New LAPD Chief Michael Moore is considering a plan that would allow thousands of homeless peoples to get rid of their old bench warrants as part of a larger effort to reform a system that, in all honesty, is broken.
Getting rid of all of these old bench warrants on homeless persons would help end a vicious cycle that starts with homeless persons not able to, let’s say, pay a fine. Then a bench warrant is issued when they don’t show up to court to pay the fine. Then, ultimately, they come into contact with law enforcement and are arrested on their outstanding warrant for failure to pay a fine. That means they go into custody (jail). get brought into the court, still can’t pay the fine, and are usually released right then and there since the underlying crime or violation is not serious at all.
This cycle explained above costs thousands and thousands of taxpayer dollars. It will also ease the pressure on the court system, jails, and police stations which are overwhelmed with the hundreds of daily arrests for old warrants.
Many of the original crimes homeless persons are cited for are “quality of life” crimes – sleeping on sidewalk, public urination, low-level drug possession. These are usually simple fines, but can add up after court costs are imposed and become more of a problem once they go into warrant status.
Criminal bench warrants can be an issue for you if you haven’t shown up for court or have failed to return to court to show progress or completion of a court-ordered program. Typically, people are placed on probation following a conviction and, usually, must complete some type of obligation(s) to the court. This can range from something as minimal as pay a fine up to regular court appearances to show progress in a domestic violence program, alcohol program, and current restitution payments. If you fail to show up to one of those appearances, you are looking at, potentially, increased punishment for the probation violation, which can be greater than what you originally were obligated to do.
Furthermore, there is always the chance the judge wants to set bail if you have failed to show up for court or it has been a long time since your warrant was issued. A good criminal defense attorney can discuss with you ways in which to potentially avoid any bail and strategies to minimize any probation violation before even walking into court.
If you or someone you know has a bench warrant in Los Angeles county, Orange county, San Bernardino county or Ventura county, contact attorney Ross Erlich as soon as you can. Judges are happier when the least amount of time has elapsed since the warrant has been issued.
Attorney Ross Erlich handles all criminal bench warrants, including those for battery, dui, drug possession, petty theft, hit-and-run, assault, suspended license and domestic violence.
An L.A. County Sheriff’s deputy has been shown to have faked evidence and this was kept secret from the public and suspects in his cases for years.
In 2003, deputy Jose Ovalle was working his shift at a county jail. While on shift, a fight broke out between gang members at the jail, resulting in one person getting stabbed multiple times. Deputy Ovalle was responsible for collecting the evidence in this assault case and, when he realized he could not find the bloody shirt from one of the suspects, he took a clean shirt, spilled taco sauce on it to look like blood, and photographed it for evidence. Ultimately someone observed him doing this, reported it to the supervisor, and deputy Ovalle was handed a 30-day suspension, only having to serve 10 days of that.
Ovalle’s past has been kept a secret from prosecutors, judges and, jurors and defendants for the past several years, even though he was a witness, or even the arresting officer, in many of these cases. Deputy Ovalle took the witness stand in 31 cases before the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office found out about his prior misconduct. This created problems since the DA’s office then had to go back to all of the cases deputy Ovalle was involved in and make “sweetheart” deals or drop criminal charges altogether.
This story, sadly, is not uncommon. Police misconduct is routinely kept hidden by California’s police privacy laws. Even though the U.S. Supreme Court requires prosecutors to inform criminal defendants, and their lawyers, about an officer’s wrongdoing, the state’s laws prevent the prosecution from directly accessing the personnel files of officers. Thus, California places the burden on defendants and their attorneys to prove to a judge that an officer’s record is relevant. In other words, the burden is on us, the defense, to prove that a police officer’s record needs to be looked into. It is not something that is disclosed to us automatically, or even after we conduct a hearing.
Additionally, there is a secret list of Sheriff “problem” deputies that have been involved in misconduct that is kept by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. The new Sheriff, Jim McDonnell, wanted to disclose this list (containing approximately 300 deputies) to prosecutors, but the police union sued in court to stop this. The California state Supreme Court will be deciding soon whether the Sheriff’s Department, and other law enforcement agencies, can tell prosecutors if a police witness has a record of serious discipline.
Some people somewhat jokingly ask me, “how do you sleep at night?”, referring to my work defending people charged with committing crimes, sometimes very serious ones. Well, this article summarizes my usual answer to them. A criminal defense attorney’s number 1 job is to zealously advocate on behalf of their client to the best of their ability. This means leaving no stone unturned, fighting for their client as if it is themselves and making sure the government is doing their job correctly and playing by the rules.
When it comes to getting facts straight, the one thing attorney Ross Erlich does with each of his clients is to sit down and go over the police report and arrest narrative to make sure what the officer is saying is correct and/or totally accurate. Oftentimes there are small discrepancies which we need to address with the prosecutor. Other times there is a need to file a motion with the court informing the judge we believe there may be some misconduct on behalf of the officer(s) involved and request disclosure of any misconduct on the officer’s personnel record.
If you have been arrested or charged with a crime, it is essential that you hire an attorney who will do these things on your behalf. If you read more about the story above, you’ll find that hundreds of defendants whose case started with Deputy Ovalle plead guilty and many might not have even thought to ask about his misconduct. Contact attorney Ross Erlich today for a free consultation and to find out what other tools we have at our disposal to ensure your case is handled correctly.
30 Jul / 2018
As of January 1, 2018, California courts are offering pre-plea diversion in certain drug cases. The benefit to this pre-plea diversion, over the more traditional “formal” diversion, is that the defendant never enters a plea and, thus, is never actually convicted of anything. They can earn a complete dismissal of the charges without suffering a conviction on their record.
Prior to this change, and for about the last 10 years, California offered a diversion called deferred entry of judgement or “DEJ.” In the older DEJ diversions, the defendant had to plead guilty, sentencing was continued for 18 months, and the defendant would complete a drug-treatment program. If the defendant successfully completed a drug-treatment program and had no other arrests for the diversion period, the defendant could withdraw his plea of guilt, enter a not-guilty plea and the court would dismiss the case.
There was, and still is in cases not eligible for pre-plea diversion, devastating consequences for some defendants. First off, the federal government does not recognize diversions as a dismissal. Thus, for purposes of your FBI criminal background, even if your case was ultimately dismissed after successful completion of DEJ, the federal government still views that as a conviction. If you are an immigrant who is here illegally, or have limited status in the country, the conviction under federal law means that you are subject to deportation, denial of naturalization or exclusion from re-entry into the country. Additionally, people who hold certain licenses or security clearances could lose their jobs and/or licenses as a result of this conviction.
All for a minor possession charge.
With the availability of a pre-plea diversion, there is no longer any conviction on your record. The defendant simply waives his right to a speedy trial for up to two (2) years and the case remains “pending” while the defendant completes a drug-treatment program. After completing the program, paying court fees and avoiding any new arrests, the case is dismissed and the defendant walks away without any conviction, ever, on his or her record.
If you have been charged with a drug crime, contact attorney Ross Erlich to talk about your rights and options with the court. You might be eligible for pre-plea diversion, veteran’s court or a mental health diversion.
26 Jul / 2018
President Donald Trump’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame was destroyed, again, this week by someone with a pick ax. This is the second time in less than two years that his star was vandalized.
Witnesses observed a man carrying the pick ax break up the star on the pavement. The suspect then called police himself and advised that he was the one who vandalized the star. The man was later booked on suspicion of felony vandalism.
In the previous incident, the defendant in that case plead no contest to felony vandalism and was sentenced to three years of probation, 20 days of community service and ordered to pay $4,400 for the damage.
Vandalism laws in California prohibits the maliciously damaging, defacing or destroying someone else’s property, you did not own that property, or owned it with someone else. If the property’s value is below $400, this will generally result in a misdemeanor charge. If the damage done is above $400, this will generally result in a felony (“wobbler”) charge. The penalties for a conviction of misdemeanor vandalism can include up to 1 year in county jail, a fine of up to $1,000 (or more if you have prior convictions), and informal probation. Keep in mind, however, that other potential penalties can include a suspension of your driver’s license for up to 2 years, mandatory counseling and community service.
While every case, and set of facts, is different, some common defenses to vandalism charges are that the damage was an accident, mistaken identity, damage done was not malicious in nature. Also, the use of a “civil compromise” is common in vandalism cases and allows for the criminal proceedings against you to be permanently suspended (effectively dismissed).
If you have been charged or are being investigated for a vandalism-related offense, contact attorney Ross Erlich as soon as possible. There are a number of ways in which to fight your case and attorney Ross Erlich provides a free case consultation. Oftentimes reaching out to the victim in the case to make sure they are compensated for any out-of-pocket expenses and are “made whole”, greatly helps the case resolve in your favor.
Don’t go at it alone. Let an experienced and aggressive criminal defense attorney represent your best interests and get you the result you deserve. Attorney Ross Erlich handles vandalism cases in all Los Angeles county courthouses, Orange county courthouses, and Ventura county courthouses.
17 Jul / 2018
MTV’s Teen Mom star Farrah Abraham is facing possible jail time if convicted of the battery and resisting an officer charges filed against her. She is scheduled to be arraigned in the Airport Courthouse on August 13 on those two misdemeanor charges.
The charges stem from an incident in which she allegedly hit a security guard at the Beverly Hills Hotel and then resisted arrest when she was asked to leave the hotel. Officers arrived to the hotel based on a call that Abraham was arguing with hotel guests and had been asked to leave the location by hotel security. The security officer alleged that Abraham struck him in the face with her forearm, grabbed his ear and pushed him in the face as he attempted to prevent her from re-entering the hotel. Beverly Hill Police officers noted that Abraham exhibited signs of intoxication.
If convicted on both counts, Abraham faces up to 18 months in jail.
Attorney Ross Erlich has handled numerous battery and resisting arrest cases. A lot of them are a result of people who are under the influence, out partying, at a club or bar, and simply take things a little too far or don’t follow instructions from law enforcement.
A battery charge is something that takes into account any and all unwanted touching that is done in an offensive way. Thus, someone doesn’t have to beat someone up, break a bone, cause bleeding, etc, to be convicted of a battery. All that is required is some physical contact in an offensive manner. In most cases, the maximum penalty for a batter is up to 6 months in jail and up to a $2,000 fine. If you commit a batter against a peace/police officer, it can be charged as a wobbler (a felony or a misdemeanor).
In order to be charged with resisting arrest, you must resist, delay or otherwise obstruct a law enforcement officer, or emergency personnel, while they are performing, or trying to perform, their official duties. This, as one might imagine, is typically charged when people resist officers putting handcuffs on them, push officers away, and giving a false name to police officers.
While attorney Ross Erlich’s job is to fight to protect your rights and liberty, the best advice to give someone when confronted with security and/or police officers is to be as courteous as possible and follow directions. There is no need to provide any statements or to incriminate yourself, but if asked to leave somewhere or to stop doing a certain activity, cooperation tends to lead to no charges getting filed, or, at least no resisting arrest charges.
If you or someone you know has been charged with battery or resisting arrest in the Airport courthouse, Van Nuys courthouse or the Downtown CCB courthouse, contact attorney Ross Erlich as soon as possible. There might be ways to civilly compromise your case and get charges permanently suspended.
11 Jul / 2018
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s detectives made an arrest on Tuesday of a Los Angeles woman who they believe was behind the assault of a 91-year-old man on the 4th of July. Authorities say that the man might have bumped into a little girl that was walking with the woman, when the woman started shouting racial slurs at the man and allegedly struck the man from behind with a block of cement. Authorities also state that additional suspects arrived on the scene to join into the assault.
The 91-year-old man blacked out and is recovering from a broken cheekbone and facial bruising. The suspect is being held on $200,000 bail and will likely be facing many charges, including assault with a deadly weapon causing great bodily injury and battery.
Assault with a deadly weapon is what is called a wobbler in California, meaning the crime can be charged by prosecutors as either a felony or misdemeanor. This depends on the conduct of the suspect, the extent of injuries, if any, and the other surrounding facts of the incident. Assault with a deadly weapon is defined as “any person who commits an assault upon the person of another with a deadly weapon or instrument other than a firearm shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three or four years, or in the county jail for not exceeding one year, or by a fine not exceeding $10,000, or by both fine and imprisonment.” Additionally, this assault can occur with use of a “deadly weapon” or by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury.
Of course, there are also defenses to assault with a deadly weapon charge, and these are mainly fact-based. Some examples would be if you did not, in fact, use a weapon, if you were acting in self-defense or you did not act willfully or with the required intent to commit the crime.
If you or someone you know has been charged with assault with a deadly weapon, contact attorney Ross Erlich as soon as possible. Starting work before your case gets filed by the prosecutor’s office has some tremendous potential benefit. A truly skilled attorney will know how to work with the district attorney or city attorney’s office to address the evidence, seek out problems of proof with the government’s case, and, when needed, work to obtain a reduction in charges or even a diversion to best protect you or your loved one’s record.
Attorney Ross Erlich only practices criminal defense and has so since he started practicing. He has worked with, and has good relationships with, the prosecutors at the Airport courthouse, Van Nuys courthouse, San Fernando courthouse, Clara Shortridge Foltz (CCB) courthouse, Pasadena courthouse, Burbank courthouse and works throughout Los Angeles county, Orange county and Ventura county.
Call 323-222-4529 for a free case consultation.
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.
03 Apr / 2018
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.
10 Sep / 2015
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.
13 Aug / 2015
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.