Vandalism – more than meets the eye

California Penal Code section 594 is the statute the defines what vandalism is.  That section states that “every person who maliciously commits any of the following acts with respect to any real or personal property not his or her own, is guilty of vandalism.”  Those acts are 1) graffiti, 2) damaging, or 3) destroying.  In short, if you damage, destroy or cover with graffiti any property that is not yours, that is vandalism.  Thus, it’s not just those young kids spraying graffiti on the walls, it’s items broken during a fight, breaking things in a store, crashing a stolen car, etc.

But, this definition requires that you have malicious or unlawful intent with regards to the damage.  Thus, if you accidentally damaged or defaced someone’s property, you wouldn’t be guilty of vandalism.

Now, many people might view a vandalism case or charge as something relatively minor.  “Hey, I damaged some property and no big deal, I’ll just plead guilty and pay to replace it.”  Well, as the title to this blog reads, it’s a little more than meets the eye.  Upon a conviction for vandalism, fines, yes, fines, can run you anywhere between $400 and $50,000.  Yes, you heard correctly, $50,000.  Much of this depends on the amount of the property that was damaged, but those are just the fines!

So, in addition to owing significant fines to the court for a conviction of vandalism, you might also have to deal with the fact that you’ve actually been convicted of a crime and that your criminal history now reflects that.  If the damage is $400 or more, vandalism can be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor.  If the damage is under $400, the charge will be filed as a misdemeanor.  Thus, any employer or future employer or state licensing board will see this in your background check and this will raise some red flags.  In Los Angeles county, the standard probation for a misdemeanor conviction is 3 years and for those 3 years, you cannot have your conviction expunged unless a judge agrees to terminate that probation early.

Also, the court has the authority, and “shall do so when feasible”, order you to show up and clean, repair or replace the damaged property.  The court can also order that your driver’s license be suspended upon a conviction for vandalism for up to 2 years, order mandatory counseling and/or community service.

So, you might be asking yourself, “what do I do to fight all of these penalties and obligations?”  I thought you would never ask!  There are a number of ways to fight a vandalism charge and the first, in my mind, comes down to whether you actually intended to cause damage to the property or what it an accident or mistake.  Also, what was the nature of the property (shared, formerly yours, not owned, etc).

I would also want to know who the “victim” in the matter is and the relation of that person to my client.  A lot of property damage crimes can be resolved by simply reaching out to the victim and working out a way for that person to be made whole and have their property brought back to the condition it was in prior to the incident or paid for.

There might be a way to get a civil compromise in this case which, if worked out, can have criminal proceedings permanently suspended (effectively case dismissed) if the victim signs off on an agreement that they were made whole and compensated for any out-of-pocket expenses they may have had as a result of the conduct.

In short, you don’t want to get convicted of vandalism or any other property damage crime.  As you can see, there are a number of variables that come with getting convicted and too many options that a judge has discretion over to order as additional penalties against you.  You want to leave as little to discretion as possible and ensure that you get a result that is clear and guaranteed and something that has as little impact on your record and freedom as possible.

Contact Ross Erlich Law for a free case consultation and find out about additional ways to keep yourself free.


Not Eligible For An Expungement? Try A Certificate Of Rehabilitation

There are some people whose criminal sentences may make them ineligible for an expungement, but who still may want to do what they can to “clean up” their criminal record for purposes of rehabilitating themselves.

For a little reference, you are eligible for an expungement if you have completed misdemeanor or felony probation successfully and are not currently charged with a crime, on probation for a crime or serving a sentence for a crime.  There are also a few specific convictions which are not eligible for expungement (murder, certain sex crimes, certain crimes where minors are victims, and some serious weapons charges).  Additionally, you are not eligible for an expungement if you were sentenced to state prison.  That’s right, only county jail and/or probation cases are expungeable cases.

Now, what do you do if you still want to obtains some of the benefits of an expungement but you are ineligible?  California allows certain persons to petition the court for a certificate of rehabilitation so that they too can “clean” their criminal record.

A certificate of rehabilitation is, essentially, a court finding that a person has been rehabilitated since a criminal conviction.  It also acts as an automatic application for a Governor’s pardon.  In essence, it is a court’s declaration that the person who had been convicted is now a law-abiding citizen.

While the certificate of rehabilitation doesn’t “remove” the conviction the same way that an expungement does, it can remove the requirement for persons to register as a sex offender in some cases and it states that a state licensing agency may not deny someone a license from the state solely based on a conviction which someone has obtained a certificate of rehabilitation for.

So, you might be reading this and thinking, “well, that all sounds good, but how do I know if I’m eligible for this relief?”  Well, you are eligible if:

  1. You have not been incarcerated since completion of your sentence;
  2. You are not on probation for a felony;
  3. You have resided in California for the 5 immediate years prior to filing the petition;
  4. You have been “rehabilitated” – usually at least a couple of years – following your release from custody/probation/parole;
  5. And at least one of the following applies to the offense(s):
    1. Convicted of a felony and sentenced to state prison or other California state penal institution, or
    2. Convicted of a felony, sentenced to probation and conviction has been expunged, or
    3. Convicted of a misdemeanor sex offense listed in Penal Code section 290 AND the conviction has been expunged.

You are not eligible for a certificate of rehabilitation if:

  1. You were convicted of a misdemeanor,
  2. Currently on life parole,
  3. You were sentenced to death,
  4. You are in the military,
  5. You committed a federal crime or a crime in another jurisdiction besides California,
  6. Convicted of certain serious sex crimes

You also might be wondering what this “rehabilitation period” is all about?  California has decided that, as a policy matter, in order for a court to, at least, consider your petition for rehabilitation, the person filing the petition must have had a satisfactory period of rehabilitation that ranges from 7 to 10 years upon their release from custody.  “Release from custody” means the date on which the applicant completes parole or probation, is released from community supervision or is released from mandatory supervision.

There is the 5 year residency requirement mentioned above (must live in California for immediate 5 years prior to filing petition) plus 5 additional years (10 total) for:

  1. Certain violations of child pornography laws,
  2. Violations of California’s sexual exploitation of a child laws, or
  3. Obscene conduct / Indecent exposure violations

There is the 5 year residency requirement plus 4 additional years (9 total) for the following crimes:

  1. Murder,
  2. Aggravated kidnapping,
  3. Assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury,
  4. Use of explosives or destructive devices causing death, mayhem or great bodily injury,
  5. Any other offense that carries a life sentence.

The minimum 5 year residency requirement plus additional years (7 total) is for everything else.

While this all seems pretty technical, so long as you meet the qualifications for a certificate of rehabilitation, Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer Ross Erlich will assist in collecting your criminal records, dockets, and other court paperwork required for the petition.  You will likely be required to disclose employment information, character/reference letters from friends and family and other background information.  We file the petition in the county where you currently reside, not the county/counties where the conviction(s) occurred.  The court will give us a court date, typically a couple months away, and they will conduct background checks, interview those persons you have enclosed character letters from and confirm the other background information you have disclosed in the application.

A court will want to see that you have “turned your life around” since the release from custody.  This can include employment, starting a family, obtaining educational degrees, community service/involvement, involvement in religious organizations and the like.

If you have questions about cleaning up your criminal history, an expungement or a certificate of rehabilitation in California, contact Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer Ross Erlich today for a free consultation.

Pepper Spraying Children?

Police say that robbers pepper sprayed 2 children and pistol-whipped an adult during a home invasion in Rancho Cucamonga.  The robbers allegedly held the family at gunpoint and then left with some of the property from the house.

Assuming these suspects get caught apprehended, they are looking at some very serious charges.  First off, robbery.  Robbery is the “felonious taking of personal property in possession of another, from his person or immediate presence, and against his will, accomplished by means of force or fear.”  This includes the most well-known version of someone “sticking up” someone on the street and taking their property, but also extends to home burglaries that turn into robberies when their are people inside and the perpetrators threaten them with force if they cannot escape and drugging someone and stealing their property while they are unconscious.

In this case, this would be first-degree robbery as this robbery took place in an inhabited structure.  Thus, the penalty range for this is 3, 4, or 6 years  in state prison, assuming no other charges or enhancements/special allegations.  However, if you have committed robbery in an inhabited structure with 2 or more co-conspirators, that range goes up to 3, 6, or 9 years.

Where the custody time significantly increases is when sentencing enhancements are added to the underlying charge.  Examples of this are when great bodily injury is caused during the commission of the crime, if a firearm is used in the robbery and if a firearm is discharged or causes great bodily injury during the robbery.

One of the hardest elements for the prosecution to prove, and thus, one of the most significant defenses, is the element of using force or fear to take the property.  It is crucial for prosecutors to establish this element since if they don’t, robbery charges won’t likely stick.  The defendant might be guilty of another theft crime, but likely not one as significant as robbery.  Other defenses include the honest belief that you had a right to the property, you are the victim of mistaken identity, or you have been falsely accused.

If you or a loved one has been charged with robbery, burglary, grand theft or any other felony in Los Angeles, contact Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer Ross Erlich today.  Getting Ross Erlich involved in the case early can have tremendous benefits for the client and can help to actually lower the financial cost of the case.  Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer Ross Erlich works closely with bail bondsmen who can offer beneficial rates to clients and are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to assist.

Being charged with robbery is an extremely serious event in someone’s life.  It is one of the most serious felonies and one that all prosecutors in the District Attorney’s office take seriously.  It is crucial that your attorney have enough time to prepare for court, deal with any case-related matters prior to the first court date, and have time to contact the prosecutor’s office.  Do yourself, or your loved one, a favor and do things the right way the first time so that you don’t have to try to go back and correct things, which almost never work out.  Call a lawyer right away, get good representation, make sure you cooperate with your lawyer and bring to light any and all relevant factors that pertain to the case.

Contact Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer Ross Erlich today for a free consultation.

Arrested For Domestic Violence? Now What?

One of the most common calls that I get as a criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles is, “I was arrested for domestic violence, now what do I do?”  This is a great question and the full answer is usually surprising to most people.

After someone gets arrested for domestic violence, there is usually an 8-day criminal protective order that is immediate issued so that the person arrested may not contact, be within 100 yards of, harass or annoy the victim in the case.  If the suspect posts bail and is given a future court date, this can be anywhere from 3 to 8 weeks from the day they bail out.  Thus, if the temporary criminal protective order expires, they are free to cohabitate or have contact with the victim.

The tricky part of these cases is once the court proceedings start.  For felonies in California, with certain limited exceptions, the defendant needs to be present at court for all court appearances.  In misdemeanors, with certain exceptions, a privately-retained criminal defense lawyer can appear on the client’s behalf without them having to be present.  In both cases, in any case involving “violence”, of which domestic violence is apart of, the defendant needs to be present on the first day of court to received service of the new criminal protective order against them.

Yes, you heard correctly.  A new protective order.  As was explained above, this order (typically) prevents the defendant from being within 100 yards of the victim, the location where the incident happened and prevents them from calling, texting, emailing or otherwise making contact with the victim.  This order lasts for the duration of the case, which can mean up to several months.  So, keep in mind that there might be the case where, if you are charge with domestic violence, you may need to find alternative living situations, not be in contact with your spouse or significant other and have other limitations with regards to daily life activities.  A violation of this order can lead to a new, separate, criminal charge against you.

A victim may choose to show up to court in an attempt to ask the judge to allow a “peaceful contact” order and not a full stay-away.  This would allow the defendant and the victim to live together and have contact, but would prohibit any non-peaceful contact by the defendant.  Keep in mind that this is really up to the judge, so if it is early on in the case or the violence in the case was significant, a judge may decide not to allow peaceful contact even if the victim shows up in court and says that they would like the order changed.

Now, once all of the “preliminary” matters are dealt with, comes the litigation of the actual case.  Domestic violence can be charged a number of different ways in California.  First off, it can be a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the facts of the case, injuries, defendant’s prior record.  Secondly, there are several different Penal Code sections that deal with an incident among those in a domestic relationship.  Corporal injury to a spouse or cohabitant, domestic battery, child abuse, child neglect, elder abuse and criminal threats are all examples of “domestic abuse” related charges.

Oftentimes these cases come down to a “your words against theirs”, or a “he said, she said” type case.  Thus, what the victim says on a 911 call and what they might have said to responding officers or a detective at the police station is highly relevant in determining how to handle a domestic abuse case.  In many instances, depending on the types of statements made by the victim and to whom, if they victim does not show up to court, the prosecution may not be able to use those statements at trial.

It is important to “plan early” for domestic violence cases.  Maybe even more so than with other criminal charges.  It is important to be aware of the protective order that will be issued and make arrangements for that.  It is important to note that you will never be able to own a firearm if you are convicted of domestic violence.  It is also important to note that in nearly all instances of a conviction of a domestic violence charge, the defendant will have to complete a 52-week Los Angeles County approved domestic violence class, among other terms and conditions of probation.  It is also important to note that a conviction for certain domestic violence charges can have a devastating impact on someone’s immigration circumstances.

This is why contacting Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer Ross Erlich as early as possible can help for you to plan how to fight the charges.  A Los Angeles domestic violence lawyer will know what steps that can be taken prior to the arraignment might make a significant impact in the outcome of your case.

If you, or someone you know, has been arrested for domestic violence or domestic battery in Los Angeles, Ventura, San Bernardino or Orange counties, contact Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer Ross Erlich today for a free case consultation at 323-222-4529.


Public Intoxication Charges Dropped Against Former LAPD Commander

You might recall hearing about an LAPD Commander and an LAPD sergeant who were involved in a traffic incident in Glendale in which the Commander was charged with public intoxication and the sergeant, the driver of the vehicle, being arrested and charged with DUI.  In short, Glendale police came across a vehicle that was stopped for some reason, with the driver, the LAPD sergeant, asleep in the driver’s seat, and the commander taken into custody for public intoxication.

The commander was recorded on cell phone being led out of an unmarked LAPD vehicle by several Glendale Police Department officers.

Court records showed that the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office dismissed the public intoxication charges against the commander this week and have not confirm the reason for the dismissal.  The sergeant has pleaded not guilty to DUI charges stemming from the incident.

There has been much discussion already about getting a DUI in Los Angeles in previous blog posts.  If you or someone you know has been arrested for DUI in Los Angeles, contact Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer Ross Erlich today for a free case consultation.

But what about public intoxication?  Many people seem to believe that if you get arrested for public intoxication, the police simply bring you to the local jail to “sleep it off” and you get released the next day.  Well, that is not quite accurate and you could find yourself being released the next day with a misdemeanor citation to appear at a future court date.

Public intoxication is a violation of California Penal Code section 647(f), which states that any person who is found in any public place under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or any combination, in a condition that he or she is unable to exercise care for his or her own safety or the safety of others, or if being under the influence interferes with or obstructs or prevents the free use of any street, sidewalk or other public way, is guilty of disorderly conduct.

Thus, it is not illegal to be drunk or under the influence in a public place.  It is only illegal if you cannot exercise care for your safety or the safety of others, or, if you interfere or obstruct a street or sidewalk.

Because it is a misdemeanor, the charge is punishable by up to 6 months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.  Also, the conviction will be recorded on your criminal record and this can create issues for employment and obtaining a professional license with the state of California.

Just because you are charged with public intoxication doesn’t mean that you will be convicted of it.  Depending on your prior criminal record, if any, and what other charges are filed along with the public intoxication, if any, you may be eligible to enter into a diversionary sentence.  This can take the form of a number of different arrangements, including completing a drug treatment program, classes, attending NA or AA classes or some other community service type work in exchange for the charges to be dismissed.

If you or someone you know has been charged with DUI or public intoxication in Los Angeles, Orange county, San Bernardino county or Riverside county, contact Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer Ross Erlich today.

Ross Erlich Featured in LA Times Article

LAFD spokesman could avoid criminal charges after being accused of using city car to threaten Uber driver


Peter Sanders, a civilian employee and chief spokesman for the Los Angeles Fire Department, will go behind closed doors with a hearing officer in October to face accusations he used a city car to stop and threaten an Uber driver at a Trader Joe’s in Studio City.

The diversion program allows suspects to avoid criminal charges and an arrest record if they don’t commit similar conduct for one year.

“The suspect and the alleged victim will each have the opportunity, on separate dates, to speak about the subject incident with a hearing officer,” Rob Wilcox, spokesman for City Attorney Mike Feuer, wrote in a statement. “The suspect will be admonished and informed that their conduct could constitute a crime and that if there is any similar conduct, charges for the original incident may be filed before the expiration of the one-year statute of limitations.”

This year, the office scheduled 4,420 hearings and held 2,841. Wilcox said the office selected the diversion program based on the circumstances and evidence. He declined to comment on the evidence.

Sanders and Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas did not respond to multiple requests for comment. Capt. Erik Scott, another Fire Department spokesman, said an internal investigation is ongoing and declined to comment.

Lou Shapiro, a defense attorney who is not involved in Sanders’ case, said other than an “outright rejection of the case, it’s the best outcome [Sanders] could get” from city attorneys. He said the hearings are usually reserved for “light stuff” and cases with no injuries. But he said prosecutors likely spotted something in the investigation and evidence to merit a hearing.

“They see a cause for concern that they need to address to prevent this from happening again,” Shapiro said.

Ross Erlich, another defense attorney not involved in the case, said the hearings are used in only about 5% of his misdemeanor cases.

“It’s kind of a slap on the wrist,” he said, adding the hearings are not public. “It’s great for the suspect and a tremendous benefit. It is, in theory, available to anybody. It is not very common.”

Read the full article here.

Mental Health In County Jails And California’s Mental Health Diversion Program

One thing that any criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles or any other southern California community knows is that the area’s county jails have become the largest mental health provider in each respective county.  You can trace this back some 50 years to the closing of many mental health hospitals, but the fact is, county jail is the de facto treatment center.

In the local southern California counties, the mentally ill inmate population has been on a steady incline over the years.  The percentage of inmate with some identifiable mental health issue is up to 25% in San Bernardino County, 30% in Orange and Los Angeles Counties and up to 45% in Riverside County.

While county jail is not the preferred place to treat the mentally ill, counties are at a loss when it comes to resources and the ability to divert mentally ill persons who may commit crimes, many of those crimes a result of their mental illness.  There have been numerous lawsuits against county jails that arise out of unhealthy conditions, cramped and crowded environments, being kept in isolation, and lack of supervision, therapy and appropriate medication.

As a result of these lawsuits and their settlements, Los Angeles County has given their jail deputies better training for handling and identifying mental health issues and suicidal risks, removed certain suicide hazards from housing areas and have improved the wait time for new at-risk inmates to be screened.

Los Angeles County will also be replacing the old and outdated Men’s Central Jail with a new facility that will be focused on mental health and run by the county health department.

One other option if you or a loved one suffers from a mental illness and has been charged with a crime in Los Angeles County is the county’s (relatively) new mental health diversion program in the courts.  This program has been codified in California Penal code section 1001.36.

This diversion allows judges the discretion to help criminal defendants who suffer from a mental illness to obtain treatment in lieu of the more traditional penalties such as jail or state prison and convictions on their criminal record.

Some key points of this diversion program are that it applies to both misdemeanors and felonies and it can be implemented at any point during the criminal proceedings, until trial.  Additionally, the treatment must meet the accused’s needs, it may be obtained through private or government funds, it must provide the court regular progress reports and it can last no longer than 2 years.  If a person is successful with mental health diversion, their criminal cases will be dismissed and the arrest record will be sealed for most purposes.  It will almost be as if the arrest never took place.

In order to qualify for mental health diversion, all of the following must be met:

  • The defendant must show that they suffer from a mental health disorder
  • The disorder must have played a significant role in the commission of the crime
  • A qualified mental health expert must give the opinion that the defendant would respond to mental health treatment
  • The defendant must consent to the mental health treatment
  • The defendant must agree to comply with treatment as a condition of diversion
  • The court must believe the defendant will not pose an unreasonable risk of danger to public safety

If you or someone you know suffers from a mental illness and has been charged with a crime in Los Angeles County, Orange County, San Bernardino County or Riverside County, contact Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer Ross Erlich today for a free consultation.

What you can expect in the Criminal Process

When you have been charged with or arrested for a crime, you can expect the criminal process to follow the below steps. For expert legal representation in any criminal law or DUI case, contact attorney Ross Erlich.

Misdemeanor vs. Felony Offenses

A misdemeanor is an offense that is punishable by up to one year in county jail and/or a fine. A felony is punishable by fines and more than a year in a county jail or a state prison.


When one is arrested they must be arraigned within 48 hours. This means that they must be taken before a judge, advised of the charges against them and given an opportunity to plead guilty or not guilty. At arraignment several other things occur. First, bail is usually set by the judge. Bail can range from nothing to millions of dollars. In some cases like first offenses or simple misdemeanors, the defendant may be released based upon his/her promise to return to court and not have to post any bail. In other cases such as serious felonies, bail may be set at millions of dollars. In most counties the court has a bail schedule which sets a specific bail for each specific offense. Normally, at the arraignment, the defendant’s lawyer will be given a copy of the charges against the defendant and a copy of the initial police reports which have been prepared to date.

Pre-Trial Conference

In the case of misdemeanors, after a defendant pleads not guilty his case is often set for a pre-trial conference. This is an opportunity for the defense attorney to discuss the case and possible settlement with the prosecutor and/or the judge prior to setting the case for trial. In the case of a felony, many courts offer an early disposition conference or early settlement conference before the case is set for a preliminary examination. This is often a good chance to talk to a judge or a district attorney about an early and favorable settlement of the case.

Preliminary Examination or Preliminary Hearing

In the case of felonies, after a defendant pleads not guilty he has the right to a preliminary examination within ten court days of his arraignment. A preliminary examination or preliminary hearing, as it is often referred to, is a probable cause determination. At this stage, the prosecutor has the burden of proving that there is a reasonable likelihood that a crime was committed and that the defendant was the one that committed the crime. If the judge finds that probable cause exists then the defendant is held to answer on felony charges and the case may proceed toward trial.

Arraignment in Superior Court

In felony cases, after the defendant has been held to answer on felony charges, he is arraigned again in Superior Court. Thereafter a trial date is set approximately sixty days later.


A defendant in any criminal case has the right to a trial. In a trial twelve members of the community are called upon to hear all of the evidence in the case. When the evidence has been heard, the jury is called upon to determine if the defendant is innocent or guilty. If he is found innocent, or acquitted, then he goes free. If he is convicted then he will face sentencing before the trial judge.

Probation and Sentencing

At the time of the defendant’s sentencing, the judge decides if the defendant will be granted probation or if sentence will be immediately imposed. In misdemeanor cases, informal probation is normally imposed. In felony cases, probation can be granted in many cases. However, just because probation is granted, defendants can still be sentenced to jail time. Remember, probation in felony cases simply means that a state prison sentence will not be imposed right away.

Violations of Probation

If a defendant violates probation, the judge could impose up to the maximum sentence for which the defendant has been convicted. This applies to both misdemeanors and felonies. For example, if a defendant pled guilty to a case with a maximum of three years in prison, the judge could impose up to three years in prison, even if the defendant received probation for the original sentence.


If a defendant has been wrongly convicted they may have the right to appeal. A notice of appeal should be filed immediately upon sentencing in many cases. Beware that there are strict time limits set for filing a notice of appeal if you plan to appeal a criminal conviction. Appeals require great skill and knowledge of the law. Appeals are very different than trial and utilize different standards of proof and can be quite complicated. There are many different types of appeals, some occur before the case is over and some occur after. Appeals, writs and other post-conviction relief is often subject to strict rules and timelines. Failure to understand these rules can compromise your rights. Call a skilled appellate lawyer immediately if you have questions about an appeal.

Post-Conviction Remedies

The law allows us to expunge our convictions in many cases where probation is granted. This applies to both misdemeanors and felonies. If a defendant has been convicted of a felony, typically that charge can be reduced to a misdemeanor and then expunged. Expungement is the process where we ask the court to allow the defendant to withdraw their previously entered plea of guilty or no contest or otherwise set aside their conviction and dismiss the case entirely. This process can be very beneficial to many people. If you have previously been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor, you may consider speaking with a lawyer about reducing your felony conviction to a misdemeanor or expunging any conviction you have suffered. An expungement allows you to tell any non-governmental entity that you have never been convicted or even arrested for the crime that was expunged. If you or a loved one has been arrested, charged with a crime or are currently involved in criminal proceedings, contact Ross Erlich today for a free case evaluation.  There may be several different ways to handle your case and confront the evidence against you and it is important that you are aware of all of those ways.

Public Defender Or Private Lawyer?

One of the most common questions I get from people seeking to hire an attorney is “why should I hire you and not just use the public defender?”  Well, it is a good question and is something that should be explained in detail to someone before they make their decision about legal representation.

First off, most all of the public defenders I know are good lawyers.  They are in court all day, everyday.  They are often in the same courtroom for weeks, months, even years, thus, they know the judge and the judge’s proclivities very well.  They handle lots of cases and get lots of good experience handling a variety of cases and legal issues very quickly.

That being said, public defender’s all have an extremely large caseload.  While they gain great experience handling many cases, if you are represented by a public defender, you might be one of 30 clients they have to see, talk to, and conduct a hearing for that day.  That being said, I cannot tell you the amount of times I’ve heard people call my office, who were being represented by a public defender or who had one before, tell me that they only got about 2 minutes talking time with their lawyer and then their case was called.  I’ve also heard my fair share of “there was a different public defender each time I went to court” or “they just seemed to shuffle my case down the line” or “they never went over the police report with me.”  I understand the problem of a county employee not having enough time in the day for all of their clients, but that is something you should consider before making that choice.

The service that I am able to offer involves, to be honest, quite the opposite of the public defender’s “dilemma.”  Anyone who calls my office at (323) 222-4529 gets me answering the phone.  That person also gets a free case consultation, in-person or over the phone, whichever is preferred.  That person, if they decide to hire me, gets regular updates about court proceedings, the ability to come into the office to talk about the police report word-for-word, talk about discrepancies, false facts and possible defenses.  My clients value the ability that I have to offer “creative resolutions” to their cases, which might involve rehabilitation treatment, volunteer work, mitigation packages, counseling options, etc.  My clients value having the ability to pick up their phone, dial a number, and actually get me on the phone, not a secretary who takes a message that never gets returned.

In addition, if you have other cases pending or on probation for, and those might include other courthouses, oftentimes I hear people talk about how their public defender didn’t take those other proceedings into consideration when resolving the case they are handling.  That can spell trouble for someone who might be subject to a probation violation or other consequences.

If you have any questions regarding your choice of a defense attorney, contact me at,, or simply call me at (323) 222-4529.  One call can save it all!

Using The Internet To Hire A Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you are living in 2019 and use a computer (which is obviously you if you are reading this), you know that people use the internet to find all types of products and services.  We shop online for clothes, household supplies, cars, and lawyers.

Ask yourself, “if I found myself in a predicament and needed to find an attorney, where would I start?”  Well, you would either ask whatever lawyer you might know (family friend, previous attorney you have used for an unrelated matter), or you would go to Google.  Once you enter your search into Google, something along the lines of “criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles”, you’ll notice that there are the normal search results, ads on the sides, ads on the top, picture box ads, Google ads, etc. and you might seem overwhelmed.  Thoughts of “which one is good?”, “who should I call?”, “are all these claims true?”

Here is what you should know.  Nearly all criminal defense attorneys in Los Angeles use some form of paid advertising or placement online.  Nearly all of those criminal defense attorneys in Los Angeles who advertise online, make claims that are, in many instances, not exactly true.  You might hear of one calling themselves “top rated defense attorney in Los Angeles”, but rated by who?  You might hear one claim that they were “Harvard educated”, but when you check their bio on the California State Bar, there is no record of them obtaining a degree from that school.  How about “most trusted criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles.”  Well, when you go to their website, there is no mention of what group or organization awarded them with the “most trusted attorney” award.

The truth of the matter is that any lawyer can pay an organization or company to place their name at the top of Google, or present them with a “top rated” plaque or “most trusted” award.  Choosing a criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles should be a careful and thoughtful process by you or your loved one.  If you have been charged with a crime and are looking to pay someone to represent your life and liberty, you should hire someone you can trust.  It seems to me that those attorneys you find at the top of the list on Google, making claims that are not substantiated, are starting off on the foot of not being trustworthy.  How can you enter into a trust relationship with someone who has been misleading?

What I would recommend is to look at the attorney’s reviews on websites that offer client and peer reviews.  Check out Avvo and Yelp to read what the attorney’s former clients and peers have to say about them.  Call the attorney directly, my personal phone number is available 24/7 (323) 222-4529, and talk to the attorney about your case.  I offer, and will always offer, a free 60-minute case consultation.  You should hire someone that you feel comfortable with and that you can trust.  You shouldn’t hire someone simply based on how quick their website pops up on Google or based on the claims they make.

Hope this helps, feel free to contact attorney Ross Erlich by calling (323) 222-4529.

Thief Steals A….Cheese Grater

A Floyd County, Kentucky man is blaming a spike in local drug use for an odd burglary his own cousin allegedly carried out at his home.

“Who steals a cheese grater?” burglary victim Mason Tackett asked. “He’s got the works…Lysol… he stole an empty bottle of spray,” he continued. “What got me the most was my soap. He stole my soap! Who steals soap!?

Neighbors said they saw Tackett’s cousin Phillip Matthew Hagans carrying items from his house.

“When I finally got down here to the house to look and see what happened the door was standing wide open,” said Tackett. “It look like he was packing up for a yard sale when he come out.”

That is when Tackett confronted Hagans.

“He was lying, throwing his hands. Saying stuff like ‘I didn’t do it, I didn’t do it.’ You know how rogues do,” said Tackett. “Blame it on everybody else.”

Then things got dangerous.

“He did pull a gun on me when I got back around the house,” said Tackett. “I guess he thought I was upset with him.”

Locals and authorities in Kentucky reportedly believe meth use is on the rise in the area leading to an uptick in crime.

Yikes.  If you or someone you know have been arrested for a theft crime in Los Angeles, contact attorney Ross Erlich now for a free case consultation.  Theft crimes oftentimes have some kind of explanation – addiction issues, financial struggles or mental health problems.  Each of those can, oftentimes, assist in the defense and resolution of your case.  If you have been arrested for theft in Los Angeles, it is crucial to consult with an attorney before you speak to law enforcement and/or whichever prosecuting agency is handling your case.

Contact our office today to know your rights and defenses.

LAPD Commander In Some Hot Water

The Los Angeles Police Department is investigating the circumstances surrounding the discovery of a top commander’s unmarked police vehicle being involved in a collision and found abandoned in Carson.  The commander, who oversees a team of officers that investigate officer-involved shootings, has been assigned to home pending the outcome of this investigation.

The unmarked car was found Friday morning after Carson Sheriff’s station received two calls about the car being abandoned.  The car has collision damage and was missing a wheel.

Now, anyone with common sense would probably think there is only one reason why an incident like this would occur – drinking and driving.  Of course there may be other explanations – he was distracted, was doing something during the accident that he should not have been doing, etc.  But, in my experience, when a car that was involved in a collision is abandoned, typically the driver was under the influence.

If a vehicle is left at, or near, the scene of a collision and no one is there upon law enforcement’s arrival, their ability to prove that a DUI was committed is difficult.  They will have a hard time being able to establish the time of driving, whether the registered owner was the person operating the vehicle, they might not be able to obtain any blood alcohol sample, can’t show that the person didn’t ingest any substances after driving, etc.   What they are more likely to be able to do is to pursue an investigation for hit-and-run and leaving the scene of an accident without exchanging insurance information.

In order to be convicted of a hit-and-run in California, the prosecutor must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you left the scene of an accident, without first identifying yourself, and another’s property was damaged in the accident.  A hit-and-run, while not the most serious crime on the books, can lead to a number of unpleasant consequences for a person convicted of one.  Not only is it a conviction on your record, you will be faced with fines, probation, 2 points on your license from the DMV and are likely to be responsible for any restitution to the victim.

If you or a loved one has been charged, or is being contacted by law enforcement, for a hit-and-run, contact attorney Ross Erlich as soon as possible.  There are many options available to you/our side on these cases and many of them begin with how we handle things in the initial stages.  Attorney Ross Erlich handles hit-and-run cases in Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino and Ventura counties.