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.

A Glendale police sergeant has been charged with soliciting an undercover cop for sex in a Las Vegas casino earlier this month.

On August 8, the officer, allegedly, offered an undercover female cop $250, plus $25 in gas money, for sex.  The police report states that the sergeant got up from playing blackjack at approximately 2 a.m. and began talking to the undercover cop.  After he asked if she was a cop, and denying that he was himself one, the discussion turned to what services were available for purchase.

The Glendale police chief has acknowledged that the department is aware of this incident in Las Vegas and will likely wait until the incident is resolved in court before the department decides what action to take against the sergeant.

Solicitation of prostitution is treated as a crime of moral turpitude in California and any conviction for that crime may result in the loss of your job or create immigration issues if you are not a citizen of this country.  In addition to the crime being one involving moral turpitude comes the stigma of being convicted of a crime involving the solicitation of sex for money.  While solicitation of prostitution is not the most serious of criminal offenses, it is one that should be handled with care and resolved in a way as to avoid having a conviction for that on your record.

If you have been arrested, charged or cited for misdemeanor solicitation of prostitution in Los Angeles, contact attorney Ross Erlich today for a free consultation.  It is important to know your rights and your options before you go to court and simply plead guilty.  While going to court on your own to “get it over with” may seem to be the easiest and quickest way to resolve the matter, it can often lead to more difficult problems down the line.

Attorney Ross Erlich has handled many prostitution cases that resulted in complete dismissals by the prosecutor, getting the charge changed to protect clients’ records, or even having the charges reduced.  If you have been cited to appear at the Airport Court, Van Nuys Court, Burbank Court, Pasadena Court or the East Los Angeles Court for a prostitution-related offense, talk to attorney Ross Erlich first.

A 17-year-old pedestrian was killed, and his brother seriously injured in a hit-and-run accident in North Hollywood that may have been the result of a street race.  LAPD Valley Traffic Division stated that it appeared the brothers were not in a crosswalk when they were struck.

Witnesses told the officers at the scene the suspect vehicle, which appeared to be racing another vehicle, fled the scene and got onto the freeway.

Being charged with a hit-and-run is a serious offense in Los Angeles County and something that local law enforcement agencies are taking more seriously as the number of incidents keep going up.  A conviction for a hit-and-run can result in up to 6 months in the County Jail and a $1,000 fine.  Additionally, there may be probation to the court for up to 3 years, victim restitution, court fines and 2 points on your driving record.

If you have been charged with hit-and-run in Southern California, it is important to talk to your attorney about the possibility of a civil compromise.  If the facts are appropriate, and your attorney can get the victim on board, a successful civil compromise will permanently suspend criminal proceedings against you and you can avoid a conviction, jail, probation and points on your license.

Being charged with street racing or speed contest is another, more serious, charge and can lead to greater penalties if convicted under that code.  Penalties for being convicted of “street racing” include a minimum of 24 hours in County Jail (and up to 90 days max), up to a $1,000 fine and 40 hours of mandatory community service.  In addition, the judge can order your drivers license suspended for anywhere between 90 days to 6 months.  If the race caused injury to another person other than you, the mandatory jail time goes up to 30 days and a minimum $500 fine.

If you have been arrested for, or charged with, hit-and-run or street racing in Los Angeles, contact attorney Ross Erlich immediately for a free consultation.  Ross Erlich has handled these matters in all courthouses in Southern California and has gotten these charges dismissed and reduced.  It is important to know your rights and not walk into court and simply plead guilty.  As this blog demonstrates – doing so may seriously impact your freedom and ability to operate a vehicle.

A task force consisting of combined Los Angeles County law enforcement agencies arrested 414 people on suspicion of DUI during the first 3 days of the Fourth of July weekend.  The arrests were made between 12:01 a.m. on Thursday and 11:59 p.m. on Sunday.

The arrests, while seemingly high in number, are actually down more than 15% compared to the same time period last year and are up by more than 22% statewide so far this year.  As is always the case, holiday weekends are times when the roads are heavily patrolled by law enforcement and are times when DUI task forces and special units are set up to make arrests.

If you have been arrested for a DUI, it is important not to simply wait until your court date to “figure things out.”  First and foremost; you must contact the DMV within 10 days from the date of arrest to request an Administrative Per Se hearing concerning your driving privilege and a stay on the suspension pending the outcome of that hearing. If you fail to do so, your license will be suspended automatically without any sort of hearing and without the ability for you to present evidence and cross-examine witnesses.

Aside from the potential license implications, a DUI conviction may lead to jail time, court fines, probation, community service, mandatory alcohol programs and other penalties.  For a more detailed explanation of the process, click here.

Many different factors can impact the outcome of your DUI arrest.  Some of these factors include: Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC), nature of driving before being pulled over, health conditions, whether you had a valid driver’s license at the time of the arrest, what type of chemical test you submitted to and many others.

What is important to know if you are pulled over for suspicion of DUI is that you are under no obligation to answer any of the officer’s questions about where you were coming from, what you’ve had to drink, etc…  You are also not under any obligation to submit to the mobile PAS device (commonly known as “the breathalyzer”) and that you may elect to take a blood or breath test at the police station.

If you have been arrested or charged with a DUI in Los Angeles, Hollywood, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Burbank, West Los Angeles or anywhere in Southern California, contact attorney Ross Erlich as soon as possible to get the process started.  Don’t be that person who waits until their court date to “figure things out” while your license has already been suspended for 6 months!

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that Americans have a constitutional right to privacy in the personal information they carry on smartphones.  Thus, police may not search your smartphone without a warrant.

Chief Justice Roberts stated how modern cellphones contain the average American’s privacies of life and are not simply just a piece of technology.  Roberts continued by comparing smartphones to cameras, video players, calendars, tape recorders, diaries and the like.  All of these items would require a search warrant for law enforcement to search so the same should apply to the smartphone.

Now, law enforcement must convince a magistrate that they have probable cause to believe a crime is involved before they search a suspect’s smartphone and not just during the course of a routine arrest and search.

Prior to this Supreme Court decision, law enforcement agents would routinely search a suspect’s cellphone during an arrest without a warrant under the “search incident to arrest” exception.  The Court decided that this was no longer valid, as applied to cellphones, since the “search incident to arrest” exception has been traditionally limited to officer safety and to protect against destruction of evidence.

Law enforcement likes to search cellphones when there is a drug possession arrest, drug transportation arrest or possession for sales arrest in an attempt to find drug transaction text messages and/or contacts.  If you have been arrested for those charges, there are likely to be some search and seizure issues involved in your case.  For example, was there a search warrant?  Was a confidential informant used?  Was there a proper arrest?  Was type of surveillance, if any, was used?

If you or someone you know has been arrested for drug possession, possession for sales or drug transportation in Los Angeles, Torrance, Pasadena or anywhere else in Southern California, contact attorney Ross Erlich today.


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