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.

Los Angeles is home to one of the highest populations of motorists in the world.  If you live here, or have visited, you will know that it is nearly impossible to exist in this city without driving a car.  One of the unintended consequences of driving so often is car accidents, be it minor or a serious accident with injuries.  This article will give you an idea of what to expect if you have been charged with a hit-and-run and what some possible outcomes can be.  Remember, if you’ve been arrested or charged with a hit-and-run, contact attorney Ross Erlich as soon as possible to reduce any punishment by the court and don’t just go to court and plea guilty.

Failing to stop at the scene of an accident is a violation of California’s Vehicle Code section 20002 as a misdemeanor or section 20001 as a felony.  According to the law, a hit-and-run occurs when the driver leaves the scene of an accident without identifying yourself to the party or parties involved when there has been damage to the property or person of the other party.  The major difference between a misdemeanor and felony hit-and-run is whether there is damage only to property or whether the other party was injured as a result of the accident.

Some of the relevant factors for a prosecutor to consider if you have been charged with a hit-and-run is how serious the accident was, the extent of the property damage, any injuries, how serious were the injuries, did insurance compensate the victim, did the defendant have any prior record and did the at-fault party have a valid California driver’s license at the time of the accident.  A misdemeanor hit-and-run carries a punishment of up to $1,000 in fines, up to 6 months in jail, restitution to the victim and 2 points on your license.

One of the most desired outcomes if you have been formally charged with hit-and-run in Los Angeles is a civil compromise.  Under California Penal Code sections 1377 and 1378, a judge may stay or stop a criminal action and discharge the defendant when a civil compromise has been reached between the defendant and the victim.  In other words, if the responsible party has made all restitution and paid the victim for all of their out of pocket expenses, the judge may, in essence, dismiss the case against the defendant.  There will not be any conviction on the defendant’s record and all criminal action will be permanently stopped.

Another outcome that can be achieved in a hit-and-run case is, if the property damage is not too high or has been paid for by the defendant, is the reduction in charge from a misdemeanor hit-and-run to an infraction.  Prosecutors will sometimes agree to either reduce the charge to a disturbing the peace infraction or even to California Vehicle Code section 16028 as an infraction (failure to show evidence of financial responsibility).  This result not only avoids a misdemeanor conviction on someone’s record, it avoids the 2 point penalty on their license as well.

If you have been cited or arrested for hit-and-run in Los Angeles, LA City, Beverly Hills, LAX, Airport, Metropolitan Court, Downtown, the Westside, Hollywood or North Hollywood, contact attorney Ross Erlich today for a free case consultation at (323) 222-4529.

Two LA County Sheriff’s deputies were arrested last week and charged with lying about a drug bust.  The two deputies were charged with filing a false police report and conspiracy to commit a crime after investigators say they discovered videotape of the drug bust that contradicts the deputies’ report.

The deputies made a brief court appearance last Thursday, but the case was continued for arraignment on May 13.

The investigation of the two deputies’ story began after a criminal defense attorney for the man arrested discovered surveillance tape that contradicted the deputies’ description of the activities.  Specifically, the Sheriff’s deputies stated that they received a tip about a man selling cocaine out of his car in a parking lot.  The deputies then stated that they contacted the suspect next to the driver’s door of his car and that they observed narcotics in plain view inside of the vehicle.

The only problem with this account is that the videotape tells a different story.  In fact, the tape shows the deputies contact the suspect at the rear of his vehicle and thus, the deputies could not possibly be in a position to observe the narcotics.

The deputies now each face up to 3 years in prison if convicted of these charges.

Sadly, false, fabricated or exaggerated police reports are not uncommon in this business.  Some police officers realize that accurately reporting the incident does not always put them, or their actions, in the best light.  It is important that if you feel you have been wrongfully accused or charged with a crime, contact attorney Ross Erlich before you make any statements to investigators or authorities.  Trying to talk your way out of an arrest most often puts you in a worse position than you would be had you exercised your right to remain silent.

If you have been charged with a crime in Beverly Hills, Downtown Los Angeles, LA County, Metro Court, LAX or the Westside, contact attorney Ross Erlich as soon as possible for a free case consultation.

Accoridng to www.distraction.gov, the official government website on distracted driving, you are 23 times more likely to crash while texting and driving.  This statistic is the motivating factor behind a national campaign to reduce distracted driving and the California Highway Patrol is instituting a zero-tolerance policy for texting and cell phone use.

Currently, a minimum cost of a cellphone ticket is $159 and other subsequent tickets may rise as high as $279.

The National Safety Council has found that more than 2 in 3 drivers last month reported talking on their cell phone while driving.  Another fact to consider is that approximately 9% of all drivers in the country are talking on their phone at any given moment during the day, according to the National High Traffic Safety Administration.

So, what does this mean for you?  Well, it means that the CHP, the Los Angeles Police Department and other local law enforcement agencies will be looking for distracted drivers and will be issuing tickets to persons they see texting, emailing, Facebooking, and Twittering.  They will be riding up next to you, looking through your windows and issuing tickets for any slight violation.  Traffic officers take these violations very seriously as distracted driving is one of the leading causes of traffic accidents and injuries.

If you have been issued a ticket for cell phone use, texting, speeding or any other moving violation, it is important to contact attorney Ross Erlich and discuss what options are available avoid a point on your license, possible license suspension or an increase of your insurance premiums.  Keep in mind that just because you were issued a traffic ticket doesn’t mean you have to plead guilty and pay the fine.  Attorney Ross Erlich can fight to get the ticket dismissed or get the fines greatly reduced and handles all tickets in Metro Court, Van Nuys, Chatsworth and Beverly Hills.

 

Contact Attorney Ross Erlich today for a free consultation.

Gone With the Wind star Clark Gable’s son was arrest around 3p.m. on Tuesday for DUI and hitting several parked cars in Malibu.  An eyewitness to the arrest stated that Mr. Gable appeared to fall on the ground upon exiting his car for the police.  Jail records show that Mr. Gable was taken to the hospital for a blood test and released on $15,000 bail late Tuesday night.

Fortunately for Mr. Gable, there was no one injured in these collisions or he would be facing more serious charges with greater consequences.  As it stands now, it appears as though Mr. Gable will be charge with a first offense DUI and misdemeanor hit-and-run charges.

So you might be asking yourself, “I wonder what will happen to this guy?”  Well, DUI and hit-and-run charges quite commonly stem from the same incident.  There are many possible outcomes in this scenario, including a civil compromise to settle and dismiss the hit-and-run charges.  However, the prosecutor will likely be requesting a greater fine, a longer DUI education program, community service or a community labor requirement on top of all the standard DUI terms.

Prosecutors take DUI-related hit-and-run charges very seriously in Los Angeles since this is a city where people drive a lot and accidents like these have a high probability of injuring innocent people.   Because of this, it is important for you to have an aggressive criminal defense attorney who has handled numerous DUI cases involving complex issues to fight for your rights and to minimize any consequences to you or your license.  It is also critical of you, or your Los Angeles criminal defense attorney, to contact the DMV within 10 days of your arrest or face an automatic suspension of your license without a hearing!

If you have been charged with a DUI or hit-and-run in Malibu, Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Mid City, Culver City or the Westside, contact criminal defense attorney Ross Erlich for a free in-person case consultation and to get the wheels of justice spinning in your direction.

 

 

 

A Canoga Park man pleaded guilty last week to one count of each of voluntary manslaughter, evading a police officer with willful disregard, leaving the scene of an accident, grand theft auto and admission of a gang enhancement.

This guilty plea stemmed from an incident where police officers were pursuing the defendant in a stolen vehicle when the defendant struck and killed a pedestrian walking in a crosswalk.  At the time of the collision, officers had already called off the pursuit temporarily due to the defendant’s high rate of speed on city streets and failure to stop at multiple right lights and stop signs.  The plea was taken in front of Judge Karen Nudell in the Van Nuys Superior Courthouse with sentencing set for April 30.

If you have been involved in a traffic collision, you are obligated under state law to stop and identify yourself to the other party, regardless of who was at fault.  If you fail to do so, you run the risk of being arrested for hit-and-run or having an active warrant issued for your arrest.  If you find yourself in this position, the first thing to do would be to contact an aggressive criminal defense attorney to protect your rights.

Attorney Ross Erlich has represented numerous clients in hit-and-run cases at the Airport Courthouse and Metropolitan Courthouse and is familiar with the strategies and techniques that ensure the best possible outcome for you, the client.  One of these techniques is to get your hit-and-run charged dismissed outright   This is made possible under California Penal Code sections 1377 and 1378 which allows a judge to dismiss the charges, and avoid any conviction, when the victim has been fully compensated for their loss.  This is more commonly referred to as a civil compromise.

Hit-and-run cases are taken very seriously by prosecutors since they involve the damage and possible injury to the victim while the other party leaves the scene.  Thus, penalties for hit-and-runs may include jail time, up to $10,000 in fines and restrictions or a suspension of your driver’s license.

 

If you have been charged with a hit-and-run in Los Angeles, contact attorney Ross Erlich for a free consultation and to discuss what options are available to you.


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