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California Criminal Law Blog

Facing state or federal hacking charges

If you have ever left your social media page open, you may have been surprised when a prankster friend changed your status to something strange or shocking. It was all in good fun, but you may have learned your lesson about logging out when you are walking away from your computer.

Your friend may not have caused you any harm, but his or her actions were a form of hacking. When someone accesses another person's computer or its system without permission, the law considers it a criminal act. If you are under investigation for hacking, authorities may suspect you of perpetrating a more serious offense than changing a friend's Facebook status.

Graffiti and vandalism are not child's play

Some may think graffiti and other types of vandalism are just harmless pranks young people engage in when they are bored or feeling rebellious. The fact is that these types of vandalism can cost property owners and government agencies a great deal of money. Painting over graffiti, or repairing and replacing damaged items are unfair expenses that someone else will have to bear.

Because of this, California authorities consider vandalism a crime. The consequences for vandalism can be quite steep. If your child is facing accusations of participating in acts of vandalism, you may undoubtedly have concerns about your child's future as well as for your own well-being. In some cases, parents may be financially liable for the expense of repairing damage resulting from a minor's acts of vandalism.

How police evaluate drivers for drug impairment

Police pulled you over under suspicion that you were driving while impaired. You consented to a roadside breath test, and police were surprised to see no alcohol registered in your blood. You may think the next step is for officers to hand you your license and registration and wish you a pleasant evening. However, you may have much more ahead of you.

More police agencies in California and across the country have trained drug recognition evaluators (DREs) on their teams. In fact, the development of the DRE program occurred in this state with the collaboration of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. If police determine you may be impaired but not by alcohol, you may face the lengthy evaluation of a DRE at the police station.

The drunk driving tests that many sober people fail

Many California drivers think they automatically have to comply if a police officer asks them to do something during a traffic stop. While there are certain requests you should immediately obey, such as exiting your vehicle if a patrol officer asks you to do so, there are also requests you can refuse without any legal or administrative repercussion.  

Field sobriety tests fall under that category. Do you know that you do not have to submit to such tests, even if a police officer has detained you outside of your vehicle? There are three typical tests that most California police officers use to determine if they have probable cause to make a suspected drunk driving arrest. The problem is that the tests are not reliable, and you might fail one even if you're sober.  

Were you accused of a hit-and-run?

Accidents happen. Unfortunately, these incidents are sometimes unavoidable. As a result, you may find yourself facing an incident where you crashed into a vehicle or other object and still ask yourself how it happened. Of course, you may find yourself asking more questions if you stand accused of leaving the scene of an accident.

When some accidents take place, the owner of the vehicle or other property may not be around. You may have wondered what to do in this type of situation and took steps that you thought were right in order to give the other party the opportunity to discuss the situation with you, but did you attend to your legal duties?

Without reasonable suspicion, DUI charges may not stick

Traffic stops happen on a daily basis. While on your way to work, you may have seen multiple vehicles stopped on the side of the road with a police officer leaning in the window to talk to the driver. You may have even been stopped on one or more occasion due to driving over the speed limit or having a tail light out.

At the time of the past interactions with law enforcement, you may have taken the ticket and been on your way. However, a more recent stop may have left you facing more serious charges of driving under the influence. Whether you had a drink or two before getting behind the wheel or were completely sober, the allegations mean you need a criminal defense.

You're under arrest! Or are you?

In the movies and on television, the "bad guy" isn't necessarily under arrest until the cop slaps on the handcuffs. That makes for great cinema, but are handcuffs the hallmark of an arrest in real life? Not necessarily.

Anytime a police officer has control over your movements, or the lack thereof, you may be under arrest. If the officer simply tells you that you are under arrest, then you will want to assume that you cannot leave and that your movements are restricted from that point forward.

Multiple people charged in shooting that left 1 dead

Authorities reported on Jan. 2 that a California man was taken into custody after he was accused of being involved in a shooting that left one person dead and two others with injuries. According to authorities, the 31-year-old man was alleged to be a reputed gang member.

Just after midnight on Dec. 2, a 43-year-old man was shot and killed at a restaurant locating in the 100 block of East Olive Avenue in Monrovia. Authorities alleged that the accused man was at the location when he pulled out a gun when a verbal confrontation with his older brother escalated. He allegedly shot the gun into the crowd. Several others who were not involved in the confrontation suffered injuries.

California crime figures expected to improve

The violent crime rate is expected to fall from 2016 to 2017 in three California cities according to projections from the New York University School of Law's Brennan Center for Justice. Researchers from the law and public policy institute analyzed crime trends in the nation's 30 largest cities using police reports and historical data, and they concluded that the overall crime rate in the United States is expected to fall slightly by 1.8 percent and the violent crime rate by 0.6 percent by the end of 2017. The study includes data from Los Angeles, San Diego and San Jose. Data from San Francisco was not available when the study was prepared in September.

The study suggests that crime figures in 2017 will be the lowest since 1990. The overall crime rate in Los Angeles is expected to fall by 3.3 percent with violent crimes falling by 7.4 percent. In San Diego, the overall crime rate is expected to fall by 10.1 percent with the violent crime rate remaining essentially unchanged. Violent crimes in San Jose are predicted to fall by 5.3 percent, but the overall crime rate in the city is expected to buck nationwide trends by increasing by 5.6 percent.

Ex-Standford swimmer files appeal for sexual assault conviction

On Dec. 2, a former Stanford University swimmer who was found guilty of sexual assault in California filed an appeal after he finished serving his sentence. The case became well-known after he was sentenced to just six months in jail. He was released after serving three months for good behavior.

The former swimmer was accused of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman at a fraternity house in 2015. The man, who was 19 at the time, was taken into custody after two other students reported seeing the alleged act as it was occurring. After being sentenced to six months in prison, he was required to register as a sex offender in Ohio, his home state.

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