Category: Court Process
Court Process | NoCuffs
Failing to Pay Traffic Violations
Failing to pay traffic tickets as required can have a negative impact on your ability to legally operate a motor vehicle. If you fail to pay a traffic ticket, the court can order the DMV to place a hold on your driver’s license or suspend your license outright until you pay your ticket(s). Placing a hold on your driver’s license can prevent you from being able to renew your license. Driving with a suspended license can be charged as a misdemeanor in California under Vehicle Code Section 14601, which is punishable by hefty fines and potentially time in the county jail.
Don’t Ignore Traffic Tickets
A person may be unaware that a hold has been placed on their license until they go for renewal. If a hold has been placed on your driver’s license or your driver’s license has been suspended, and you are pulled over for another traffic violation, you could face additional fines and possible be taken to jail. If you have outstanding traffic ticket violations you need to take immediate action by calling a criminal defense attorney that can advise you of your options. Our firm can help you to remove a hold on your license, help you get your suspended driver’s license reinstated.
Clearing a Failure to Pay From a California Driver’s License
The first step in clearing a failure to pay from your California driver’s license is to identify which court reported the failure to pay violation. This information can be found on your driver’s record which you can obtain from the DMV either online, by phone, or in person. Once you have identified the jurisdiction that issued the citation, you can pay the necessary fees and fines at that jurisdiction’s court. The court will then notify the DMV which can release the holds or reinstate your driver’s license.
Failure to Pay Amnesty Program Expiring March 31, 2017
If you have lost your driver’s license due to unpaid traffic tickets, you can have your license reinstated by participating in the Traffic Tickets/Infractions Amnesty program signed into law by the Governor of California in June of 2015. The program offers one-time partial forgiveness for unpaid traffic and non-traffic infractions. The program ends March 31, 2017.
Failing to pay a traffic ticket or violation can result in a loss of your driving privileges which could negatively impact many areas of your life. Call the experienced attorneys at The Kavinoky Law Firm to clear up the hold or suspension of your California driver’s license and get on with your life with a clean driving record.
Failing to Appear in Court
The legal ramifications of failing to appear in court (FTA) will not simply go away if you ignore them. When you sign any citation (traffic ticket or misdemeanor) you are essentially agreeing to appear in court. If you fail to do so you could be charged with an additional criminal offense — failure to appear – which is a misdemeanor. If you fail to appear, the court could issue a warrant for your arrest. Also, your driver’s license may be suspended until you follow a set of procedures to get your license reinstated.
Driving With a Suspended California Driver’s License
If your license is not valid for any reason, including failure to appear in court, you should take action immediately. If you are caught driving with a license that was suspended because you failed to appear in court, you could face an additional driver’s license suspension, additional fees for reinstatement, and possibly jail time.
License Reinstatement Requirements
Your driver’s license can be suspended for any number of reasons. If your license was suspended because you failed to appear in court, you will need to appear in court to remove the hold on your license that was issued for the failure to appear. Then, you can have your driver’s license reinstated by visiting the CA DMV office in person and completing the applicable documents and paying a reissue fee.
Other Ramification of Failure to Appear
Failing to appear in court can have immediate negative effects on other areas of your life in addition to your driver’s license. When you fail to appear in court you could be charged with a misdemeanor criminal offense that will appear as an outstanding warrant on a background check. Background checks are routinely conducted when you apply for a loan or apply for a job. You will need to appear in court with your attorney in order to clear the warrant.
There are valid reasons for failing to appear in court such as being called into military service, being in jail, or being in the hospital. Regardless of the reason, do not ignore your requirement to make a court appearance. If you have failed to appear in court you should contact a criminal defense attorney to represent you in clearing the warrant. Then, you can contest or settle the matter that was the reason you were to appear in court in the first place.
Cleveland Police Officer Acquitted – Where Was the Jury?
Officer Michael Brelo, a Cleveland Police Officer, was acquitted on charges of voluntary man slaughter. He stood trial for his role in the death of an unarmed couple in Cleveland, Ohio back in November of 2012.
The, nationally-covered case out of Cleveland, Ohio, involves the death two African American individuals and the Cleveland police force. Officer Brelo went before a court to determine whether his decisions resulted in the deaths of two suspects. These suspects were later found to have been unarmed.
The case began on November 29, 2012, when police tried pulling over a Chevy Malibu for a turning signal violation. The driver, 43-year old Timothy Russell and his passenger, 30-year old Melissa Williams were both in the car.
Russell tried getting away from the officer and the car backfired. Thinking the backfire was the sound of gun shots, officers pursued with force. Almost 62 police cars across the city of Cleveland followed in pursuit of Russell and Williams.
The chase ended just before 11pm, in the staff parking lot of Heritage Middle School, in East Cleveland, when the police penned the car in the lot. There, 13 officers opened fire, shooting at least 137 rounds into the vehicle. Officer Michael Brelo, a seven-year veteran, faced charges for jumping onto the hood of the car, and continuing to shoot 15 rounds into the vehicle. Prosecutors claimed that by this time, the threat was over. However, Brelo was the only one to continue shooting.
The Verdict – Not Guilty
On Saturday, May 23, the ruling came back, acquitting Officer Brelo of voluntary manslaughter and felonious assault charges. Many have been quick to jump on the court’s decision as a miscarriage of justice, and Cleveland has been the site of rioting since the verdict came down. However, there are several elements of the court’s decision that need to be fully fanned out to be understood completely.
Judge and No Jury
One thing that needs to be understood is why it was a judge making the decision, and not a jury.
Defendants in many criminal trials have a right to a jury. However, the defendant does not have to exercise this right. Defendants can choose to waive their right to trial by jury, and go for a bench trial. Bench trials don’t have a jury in the courtroom; there’s only a judge. The judge takes over the role of the jury. This means the judge now determines fact from fiction in addition to his or her typical role as a referee.
In this case, it was probably a wise move by the defendant and his defense attorneys to waive his right to a jury trial. The Cleveland Police Officer’s actions were aggressive and, particularly in light of recent police conduct in Ferguson and Baltimore, likely to be unpopular. Jurors would be much more likely to weigh these factors into their decision of whether Officer Brelo was guilty, or not, whereas a judge would be more likely to ignore these perceptions of law enforcement, and focus solely on Officer Brelo’s conduct.
Keeping You Informed
In our next blog post, we’ll discuss the judge’s ruling that acquitted Officer Brelo of his charges. Judge John P. O’Donnell spent almost an hour explaining his decision before the court, in great detail, providing a rare glimpse into a judge’s mind in determining exactly what happened in a complex situation.
While this case happened outside the California border, it sheds light on court proceedings in criminal trials everywhere.
The Kavinoky Law Firm is proud to employ the best DUI Attorneys in Los Angeles. Our firm and attorneys pay close attention to each trial. The outcome and lessons from the Cleveland Police Officer’s trial are applicable to our clients.
Collateral Consequences of a Criminal Conviction
As we mentioned in a prior blog posting, a criminal conviction remains on your record. This type of conviction can cause problems in a variety of situations. For example, those convicted of a criminal offense face challenges with job applications or applying for a new apartment.
Additionally, convictions for driving under the influence (DUI) remain on your California driving record for 10 years. Criminal convictions for DUI remain on your criminal record forever in the State of California. The only way to remove the conviction is to seal them through the process of expungement. Having a blemish on your criminal record is a huge hassle, even after completing your sentence.
Case Study in Criminal Convictions
A recent article in The Wall Street Journal highlights the plight of those criminally convicted. In this case, a man convicted of a criminal offense strikes out when looking for work.
This article details the plight of a convicted Ohio felon, Hashim Lowndes. When Mr. Lowndes applied for jobs after his release, he struggled. Unfortunately, upon his release, Mr. Lowndes had numerous “collateral consequences” of his felony drug conviction for trafficking cocaine.
According to the Journal, Mr. Lowndes may not “… vote, teach preschool, foster a child, operate a racetrack, cut hair, sit on a jury, provide hospice care, protect game, distribute bingo supplies, deal livestock, broker real estate—or, perhaps most salient to Mr. Lowndes, obtain a license to become a heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning technician.”
However, there were other restrictions, as well. “…more than 500 [restrictions], scattered throughout Ohio’s laws…” However, for Mr. Lowndes, in his efforts to get his life back on track, it was the inability to get an HVAC license that was most important.
“I was scared about taking out a $20,000 loan for a certification that I wouldn’t be able to use,” Mr. Lowndes said.
The number of job restrictions for those with criminal convictions is discouraging. It is incredibly important for a convicted felon to get and maintain a solid job. According to the Journal’s article, “[r]esearch shows stable employment greatly reduces the chances of a person convicted of crime breaking the law again.” These job restrictions are a penalty that contributes to future arrests and convictions. Which, sadly, reinforces a painful circle that can be difficult to break.
46,000 Collateral Consequences
The response to this dilemma has been slow. Furthermore, only a few states have created a process for convicted criminals to file court petitions to lift employment bans. Unfortunately, California is not one of them.
Worse yet, studies finding the collateral consequences of criminal convictions are just beginning. One of these studies, by the American Bar Association (ABA), has found more than 46,000 collateral consequences.
Approximately 60%-70% of these restrictions are solely on employment, according to Stephen Saltzburg, a law professor at George Washington University. Usually, it seems that many of these consequences surprise people. Many believe that once they serve their time, they are free to live their lives without restriction. Only, as of the today, Vermont is the one state with a law requiring criminal defendants to be informed of any collateral consequences they might face, should they plead guilty to a crime.
In the event that you face criminal charges, knowing the fines and jail time that you might face for a criminal conviction is extremely important. A conviction’s collateral consequences can be overwhelming, life-altering, and harsh. Moreover, a criminal conviction risks your freedom and future ability to earn. Review the ABA National Inventory of Collateral Consequences of Conviction (“NICCC”) for more details.
With this in mind, you should not face a criminal conviction alone. Work with the best criminal attorneys in California, we fight for your freedom. Call the Kavinoky Law Firm, at 1.800.NO.CUFFS, if you have any questions, or concerns.
California Proposition 47 Gives Felons New Hope
California Proposition 47 is giving felons a chance to receive new charges from the state. In essence, a reduction from a felony to a misdemeanor offense.
California Proposition 47
First enacted November 4, 2014, the law passed by voters reclassifies several theft and drug crimes from felonies to misdemeanors. However, the reclassification is not automatic, and a petition has to be filed before the November 2017 deadline. If you or someone you know has a minor felony criminal charge, then it is important to note this proposition. If the charge is one of the specific violations below, you have three (3) years to take advantage of the opportunity to reduce the charges.
In California, a felony conviction can affect the rest of your life. It can have an impact on your future employment, education opportunities, and even your ability to join the military. However, thanks to California Proposition 47, some low-level felons can have their convictions reduced to misdemeanors. Once reduced, then former felons will be able to answer “no” to any questions about a felony conviction on job applications.
Reclassification will apply both to current inmates serving their felony sentence, and because it is retroactive, to people who have already served their time as well. As a result, thousands of state prison and county jail inmates have been released from prison after a reduction of their minor drug and theft crimes.
Eligible charges for reduction under California Proposition 47 include the following theft and drug-possession crimes.
- Property theft where the value of the property is $950 or less [Cal PC § 490.2 and § 459.5]
- Receiving stolen property if the value is $950 or less [Cal PC § 496(a)]
- Forgery of a check, money order for $950 or less [Cal PC § 473(b)]
- Passing bad checks for $950 or less [Cal PC § 476a(b)]
- Petty theft with a prior, with some exceptions [Cal PC § 666]
- Possession of:
- Some controlled substances [Cal HSC § 11350]
- Concentrated cannabis [Cal HSC § 11357(a)]
- Methamphetamine [Cal HSC § 11377]
There are a few exceptions to the rule. When the individual has disqualifying priors such as prior convictions for serious or violent offenses, as well as convictions which require the individual to register as a sex offender.
Eligible individuals may petition the superior court where they were sentenced to have their felony conviction reclassified as a misdemeanor. However, the exact process may depend on your county. Additionally, most counties even provide a template or standard form to submit your petition, including Riverside; Los Angeles; San Diego; San Bernardino; Sacramento and Orange County.
A California criminal defense attorney may be able to assist you with filing the petition. For those still in prison for the reclassified crime, the court has discretion based on a risk of danger for the public. However, for those already released, the court does not have discretion to deny relief, and eligible individuals must be granted misdemeanor reclassification.
Reclassification from a felony to a misdemeanor may also have a large impact on immigrants facing possible deportation. With this in mind, a clear record for an immigrant allows some eligibility for relief under DACA or DAPA. If so, they will no longer present as convicted of a “crime of moral turpitude.” Under federal law, misdemeanor sentences are less than a year. This could bring relief for thousands of California’s immigrants.
Support You Need
Should you find yourself in need of a Los Angeles attorney, call the lawyers at The Kavinoky Law Firm. We are here for you 24/7, every day of the year. 1.800.NO.CUFFS is the number you want to remember and hope you never need.
What is going on in the OC?
New Questions about Justice in the Orange County Courts May Impact You.
There is bad news for Orange County Defendants. If you had a case in Orange County, you’re at risk of errors, omissions, and/or fabrications on your record.
There is even worse news for Orange County Defendants, too. Your court records may be in jeopardy. It is possible your records received inaccurate documentation.
There is good news for Orange County Defendants. The top criminal defense lawyers in Los Angeles at The Kavinoky Law Firm have a plan. We are ready to help you correct history.
Orange County Court System
The Orange County court system, as a whole, is currently under fire. For the last few weeks, newspapers and journalists alike are salivating at the opportunity to dig up even more dirt. The newest revelation reported by The Los Angeles Times is called; “Probe Underway Into Possible Tampering in Orange County Superior Court.” This report states Judge Thomas Borris ordered defendants and defense attorneys into court. His goal?
To get to the bottom of what appears to be blatant lies and factual errors in court records.
Grievous Errors on Court Records
Honestly, there is a wide variety of errors and/or blatant lies.
Some records show that the attorney of record listed in the court file is not really the attorney of record. Still others note that a jail sentence is complete when, in fact, there was no penalty jail time at all. Additionally, gross misstatements about what true occurrences in a criminal case.
What does this mean? It means that your past may be recorded incorrectly. Which in turn, could wreak havoc on your future.
This isn’t the first time that Orange County’s legal blemishes have made headlines. Just a couple of weeks ago, an Orange County Court saw a judge take a stand when ordering disqualification of the entire Orange County District Attorney’s Office in a high profile capital murder case (read: 250 prosecutors NOT allowed to prosecute their own case). In a breath of fresh air decision, the court found that there was the shady and unconstitutional practice by the Sheriff’s Department (through coordination with the DA’s office) using jailhouse informants to elicit confessions from other defendants.
Who is to Blame?
It is unclear who is responsible for these inaccurate (or false) entries. Even so, perhaps a more important query is the question of “why?”
While the Judge Borris is trying to gleam these answers, defense attorneys must ask “how does this affect our clients?” Of course, those that have court case histories wonder “How does this impact me?” The answer is huge. It could affect everything about your record going forward.
The Orange County court system relies on prior convictions. In addition, it relies on court records each and every day to paint a picture. Court records make rap sheets, provide critical records to the DMV, the Department of Corrections, and inform prosecutors of how to charge a new case. For example, in a Driving Under the Influence Case, whether someone has suffered a prior DUI will effect their driver’s license, jail sentence, and DA’s perspective of a case.
Priors effect not only the perception of a defendant in general but also provide for mandatory increases in other offenses. For example, petty theft, domestic violence, stalking, violations of restraining orders have specific requirements for subsequent effects. If someone’s record reflects completed jail time (when it isn’t), they could be looking at more time! Consequently, we typically see the DA wanting to increase the punishment to teach a lesson to the offender.
As a result, in order to address the issues of accuracy, The Kavinoky Law Firm created a system. This new system ensures our client’s records are accurate and corrects them if need be. If you would like the peace of mind to know that your case is correct and your record reflects what really occurred, call us. 1.800.NO.CUFFS.
Criminal History, Future Employment, and California Law
Criminal history is not always a road block standing in the way of success. While it can be a challenge, it is possible to live a successful professional life after a conviction.
Today’s job applicants don’t always need to inform potential employees of their criminal history. However, there are situations in which disclosure occurs. When this happens, having a mark on your criminal record can negatively affect your job search. Even if you’ve completed your sentences and paid your debts to society, having a criminal record can complicate matters when searching for a job, especially if that job requires state certification or a background check.
Accessibility of Criminal Records
If you’ve been detained, arrested, or convicted anywhere in the state of California, the incident is recorded on your criminal record by the California Department of Justice. The reality of modern convenience is that employers can find out a lot about a person simply by performing a simple search on the internet. Data searches may reveal arrests, but not necessarily the outcome.
Criminal records don’t just include convictions: they include arrests that did not lead to conviction, and any other run-ins you may have had with the law. Criminal records span an entire life- including anything that occurred before you turned 18. If you’ve been arrested or convicted for a crime in another state, your criminal history will not be included in your California criminal record – each state maintains their own criminal records and the only criminal record that includes offenses from all states is the FBI’s.
Criminal History Disclosure
Whether or not you should disclose your criminal history to a potential employer is a complicated question. Though you are not legally required to do so by law, sometimes honesty is a good policy. It may not come up in job application, but it may be wise to disclose.
The law does provide protections when it comes to certain types of arrests or convictions. According to the California Code of Regulations, private employers face restrictions of questions. For example, they may not ask job applicants about arrests that:
- Did not lead to convictions,
- Expunged convictions,
- Juvenile sustained petitions,
- Juvenile arrests that have been sealed, and
- Arrests with successfully completed drug diversion.
A criminal defense attorney can help you go over your criminal history. He or she will help you decide what to disclose and what can remain private.
Even if you have an expunged criminal history, the conviction is “dismissed in the interest of justice.”
An expungement means you no longer face penalties and liabilities associated with the conviction. However, with certain crimes, you may be liable for additional penalties (ex: sex registration requirements).
Many people in the state of California apply for the expungement of criminal records. They do so in an effort to keep a conviction from ruining their careers. In many cases, this is a great idea. However, there are certain circumstances where people must disclose expunged convictions. If you are unsure whether you need to disclose a conviction, consult with a criminal defense attorney for advisement.
Unfortunately, even an expungement has limitations. According to the California Penal Code, even a person with an expungement must disclose a conviction if:
- They’re applying for public office, or
- Applying for licensure by any state or local agency, or
- Contracting with the California State Lottery.
Any individual applying for any of these must disclose their criminal history, with or without an expungement.
Juvenile and Drug Records
As long as juvenile arrests and convictions show as sealed, they are consequently inaccessible to most employers. It’s important to note that juvenile records are not automatically sealed on your 18th birthday; you must apply to have those records sealed.
Finally, you do not need to disclose all convictions. For example, a charge of nonviolent “personal use” drug crime may not need disclosure in the state of California. A successfully completed a drug diversion program allows you to decline disclosure to most potential employers.
Maximize Your Chances of Getting a Job
Though a criminal history can negatively impact employment, it is possible. Maximize your chances by doing a few things to help yourself:
- Be truthful on your job application:
- Be sure to provide clear explanations of the crime, if they’re favorable to you.
- Explain your rehabilitation efforts and express remorse or guilt for the crime, and/or
- Provide excellent personal or professional references from individuals with a clean criminal record.
With all this in mind, make sure to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney. The California Defense attorneys at The Kavinoky Law Firm are here to help. Call 1.800.No.Cuffs 24/7, 365 days a year.
Additionally, depending on your circumstances, you may wish to consider an expungement of your criminal record.
Dealing with the Police
Police interaction can be a daunting things to figure out. In the moment, when you’re under suspicion, it can be very challenging knowing what to say. Read along for the guidebook on how to behave if you’re under arrest.
Know Your Rights
As Americans, we rely on the police to keep us safe and protect our freedoms. Yet, when you swap roles, and your freedom is at stake, do you know your rights under the law? As a citizen of a free country, it’s important to know and understand your rights so you know how to protect yourself from the government if the need ever arises.
Recording the Police
Though the police often state that tape recording them is illegal it is, in fact, protected by the First Amendment. The police may not like being recorded, but you have the right to record what the government does in public, and especially on your own private property. Since police officers are technically government employees, as long as you are not belligerent or interfering with their work, tape recording the police is perfectly legal. If they become angry and order you to stop, politely inform them that you have a right to do so.
With that being said, it is illegal to secretly record conversations in the state of California. Although all-parties must consent to being recorded in the state of California, this does not apply to recording on-duty police officers. Ultimately, as long as you are standing a safe distance from the police, are not acting belligerent, and are not interfering with their work, recording an on-duty police officer is acceptable and legal under California state law.
Right to Remain Silent
Under the Fifth Amendment, we have the right not to self-incriminate. As a result, you have the right to remain silent and don’t have to speak with a police officer just because of his title.
If an officer asks you a question you’re not comfortable answering, ask about your situation and status. Find out whether you’re being detained or if you are free to go. If you’re being detained, practice your right to remain silent. Nothing you can do or say will get you out of your arrest. In fact, something you may accidentally let slip could put you in jail for a crime you could have avoided by refusing to speak.
Don’t Consent to Any Searches
If an officer makes request to search your vehicle or home, simply say you do not consent to a search.
If they threaten you with a warrant, state you won’t consent to a search without one. In most cases, the police will release you instead of going through the hassle of obtaining a search warrant. This is important because the police must abide by your refusal. So, if the police search your vehicle or home, your refusal to consent to the search may throw out the charges in court.
Some officers may threaten a K9 unit. However, the Supreme Court found that a dog’s lead is no longer grounds for probable cause without a warrant.
In regard to searches, the police can legally do a “pat down” of your body. They do this to check for weapons, but they aren’t allowed to go inside your pockets.
Although most have the right to refuse consent to a search, this does not apply to those on probation or parole. Those on probation and parole may not legally refuse a search.
If a traffic stop leads to an arrest, you still have rights.
- First of all, you have the right to make a local phone call, although not necessarily at the scene of the arrest. Note, the police cannot listen to the call if you decide to contact a lawyer.
- Additionally, you have the right to continue to remain silent. Don’t give any explanations or excuses for your behavior or the events that led to the arrest, and don’t say anything, sign anything, or make any decisions without first consulting a lawyer.
- You have the right to a public defender at no cost to you, If you cannot afford a lawyer.
Build Your Defense
If you feel your rights have been violated, remember that police misconduct is not challenged on the street.
Do not physically resist officers or threaten to file a complaint. This will do absolutely nothing in your favor. Write down everything you remember about the incident, including the officer’s badge and patrol car numbers. If there were witnesses present, get their contact information. If an injury occurred, document the injuries through photographs. Finally, file a written complaint with the internal affairs division of the agency where the police officer works. In many cases, anonymous complaints are allowed.
Hire the Best
The Kavinoky Law firm hires the best criminal defense attorneys in California. Our excellent and experienced attorneys work hard to fight for their clients’ rights. If you find yourself on the wrong side of the law, call 1.800.No.Cuffs for a free consultation. Hire a criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles and get working on maintaining your freedom.
California Defense Lawyers for Outstanding Arrest Warrants and Bench Warrants
An arrest warrant is an instrument of the court that is used to compel an individual to appear in front of any magistrate (like a judge). A bench warrant is issued by a judge to compel an individual to appear before that specific judge.
If you are concerned that there may be a warrant out for your arrest, there are three ways to find out.
- Do searches online. There are many California counties that make warrant information available online, but for the most part, the larger counties do not. You will need to know some information about the underlying case and, ideally, what court the case is in. Unfortunately, not all jurisdictions make warrant information available, so not finding a warrant online will not conclude with certainty that there definitely are not warrants. For the jurisdictions that do not make this information available online, you can usually call the court’s clerk to get this information.
- Go to a law enforcement agency and have them do a fingerprint check for any warrants. This is inexpensive, but the downside is that if you do have any warrants, you will be taken into custody at that time.
- Hire an investigator to do the research required to find out if there are warrants for your arrest. This is more expensive, but will allow you to take steps to properly prepare and handle the underlying issue the warrant is for.
We, as a law firm, routinely handle these kinds of investigatory matters– going to work before an arrest to protect our client from potential arrest and subsequent prosecution.
A warrant is not issued absent another matter, meaning handling a warrant can be a small part of dealing with the underlying matter itself.
In many cases, we are able to resolve the warrant and handle the criminal matter, all without the client ever having to appear.
Call us today to speak with one of our attorneys to find out about our investigatory services for outstanding warrants, arrest warrants, or bench warrants. The initial consultation is at no cost.