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Los Angeles County will also be replacing the old and outdated Men’s Central Jail with a new facility that will be focused on mental health and run by the county health department.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

Glendale Police Sergeant Charged With Soliciting Undercover Cop

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.

New Pilot Program In San Fernando Valley Gives Tougher Penalties For Pimps, Diversion For Johns

In an effort to combat the age-old problem with prostitution and the victims associated with this conduct, the Los Angeles City Council approved a program that provides counseling and assistance to prostitutes and counseling sessions to johns, with tougher penalties sought for against pimps.

The City mentioned the problem of trying to “arrest their way out of” the prostitution problem instead of dealing with it as a quality-of-life issue and trying to address the root cause of prostitution while seeking to inform johns of the dangers.

Deputy City Attorney Richard Schmidt, who handles City Attorney matters in the Van Nuys Courthouse, agreed with this new pilot program and mentioned that the Central Division has been seeking to do this already through diversion programs for prostitution first offenders.

If you have been arrested for pimping or for solicitation of prostitution, there are many different channels of resolving this matter.  Diversion programs are available in certain situations and in certain courthouses, while tougher consequences may exist for those who have had a prior offense, who might have had narcotics in their possession or for those people who law enforcement believed to be “pimping” these women.  Depending on the circumstances and prior criminal record, Attorney Ross Erlich may be able to to get the case dismissed and/or prevent any criminal conviction from appearing on your record.

If you have been arrested or given a citation for solicitation of prostitution for the Van Nuys CourthouseSan Fernando Courthouse or East Los Angeles Courthousecontact Attorney Ross Erlich before your first court date for a free case consultation and to know your rights.

Plea Bargains A Strong Possibility In Northridge Teen Kidnapping Case

The two men who were arrested in connection with the kidnapping of a 10-year-old Northridge girl in March may be close to striking plea bargains and avoiding trial, a San Fernando Superior Court judge said.

This was a case that garnished lots of media attention due to the fact that these two men allegedly kidnapped this girl from her bedroom, sexually assaulted her at multiple locations, then dropped her off at a hospital later in the day.  One of the men then fled to Mexico and was apprehended nearly a month later at a drug rehab center.

A preliminary hearing was set for this past Monday where the prosecutors would have to lay out their case against the two men and show that there is enough probable cause to believe that a crime was committed and enough probable cause to believe that this person was the one who committed this crime.  This hearing was postponed as there was talk of negotiated plea bargain deals for both men.

Plea bargains can be a valuable resource for people charged with crimes of every caliber.  For smaller, less serious offenses, a plea bargain can be a way to avoid jail and excessive fines.  For more serious offenses, plea bargains can be a way for someone to avoid the death penalty, life without parole or excessive state prison time.

If you have been charged with a crime, a plea bargain may be an attractive option.  The reason being, if you choose to go to a trial and are convicted, you are then sentenced by a judge who has total discretion to sentence you to anything from probation to the maximum punishment by law.  The uncertainty of being sentenced by a judge can sometimes make a plea bargain a better hedged bet.  When you enter into a plea deal with the prosecutor, you know exactly what your sentence is, fines, probation, classes and the like.  You know what to expect and what preparations need to be made ahead of time.

If you have questions about a plea bargain or going to trial for any crime in Los Angeles, Hollywood, Culver City, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Pasadena or Burbank, contact attorney Ross Erlich to discuss your options free of charge.  You should know what choices you have and what the potential implications of those decisions may be.

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Arrested For Rape And Other Charges

A Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy who worked patrol out of the Palmdale station is being accused of 11 felony charges including sexual penetration under the color of authority, raper under fear of duress and soliciting a bribe from alleged victims.  Deputy Jose Sanchez, who was a seven year veteran of the Sheriff’s Department, was taken into custody at his home.

The arrest was the culmination of a six-month investigation into a 2010 incident where a tip from an informant lead to this case being turned over to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office in early 2011.  Sanchez had been relieved of duty with pay after the 2010 incident and without pay starting this past Monday when he was arrested.

Sanchez is currently being held at LA County’s Men’s Central Jail on $1.45 million bail and set to appear at CCB this week.

A lot of the facts aren’t yet too clear on this case, but it appears as if Deputy Sanchez was using the authority of being a Sheriff’s Deputy to have sexual relations with people and, apparently, against their will.  Thus, Sanchez is facing up to life in prison if convicted of these offenses.

Being charged with rape or any sex crime is a very serious offense and something that can either take away or diminish your freedom for a long time.  Sex crimes are crimes that the District Attorney’s Office takes very seriously and are crimes which require aggressive and zealous advocacy by a criminal defense attorney.

If you have been charged with rape or any other sex crime in Los Angeles, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Airport Court or Pasadena and are wondering what the next step is, call attorney Ross Erlich for a free consultation and to know what your rights are.

Kidnapping And Rape Suspect Charged With 14 Felonies

An 18 year old Lancaster man was charged today in the Van Nuys court with 14 felonies, including forcible rape and kidnapping, stemming from his July 4 attack on a worker at the Westfield shopping mall in Canoga Park.

The alleged attack happened when the man held the victim at knifepoint when she returned to her car in the parking lot.  He then sexually assaulted and robbed her.

The man now faces counts of rape, identity theft, kidnapping, second-degree robbery, sexual penetration by foreign object, forcible oral copulation, sodomy by use of force and second-degree commercial burglary.  He faces a maximum of life in prison.

Being  charged with kidnapping or a sex crime is about as serious as it gets in Los Angeles County.  The District Attorney’s Office takes these crimes, and protecting the victims, very seriously.  Kidnapping charges can lead to long prison sentences, especially if committed along with other serious crimes, and sex offenses can lead to possible lifetime sex offender registration.  There are many things a good criminal defense attorney should consider when representing someone faced with these types of charges.  Sometimes it is not just about keeping someone out of jail, but also about minimizing the negative impact on that person’s life down the line.

If you or someone you know has been charged with a sex crime, kidnapping, identity theft or burglary in Downtown Los Angeles, CCB, Airport Court, Hollywood, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills or anywhere in Central Los Angeles, contact attorney Ross Erlich today.

Girls Gone Wild Creator Gone To Jail?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Arrested for Prostitution?

In California, getting arrested for the act of prostitution or for solicitation of prostitution is a violation of Penal Code section 647(b), a misdemeanor. While the typical punishment for the first offense is minimal county jail time (5-10 days), AIDS testing, counseling and some form of probation for three years, second and third offenses carry more severe, often mandatory, punishments. Prostitution, as used in Penal Code section 647(b), is defined as “any lewd act between persons for money or other consideration.”

Under California Penal Code section647(b), a person is guilty prostitution if the government can prove that a person either 1) solicited an act of prostitution, 2) agreed to engage in prostitution, or 3) actually engaged in prostitution. The Penal Code goes on to state that a person “agrees to engage in prostitution when, with specific intent to so engage, he or she manifests an acceptance of an offer or solicitation to so engage, regardless of whether the offer or solicitation was made by a person who also possessed the specific intent to engage in prostitution.” This is important because the person by which an offer or solicitation is made, does not have to have to specific intent to actually commit the act. This language is what allows police and other law enforcement officials to conduct undercover “stings,” whereby actual police officers disguise themselves as prostitutes or potential customers and attempt to arrest citizens for violations of 647(b).

Simply agreeing to engage in an act of prostitution does not, by itself, make a person guilty of a 647(b) violation. As 647(b) states, “no agreement to engage in an act of prostitution shall constitute a violation unless some act, in addition to the agreement, is done in furtherance of the commission of an act of prostitution by the person agreeing to engage in that act.” Thus, simply agreeing to a solicitation or an offer requires an act in furtherance of the agreement. This act in furtherance does not need to be a transaction of money, but can be any minimal act such as meeting at a designated location, removing clothing or exposing oneself.

The punishment for a second offense of Penal Code 647(b) is a mandatory minimum of 45 days in county jail and a third offense requires a mandatory minimum of 90 days in county jail. The same additional terms apply, such as AIDS testing, probationary period and other possible special conditions (not walking in a certain area, not riding in a car within the area arrested in) apply to second and third time offenders.

If you or someone you know has been arrested or cited for solicitation of prostitution or loitering in the Beverly Hills Courthouse, Airport Courthouse or Bauchet Courthouse, contact Attorney Ross Erlich as soon as possible to discuss your options. As discussed above, there are many different possible resolutions to your case that do not involve jail or even a conviction on your criminal record.

Contact Attorney Ross Erlich at (323) 222-4529.

Police Officer In A Sticky Situation

A San Diego police officer pleaded no contest today to a misdemeanor charge of committing a lewd act in public. The charge was part of a plea deal where prosecutors agreed to drop a felony charge of sexual assault in exchange for the no contest plea.

Former officer Daniel Dana was charged last May for, what prosecutors claim, coercing a prostitute to have sex with him in his patrol car by threatening to arrest her if she did not comply with his request.

So, the Officer “got off” with a lighter sentence and one which does not require registration as a sex offender and San Diego obtained a conviction, both sides walked away with a compromise. This is a great example of what can be done when you hire an attorney at the earliest time after your arrest as possible. When Attorney Ross Erlich is retained, he can start contacting the investigating detectives and prosecutor to discuss resolution of the matter.

If you or someone you know has been arrested for lewd acts, solicitation of prostitution, DUI or hit-and-run in Beverly Hills or by LAX/Airport Court, contact Attorney Ross Erlich right now. Taking action early can help bring about the best possible resolution to your case.

Contact Attorney Ross Erlich here or call the office for a free consultation at (323) 222-4529.