Well, O.J. Simpson is back in the news again.  Simpson is headed back to court today in Nevada for what will most likely be his final shot at freedom and an overturning of his armed robbery and kidnapping conviction.  Simpson will be asking the judge to overturn that 2008 conviction on the basis that his attorney’s representation was so poor that his conviction should be reversed and a new trial be granted.

Simpson’s motion for a new trial alleges that his trial attorney never informed him that prosecutors had offered him a plea bargain and that the same lawyer advised him he was acting legally when he attempted to sports memorabilia heist that lead to this conviction and sentence.  If you recall, Simpson took part in an armed robbery and kidnapping that was, according to Simpson, an attempt to recover sports memorabilia that he was entitled to.

The duty of your defense attorney is to zealously advocate for your best interests and to communicate any plea bargain offers that are made by the prosecutor.  Regardless of whether or not your attorney thinks the offer is reasonable or not, he or she must communicate it to you.  Remember, you are the client and the only person who can make a decision to accept or reject a plea deal, not your lawyer.  If what Mr. Simpson is alleging is true, his attorney violated a crucial ethical rule and something that is of utmost importance in a criminal case.

Both kidnapping and robbery, armed or not, are very serious felony charges and when there are convictions for both in the same case, you can be looking at very serious time in state prison.  Here, Simpson was sentenced to a maximum of 33 years in prison, making him eligible for parole when he’s 70 years old.

If you have been arrested, or are being investigated for, kidnapping or robbery or any other serious felony, it is crucial that you contact a defense attorney as soon as possible.  Attorney Ross Erlich handles kidnapping and robbery charges in the Airport Court, CCB (Criminal Courts Building), Pasadena Court and Van Nuys Courthouse.  Contact attorney Ross Erlich for a free case evaluation today.

Girls Gone Wild creator Joe Francis was convicted by a jury on Monday of 5 misdemeanor charges stemming from a night-gone-wrong for Francis.  Francis was convicted of 3 counts of false imprisonment, 1 count of dissuading a witness from reporting a crime and 1 count of assault causing great bodily injury.  He faces up to 5 years in the Los Angeles County jail at his sentencing hearing which takes place today.

Victims told police they had gone to the popular Supper Club in Hollywood to celebrate a college graduation.  Upon closing time, Francis, allegedly, grabbed one of the 3 female victims by the hand and took her to his limo.  The two other victims followed, believing Francis would be giving them a ride to their own car.

This is apparently where things went south.  The victims claim that once in the limo, Francis’ bodyguard and driver produced, what appeared to be law enforcement badges and would not let them leave the limo.  The victims were taken to Francis’ house, where a physical altercation took place between Francis and the victims as he allegedly attempted to pull one of the victims away from the others.  This is when Francis was alleged to have grabbed the victim by the throat and pushed her head into the tile floor.

What is clear from the verdict is that the jurors believed Mr. Francis did not conduct himself very well that night and that most likely the victims’ story had some truth to it.  Mr. Francis is in a tough predicament here as he is most likely looking at some amount of county jail time along with anger management classes, community service, probation or other terms and conditions of his sentencing.  Los Angeles County judges take violent crimes very seriously, not to mention Mr. Francis was also convicted of dissuading a witness from reporting a crime.

Typically, police detectives will attempt to contact you to “get your side of the story” and many times these statements are turned around and used against you.  It is a much smarter idea to have your attorney be the liaison between you and law enforcement.  There is always two sides to the story so make sure that your side gets heard.  There may even be the possibility of a civil compromise in your case where we can get the charges dismissed.

If you have been charged with false imprisonment, assault or battery in the Criminal Courts Building (CCB), the Airport Courthouse, Burbank Courthouse, Pasadena Courthouse, or in the Van Nuys Courthouse, contact attorney Ross Erlich as soon as possible to make sure your rights are protected.

A study conducted by the USC Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration released a study on Tuesday that found that 1 in 10 L.A. County residents is here illegally.  The study also found that many of that number have been in the country for more that 10 years and are the parents of children born here and are American citizens.  1 in 5 children in Los Angeles County has at least one parent who is in the country illegally.

What does all this mean for California and, specifically, Los Angeles?  Well, the study estimates that approximately 1 out of 4 of the estimated 11 million people in the country illegally live in California.  The study goes on to state that immigrants living in L.A. County make a median wage of $18,000 a year, compared to $47,000 for U.S. born residents and that only 33% of these immigrants have health insurance.

This study helps paint a picture of the landscape of Southern California’s immigrant population and how big of an impact immigration reform will make on Los Angeles County.  Currently, Congress is trying to work out a bipartisan plan for immigration reform and many insiders believe there will be some aspect of an amnesty plan for those currently living in the country.

If you are currently living in Los Angeles County and are seeking to obtain a Green Card, Visa, or are facing deportation or removal hearings, contact attorney Ross Erlich today for a free case evaluation.  The face of immigration is soon to change and it is important to know what your options are and to have an attorney lead you through the process

The California Supreme Court unanimously ruled on Monday that cities and local municipalities may ban medical marijuana dispensaries within their territory.  The Court stated that nothing in the current medical marijuana law restricts the rights of these local governments and cities throughout the state to declare medical marijuana dispensaries a nuisance due to the increased dangers of crime, congestion, blight and drug abuse in the community.

The problem was that under Proposition 215, the statewide proposition that allowed people to use medical marijuana as long as they had a recommendation from a doctor, there was never any mention of dispensaries, shops, stores or anywhere a patient could purchase their marijuana.  What Proposition 215 stated was that people and their primary caregivers can grow or possess marijuana with a physician’s recommendation.  The law made no mention about the availability of dispensaries or collectives.  The Court cleared the way for cities to decide how much, if any, regulation or limitation of dispensaries they choose.  For example, a city may limit dispensaries in a particular area within the city while placing no limits on dispensaries in another area.

Cities and dispensary owners have been in a years-long battle regarding what cities can and cannot due to limit the operation of medical marijuana dispensaries within their borders.  Further confusion ensued when lower courts all over the state issued rulings that conflicted rulings in other jurisdictions.  One only needs to look at the Los Angeles City Council who, at first, embraced dispensaries, then tried to regulate them, and then tried to ban them.

Drug possession, sales, cultivation and transportation are serious felony offenses in Los Angeles County.  On the flip side, increasingly liberal drug laws combined with overcrowding in state prisons and local jails make the resolution of these cases by attorney Ross Erlich more advantageous to you, the client.  Additionally, if you have a physician’s recommendation to possess or cultivate marijuana, that may also benefit your case.

If you have been charged with a drug offense such as simple possession, possession for sales, transportation of a controlled substance or cultivation, contact attorney Ross Erlich before you say something to law enforcement that you may regret down the line.  Attempting to “talk your way out of it” usually does not work and, consequently, usually results in statements that are used against you.  Attorney Ross Erlich handles drug offenses in the Airport Court, CCB (Criminal Courts Building), Burbank Court and the Pasadena Court.

Lindsay Lohan may be in some hot water with the law.  Again.  Lohan must provide proof to a Los Angeles Superior Court judge today that she has enrolled in rehab.  The problems has been that, according to social network websites and other news media, Lohan has yet to get enrolled in any program.  Additionally, a source in the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office said they had not yet received any news of her enrollment.

As you may recall, Lohan entered into a plea agreement whereby she would serve 90 days in a live-in drug rehabilitation facility without the ability to come and go as she pleases.  This plea deal was in exchange for a no contest plea to misdemeanor reckless driving and providing false information to a police officer, stemming from her car accident on PCH.  Additionally, Lohan must spend 18 months in psychotherapy and serve 30 days of community service.

Why such a harsh punishment you might ask?  Well, Lohan was on probation at the time of this arrest and because of this, she faced increased penalties for violating the terms and conditions of her probation.  One of the terms and conditions of all grants of probation is to “not violate any law or order of the court.”  By pleading no contest to the new charges of reckless driving and providing false information to a police officer, Lohan violated her probation in the older case by violating a law while on probation.

I see many stories where people get into car accidents and decide to either leave the scene, committing a hit-and-run, or decide to give the responding police officer some inaccurate account of what happened.  Many times this is done to cover something up, not be blamed for the accident or in an attempt to not get arrested.  What you should be aware of is that lying or providing misleading information to a police officer can be a more serious charge then the underlying reckless driving or hit-and-run.

If you have been involved in a DUI, hit-and-run or reckless driving in Los Angeles and are set to go to the Van Nuys court, Airport court, Metropolitan court or Burbank court, contact attorney Ross Erlich before you decide to make any statements to law enforcement.  It will probably be your best decision.

The United States Supreme Court has given legal immigrants a break when it comes to convictions for possessing a small amount of marijuana.  The Court has ruled that a conviction for this offense is no longer an “aggravated felony” that leads to deportation or removal from the country.  The Justices said that the government must show that the defendant either sold the drugs or possessed a “significant quantity” for the crime to be considered an “aggravated felony.”

The term “aggravated felony” as used in this context is a classification used in immigration proceedings and does not always correspond to an aggravated felony in criminal court, as possession of a small amount of marijuana in California is a misdemeanor.

Under current immigration law, any non-citizen who is convicted of an “aggravated felony” is eligible, and most often proceedings are brought against them, for deportation.  This occurs regardless of how long this person has lived legally in the country or how productive they have been.  The problems started when legal immigrants were being deported for, what many consider to be, minor non-serious drug possession offenses and long-time residents and families were being broken up.

One of the biggest problems that we see is when a suspect has been in custody for a couple days, are transferred to Los Angeles County Jail and an immigration hold is placed on them.  Thus, even if the criminal charges get dismissed, the person is still being held in custody by immigration officials and facing deportation proceedings.  The best course of action is to contact attorney Ross Erlich while your friend or family member is at the local jail and get them out as soon as possible.

If you are a non-citizen, regardless of your current status, it is crucial for your future to consult attorney Ross Erlich if you have been arrested and charged with a crime, any crime.  With the firm’s criminal defense experience, as well as the expert immigration resources, attorney Ross Erlich is in the best position possible to prevent the harsh immigration consequences that are so often a result of being arrested.  Whether you have been charged with a DUI, petty theft, shoplifting, domestic violence, assault or hit-and-run in the Metro court, Airport Court, Downtown Criminal Court or Burbank court, these may have potential immigration implications.

Contact attorney Ross Erlich today for a free consultation on the criminal and immigration consequences of your arrest!

Al Michaels, the legendary sportscaster, was arrested Friday night after police officers pulled him over for making an illegal u-turn just feet away from a DUI checkpoint.  Santa Monica police officers listed the normal DUI talking points: slurred speech, detected an odor of alcohol emitting from his breath and an unsteady gait, as preliminary objective symptoms of intoxication and made the arrest.

That night, a DUI checkpoint was set up in the 1800 block of Lincoln Boulevard in Santa Monica.  What many people are unaware of is that in order for the DUI checkpoint to be legal, law enforcement must satisfy a number of rules.  The California landmark case of Ingersoll v. Palmer is law of our state on this.  First, supervising officers must determine where and how a checkpoint is located, usually where a high number of DUI arrests have been made previously.  Second, the DUI checkpoint must be reasonably located.  Third, the DUI checkpoint must be publicly advertised, meaning warning signs, flashing lights and presence of uniformed police officers.  Lastly, and most important, the driver must have the opportunity to drive away and not go through the checkpoint if they want to.  Keep in mind that the driver may still be stopped if they commit a traffic violation or display obviously signs of intoxication.  There are usually “chase officers” that are posted down the street from a checkpoint who often go after those who turn away.

In Mr. Michaels’ case, he made a u turn, likely when he saw the checkpoint, and got pulled over.  What Mr. Michaels probably didn’t realize is that u turns are illegal in a business district (essentially any street lined with shops and stores) and this gave the police officers all the probable cause they needed to pull him over.  Once this initial contact was made, it was game over for Al.

If you have been arrested going through a checkpoint, you might think that there is nothing you can do about it.  Well, that couldn’t be father from the truth.  As this article mentioned above, there are many rules that law enforcement must comply with in order to have a “legal” checkpoint.  It takes an aggressive and detail-oriented attorney to make sure the police did their job and that the checkpoint complied with all the constitutional regulations.

Because many people are stopped at the checkpoint and arrested, in many cases the police never actually witness any “bad driving” or signs of “driving under the influence” before coming into contact with you.  This can, potentially, be instrumental in getting your charges dismissed or reduced.

If you have been arrested for a DUI in Los Angeles, Hollywood, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, North Hollywood, Burbank or anywhere in Los Angeles County, contact attorney Ross Erlich as soon as possible and avoid your license from getting suspended.

This past week the U.S. Supreme Court has weighed in on the issue regarding whether or not police need a warrant before they can forcibly draw blood from a DUI suspect who does not consent to a test.  Their answer: Yes, the government DOES need a warrant to obtain a blood test.

The Supreme Court has long held that search warrants are generally needed before a government search, or intrusion, into someone’s body, like a forced blood draw.  The Court has reasoned that these types of intrusions amount to a bodily search and are therefore covered under the 4th Amendment’s protection against unwarranted search and seizures.  The Court has also long held that there are exceptions to this rule – most notably the exigent circumstances exception.  This exception comes into play when officers believe that unless evidence is seized or a search conducted immediately, there will be a threat of danger to society or the destruction of evidence and thus, they can act without a warrant.

Police have always argued that with the every passing minute, the alcohol level in the suspect’s blood dissipates and therefore, valuable evidence is being lost without obtaining the blood sample.  The Supreme Court disagreed, somewhat, and held that in many circumstances, and with current technology, there is almost always sufficient time to obtain a warrant.  The Court also noted that emergency, or exigent, circumstances must be decided on a case-by-case basis and that since police officers must transport the suspect to the hospital to get his blood drawn in any case, there is always this issue of dissipation of alcohol.

If you have a driver’s license in California, you have agreed to what is known as the “implied consent” law.  What that means is that in exchange for your privilege to drive is your “implied consent” to a police officer for a blood alcohol chemical test, be it blood, breath or urine.  Some jurisdictions allowed for law enforcement to obtain forced blood draws if a suspect does not consent to one of the tests.  The Supreme Court has now made it clear that law enforcement must obtain a warrant for this forced blood draw or risk having this evidence thrown out in court.

If you have been arrested for a DUI in Los Angeles, Pasadena, Burbank, Hollywood, North Hollywood or Santa Monica, contact attorney Ross Erlich as soon as possible for a free case consultation.  Remember that you only have 10 days from the date of arrest to request a DMV hearing or your license will be suspended automatically.  Also keep in mind that just because you have been arrested for a DUI does not mean that you are guilty or that you broke the law.  It is important to have an attorney who knows the DUI laws in Los Angeles, Burbank, Pasadena, Santa Monica and Hollywood apply that knowledge for your benefit.

The details of the Senate’s bipartisan immigration proposal became known yesterday and, despite reservations by Republicans, the bill looks to be the best shot comprehensive immigration reform that is acceptable to both sides.  Republicans, who were initially critical of the bill, seemed to become more comfortable with the trade off of greater resources for border security in exchange for a “path to legal status” for the nation’s approximately 11 million illegal immigrants.

As you may know, President Obama has made comprehensive immigration reform (path to citizenship) a top priority of his second term and has promised the country that he will do whatever is necessary to achieve this reform.

Some of the key highlights of the bill are the fact that it beefs up security along the southwestern border, gives a path to citizenship by providing legal status and eligibility to for citizenship after payment of back taxes, $2,000 in fines and a 13-year waiting period.  Furthermore, the bill would streamline the nation’s visa system by allowing the 4 million people waiting for a visa to come in and allow as many as 200,000 new low-skilled guest workers to come in over the next decade.

There are many other special exceptions and accommodations the bill provides for depending on whether you are a farm worker, student or serve in the military.  Keep in mind that the bill still needs to get passed in the Senate and the House of Representatives before it goes to President Obama’s desk to get signed into law and a lot of changes can occur along the way.

If you or someone you know is living in the U.S. without any legal status or are here on a Visa and would like to consult about you ability to apply for deferred action or citizenship, contact Attorney Ross Erlich before it’s too late.  Furthermore, if you have been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude or are facing an aggravated felony, it is crucial that you consult with an attorney well versed in the immigration implications that a guilty plea might entail.

Contact attorney Ross Erlich is you have any immigration questions in the Hollywood, North Hollywood, Downtown, Koreatown or Westside areas of Los Angeles today.

With the economy and unemployment the way it is, there has been an ever increasing amount of shoplifting and petty theft arrests being made in Los Angeles.  If you or someone you know has been arrested or cited for petty theft or shoplifting, it is important to contact criminal defense attorney Ross Erlich before trying to talk your way out of the situation and making things worse.

A theft crime occurs when someone takes something of value from another person without their permission.  Petty theft and shoplifting arrests are usually occur when someone has taken or concealed something of value, usually an item of merchandise from a store, and attempts to leave the premises without paying for that item.  Security guards or “loss prevention agents” usually detain the person attempting to take the merchandise in a back room of the store and, more often then not, attempt to get an incriminating statement out of the suspect.  In fact, some loss prevention agents are even given a bonus when they can either get the person to admit to stealing or having that person pay some kind of “fee” right on the spot.  Additionally, many places of business have security camera footage that may or may not have the incident on videotape.  It is necessary for attorney Ross Erlich to view this footage with you, the client, to see if there really is any evidence of a crime taking place.

A few advantages of having an aggressive criminal defense attorney representing you is that there are many different possible outcomes of a petty theft or shoplifting case.  For example, we might be able to negotiate a “civil compromise” where the client pays full restitution to the victim for their out of pocket expenses in exchange for a the termination of criminal proceedings and an effective dismissal.  Other options include classes or community service in exchange for a dismissal or a reduction in charge to an infraction so there is no misdemeanor on your record.

Keep in mind that petty theft and shoplifting crimes are “priorable”, meaning prosecutors will use prior convictions against you to increase the penalties for subsequent arrests.  Therefore, it is crucial that you make sure your theft case is handled with the experience and aggressiveness it deserves.

If you have been arrest for petty theft or shoplifting in Torrance, Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, the Westside, LAX, Airport court or the Criminal Courts Building, contact attorney Ross Erlich to protect your rights.

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