidence can be introduced in court.

Aaron Hernandez Murder

There are several different violent crimes a person can be charged with in the United States of America. One such example is Murder; which is defined as the intentional and unlawful killing of another human being. However, there are different degrees of murder a person can be charged with. Professional athlete Aaron Hernandez (formally of the New England Patriots) is currently being charged with murder in the first degree. What exactly constitutes murder in the first degree, and what are the sentencing consequences if a person is convicted of murder in the first degree?

Typically when a person is charged with first degree murder, it is because the prosecution is alleging that the defendant murdered the victim deliberately, and that the act was premeditated. Meaning, the defendant had the intent and plan to murder the victim AND he/she carried out that plan. Some examples of first degree murder are: the use of a bomb and/or destructive device, or if the defendant tortured the victim which in turn caused their death.

Aaron Hernandez is being charged with this particular degree of murder because; the prosecution argues that the killing of the victim, Odin Lloyd, was deliberate and planned by Hernandez and his co-defendants Carlos Ortiz and ErnestWallace. Some of the evidence that is being presented to allege this is that Hernandez was in fact in contact with the victim within the last 10 hours of his life and that the victim’s body was found about a mile away from Hernandez’s place of residence.

If a person is found guilty, and convicted of first degree murder, they face 25 years to life in prison, with a possibility of parole after the 25 years. Depending on whether or not the homicide was considered a hate crime, the defendant could face life without the possibility of parole. Another deciding factor of parole is the state in which the trial is held. In States that still have the death penalty one can also be sentenced to death for being convicted of first degree murder. Because Aaron Hernandez is being charged in the state of Massachusetts, if convicted he faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.

In conclusion, if Aaron Hernandez is in fact convicted of first degree murder, he will face life in prison without the possibility of parole. The evidence obtained by the prosecution in the case alleges that Hernandez plotted the death of Odin Lloyd, and willingly killed him. In a court of law, first degree murder is a violent crime and if convicted of such a crime one will be sentenced to 25 years to life in prison, and on occasion without parole. Due to the overwhelming evidence presented against Hernandez, he not only ended his NFL career, but might have permanently lost his freedom as well.

Michael Jackson

On October 2, 2013, a jury found AEG Live not liable for negligence in the case of KATHERINE JACKSON, ET. AL. VS. AEG LIVE LLC, ET. AL. (Los Angeles Superior Court Case #: BC445597). The case was filed by the family of Michael Jackson, one of the world’s biggest Pop Stars. The verdict shocked not only many people around the globe but some legal scholars as well. But what exactly is “negligence?”

In a law dictionary, negligence is defined as “Failure to exercise the care toward others which a reasonable or prudent person would do in the circumstances, or taking action which such a reasonable person would not.” In this case, Michael Jackson’s mother (Katherine) and his three children (Prince, Paris, & Blanket), all party to the lawsuit, claimed that AEG Live was negligent in hiring Doctor Conrad Murray, which ultimately led to the death of the famous “King of Pop.”

After a lengthy court battle spanning over several months, the jury ruled that AEG Live could not be held responsible for the death of Jackson because it was not the company’s responsibility to protect Jackson’s health. AEG Live contested that they had hired Dr. Murray to look after Jackson’s health, so it was in fact the doctor’s sole responsibility and not theirs. However, many opposed the verdict, arguing that it was in fact AEG Live that hired Dr. Conrad Murray who ultimately issued Michael the fatal dose of anesthetic. Hence, AEG Live should be held responsible for the Doctor’s actions.

In conclusion, as one of the jurors stated “There are no winners in this. Somebody had to die for us to be here… itwas really a tragic situation.” The death of Michael Jackson was truly a tragedy, however Katherine Jackson’s attorney could not convince a jury that AEG Live was negligent in hiring Doctor Murray.

 

Photo Credits: Al Seib/Los Angeles Times/The Associated Press

While some states restrict expungement of records to cases in which the defendant was innocent or wrongfully prosecuted, California is more willing than other states to give criminal defendants a fresh start following a criminal conviction.

In People v. Parker, a June 24, 2013 decision from the Second Appellate District, the Court considered the case of a man who was convicted of possessing and selling cocaine base. Although he was originally sentenced to five years in prison, the trial court later suspended that sentence and placed Mr. Parker on probation. When Mr. Parker completed the period of probation and applied for expungement, the trial court denied the petition, holding that Mr. Parker was technically still in prison.
The appeals court reversed their stance, interpreting Penal Code Section 1203 broadly to mean that an individual should be “reward[ed]” for “successfully completing his probation by mitigating some of the consequences of his conviction” via expungement.

Your expungement
Even if you think you are ineligible, speak to a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney about expungement. The system is ready to grant an expungement to all who are even arguably entitled to relief, and the benefits are too great to pass up. Remember:

• When the job application or loan application asks if you have ever been convicted of a crime, you may truthfully answer “no.”
• The casual Internet surfer, such as an inquisitive boss or boyfriend, cannot find any evidence of your conviction.
• Some, but not all, legal disabilities may also be removed, making it easier to apply for a professional license or attend a state school.

For more information on expungement, appeal and other post-conviction relief, contact us and schedule a consultation with an experienced defense lawyer contact us at (310) 894-8548.

71-year-old Herman Wallace died on October 8, 2013, approximately one week after being released from prison in Louisiana. Mr. Wallace, a member of the Black Panthers and one of the Angola 3, was convicted of armed robbery in 1971 and sent to Angola State Prison. The next year, he was accused of fatally stabbing a prison guard. Although the evidence against Mr. Wallace was rather thin, consisting mainly of testimony from paid informers, prison officials confined Mr. Wallace to a closet-sized cell for the next 41 years. The punishment remained in effect even after Mr. Wallace was diagnosed with cancer.

On October 1, 2013, Mr. Wallace was released after a federal judge overturned his conviction because the grand jury that indicted Mr. Wallace excluded women. Witnesses state that the gravely ill Mr. Wallace was largely unaware of the events as he drifted in and out of consciousness, but that he did smile and nod when told that he was free.

Cruel and unusual punishment
Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys frequently use the Eighth Amendment to help minimize the punishments that convicted offenders receive. Although the phrase is frequently associated with the death penalty and capital cases, what constitutes cruel and unusual punishment depends on:
Evolving standards of decency
Proportionality (the punishment should fit the crime)
Poor confinement conditions

The definition of cruel and unusual punishment is very vague and can be difficult to prove in court, but it is obvious in extreme cases such as the case involving Mr. Wallace. Others point to lengthy sentences imposed for minor drug violations, as part of the so-called “war on drugs.” The bottom line is that the sentence should be proportional to the crime that was committed — and not society’s opinion of the crime or criminal.

At The Law Offices of Arash Hashemi, we are committed to upholding the Constitutional rights of all our clients. Call us now to discuss your case: (310) 894-8548 or contact us online.

The Supreme Court of the United States of America is the highest court in the country. The Court hears cases that are on appeal from a United States Circuit Court decision. The Supreme Court can choose to overturn the opinion of the lower court, or they can rule Stare Decisis, which is Latin and translates to “let the decision stand.” This means the Supreme Court chooses to uphold the decision of the lower court and not hear the case. A recent case heard by the Supreme Court was Stanton vs. Sims. The facts of the case were: a civilian (Stanton) sued a police officer on the grounds that the officer invaded her property without permission; this resulted in Stanton getting injured. The officer was sued and held liable. He filed an appeal that went to the Supreme Court, which ultimately reversed the decision of the 9th District Court.

It all began when Officer Mike Stanton responded to a late night call of “unknown disturbance” in La Mesa, California. This specific area has a history of gang violence, and when Officer Stanton saw a young man (later identified as Nicholas Patrick) he yelled out “Police” to which Patrick did not respond, and made his way into a yard. Stanton followed after the man, kicking through the gate and in turn knocking down, and injuring homeowner Drendolyn Sims. Patrick was then stopped and questioned by Stanton, but he was not charged with a crime.

Drendolyn Sims then sued Officer Mike Stanton alleging that he had violated Sims’ constitutional rights by entering her private property. Judge Reindhart of Los Angeles’ 9th Circuit Federal Court agreed that Stanton had indeed violated the law. Concluding the officer had no reason to believe that Patrick was dangerous, or had committed a crime the judge ruled in favor of Sims.

Officer Stanton filed an appeal to the higher court, and without even bothering to hear any arguments the court issues an eight-page unsigned opinion that reversed the opinion of the 9th Circuit. The court said that officers had “qualified immunity” from lawsuits if their actions did not CLEARLY violate the Constitution, which in this case it did not.

In conclusion, in order for a plaintiff to overcome the “qualified immunity” given to law enforcement, he/she must prove that the officer clearly violated the constitution. In the case of Stanton vs. Sims the Supreme Court did not see a clear violation and reversed the decision of the 9th Circuit Court.

In October 2013, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a law that expanded the definition of disorderly conduct and invasion of privacy. Senate Bill 255 outlaws so-called “revenge porn,” which involves the posting of private, pornographic photos of another person as a means of revenge against an ex-partner. The bill, which goes into effect immediately, specifically outlines the following elements that define revenge porn:

· The photograph or image is of intimate body parts.
· The parties had agreed that the image would remain private.
· The photographer subsequently distributed the image.
· The photographer had the intent to cause emotional distress.

Those Convicted of revenge porn face a maximum of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine — the punishment is more severe if the offender is a repeat offender or if the victim was a minor.
Privacy rights in a digital world

Before SB 255, Section 647 of the Penal Code was largely concerned with “peeping Toms” and other sexually-driven video surveillance, such as spy cameras in fitting rooms, which were used unbeknownst to the victims. The new law is an attempt to limit privacy rights, and therein lies the potential for abuse. Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys immediately identified potential defenses for people wrongfully accused of violating the law:

• The law only applies if the pictures were made by someone else. If a woman takes a nude photo of herself and sends it to a man, that man cannot be prosecuted under Section 647 if he subsequently posts the picture.
• Prosecutors must prove the intent to cause emotional distress, as opposed to the intent to annoy or embarrass.

If you have been unfairly accused of a crime, contact an attorney with years of experience for a consultation. Call the Law Offices of Arash Hashemi now: (310) 448-1529.

A woman accused of murdering her two children has requested the death penalty. In September 2013, police in Orange County arrested 42-year-old Marilyn Edge of Scottsdale, Arizona in connection with the murder of her two children, aged 9 and 13. Prosecutors allege that Ms. Edge poisoned her children after she lost a custody battle with their father. Police arrested Ms. Edge after she slammed her car into an electrical pole in Costa Mesa. There was a propane tank in the car, and authorities theorize that Ms. Edge was trying to blow herself up. Ms. Edge struggled with police and first responders as she tried to strangle herself with an electrical cord.

When state District Judge Craig Robinson asked Ms. Edge if she wanted to postpone her arraignment, Ms. Edge responded that she agreed to the postponement “only if you promise me the death penalty.”

Plea Bargaining

Although no competent Southern California defense attorney would ever recommend that a client accept a sentence in which the client is executed, plea bargaining is an important part of the criminal justice system, for reasons that include:

  • If the defendant is currently incarcerated, it can be better to work out a plea agreement for a short jail sentence, so the defendant may be released.
  • An attorney can often negotiate a reduced sentence or a reduced charged. It may be better to accept the reduced sentence than proceed to trial and hope to be found not guilty, especially if, as in Ms. Edge’s case, the facts are clearly unfavorable.

At the Law Offices of Arash Hashemi, we provide clients with passionate and experienced representation. If you have been charged with murder or any other crime and would like to schedule an initial consultation with a lawyer at our firm, contact us by phone at (310) 448-1529 or contact us online. We promptly return phone calls and emails. Our office is conveniently located in the Westside Towers in West Los Angeles, within minutes of Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, and Westwood. We have flexible and weekend office hours, and we will visit you in jail to discuss your case.

A criminal conviction can cause problems long after the actual sentence is served. Even a misdemeanor conviction can make it difficult to find a job, to find a place to live and to obtain a professional license. Expungement can help reduce or eliminate these problems.

Expungement in California is more akin to sealing the records, as opposed to erasing the conviction. Los Angeles criminal attorneys can use three primary sections in the California Penal Code to expunge records:

  • Section 1203.4a applies to cases in which there was no probation.
  • Section 17 can reduce some felony convictions to misdemeanors; such eligible felonies are called “wobblers.”
  • Section 1203.4 applies to cases in which the defendant received probation.

Eligibility and Procedure for Expungement

You must meet the eligibility requirements for each statute. In addition, you must wait one year before you can petition the court for expungement, and you must have had no other arrests or convictions in that period.

After preparing the proper petition, you must obtain a copy of your criminal record and send a copy of both to all agencies that have a record of the incident. In addition to the arresting agency, the state police, court personnel and probation officials also need to be served with the petition. It is a good practice to include a personal statement, as well, detailing why you were convicted and why it will not happen again. For example, you may state that you were involved with some bad friends who you no longer see. The court then schedules a hearing, at which time your petition is granted or denied.

At the Law Offices of Arash Hashemi, we provide clients with passionate and experienced representation. If expunge your record or are charged with a crime and would like to schedule an initial consultation with a lawyer at our firm, contact us by phone at (310) 894-8548 or contact us online. We promptly return phone calls and emails. Our office is conveniently located in the Westside Towers in West Los Angeles, within minutes of Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, and Westwood. We have flexible and weekend office hours, and we will visit you in jail to discuss your case.

The question often arises: can a criminal conviction be a snake in the grass as far as your immigration status is concerned? The California Supreme Court recently considered this question in the September 11, 2013 case of People v. Martinez. In 1992, Mr. Martinez was arrested for and charged with possession of marijuana. He pled guilty and completed his probation without incident. Subsequently, he had the conviction expunged, and then married and had four children.

The problem was that, according to the record, no one advised Mr. Martinez that the criminal conviction could have immigration consequences. When he applied for an adjustment of status in 2008, his application was denied because of the criminal conviction — immigration authorities do not recognize expunction. ICE then promptly began deportation proceedings against Mr. Martinez.

Criminal Pleas and Unintended Consequences

The rule in California and elsewhere is that a plea is invalid if:

  • The defendant was not advised of the immigration consequences of the plea.
  • That failure of advisement created prejudice, and the defendant would not have pled guilty if properly advised.

It is so important to work with a California criminal defense attorney who sees the big picture and understands all possible ramifications of a criminal conviction. A criminal conviction for even minor offenses (Mr. Martinez’ conviction was based on about $8 worth of marijuana) can have serious implications for your immigration status. Some facts to remember:

  • ICE only considers some offenses to be deportable. Your attorney needs to know which ones.
  • The prosecutor cannot use your immigration status as a basis for the sentence recommendation.

The generic warning the State gives you — “this plea may have consequences on your immigration status” — is generic and almost worthless. At a time like this, you need specific and professional advice from a competent attorney before you appear before the judge.

At the Law Offices of Arash Hashemi, we provide clients with passionate and experienced representation. If you have been charged with a crime and would like to schedule an initial consultation with a lawyer at our firm, contact us by phone at (310) 448-1529 or contact us online. We promptly return phone calls and emails. Our office is conveniently located in the Westside Towers in West Los Angeles, within minutes of Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, and Westwood. We have flexible and weekend office hours, and we will visit you in jail to discuss your case.

As a citizen of the United States of America, it is always good to know your legal rights. Perhaps one of the most common questions that people ask is whether it is legal for police to search one’s personal property without the consent of the owner and/or a warrant? The 4th amendment forbids unreasonable searches and seizures, but what happens when a person’s significant other gives consent to do the search? In the case of Walter Fernandez vs. California, the police searched the home of Fernandez with the consent of his girlfriend, while he was not in attendance. This case is a bit more complicated and has the lower courts split, so it is now going to the United States Supreme Court.

In 2009, there was a report of a robbery and stabbing in which Los Angeles Police Department responded to. The victim described the attacker as a man with a tattoo on his head, and when officers spotted a man running from the crime scene to an apartment, they pursued. After hearing shouts and yells they knocked on the door to find Fernandez’s bleeding and bruised girlfriend holding a baby. Upon seeing the officers, Fernandez began to angrily yell and scream stating: “You don’t have the right to be here. I know my rights.”

The officers then took Fernandez into custody, removing him from his property. They then returned to the apartment and with the consent of the girlfriend, entered and searched the property. Amongst Fernandez’s belongings, they found Drifters gang paraphernalia, along with a knife and a gun. After being positively identified by the victim, Fernandez was then taken to jail and ultimately convicted of robbery while acting as part of a street gang and of illegal gun possession. He was sentenced to 14 years in prison.

Fernandez then appealed his case citing Georgia vs. Randolph, 547 U.S. 103 (2006). In this case, a man from Georgia objected police entering and searching his home, while his estranged wife gave consent. The husband then filed a case stating that the police had violated his rights, and the courts ruled in his favor. Fernandez, however, lost his case in the California Court of Appeals.

When Fernandez’s attorney filed another appeal, the U.S Supreme Court agreed to hear the case due to the overwhelming fact that the lower courts are split on this issue. Stanford law professor Jeffrey Fisher will argue for Hernandez and feels that the court should not weaken the 4th Amendment right against unreasonable searches. Louis Karlin, a deputy state attorney general from Los Angeles, will join with an Obama administration attorney and argue to uphold the decision of the previous courts.

In conclusion, the case of Walter Fernandez vs. California has the lower courts split. Because of this, the U.S Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case. Depending on what the Supreme Court rules, this could further define American’s 4th Amendment and the protections under it.

At the Law Offices of Arash Hashemi, we provide clients with passionate and experienced representation. If you would like to schedule an initial consultation with a lawyer at our firm, contact us by phone at (310) 448-1529 or contact us online. We promptly return phone calls and emails. Our office is conveniently located in the Westside Towers in West Los Angeles, within minutes of Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, and Westwood. We have flexible and weekend office hours, and we will visit you in jail to discuss your case.

After the arrest and before the trial, there are a number of important events that take place in the life of a felony criminal case. Once a person is arrested, a judge determines the amount of bail. Bail cannot be tied to the evidence against the person — instead, the judge determines the likelihood that the defendant will appear at trial, if released. The judge may consider things like the defendant’s ties to the community, the severity of the offense and the flight risk of the defendant.

Once bail is set, the defendant may generally either post cash bail for the full amount, which is refunded after the trial, or pay a bondsman a nonrefundable fee, usually 10 percent of the bail amount. In other instances, especially in nonviolent misdemeanors and traffic citations, a judge may release a defendant on OR (own recognizance) bond, meaning the defendant simply promises to return for trial.

It is usually best that the defendant be out of jail, pending trial (if at all possible), because it is much easier for the attorney to meet with the defendant and prepare a vigorous defense.

Preliminary Hearing

A felony prosecution usually begins with an indictment returned by a grand jury. A grand jury is a group of people that meets to determine whether the prosecutor has enough evidence to proceed against a defendant — the grand jury returns a true-bill or no-bill.
Most Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys prefer a preliminary hearing to a grand jury hearing in felony cases. This is because the defendant’s lawyer may appear at a preliminary hearing and question witnesses.

At the Law Offices of Arash Hashemi, we provide clients with passionate and experienced representation. If you have been charged with a felony or any other crime and would like to schedule an initial consultation with a lawyer at our firm, contact us by phone at (310) 894-8548 or contact us online. We promptly return phone calls and emails. Our office is conveniently located in the Westside Towers in West Los Angeles, within minutes of Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, and Westwood. We have flexible and weekend office hours, and we will visit you in jail to discuss your case.

A sudden passion can separate murder from manslaughter, in a legal sense — but, where is that line drawn? On June 3, 2013, the California Supreme Court delivered People vs. Beltran, (124 Cal.App.3d 335). Mr. Beltran shared a residence with Claire Joyce Tempongko and Ms. Tempongko’s son. While the son called Mr. Beltran “Dad,” Mr. Beltran was extremely physically abusive. Witnesses stated that there were death threats in addition to the severe physical violence. After he locked Ms. Tempongko in her bedroom and barricaded the door, Ms. Tempongko obtained a restraining order against Mr. Beltran. But, Mr. Beltran kept an apartment key.

On the night of her death, Ms. Tempongko was bludgeoned and stabbed 17 times. Mr. Beltran was almost immediately arrested for and charged with the crime. According to Mr. Beltran, he argued with Ms. Tempongko on the night she was killed, and that heated argument drove him to commit the crime. Essentially, the jury was faced with the question of what motivated that heinous crime: the past history of violent abuse or the heated argument just prior to the event?

The Rule

The rule that the Court gave Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers to apply in such situations is that provocation is adequate only when it would render an ordinary person of average disposition liable to act rashly or without due deliberation and reflection, and from this passion rather than from judgment. The mere fact that the jury received a manslaughter instruction was highly offensive to many advocacy groups, as well as the California Attorney General.

You should expect nothing less than total commitment and zealous representation from your attorney, which is what we strive to provide at The Law Offices of Arash Hashemi.

At the Law Offices of Arash Hashemi, we provide clients with passionate and experienced representation. If you have been charged with murder or any other crime and would like to schedule an initial consultation with a lawyer at our firm, contact us by phone at (310) 894-8548 or contact us online. We promptly return phone calls and emails. Our office is conveniently located in the Westside Towers in West Los Angeles, within minutes of Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, and Westwood. We have flexible and weekend office hours, and we will visit you in jail to discuss your case.

Homeboy Industries

Los Angeles, CA – The Law Offices of Arash Hashemi announced that it has launched a fundraiser in support of Homeboy Industries and the wonderful job they do for the Los Angeles community. The goal is to raise Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00) for men and women looking to leave their gang lives behind by joining the Homeboy community, a place that will help them redirect their lives to become better mothers and fathers, reliable and responsible employees, and contributing members of our communities. To donate please visit: HashemiLaw Fundraiser for Homeboy Industries

About the Law Offices of Arash Hashemi

The Law Offices of Arash Hashemi is a leading criminal defense firm, handling all types of misdemeanor and felony cases. For over a decade, the Law Offices of Arash Hashemi has fought passionately to defend the rights of our clients facing criminal prosecution in Los Angeles and surrounding counties.

About Homeboy Industries

Homeboy Industries is a non-profit organization and provides hope, training and support to formerly gang-involved and previously incarcerated men and women helping them redirect their lives and become contributing members of the community.
Over the course of 25 years, Homeboy Industries has become the largest gang intervention and rehabilitation site in the country. Because of Homeboy Industries, Southern California is safer. Men and women are breaking the cycle of poverty and incarceration.

Contact

To learn more about this fundraiser please contact:

The Law Offices of Arash Hashemi
brunopisano.com/hash
11845 W Olympic Blvd, Suite 520
Los Angeles, California 90064
Office: (310) 448-1529
Email: info@hashemilaw.com

To learn about Homeboy Industries please contact:

Homeboy Industries
HomeboyIndustries.org
130 W Bruno St
Los Angeles, California 90012
Tel: (323) 526-1254
Fax: (323) 526-1257
Email: info@homeboyindustries.org

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Traditionally, discovery in criminal cases was a one-way proposition: the prosecutor had a duty to disclose evidence to the defense, but the defense had no duty to reciprocate. That dynamic changed with Proposition 115.

Proposition 115, narrowly approved by voters on June 5, 1990, made reciprocal discovery the rule in California criminal cases. While the law may not mean much in many misdemeanors and low-level felonies, the discovery rules can mean quite a bit for Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys in larger cases.

Types of discovery

Just as in a civil case, there are a number of discovery devices available to learn more information about the other side’s case and avoid “trial by ambush:”

  • Interrogatories: These questions are propounded to the prosecutor by the defense, or vice versa, and must be answered truthfully under oath.
  • Depositions: Each side may want to depose the fact witnesses in a case, including both the lay witnesses and peace officers, as well as any expert witnesses.
  • Document requests: Document requests work a bit differently in criminal cases. The parties may exchange requests and, in addition, the prosecutor has a duty to turn over other evidence, whether it is requested or not.

Discovery is so important in criminal cases because it very often helps to level the playing field. The prosecutor is at a tremendous advantage in terms of the resources available to prosecute the case. Make no mistake: the prosecutor wants to convict you, not to see that “justice” is done.

At the Law Offices of Arash Hashemi, we provide clients with passionate and experienced representation. If you have been charged with a crime and would like to schedule an initial consultation with a lawyer at our firm, contact us by phone at (310) 894-8548 or contact us online. We promptly return phone calls and emails. Our office is conveniently located in the Westside Towers in West Los Angeles, within minutes of Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, and Westwood. We have flexible and weekend office hours, and we will visit you in jail to discuss your case.

Thurgood Marshall

When one thinks of the Civil Rights Movement two names might come to mind. The first, without a doubt, is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; and the other may be Malcolm X. These two people were both huge contributors to the movement, and moved the public with famous and powerful speeches. However, one important and significant name is often overlooked: Thurgood Marshall.
Thurgood Marshall attended Lincoln University along side such famous people as poet Langston Hughes and musician Cab Calloway. After graduating from college, Thurgood Marshall decided to attend law school. During this time the University of Maryland School of Law, which was Marshall’s school of choice, had a strict segregation policy in place and he could not apply. Instead Marshall ended up attending Howard University School of Law, and graduated first in the class of 1933.

The year after, Thurgood Marshall began a private practice in Baltimore, and commenced servicing as an attorney for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Not long after, he went on to win the case of Murray v. Pearson, 169 Md. 478 (1936). A case which focused on the strict segregation policy at University of Maryland Law School, the very school which he himself was unable to apply to. After this important victory Marshall founded and was the executive director of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Soon he began arguing (and winning) cases in the United States Supreme Court. Such as the famous case of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka – 347 U.S. 483 (1954), where the Supreme Court ruled in Marshall’s favor, stating that the “separate but equal” law could no longer be applied to public schools. Brown vs. Board of Education is considered one of the most important legal cases of the century. Marshall ended up winning 29 out of the 32 cases that he argued before the Supreme Court.

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy appointed Thurgood Marshall to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Later President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed him to be the United States Solicitor General, the first black man to hold the office. Marshall would go on to win 14 out of the 19 cases that he argued. Then in 1967, President Johnson nominated Marshall to be an Associate Justice in the Supreme Court, which the Senate confirmed with a vote of 69-11. Marshall was the 96th person in this position, and the first black man in history. He stayed in this position for the next 24 years where he made significant contributions to civil rights, criminal procedure, along with many other areas of law.

Some would argue that Thurgood Marshall was the initial spark which ignited the flame of the civil rights movement. He forever changed segregation in the United States, and believed that integration was the only way that equal rights would ever truly take hold. After his death in 1993, Marshall has had numerous memorials built in his honor. Including: statues, schools, libraries, and airports, which will ensure that his legacy will forever live on.

Johnnie Cochran

“If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit!” That line was made famous during the O.J. Simpson trial by a man who himself became a household name in America. His name was Johnnie Cochran. However, few seem to know that Johnnie Cochran was a well accomplished attorney and famous in his own right prior to the Simpson Trial.

Johnnie Cochran graduated from Los Angeles High School in 1955 first in his class. Afterwards he attended UCLA, and in 1959 received a Bachelor of Science in business administration. One of Cochran’s heroes was Thurgood Marshall, so Cochran decided to pursue a career in law. He enrolled in Loyola Marymount Law School and obtained his Juris Doctor in 1962.

After passing the bar in 1963, Johnnie Cochran began working as a Deputy Los Angeles City Attorney in the criminal division. After two years later he decided to open up his own firm: Cochran, Atkins & Evans in Woodstock, Illinois. It was during this time that he represented a woman named Leonard Deadwyler whose husband has been shot and killed by several police officers. Although Cochran lost the case, he stated that this trial had been a turning point in his career. He realized that these kind of cases brought a lot of attention, which established his reputation in the black community as a champion of civil rights.

In 1978 Cochran left Illinois and returned back to Los Angeles where he became the first Black Assistant District Attorney for Los Angeles County. However after serving as a DA for five years, he went back to private practice opening the first of now twenty six Cochran Firms. His reputation as a trial attorney was almost untouchable, because of all of his great successes and theatrical trials wins.

Johnnie Cochran represented countless celebrities and high profile clients during his time. The most high profile case was of course the O.J Simpson, where he managed to get an acquittal for Mr. Simpson on multiple counts of murder. He was highly scrutinized for his help in this trial by many of the major media outlets, along with the general public. Later, he was accused of tampering with the evidence, but to date there has been no evidence to support that accusation.

Even after his unfortunate death from a brain tumor in 2005, Johnnie Cochran’s legacy continues to live on. His name is huge in both the courts, and in pop culture. Although most know him from the O.J Simposon trial, he accomplished so much more for the Black community. While he was alive he appeared in many television shows, and to this day he is mentioned in movies, music, and films. There are schools, and research centers named after him. Johnnie Cochran spoke of how inspired he was by Thurgood Marshall and how much he admired him. So it is fit that in the end Cochran himself is referred to as the Thurgood Marshall of his era.

dna evidenceOn March 20, 2014, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that California’s taking and storing DNA profiles from anyone arrested on suspicion of a felony is Constitutional. This caused a bit of controversy throughout the State, because some argue that this practice should not be legal. The state of Maryland practices the same process, and not long ago was faced with the same question of Constitutionality.

Last year in Maryland vs. King, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that taking DNA samples was a part of the police booking process, similar to fingerprinting. However, the American Civil Liberties Union (“ACLU”) of Northern California argued that California has a completely different process than Maryland, and therefore should not be viewed as the same.

So what is the difference between the process of California and the process of Maryland? Maryland destroys the genetic evidence that was collected of those not convicted; whereas California requires people to apply to have DNA profiles expunged. Otherwise, DNA profiles are indefinitely stored in a state criminal database. That database can be used any time by police, law enforcement, forensics, etc. to match against crime scenes for potential suspects.

Another difference between the processes in the two States is that California collects evidence from “wobblers”, which are crimes that could be charged either as a misdemeanor or a felony. Maryland only collects DNA in more serious crimes which are straight felonies. In his concurring opinion, Judge Milan D. Smith Jr. of the 9th Circuit wrote that the differences in the processes between California and Maryland are “materially indistinguishable”, also stating that all felonies are serious crimes. He stated that California allows the arrestee to request an expungement if no charges are filed, the case is dismissed, or person is found not guilty.

In conclusion, there are a few differences between the California arrest process, and the Maryland arrest process. However, both states collect DNA, and both states have been questioned on the Constitutionality of this practice. Furthermore, it seems that this practice will in fact be a legitimate part of the booking, and arrest process for both states.

At the Law Offices of Arash Hashemi, we provide clients with passionate and experienced representation. If you would like to schedule an initial consultation with a lawyer at our firm, contact us by phone at (310) 448-1529 or contact us online. We promptly return phone calls and emails. Our office is conveniently located in the Westside Towers in West Los Angeles, within minutes of Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, and Westwood. We have flexible and weekend office hours, and we will visit you in jail to discuss your case.

Photo: freedomsphoenix.com

In August 2009, David Riley was pulled over in San Diego, California for having expired tags on his car and a suspended driver’s license. The officer impounded Riley’s car and conducted a warrantless search of the car. The officer found two handguns that were later linked to a shooting that had taken place a few weeks prior. During the arrest, the officers confiscated and rummaged through the data on Riley’s smartphone without a warrant. Some of the data on the phone linked Riley to gang activity and the shooting and was entered into evidence at the trial, where Riley was convicted on three charges. Riley argued that allowing police officers to search through data on his cell phone without a warrant is an unacceptable intrusion on personal privacy. California argued that police officers need to be able to confiscate cell phones without first obtaining a warrant for safety reasons and to prevent destruction of evidence. The case was appealed all the way up to the Supreme Court.

On June 25, 2014, the United States Supreme Court unanimously ruled that police may not search a smartphone or similar device without a warrant from a judge (Riley vs. California). This decision came as a surprise to court watchers. Many think this may ultimately bring into question whether the government may routinely search all other types of electric devices, such as laptops and tablets.

Legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union said, “By recognizing that the digital revolution has transformed our expectations of privacy, today’s decision is itself revolutionary. We have entered a new world. But our values apply and limit the government’s ability to rummage through intimate details of our private lives.”

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said, “Modern cellphones are not just another technological device. With all they contain and all they may reveal, they hold for many Americans the ‘privacies of life.’ ” He continued “The term ‘cellphone’ is itself misleading shorthand; many of these devices are in fact minicomputers. They could just as easily be called cameras, video players, rolodexes, calendars, tape recorders, libraries, diaries, albums, televisions, maps or newspapers.”

In conclusion, due to the fast development of technology, and the fact that most cellphones now serve as minicomputers, the Supreme Court has ruled that a warrant is needed to search these types of devices. The Supreme Court’s decision in this case affects the scope of Fourth Amendment protection available to personal technology.

At the Law Offices of Arash Hashemi, we provide clients with passionate and experienced representation. If you have been charged with domestic violence or any other crime and would like to schedule an initial consultation with a lawyer at our firm, contact us by phone at (310) 894-8548 or contact us online. We promptly return phone calls and emails. Our office is conveniently located in the Westside Towers in West Los Angeles, within minutes of Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, and Westwood. We have flexible and weekend office hours, and we will visit you in jail to discuss your case.