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Alameda County Criminal Law Blog

3 charged in murder of 12-year-old girl

A man and two women were taken into custody and charged in connection to a fatal shooting in California. All three individuals were facing murder charges associated with the shooting death of a 12-year-old girl.

On Aug. 9, the 12-year-old girl was inside her Victorville home when she was shot through the front window at about 8:30 p.m. She was taken to a local hospital where she died shortly after due to her injuries. Authorities said that witnesses had reported that the man had approached the home, shot into the home several times and then fled from the scene in a vehicle. It appeared that the girl was not the target.

The limits of consent as a defense for sexual assault accusations

Prosecutors in California must meet specific criteria to prove allegations of sexual assault. The penal code defines an assault as separate from rape, which arises from intercourse without consent. An assault takes place when a person touches another person's intimate areas. Specifically, these can be one's sexual organ, anus, groin, buttocks or the breasts of a female. Direct contact with skin or contact through clothing both count as touching. The person touched must not consent to the action. In some cases, consent might not be clear, and a person charged with sexual assault might claim that consent was given.

Proof showing that the alleged victim gave consent to sexual touching might be difficult to produce. The consent defense entails some controversy because the conflicting testimonies of both parties might be the only available evidence. This defense strategy might also include revealing the person's past sexual history, which might be viewed unfavorably. If the supposed victim is a child or person with mental disabilities, consent cannot be used as a legal defense.

4 charged with attempted murder following bar shooting

Four California men were charged with attempted murder and criminal street gang activity on Aug. 1 after they were accused being involved in a shooting that left one person hospitalized. It appeared that the shooting was caused by an argument that turned physical.

The shooting occurred at a bar in Cathedral City at about 11 p.m. on July 26. A man who was reportedly celebrating his wife's birthday at the bar was shot in the abdomen and hand. As a result, he had to undergo multiple surgeries and would likely be hospitalized for at least three months.

Ankle monitoring for youths may do more harm than good

If your child is in the California juvenile justice system, you may be like many other parents who feel their children's situations are getting worse instead of better. While the purpose of juvenile justice is to save children from a life of crime and redirect them to a more positive future, the system often sets up children for failure, and some youth advocates believe the system itself is flawed.

To avoid sending youths to jail, courts may fit them with an ankle monitor. This technology tracks the children, reporting them to the court if they violate what many consider stringent rules. Studies show that children of color may be most at risk in this system.

Prison gang busted by authorities

A three-year investigation has led the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's Security Threat Group to arrest several Mexican prison gang members. The gang reaches far beyond the prison and into the San Diego community. Drug possession, selling drugs and extortion contribute to gang profits.

Aside from drug trafficking, the group was also accused of extortion, torture, assault and murder. The violent tendencies of the group were used as a strategy to intimidate victims. The gang utilized email, mail and telephone communication to run their operation. While some of the telephone communication came from cell phones that had been smuggled into the prison, much of it came from the phones that prisoners are allowed to use at the prison.

Man convicted in 8-year-old murder case

A man was convicted on July 14 for the shooting death of a California man that occurred eight years ago. According to reports, the man, age 41, had been a fugitive and was found in Illinois.

The incident occurred on Nov. 21, 2009. The convicted man fled in a Toyota Corolla after seeing a police officer patrolling the area near the 1000 block of Arroyo Drive in South Pasadena during the early morning hours. The officer found a car on the side of the road that had fogging windows. Inside, the officer discovered the body of a 35-year-old man slumped over with two gunshot wounds in his head. He was pronounced dead at the scene. When the vehicle was searched, a firearm holster and two expended 9 mm casings that were traced back to the convicted man were recovered.

The right to counsel and the right to remain silent

Among the constitutional rights of California residents are the Fifth Amendment right to protection against self-incrimination and the Sixth Amendment right to counsel in criminal proceedings. Police officers are required to make people aware of these rights prior to custodial interrogation. The admonitions typically given are known as Miranda rights.

Although the right to remain silent is among the most important of the Miranda rights, merely remaining silent is not enough to invoke them. Rather, an individual must clearly state that he or she is choosing to invoke the right to remain silent or that he or she wants to speak to an attorney prior to speaking to law enforcement. The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that an invocation of Miranda is sufficient if a reasonable officer would understand it to be a request for a lawyer.

Police blame known gang member in California murder

Officers at the Glendale Police Department recognized a man in surveillance video captured near the scene of a murder. They were investigating the death of a 51-year-old man found behind an apartment on East Harvard Street near Chevy Chase Drive who had apparently been stabbed. The video did not show the actual attack, but officers spotted a documented gang member in the footage. The 31-year-old male suspect had been arrested numerous times in the past.

Police reported finding him about seven hours later in Los Angeles. They arrested him on suspicion of murder and his bail was set at $2 million. Detectives said that the man confessed to the killing during questioning and that he possessed evidence that linked him to the stabbing. Although an investigator said that the two men knew each other and that the attack was not random, he did not know the motive for the killing.

Man accused of murdering Hells Angel biker

A 27-year-old biker who was accused of killing another man in a shooting at a California gas station was scheduled to be arraigned on multiple charges. According to Riverside police, the Corona resident was charged with first-degree murder and attempted murder as well as a gang-related special allegation. The charges were reportedly enhanced due to the use of a gun, resulting in great bodily injury.

The incident occurred on May 21 at about 10:30 p.m. The deceased man and four of his associates, all Hells Angels bikers, stopped at a Shell station located in the 3500 block of Adams Street near the Riverside Freeway. The accused man and a second person, who has not been taken into custody, drove by and began to open fire.

100 pounds of fentanyl seized, 3 charged with drug trafficking

On June 19, an indictment that charged three California residents with possession of fentanyl with intent to sell was unsealed. The Drug Enforcement Agency reported that three residents were taken into custody after approximately 100 pounds of fentanyl, a drug that is deadly in small doses, was seized. The amount seized was reportedly enough to kill 1.4 million people.

According to the indictment, the three accused individuals reportedly discussed transporting the then-unidentified drug on Nov. 30. One of the men received instructions to have a second man act as a courier. The courier would take three separate trips on consecutive days to move the drug. The DEA used this information to obtain a warrant. They stopped the courier's vehicle and recovered about 33 pounds. The agents then obtained a warrant for the accused person's residence, where they found another 66 pounds of fentanyl. All three individuals face life in prison and $10 million in fines.

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