Restitution Award Improper for Damaged Truck under PC 1202.4.

There is an often overlooked principle in restitution awards that restitution is intended to make the victim whole, but not to bestow an economic windfall on the victim.  This fundamental concept is often overlooked when the victim is the victim of a serious or violent felony and the defendant seems to deserve a significant punishment.  Restitution, however, is not the proper way to effect this, as the summary of a recent reported decision describes.  To read this summary, click on the following link.

What Rights Do Pro Per Defendants Have for Their Defense?

If one decides to represent oneself (“go in pro-per”), it is important to know what special rights are available.  For example, what right does the self-represented have to an investigator and who pays for it?  How about an expert witness?  How about additional telephone privileges in jail? Are there limits and what issues will a judge consider?  To read about this topic more, click on the following link.

Texting While Driving with Accident – Beware of a Civil Case

If you are charged with texting while driving and there is an accident, your criminal defense attorney must be vigilant not to admit civil liability by a guilty plea.  In this type of criminal case, it is vital that your attorney seek to distance you from admitting causation from the texting, if that caused a lapse of attention to the road, and seek to resolve the case on other charges such that the plea cannot be used against you in civil court and make you vulnerable to a large civil award that your auto insurer may not cover because criminal conduct was the cause.  To read more about this difficult type of case, click on the following link.

Does Immigration Consequences Warning Bar Plea Withdrawal?

As the reader may know, if a person facing deportation enters into a plea bargain without being aware that the plea may result in his deportation or refusal of re-entry to the United States, the plea is considered defective and a motion to withdraw the plea may succeed.  However, does the mere recitation of the warning about the immigration consequences at entry of the plea make such a motion meritless?  Can a person still withdraw the plea on immigration issues if the warnings were given?  Click on the following link to read about a recent case that addressed this issue.

May a Judge Exclude My Family from the Courtroom in Trial?

In speaking with many clients, it is important for them to have their family present in trial “as support” for them, but also so the judge and jury sees the family there.  Is this type of courtroom packing illegal or improper as an attempt to engender sympathy or suggest a not guilty verdict is the right thing to do?  Is an order against such courtroom packing a violation of the right to a public trial?  This came up in a recent case in the Compton court, wherein family members were excluded, defendant was convicted and the order of exclusion was appealed up to appellate court level.  What did the appellate court say and why?  Click on the following link to find out.

Court Rules That Prop 57 Is Not Retroactive for Juveniles.

Ever since Proposition 57 was proposed and debated as a ballot measure, criminal defense attorneys have fretted about whether its provisions would be considered retroactive for juvenile offenders because a filing in juvenile court often keeps the case in juvenile court and thereafter the punishment is significantly less than if the defendant is sentenced in adult court.  The following appellate court case addresses whether the hundreds or even thousands of juvenile cases filed directly in adult court are subject to appeal for violating Prop 57.  To read a short summary of the opinion, click on the following link.

Under Prop 64, Is Reduction of One’s Sentence Automatic?

Our office has received several phone calls asking why their conviction for certain marijuana related charges were not automatically reduced by the court system.  The caller implies that there is an ability of the court system to apply a program to all computer records of convictions and simply revise the convictions.  Is this so?  Is reduction automatic?  The following appellate court opinion, summarized below, addressed this question.  To read the summary, click on the following link.