Checklist for Knowing Your Rights After an Arrest in California

Stockton Criminal Defense AttorneyIt’s understandable that you may be confused, alarmed, and distraught when arrested for a crime. However, it’s important to realize that both the US and California Constitutions provide you with certain rights that law enforcement cannot take away –regardless of the charges you’re facing. The challenge is knowing what your rights are, which can be a problem if you don’t have a legal background in civil liberties. While only an experienced criminal defense attorney can determine whether you’ve suffered a violation of your legal rights, here’s a checklist that provides a helpful overview on the matter.

Arresting Officers Read Your Miranda Rights 

Under the Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution, you have the right to remain silent so as to not incriminate yourself when questioned about a crime. Police are required to protect you against self-incrimination by reading your Miranda warning, so that you can make an informed choice about whether you want to answer when faced with direct questioning. If you were not read your Miranda rights or were coerced into talking, your rights were violated.

You Were Allowed to Request an Attorney 

All persons under arrest have the right to have a lawyer present during questioning and throughout the trial process. Part of your Miranda warning will include a statement that you have the right to an attorney if you request one, so denial of that request may signal a violation of your civil rights.

You Were Not Questioned Without the Presence of a Lawyer

After you’ve requested to have an attorney present during questioning, law enforcement officers are prohibited from trying to elicit information from you in his or her absence. This rule is especially important if you were questioned once with your lawyer, and then police try to talk to you on a separate occasion. Your right to have an attorney present applies at all times after you’ve made the request – not just the initial interview.

Officers Charged You Within the Time Required by Law 

Authorities cannot hold you for an extended period of time without formally charging you with a crime. After your arrest on suspicion of a crime, you must be charged within 48 hours if police are holding you; if you’re detained for longer and not charged, there may be a violation of your constitutional rights.

Discuss Your Case with a Stockton Criminal Defense Attorney Today

This isn’t an exclusive checklist of possible violations of your constitutional rights, but it does cover some of the most important aspects that you need to know after an arrest in California. If you do believe officials infringed upon your civil liberties, it’s important to retain an experienced lawyer right away: You may be able to beat the charges and have them dismissed if the violation damages the prosecutor’s case against you. If you have questions about your constitutional rights when you were under arrest, please call or contact the Jacot Law Firm in Stockton, CA today. We can set up a free case consultation to see how our criminal defense attorneys can help protect your interests.

Which Domestic Violence Offenses are “Wobblers” Under California Law?

Stockton Criminal Law AttorneyUnder California law, domestic battery is any willful physical contact that is harmful or offensive, and which is directed toward the offender’s spouse, former spouse, or other individual based upon certain types of relationships. The offender can be convicted of domestic battery even if the victim isn’t actually injured: All that’s required is that the defendant use force or violence against him or her. Domestic battery is just one of many types of crimes that fall under the umbrella of domestic abuse, but it’s always charged as a misdemeanor. More serious offenses are “wobblers” under the state Penal Code, so it’s important to understand what this term means for you if you’re facing any type of domestic violence charges in California.

Overview of “Wobbler” Crimes 

A wobbler crime is one that prosecutors can choose to pursue as either a misdemeanor or felony, based upon the facts of the case, your criminal history – or a combination of the two. For instance, if the evidence shows severe circumstances or extreme violence, you may be charged with a felony even if you have no criminal record. On the other hand, if you have no prior convictions and the facts underlying the wobbler crime are minimal, the prosecutor may opt for a misdemeanor charge.

Domestic Violence Wobbler Offenses

Crimes that go beyond domestic battery as described above will likely fall into the wobbler category, including:

  • Intentional Infliction of Corporal Injury: You may be charged with this offense if you willfully and actually cause bodily injury to a spouse or person with whom you’ve had an intimate relationship.
  • Aggravated Battery: This crime is similar to intentional infliction of corporal injury, only the victim must suffer serious bodily harm to be elevated to aggravated battery. Note that this offense does not require a domestic relationship between the offender and the accuser.
  • Elder Abuse: It’s a crime in California to willfully or negligently inflict physical and/or mental pain upon a person aged 65 or older. There is no requirement of an intimate relationship with elder abuse, since the focus on this domestic relationship is the age of the victim. However, it’s more likely that a prosecutor will charge you with a felony under this wobbler offense due to the perceived frailty and vulnerability of the elderly person.
  • Aggravated Trespass: You may be charged with this offense if you make a credible threat to cause serious bodily harm to a person, and then illegally enter the victim’s home or workplace to make good on the threat.

Stockton Criminal Defense Attorneys Fighting All Types of Domestic Violence Charges

Regardless of whether you’re facing misdemeanor or felony domestic violence allegations, every accused individual gets his or her day in court to fight the charges. The key to obtaining the best possible outcome is retaining a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney who will attack the prosecutor’s case against you and present a defense. If you’ve been arrested on domestic violence charges and are facing a “wobbler” crime, the time is now to consult with an experienced lawyer. Please call or contact the Jacot Law Firm online right away to schedule a free consultation.

Are DUI Checkpoints Legal in California?

Police in Redding, California announced the results of a DUI and driver’s license checkpoint they conducted on August 12, 2017. ABC affiliate KRCR News Channel 7 reports that law enforcement officers issued one arrest and three citations after 366 vehicles passed through the checkpoint between 6 p.m. and 10:15 p.m. Officials explained that they chose the location just north of town because it offered the greatest opportunity for deterring drunk driving, while also providing the highest level of safety for officers and members of the public. DUI sobriety checkpoints have drawn criticism because of the perceived violation of privacy and constitutional rights; however, they are legal for purposes of discouraging DUIs in California.

Basics of Sobriety Checkpoints

Police conduct sobriety checkpoints randomly to identify and apprehend motorists who may be impaired by alcohol or drugs. Officers don’t need a reasonable suspicion of drunk driving or probable cause to detain drivers; however, if they do suspect you of drunk driving during the brief stop, you may be asked to perform field sobriety tests or do a breathalyzer test.

A sobriety checkpoint is temporary, usually only lasting a few hours. It’s common for law enforcement to set up sobriety checkpoints due to an expected increase in holiday traffic or a local event.

Sobriety Checkpoints are Legal in California 

These stops are lawful, but there are legal requirements that officials must comply with to protect the public:

  • Officers in a supervisory position must make all operational decisions;
  • There must be neutral factors for stopping motorists;
  • The location must be reasonable under the circumstances;
  • Officials must ensure proper safety precautions for motorists and officers;
  • The time and duration for a checkpoint must be reasonable;
  • Motorists can only be detained a minimum time; and,
  • Other requirements that may be appropriate under the circumstances.

There have been challenges to sobriety checkpoints under federal law, raising arguments about civil rights violations and infringement of the expectation of privacy. However, the US Supreme Court has held that the risks drunk drivers pose to others on the roadway outweigh any claims of infringement on civil liberties. To counter questions about constitutionality, California law requires authorities to publish information about upcoming sobriety checkpoints in a local paper or online. The publication must give drivers notice regarding the date, time, duration, and location where police intend to conduct stops.

A Stockton DUI Attorney Can Assist with Drunk Driving Charges

A conviction for drunk driving carries severe penalties depending on the circumstances and your history. You could be facing a driver’s license suspension, jail time or probation, installation of an ignition interlock device, and other consequences. There’s a lot at stake, so it’s important to consult with an experienced DUI lawyer about your rights under California law.

The attorneys at the Jacot Law Firm have represented many clients in drunk driving cases, so please contact our Stockton office right away about your situation. Our lawyers are happy to schedule a free consultation to discuss criminal defense strategies.

California’s Three Strikes Law Means Harsh Penalties for Four Charged in Oakland

After an 18-month investigation, charges were announced in an indictment against four individuals involved in the March 2016 death of an Oakland man. According to a report in online news source SFGate, the murder stems from an interstate marijuana ring that traces halfway across the country. The most serious charges, against a Louisiana man, include murder, conspiracy to distribute marijuana and possession with intent to distribute marijuana. All counts carry considerable penalties if the individual is convicted, but the murder count triggers California’s Three Strikes Law. If you’re facing similar charges, here are answers to the most common questions about how the law works.

How does California’s Three Strikes Law work? One of the most severe sentencing schemes in the US, the Three Strikes law adds significant time to the prison sentences of repeat offenders that commit certain crimes. While it has undergone changes over the years, the most recent version of the law generally requires a judge to issue the longest sentence when a person has committed three serious or violent felonies; some exceptions do apply for certain criminal charges.

What types of crimes trigger the Three Strikes Law?

For purposes of the Three Strikes sentencing, you may receive a strike if you commit designated felonies as defined by the California Penal Code:

  • Serious felonies are crimes like burglary, robbery, and offenses where there is gang-related criminal activity. The category also includes crimes where you personally use a firearm, regardless of whether someone was killed or injured by it.
  • Violent felonies are crimes such as homicide, forcible rape, and assault that inflicts great bodily injury upon the victim.

Therefore, some felonies are strike offenses because of how you commit them, i.e., with use of violence. Others are a strike because they’re considered serious, even if there’s no violence involved. 

Will the law affect my sentence for a conviction?

If you’re convicted for a second strike crime, a judge will double the prison term when sentencing you. In other words, if your crime mandates five years’ incarceration, you’ll receive a 10 year sentence.

When you’re convicted for a third time on qualifying crimes, that third strike offense triggers a sentence of 25 years to life. The Three Strikes sentencing scheme applies to convictions that occurred before the law’s enactment in March 1994, but only if the current qualifying felony was committed after that date.

Contact a Stockton Criminal Defense Attorney About Your Options

While the answers to these questions should be helpful, you probably have many more if you’ve been arrested on one of California’s Three Strikes crimes. The impact on your future is significant, so it’s important to retain an experienced, knowledgeable lawyer to fight for your rights. For more information on Three Strikes cases and other criminal matters, please call or contact the Jacot Law Firm online today. We’re happy to answer any additional questions you may have and can set up a free case consultation to discuss your options with one of our Stockton criminal defense attorneys.

What to Know About Petty Theft and Why You Need Legal Representation

Stockton Criminal Defense AttorneyThere are two main types of theft: petty theft and grand theft. The main difference is that one is more serious than the other. Typically, petty theft refers to stolen property valued under $500, while grand theft refers to stolen property above that amount. While you may think of petty theft as just that—petty—the law takes it quite seriously. While California has classified petty theft as a misdemeanor, you could still face fines and jail time.

Types of Petty Theft 

While you may think of theft as taking an item belonging to someone else, there are other actions that may constitute theft as well. These include:

  • Paying less for an item by switching price tags or placing a more expensive item inside the packaging of a cheaper item.
  • Eating food inside a store without attempting to pay.
  • Dine and dash—eating in a restaurant and leaving without paying.
  • Entering a movie theater and watching movies without paying for them.

Defenses to Petty Theft

One advantage of having a Stockton criminal lawyer on your side is that he can likely provide you with a solid legal defense that can reduce your charges or even eliminate them altogether. Here are some common defenses used in petty theft cases:

  • Alcohol use can negatively affect one’s judgment. At the time, they may have truly thought that jacket or purse was theirs. If the defendant did not intend to steal the item, then intoxication could be a valid defense.
  • Ownership of Property. In some cases, people are accused of theft because they thought the property was theirs. Perhaps someone at a party had a similar jacket. Maybe they set down their sunglasses while at a store and picked up the wrong ones later. If the situation seems plausible, you might have a good defense.
  • Returning the item. Sometimes items are accidentally picked up and the person doesn’t realize until hours or even days later that the item is in their possession. Or maybe the person was under the impression that they were borrowing the item and didn’t realize that theft was an issue. In these cases, the issue is miscommunication and it’s often a valid defense for those accused of theft.

Accused of Petty Theft? Contact a Stockton Criminal Defense Attorney

Don’t be confused by the name. Petty theft can become a major offense if not handled promptly. The consequences of such a crime can last many years and affect college and career opportunities. Don’t let this happen to you. Our Stockton criminal defense attorney can help you get back on the right track. If you are accused of a petty theft offense, contact the Jacot Law Firm for a free consultation.

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