A man who crashed his car into an SUV in Southern California, killing the driver of that SUV, while fleeing a residential burglary, pleaded no contest to first-degree murder and burglary and was sentenced to 50 years to life in state prison.

The men involved in the burglary were implicated in a residential burglary where a witness called 911 after seeing two of the three men involved kick down a door of a home while another waited in the getaway car.  When sheriff deputies spotted the getaway car, a police pursuit ensued and the car ultimately crashed into an innocent driver in an SUV.  The driver of the SUV was pronounced dead at the scene.

Now, you might be thinking to yourself, “how can this guy be charged, and convicted, of murder?  He never meant to kill anyone.”  Well, in California, we have the felony-murder rule which makes a defendant guilty of murder if he/she or a fellow co-conspirator kills a person while committing certain felonies, even if the killing was an accident.  Generally, someone is only guilty of murder if there intent to kill or someone acted with reckless disregard for human life.  The felony-murder rule allows for a murder charge even when there is no intent or reckless disregard.  The underlying felony must be one that is listed in California’s first-degree murder law (for first-degree felony-murder) or one that is “inherently dangerous” (for second-degree felony-murder).

As with all first-degree murder charges, first-degree felony-murder is punishable by 25 year to life in California state prison, life in state prison without the possibility of parole, or the death penalty.

If you, a friend or family member is facing a charge of murder, felony evading, resisting arrest, fleeing, burglary, home invasion or any other criminal charge in Los Angeles, contact attorney Ross Erlich as soon as possible.  Opening lines of communication with the district attorney during the early stages of the case can oftentimes be beneficial for the client.  Additionally, there may be the need to conduct our own investigation and preserve any surveillance footage, recordings, witness statements or other items to be used at a later date.

These felonies are often charged in the Los Angeles Criminal Courts Building (CCB), Van Nuys Courthouse, Airport Courthouse, Pasadena Courthouse, San Fernando Courthouse, Long Beach Courthouse and other courts throughout Orange County and San Bernardino County.

A robbery suspect, nicknamed “shaggy bandit,” displayed a firearm at a clerk at a Game Stop location in Woodland Hills and made out with over $1,000 in video games and cash.  He is also suspected of robbing a post office in the West Valley.

According to police, the bandit browsed store merchandise for a while and then approached the clerk with his gun drawn.  After the cash and merchandise is handed over, the bandit escapes in a silver Kia hatchback.

What the shaggy bandit may not realize is that he has some serious problems if he is caught.  Armed robbery is a very serious crime in California and something that prosecutors take very seriously.

Technically speaking, armed robbery is the taking of personal property from someone else’s person or immediate presence, against the victim’s will, through the use of force or fear.  Armed robbery is considered first-degree robbery in California and carries a punishment of anywhere between 3-6 years in state prison, formal probation and a fine of up to $10,000.  Keep in mind there is a special allegation for use of a firearm during a robbery that adds 10 years state prison to your potential sentence.  This is also a “strike” offense under California’s “three strikes law.”

Just because you are charged with robbery doesn’t make you guilty.  You are entitled to, and should have, an effective and vigorous criminal defense attorney fighting for your rights.  The police report and victim’s statement is only one side of the story.  If you have been charged with robbery or burglary and are have questions about your case and possible defenses, contact attorney Ross Erlich at (323) 222-4529 and get a free consultation.  You have rights, learn what they are!

Attorney Ross Erlich handles all misdemeanor and felony charges throughout California and in the CCB  (Clara Shortridge Foltz court), Van Nuys Courthouse, Pasadena Courthouse, Airport Courthouse, Compton Courthouse, and San Fernando Courthouse.

 

The Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office has, formally, set a hearing to determine whether or not Sean “Diddy” Combs will face charges of assault after he was arrested following an argument with a UCLA football coach in June.  UCLA police arrested “Diddy” after, it was alleged, he swung a kettle-bell weight at a coach and made criminal threats during a dispute.  The hearing is set for mid October.

A City Attorney Hearing is an informal proceeding that is conducted as an alternative to a misdemeanor criminal charge being filed in court by the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office.  An arrest usually gets to a City Attorney hearing after the District Attorney’s office declines to file a felony charge and the conduct or facts of the case are not serious enough to warrant a “straight out” filing of a misdemeanor charge by the City Attorney’s office.

The hearing is an informal proceeding that is conducted by a hearing officer, not a prosecutor or police officer.  The defendant may be represented by an attorney at the hearing where, in all honesty, it is more of a slap on the wrist than something that will result in criminal charges.  The main focus of the hearing is to determine if it is necessary to prosecute the criminal case (file charges) or to withhold that filing.  The hearing officer may simply say “don’t let this happen again” or can request the defendant to take anger management classes or something along those lines.

As part of the proactive, pre-filing work done by attorney Ross Erlich, a common practice is to contact law enforcement and the prosecutor’s office right away to see if there is any way to avoid having the case filed at all.  If there is little chance to get the case rejected, attorney Ross Erlich works to “push” the case towards a City Attorney hearing and not to court.

If you or someone you know has been arrested for a misdemeanor charge in Los Angeles, Orange County or anywhere in Southern California, contact attorney Ross Erlich as soon as possible.  Cases can move quickly from arrest to court date and, in most instances, getting a case to a City Attorney hearing takes place during that time.

Contact our office today for a free consultation.

In the wake of continued troubles for the Los Angeles County Jail system, the Board of Supervisors approved a plan that would move at least 1,000 mentally ill offenders out of current lockups and into a new facility focused on treating the mentally ill.  This plan begins as the criticism over how the county handles the mentally ill and substance abuse inmates who make up 20% of the total jail population.

This new approach, sought out by, among others, County District Attorney Jackie Lacey, would move mentally ill people out of jail and into treatment programs with the hope of reducing recidivism.  The hallmark of this plan would be the new 3,885 bed jail in downtown which would replace the old and troubled Men’s Central Jail.  The plan would be to move many of the mentally ill housed in the Twin Towers facility over to this new mental health facility and move those general population inmates in Men’s Central over to Twin Towers.  Twin Towers was originally set up to house the general population inmates and not specifically for the mentally ill.

The new jail will take between six to eight years to build and, as opposed to the traditional cells with metal bars lined up in narrow rows, the new living areas will have more open space and be easier for guards to monitor.

Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said her plan for the jail focused on putting more offenders into treatment rather than behind bars.

While this plan just recently won Board of Supervisor approval and is sure to face some obstacles, it signals a shift in local law enforcement priorities to provide treatment for the mentally ill and those with substance abuse problems as opposed to housing them in cells.  It is also yet to be seen how getting to this new facility will play out in the court system and whether or not there will be hurdles to clear in order to become “eligible” to serve time in the mental health/substance abuse facility.

If you or someone you know has been arrested, charged with or is being investigation for a crime, contact attorney Ross Erlich as soon as possible.  Attorney Ross Erlich has extensive experience representing clients with both mental health and substance abuse problems.  This representation usually involves assisting the client in inpatient or outpatient treatment facilities, mental health counseling, self-help resources and pre-filing work done to open the channels of communication between us and the prosecutor’f office before any crime is charged.

Contact our office for a free consultation today.

A 19-year-old man was charged on Tuesday with murder and driving under the influence (DUI) of a drug in connection with a crash in North Hills where three others died.

The defendant was the only occupant in his vehicle when he struck the other vehicle, carrying four occupants, head-on.  The crash occurred closed to 3:00 a.m. near Roscoe and Haskell.

DUI murder in California is also known as “Watson” murder and is charged as a second-degree murder offense.  Unlike felony DUI causing death, which requires ordinary or “gross” negligence while operating a vehicle, Watson murder is more serious and usually involves allegations of conscious disregard for human life.  In order to be convicted of a Watson murder in California, the prosecutor must prove that: 1) the death resulted from an intentional act, 2) the natural consequences of that act are dangerous to human life, and 3) you knowingly acted in conscious disregard for that fact.

The most common issue the prosecution has in pursuing a Watson murder conviction is proving, beyond a reasonable doubt, this third element of “knowingly acted in conscious disregard…”  This is so difficult since your mental state at the time is a central issue and can be tough for a prosecutor to illustrate, and convince, a jury of this.

It should be noted that if you have had a prior DUI conviction, a prosecutor can prove implied malice via your initials on the box of those waiver forms where the Watson advisement is given.

A conviction of Watson murder in California carries a potential 15 years  to life in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, and a strike pursuant to California’s Three Strikes Law.  Additionally, if there are other, surviving, victims who have been seriously injured, you could face additional and consecutive prison terms.

If you or someone you know has been charged with DUI murder, a DUI causing death, a DUI causing great bodily injury or any other DUI or DUI-related offense, contact attorney Ross Erlich as soon as possible.  Having an aggressive criminal defense attorney on your side early in the process can end up being the best decision you make down the road.  Approaching your case in a proactive manner prior to any criminal charges being filed can result in the reduction, or prevention, of more serious charges from being filed.

Contact our office today for a free consultation.

A suspected drunk driver crashed his car and ejected one of the passengers during a police pursuit in East Los Angeles early Saturday morning.

Monterey Park Police tried to pull over the vehicle, which was driving without headlights, when the car failed to yield and got onto the 60 freeway.  It was during the transition to the 710 freeway when the car crashed and one passenger was ejected from the car while the other passengers suffered more minor injuries.  The driver was booked on suspicion of DUI.

While the booking charge in this case is your standard DUI offense, it will likely be filed as a DUI causing injury, a more serious offense in Los Angeles.  DUI causing injury in Los Angeles is a “wobbler”, which means that the prosecutor can charge the offense as either a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the facts of the case, injuries, prior record and other considerations.

If charged as a felony, you will be looking at 2, 3 or 4 years in state prison (more if someone suffered a great bodily injury), 1 strike, an 18-month alcohol program, significant fines, revocation of your driver’s license and possible restitution to any victim(s).

If the case is charged as a misdemeanor, you could, potentially, face county jail time, probation, alcohol program, fines, restitution to any victim(s) and a suspension of your driver’s license.

If you have been charged with a DUI or a DUI causing injury in Los Angeles, it is crucial to contact attorney Ross Erlich as soon as possible to avoid having the DMV automatically suspend your driver’s license without a hearing.  This will happen if you, or your attorney, fails to contact the DMV within 10 days of the date of arrest and request a hearing.  Contacting an attorney early in the process may also help to avoid felony charges by allowing attorney Ross Erlich to open lines of communication with law enforcement and the prosecutor’s office prior to them determining what type of charge to formally file.

Likely charges and resolution’s of your case will vary greatly depending on the facts of the case, injuries to passengers or victims, blood alcohol level and other considerations.  Attorney Ross Erlich handles all DUI-related offenses in the Burbank Courthouse, Metropolitan Courthouse, Metro Courthouse, East Los Angeles Courthouse, Airport Courthouse, Van Nuys Courthouse and Pasadena Courthouse.

Contact the office today at (323) 222-4529 for a free case consultation.

An argument between a man and woman lead to the woman hitting the man with her car and fleeing the scene.  The Burbank Police Department spokesman said that the male was transported to the hospital with complaints of pain.

In California, this type of hit-and-run is a felony and is charged under Vehicle Code Section 20001.  A hit-and-run occurs when someone leaves the scene of an accident without first identifying themselves to the other party.  In the case of a felony hit-and-run (VC 20001), this carries punishment of between 16 months to 3 years in state prison and a fine between $1,000 to $10,000.  There will also be penalties from the DMV for any hit-and-run conviction which can run from points on your license to a license suspension or revocation.

Felony hit-and-run charges are “wobblers” in California.  This means that it is up to the prosecutor weather or not to file the case as a felony or as a misdemeanor.  Much of this decision comes from facts of the case, the suspect’s prior criminal history, mitigating or aggravating factors regarding the incident and the early interaction of a skilled and aggressive criminal defense attorney.

Attorney Ross Erlich is experienced in contacting and opening up a line of communication with law enforcement and the prosecutor’s office before any criminal charges have been filed. This allows for your side of the story to be told to the prosecutor before they make a filing decision and allows for the possibility of reduced charges or no criminal charges being filed at all.

Law enforcement and the local prosecutor’s offices in Southern California take hit-and-run charges very seriously.  If you have noticed in the past couple years, hit-and-run incidents have been getting a lot of media press and state lawmakers have not only sought to increase penalties for these crimes, they are starting increased public safety measures against those who commit a hit-and-run.  Attorney Ross Erlich has experience in dealing with these incidents early on, while law enforcement is still conducting their investigation, and has worked to get charges reduced or prevented altogether.

There are many ways to resolve a hit-and-run in Los Angeles so contact attorney Ross Erlich today if you would like to learn more and have a free case consultation.

Formal charges were filed on Tuesday against four people accused of leaving a restaurant without paying their bill and subsequently running over the waitress who came out to confront them as they fled.  Charges include felony aggravated assault, felony hit-and-run with injury and misdemeanor defrauding an innkeeper.

The four suspects left the restaurant in Anaheim without paying their bill which prompted the young female server to follow them out to the parking lot to confront them.  As the suspects drove away, the waitress was struck by the car and knocked down, suffering only minor to moderate injuries.

Felony hit-and-run with injury is a serious crime in California and something that prosecutors take very seriously.  As you may know from the increased coverage of, and stricter laws regarding, hit-and-runs, they have become somewhat of an epidemic in Southern California.  Felony hit-and-run is punishable by either 16 months, 2 years or 3 years in state prison.  If someone dies or is seriously injured, that range jumps to between 2 to 4 years.

But wait, there’s more!  There may also be a license suspension from the DMV and/or 2 points added to your driving record as a result of this incident.  This is a completely separate proceeding from the criminal charges and should be something your attorney handles and takes into consideration when resolving your case.

If you have been involved in a hit-and-run in Los Angeles, read more about the nuts and bolts here.  Remember to always contact your attorney prior to speaking to law enforcement, even if you think you might have been justified in leaving, you might make incriminating statements that can be used against you later on.

Attorney Ross Erlich handles all aspects of both misdemeanor and felony hit-and-run charges in Los Angeles, Hollywood, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Burbank and Pasadena.  If you were involved in a hit-and-run, contact our office immediately and let us be the ones to answer the cops’ questions, not you.

Although it falls on a Tuesday this year, many Angelinos will be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day today and that likely involves drinking lots of green beer.  The problem then arises when the celebration is over and it’s time to go home.  It is at this moment when many will choose to get in their car and make that journey while legally intoxicated.  Remember, buzzed driving is likely, and technically, legally drunk driving.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is planning to deploy “rolling DUI patrols” in a few of their high-incident areas, in addition to the normal enforcement operations.  The Los Angeles Police Department will be setting up checkpoints in Downtown and Hollywood and will be conducting “saturation patrols” in other areas where DUI incidents are high.  According to the Sheriff’s Department, St. Patrick’s Day has typically been a day of higher than normal drunken-driving fatalities and that nearly 75% of those DUI fatalities involved drivers whose blood alcohol concentration was double the legal limit of 0.08%.

While the general public knows that DUI enforcement is high on holidays, especially one like St. Patrick’s Day, many will still think they are sober enough to drive or will drive without regard to how intoxicated they are.  Getting arrested for, and convicted of, a DUI in Los Angeles County can bring the potential for jail time, a license suspension or revocation, a period of probation, community service, fines and fees to the court, the need to install an ignition device in your vehicle and the possibility of losing your job.  Depending on the circumstances, some of these consequences can be more or less severe and it is always a good idea to act on an arrest earlier than later.

You have 10 days from the date of arrest to contact the DMV and request an Administrative Per Se hearing regarding the suspension of your driving privilege and a stay on that suspension pending the outcome of this hearing.  If you do not contact the DMV within those first 10 days, your driving privilege will be suspended automatically and you will not have the ability to challenge the DMV.

Furthermore, the earlier you contact attorney Ross Erlich, the earlier steps can be taken to open up communication with the prosecuting agency and to discuss potential mitigating steps that you can take prior to your first court date.  Taking these steps can lead to a reduction in charges or other potential benefits to your case.

If you or someone you know has been arrested for DUI in Los Angeles County, Hollywood, Koreatown, Burbank, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, West Hollywood or anywhere in Southern California, contact attorney Ross Erlich as soon as possible for a free case consultation.  Attorney Ross Erlich handles DUI matters in the Metropolitan Court, Airport Court, East LA Court, Burbank Court and all courts in Southern California.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department just announced that they will be testing body cameras on dozens of deputies at selected stations as part of a six-month pilot program.

The Sheriff’s spokesperson says that 96 cameras are being tested and that deputies in the Antelope Valley and harbor region have already been wearing them.  The LAPD has been testing cameras on 30 officers working on foot patrols in Downtown Los Angeles for a nine-month period with plans on rolling out hundreds more next year.

As you may recall, the U.S. Justice Department found that the Antelope Valley Sheriff’s Deputies had been discriminating against blacks and Latinos with unconstitutional stops, searches and seizures and by using excessive force.  The use of these body cameras, it is presumed, is to correct this problem, repair the image of the Sheriff’s Department, and to make sure that there is video evidence to support the claims of either the law enforcement officer or the civilian.

Many in the public have been wandering why it has taken so long for law enforcement to start instituting body cameras in this day in age.  They cite the fact that many officers wear audio recording equipment and an increasing number of police vehicles have on-board dash cameras to record traffic stops and investigations.  A common argument has been that if all officers wore body cameras, we would have first-hand evidence of what really transpired during an incident or an alleged civil rights violation.

You might be asking yourself, what does this mean to me?  Well, it means that you should start paying a little more attention to your actions and words if stopped by law enforcement.  It means that soon are the days where there is no longer a “he said, she said” issue at the heart of a criminal case, but instead actual video footage of someone’s words, admissions, physical altercations and the like.

It can also mean that law enforcement personnel must now watch their actions more closely and be careful with what they say to people and how they handle their investigation and initial contact.  For example, cameras can make it easier to show the officer did not read you your Miranda warnings or prove that you were wrongfully accused.

If you have questions regarding what to do if stopped by the cops or if you have been arrested and are facing a criminal charge in Los Angeles, contact attorney Ross Erlich today for a free consultation.  Attorney Ross Erlich handles all felonies and misdemeanors in California and can properly advise you on how best to resolve the matter.


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