What Advantage Is There to Waiving a Preliminary Hearing?

To some of our clients, the preliminary hearing is greatly misunderstood as a chance to have the case thrown out if a police officer or another witness, perhaps a victim, is found to lie.  They are confused when we explain that poor credibility does not necessarily mean the judge must dismiss the case at a preliminary hearing.  They are even more confused when we suggest giving thought to waiving the preliminary hearing to prevent the number of charges from increasing.  Why is this so?  Click on the following article to find out why.


Does a Sentence of Life in Prison without the Possibility of Parole Violate the 8th Amendment?

There are certain crimes that are even worse than murder.  The victim must relive the horror of the crime for the rest of his or her life. Our state’s sentencing criteria recognizes this, as do our courts.  Therefore, is a sentence of life without the possibility of parole a sentence so extreme that it violates the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment?  If not, why not?  To read answers to this question, click on the following link.


What Is Spice and What Is the Punishment for Its Possession or Sale?

With all the news about Prop 64 passing recently, some article discuss “Spice” and the effect of Prop 64 on it.  What is Spice?  It is a type of marijuana?  Is it safe?  Is it covered under the laws that cover marijuana or are there separate laws that address Spice?  To read answers to these questions and learn more about Spice, click on the following link.


What’s a Crime of Violence for an Enhanced Federal Sentence?

When calculating federal sentencing enhancements based on prior state court convictions, some state court convictions that are not violent crimes under state law are crimes of violence under federal law. This can be surprising and discouraging, as it means a longer federal sentence.  To read more about this issue in the context of a recent appellate court decision addressing the issue, click on the following link.


Must Police Always Knock and Announce Before a Home Search?

Under Wilson v. Arkansas (1995) 514 U.S. 927, 931-934, police must knock and announce their presence before entering a home.  However, such a requirement is obviously subject to exceptions based on emergencies.  Likewise, it not going to apply to a garage attached to a home.  Would it apply to a separate residence on the same property as the main home?  Click on the following link to read a summary of an appellate court decision that addressed this issue.


Penal Code § 1368, Mental Competency & Declaring a Doubt

It is not uncommon for defendants to insist upon giving a speech of sorts to the judge because the defendant feels it is important that the judge understands defendant better.  The impression such speeches give, however, is usually not the one intended.  It can lead to the defense attorney to “declare a doubt” on the record as to defendant’s competence.  What happens next?  Click on the following link to read about declaring a doubt.


Is Carrying Concealed Gun in a Car a Crime of Moral Turpitude?

What types of crimes are crimes of moral turpitude?  The answer is those offenses that reveal dishonesty, a “general readiness to do evil,” or “moral laxity of some kind.”  Is carrying a concealed gun in a car a readiness to do evil?  To read whether an appellate court agreed with a trial court judge that said it was, click on the following link.


The Federal Court Interpreters Act & Waiver of Interpreter

If a person waives the use of an interpreter in court, that person may think that doing so will please the judge and cause him or her to be sympathetic or lighter in sentencing.  There is a hesitation, in other words, to accentuate one’s lack of English skills by requesting an interpreter and slowing down the court proceedings, which may upset the judge.  What happens when someone waives an interpreter when he or she really does not know English well?  The following case summary epitomizes what can go wrong and how an appellate court ruled on the mess.


Is Felony Second Burglary, Based on Fraud, Eligible for Prop 47 Relief?

Over the last two years since Prop 47 was passed, there have been a flurry of reported decisions defining what theft offenses are and are not covered by Prop 47.  Some test the limits of what is shoplifting and others test the limit of what is petty theft.  The following case involved someone lying under oath on a driver’s license application at the DMV.  As it is “any felony” inside a commercial establishment, it can be burglary, but burglary within the context of Prop 47?  Click on the following link to find out what an appellate court stated on this issue.


Cultivating Marijuana Conviction and Prop 47 – Eligible?

If one cultivates marijuana just for personal use (not sales), it that possession of marijuana only?  Or is it the cultivation of marijuana, a separate, more serious offense?  If the court finds no sales took place and the purpose of the cultivation was personal use, then can a conviction for cultivation of marijuana be reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor under Prop 47?  To find out the answer to this interesting question, please click on the following summary of a published decision that answered this question.