Articles Posted in Criminal Defense Guidance

What’s Commutation – Eligibility and Benefits

For the past few decades, California has been known for its tough-on-crime policies and its extremely harsh sentences. Fortunately, the California Constitution gives an individual the right to seek a commutation of sentence. Commutation is a form of clemency that the governor has the authority to grant and is an important form of post-conviction relief. In short, commutation is a reduction or a termination of a sentence.

Almost anyone who has been convicted of a state criminal offense can apply to have their sentence commuted, with the only exception being for individuals that have been impeached. Notably, commutation applies only to state crimes, and the governor lacks the power to commute sentences for convictions in another state or country, or for federal or military offenses.

Bad news always comes as a shock. Most recently,  Lyft just admitted to receiving well over 4,000 cases of sexual assault.

And that’s just from 2017 to 2019 – and the more we dig, the more gruesome their history gets.

Riders have experienced many types of violence by Lyft drivers including:

Gun Law Enhancement

Gun Law Enhancements Can Result in Lengthy Sentences.

LET’S TALK CRIMINAL GUN ENHANCEMENTS (AB1509)

Under California gun laws, a sentence for a felony case can be “enhanced” if a gun was possessed or used during the commission of a crime. These laws can extend sentences well beyond the maximum punishment for the principal crime itself. If there are multiple enhancements or more than one enhancement, the punishment imposed will be the longest possible sentence. 

CDC Prisoners

CDC Prisoners seeking early release via the granting of parole.

LA DA GEORGE GASCON CONTINUES TO MAKE WAVES WITH PAROLE CHANGES

Since being sworn in as Los Angeles County District Attorney in December 2020, George Gascon has hardly been out of the headlines. From eliminating sentence enhancements for hate crimes and dismissing gang enhancements to removing firearm allegations and continuing to push for resentencing and sentence commutation; Gascon has shown himself to maintain a progressive approach focused on rehabilitation. His latest changes to the DA’s office have been highly controversial. 

NEW LA COUNTY DA PROMOTING SWEEPING CHANGES (GEORGE GASCON)

On December 7, 2020, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon was sworn in as the County’s 43rd District Attorney. Following his defeat of Jackie Lacey, a DA who had built a reputation for a “tough-on-crime” approach, Gascon went straight to work making changes to his office true to his platform of criminal justice reform, progressive services, and rehabilitative prosecution. A main goal of his platform being lowering the prison population. 

Gascon’s less punitive approach to crime includes no more gang enhancements, eliminating cash bail (including no longer seeking bail for anyone facing a misdemeanor charge or non-violent or non-serious felony), ending use of the death penalty, and providing resentencing eligibility. These major changes are expected to lead to the early release of thousands of state prison inmates whom Gascon said are unfairly serving overly long sentences.

Facts About Prop 57: “The Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act” of 2016

In November 2016, California voters overwhelmingly passed Proposition 57 (64% to 35%) to enhance public safety, stop the revolving door of crime by emphasizing rehabilitation, and prevent Federal Courts from releasing inmates.

Under Prop 57, CDCR incentivizes inmates to take responsibility for their own rehabilitation with credit-earning opportunities for sustained good behavior, as well as in-prison program and activities participation. Prop 57 also moves up parole consideration of non-violent offenders who have served the full-term of the sentence for their primary offense and who demonstrate that their release to the community would not pose an unreasonable risk of violence to the community. These changes will lead to improved inmate behavior and a safer prison environment for inmates and staff alike, and give inmates skills and tools to be more productive members of society once they complete their incarceration and transition to supervision. 

WHAT IS FRAUD? (UNDERSTANDING AND FIGHTING A FRAUD CASE)

Most of us are familiar with terms like “theft” and “forgery” given that they immediately bring to mind the taking of something that does not belong to someone or making a misrepresentation in writing. When we hear the term “fraud”, we are often left confused by the exact meaning. 

Fraud, technically speaking, is defined as: “A knowing misrepresentation of the truth or concealment of a material fact to induce another to act to his or her detriment. Fraud includes any intentional or deliberate act to deprive another of property or money by guile, deception, or other unfair means.” In other words, fraud is wrongful deception intended to result in financial or personal gain.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN LOS ANGELES (PREVENTING A FILED CASE)

With the recent Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, tensions are higher than ever. Quarantine, loss of work, social isolation, and all other stressors have created a perfect storm for emotional escalations. Some of these even turning physical. This has meant that domestic violence incidents have risen during the pandemic. 

Though law enforcement responds to every call, not every call is a legitimate instance of domestic violence. We know that many times calls are placed with the intention of reducing an escalation; however, law enforcement is quick to jump to conclusions. Most of the time they view these calls as legitimate and these situation as instances of domestic violence. That is when then conduct an arrest. 

FELONY MURDER RULE RELIEF (SB 1437)

On September 30,  2018, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Senate Bill 1437. SB 1437 became known as the Felony Murder Rule effectively changing the rules for how California charges felony murders.

Prior to SB 1437, California law allowed a defendant to be convicted of first-degree murder in the commission of a felony even if the defendant did not intend to kill the victim or did not know a murder took place. This means that in the commission of a residential burglary, for instance, if someone were killed as a result of the incident a getaway driver would be charged with and convicted or murder even if they had not stepped into the scene of the crime. This former broader law meant hundred of convictions of murder for individuals who never intended on seeing someone harmed in the commission of a felony act.

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