Category: Weapons Offenses

Weapons Offenses | No Cuffs

Driving Without A License in California

Most people assume that driving without a license carries the same penalties and repercussions as a parking ticket or a minor speeding violation. However, California law classifies driving without a license as a wobbler offense. Wobblers may be charged as infractions or misdemeanors. A misdemeanor conviction of driving without a license can result in a criminal record.


California vehicle code 12500(a) criminalizes driving without a valid license. The following scenarios define driving without a license in California:

  • The defendant never obtained a driver’s license.
  • The defendant is not old enough to drive.
  • The defendant did not renew his or her driver’s license.
  • The defendant resides in California, but never obtained a California driver’s license.


The penalties for driving without a license in California can include probation for up to three years, six months in county jail, fines of up to $1,000, as well as impoundment of the driver’s vehicle.


People accused of driving without a license in California can face comparatively extreme penalties if convicted. Consequently, they deserve an opportunity to defend themselves in an effective manner.


Experienced defense attorneys have the ability and resources to investigate the situation. The investigation can bring relevant facts to light and aid in defending the accused citizen.


Criminal defense attorneys act as a counterbalance to the whims and caprices of popular will, and to the power imbalance between citizens and the government.


drunk driving


Defining Driving Without a License in California


Vehicle Code 12500(a) states:

A person may not drive a motor vehicle upon a highway unless the person holds a valid driver’s license issued under this code, except for those persons who are expressly exempted under this code.


The law seeks to ensure that only qualified individuals drive on California roads. Vehicle Code 12500 is not violated if the driver does not have the license on his or her person. Only drivers without a valid license are charged under this code.


Individuals who have been issued valid driver’s licenses, but do not possess it when a police officer stops them, are in violation of California vehicle code 12951.


Under Vehicle Code 12951, the State of California divides failure to display a driver’s license into two categories that are described in two sections of the code. The state may punish section A violations as infractions, while section B violations are considered misdemeanor offenses.


The penalties for failure to produce a driver’s license vary depending on why the driver did so.

Under California Vehicle Code 12951(a), driving without a license in your possession can be punished as an infraction. The penalties consist only of fines of up to $250.


Under Vehicle Code 12951(b), refusing to show your license to a police officer qualifies as a misdemeanor. The penalties can include probation, a six-month county jail sentence, and fines of up to $1,000.



Example of Failure to Display a Driver’s License


One morning while leaving for work, Daryl forgets his wallet on the kitchen counter. He realizes he is late for work and begins to drive faster than he normally would.


A police officer pulls him over for driving 50 miles an hour in a 40 mile-an-hour zone. California had issued Daryl a valid license, but he had left it at home.


Daryl and his lawyer quickly present his valid California driver’s license the next week, and the judge dismisses the charges.


Failure to present a driver’s license occurs when a driver refuses to show his or her license to a law enforcement officer while the officer is enforcing a California vehicle code. It can also occur when someone is driving without a valid license in his or her possession.



Example of Failure to Present a Driver’s License


17-year-old Angela earned her driver’s license last year. She frequently drives to and from school, as well as to parties around town.


One Friday night she sneaks out of the house and takes her dad’s car. She drives to a party and begins to take part in the festivities. After a few drinks she decides to drive home. However, a police officer pulls her over.


Angela understands the California Zero Tolerance Law pertaining to minors driving under the influence. She does not want to be charged with a DUI. Therefore, when the officer asks for her license, she refuses to show it.


By refusing to show a law enforcement officer her license while the officer is performing his or her legal duties, Angela broke the law. She violated California State Vehicle Code 12951 by failing to present a driver’s license.



Example of Driving Without a License


Phyllis moved from Scranton, Pennsylvania to Imperial Beach, California to go to college. Since her Pennsylvania driver’s license would never expire, she never acquired a California driver’s license.


After graduating from college, Phyllis found a full-time job in San Diego. She rented an apartment and registered to vote in California. By registering to vote and finding a more permanent place to live, Phyllis established residency in California.


After establishing residency, Phyllis has 10 days to change her driver’s license and vehicle registration. If she does not obtain a California license, Phyllis may be charged with driving without a license under California Vehicle Code 12500a.



Driving Without a License in California – the Elements of the Crime


In order for the prosecution to prove someone guilty of driving without a license, three elements of the crime must have occurred:

  1. The defendant drove a motor vehicle on a highway
  2. While the defendant was driving, he or she did not hold a valid California driver’s license
  3. The defendant was not exempted from the requirement to hold a California driver’s license


The law does not limit valid driver’s licenses to those issued by the California  Department of Motor Vehicles. Under California law, the driver must hold a valid license from the driver’s state of residence. In addition, the license must be valid for the type of vehicle the driver is operating.





Karen grew up in Riverside and acquired her driver’s license on her 16th birthday. However, when her license expired on her 21st birthday, she failed to renew it.


A few weeks after her 21st birthday, police officers stop Karen at a DUI checkpoint. Karen has not had anything to drink, and has her expired driver’s license on her person.


However, the police charge her with driving without a valid driver’s license under Vehicle Code 12500.


Injustice system court gavel hits person needing bail bond


The Burden of Proof for Driving Without a License in California


California Vehicle Code 12500 differs from many other criminal codes. The prosecution only needs to allege that the individual was driving without a license at the time of the offense. The driver bears the burden of proof that he or she possessed a valid driver’s license.


California Juror instructions 16.631, Licensed Driver- Burden of Proof, states that:

It is not necessary for the people to introduce evidence that the defendant did not have a valid driver’s license to operate a motor vehicle in California (Vehicle Code 12500 VC, Driving without a License Prosecution). Whether the defendant was or was not properly licensed is a matter peculiarly within his or her own knowledge. The burden is on the defendant to raise a reasonable doubt as to his or her guilt of driving a motor vehicle upon a highway without being the holder of a valid driver’s license.


The reasoning behind the shift pertaining to the burden of proof stems from how easily the driver can prove that he or she possesses a valid driver’s license. Prior to the advent of the internet and information globalization, records were kept only on paper. The California state legislature passed this law at a time when technological limitations hindered record keeping. The outdated nature of this law no longer makes sense in today’s fast-paced world, but the law remains the same.



Penalties for Driving Without a License in California


California state prosecutors can charge drivers with an infraction or with a misdemeanor under Vehicle Code 12500.


Infraction charges may result in fines no greater than $250.


However, misdemeanor convictions carry more severe penalties which include:

  • Probation for up to 3 years
  • A county jail sentence of up to six months
  • Fines of up to $1,000
  • Vehicle impoundment for up to 30 days for defendants with prior driving-related convictions


A driver’s history determines how the prosecution will charge the offense. Most first offenses will result in infraction charges. However, repeat offenders and drivers with marred driving records will most likely face misdemeanor charges.


lawyer standing in a suit


Understanding Driving Without a License in California


Under California State Vehicle Code 12500, in order to operate a motor vehicle on California roads, drivers must possess a valid, date-issued driver’s license.


Driving without a license differs from failure to present a driver’s license.


Vehicle Code 12500a prohibits drivers who have not been issued a valid state driver’s license from driving.


California State Vehicle Code 12951, however, concerns licensed drivers who either refuse to present their license to a law enforcement officer, or who are driving without the license in their possession.


Skilled criminal defense attorneys can easily handle cases involving driving without a license because they know what to do.


By aggressively interacting with the prosecution and the state, an experienced criminal defense attorney can find a way to have the charges either reduced, or dismissed. However, most people do not have the knowledge or experience to do this on their own.


Driving without a license charges often involve people who either allowed their driver’s license to expire, who never obtained a driver’s license, or who established California state residency without obtaining a California driver’s license.


Individuals convicted of driving without a license in the State of California face either infraction or misdemeanor penalties.


Infraction penalties only consist of fines of up to $250.


However, misdemeanor penalties can include the following:

  • Informal probation
  • A county jail sentence of up to six months
  • Fines of up to $1,000
  • A 30-day impoundment of the driver’s car


Accused individuals have a right to defend themselves. However, an effective defense requires skill and experience within the legal landscape. Working with a defense lawyer ensures the best possible outcome in criminal cases.


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Can You Be Forced to Take a Portable Breath Test?

When you drive in California, you are “deemed” to have consented to the chemical testing of your blood, urine, and breath to determine your blood alcohol content (BAC). Although you cannot be forced to take a breath test, under California’s implied consent law, if you are lawfully arrested, you do no have the right to refuse to take the test. If you do refuse, there is a mandatory one year suspension of your driver’s license. Also, your refusal can be used against you in court if you are charged with a DUI. Further, if you are found guilty of DUI, you can be penalized more harshly than if you had agreed to take the breath test voluntarily.


Penalties For Failing to Take a Breath Test

If you are found guilty of DUI, there are additional penalties that apply if you also refused to take the breath test. The penalties for failing to take a breath test increase with the number of prior DUI conviction you have. If this is your first DUI arrest, you will receive an additional 48 hours in jail and be required to attend DUI school for 9 months. If you have had one prior DUI, additional jail time increases to 96 hours and your driver’s license is suspended for 2 years. With 2 prior DUI convictions your jail time is increased to 10 days, and your license suspension to 3 years. Three or more prior DUIs will get you an additional 18 days in jail and a three-year driver’s license suspension.


Presumption of Innocence

Just because you are charged with refusal to take a breath test doesn’t mean that you are guilty. Your DUI defense attorney can challenge whether or not your DUI arrest was legal. Also, the arresting officer must advise you of the consequences of refusing to take a breath test such as losing your driver’s license.


Being accused of DUI with the additional allegation that you refused a breath test is a serious crime. At The Kavinoky Law Firm, we have helped thousands of California drivers get their DUI with refusal charges reduced or dismissed. When it comes to California DUI defense, experience counts. Make a call to The Kavinoky Law Firm your first phone call after being arrested and charged with DUI.

The Gender Gap

Susan Haber, Senior Managing Attorney, The Kavinoky Law Firm

There isn’t a woman who works in the area of criminal law who doesn’t have a story about a time (or 20!) she was the only female attorney in the courtroom.

At the age of 25 I was a first-year prosecutor with the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office.  Bright-eyed and enthusiastic about the start of my career; I was determined to be a zealous legal advocate for the State of California and the protection of our society.

I vividly recall the day I was prosecuting a 5-defendant felony embezzlement case.  As the judge called the case to be heard, I realized that I sat alone on one side of the attorney table while five middle-aged male defense attorneys sat with their 5 male clients on the opposing side. I felt like Snow White.

The gender gap I have experienced, both as a former prosecutor and now as a criminal defense attorney, is not unique unto myself.  After conducting a bit of research on the subject of female criminal defense attorneys as well as speaking with numerous colleagues over 18 years of practicing criminal law, I am saddened by the stories I have heard and the statistics.

In one article I reviewed, among all attorneys appearing in criminal cases, 67% are men. Looking at attorneys appearing as lead counsel (first-chair), 67% are men (making 33% women). When looking at attorneys appearing as trial attorney, 79% are men and only 21% are women.

Additionally, the study found that there is a great distinction between criminal prosecution work and defense work among women and men. For example, 34% of attorneys who appeared as the lead attorney in criminal cases were for the government (the prosecution) were men as opposed to 66% of the attorneys who appeared on behalf of defendants were men.

In looking at women who appeared as the lead attorney in criminal cases, the ratio is reversed: women were 69% of the attorneys who presented the government and 31% of the attorneys who represented defendants were women.  What is even more interesting from this study is that the percentage of women drop from handling 33% of criminal cases as the lead attorney in a criminal case to 21% as the trial attorneys.

What do all these statistics mean?  I provide you with my impressions; not those who conducted the study.  Women are far less represented as a group in criminal defense as they are in on the prosecutorial side.  I don’t feel that has ANYTHING to do with the morals or values of prosecuting criminals or defending them. I believe this has to do with the lack of equal opportunities available for women attorneys to work in the area of criminal defense private practice.

I am a wife and mother of two school-aged children who wants nothing more than having our society protected from harm.  I want my children to feel safe walking down the street without fear. I also firmly believe that every person on this earth should have the right to competent legal counsel if they are accused of a crime. If you were charged with a criminal offense, wouldn’t you want the very BEST attorney, male or female, to help you?  I would!

Despite the gender gap and all that goes with it, I would never want to practice any other kind of law.  I LOVE the courtroom, the cases, and the people I meet. I hope I am a positive role model for my daughter and son who embodies independence, strength and perseverance, along with poise, femininity and vulnerability (we are all vulnerable to something and should not be afraid to show it!) as I zealously advocate for my family and clients.

President Obama to Restricts Military Equipment for Law Enforcement

President Obama took actions to restrict military equipment in a big way this week.

President Obama Places Restrictions on Weapons

On Monday, President Obama announced that the federal government would finally start to restrict its supply of military-grade equipment to local police forces. The change in law enforcement strategy is long overdue. One result is that are less battlefield-style vehicles available to police. Which means, these vehicles are no longer trolling city streets. When they do troll, they simply instill fear in the very people that police departments are supposed to be protecting.

Militarization is Recent

The trend towards militarization of U.S. police forces is a relatively recent one.

Since the mid-1990s, but particularly in the aftermath of September 11th, politicians at both the state and federal level pushed for new laws. These laws intend to better prepare local police departments for terrorist attacks. The idea was that the American people would be safer if they had a local police force that was stronger. Politicians hopes to see police better able to handle larger and more catastrophic events. The plan was for police to prepare for situations beyond the run-of-the-mill crimes that police departments generally see.

One option on the table: buy old military stuff. Politicians allowed local police departments to buy surplus military equipment from the federal government. The hope was by doing this, the police gained preparedness. However, law enforcement now knows the heroism of the 9/11 attacks and also the devastation of Ferguson, Missouri.

As local politicians with “hard on crime” agendas won elections, police departments found themselves with large budgets. Many departments spent this money on extravagant military equipment. Through Program 1033, the U.S. Defense Department’s program to connect police and surplus military equipment, this money found a home. Suddenly, every small town in the United States had a S.W.A.T. team with tanks.

Consequently, the militarization of local police forces led to tension between the police and the very citizens that this equipment was supposed to protect better. These tensions can now be seen boiling over in places like Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore, Maryland, to disastrous effect.

No More Ferguson’s

President Obama restricted military weaponry in order to reign-in the movement of military equipment. In fact, it is a step in the right direction as the national armed forces and local police forces do not need to share devices. Correspondingly, it is clear step in the right direction.

Enforcing laws is a critical piece of the world we live in, but, as the alarming images from Ferguson show, there are ways to do it, and there are ways not to do it. President Obama’s ban against providing local law enforcement with grenade launchers, high-caliber guns, armed aircraft, and armored vehicles is a big move in a better approach to law enforcement. Not only does it govern better, but it pushes police departments to respond to criminal activity reasonably. Reacting with disproportionate force, at best, creates tension in communities. Unfortunately, at worst, it results in the deaths of those who, did not deserve such punishment.

As a staff of criminal defense attorneys, the Kavinoky law firm looks favorably on decisions, such as this one by President Obama, to enforce laws in ways that do not impact those who are not breaking them.

Open-Carry Laws in California

Open-carry laws vary around the country. Recently, litigation over the past few years continues to change the laws. It can be confusing to most, trying to keep up with these rapidly changing regulations.

Open-Carry in California

In the past, the state of California permitted individuals to carry unloaded firearms in public. As long as they were displayed in plain sight and the individual wasn’t in a prohibited area, this was fine. At the time, prohibited areas included government buildings, school zones, and post offices. However, since 2012, it is now illegal to openly carry unloaded handguns in the state of California.

The California Assembly Bill 144 of 2011 makes it a misdemeanor to carry an exposed and unloaded gun in public or in vehicles. Violators of the law can face up to a year in prison, or a fine of up to $1,000. The bill exempts those who use guns for hunting or shooting events. Also, it doesn’t apply to those who have permits to carry concealed weapons by law enforcement officials.

Though the Second Amendment protects those who are exercising their right to bear arms and lawfully carry their firearms, the California legislature makes it illegal to carry a weapon openly in public, which can prove to cause complications among gun owners in California.

Decrease in Gun Presence

Backed by California’s top law enforcement group, the law was a response to a proliferation of guns in public. Additionally, doubled with the anxiety and tension that can arise when someone sees another person carrying a firearm in public, encounters can quickly escalate – especially when it’s unknown if the gun is loaded. In an effort to cut back on gun violence, California lawmakers have made the act of carrying an unloaded gun in public illegal.

It’s important to note that the California Assembly Bill 144 is a separate and distinct offense from carrying a loaded firearm in public and carrying a concealed firearm – both of which are crimes in the state.


Most people convicted of violating California’s open-carry laws either serve up to one year in county jail or pay a fine of up to $1,000. However, in some cases, offenders may get both penalties. So, those who are at risk for both need to know their rights. These people include individuals who are also carrying unexpended, dischargeable ammunition who are also not the lawful owner of the gun. Additionally, these penalties are for each gun the offender has in his/her possession.

Legal Defenses

If you’ve been arrested for violating the open-carry law in the state of California, there are several defenses an experienced criminal defense attorney can make on your behalf. These include, but are not limited to:

  1. Owner has a valid firearm permit in the state of California
  2. Defendant engaged in activity specifically exempt, like hunting or attending a gun event.
  3. Not carrying the gun in public
  4. The police engaged in misconduct, or
  5. An illegal search and seizure brought about the finding of the gun.

In California, most adults may legally own firearms and ammunition. People who may not legally possess a firearm include:

  • Felons,
  • Narcotics addicts,
  • Anyone with two or more convictions of brandishing a weapon,
  • Anyone convicted of certain misdemeanor offenses, like stalking,
  • Those with mental illness(es), and/or
  • Anyone under 18.

If you are under arrest for violating California’s open carry law, you may face multiple weapons offense violations.  Additionally, you can expect more severe penalties. In which case, call a California criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

Hire Defense

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. 

Other Weapons Offenses: Bladed and Blunt Weapons

weapons offenses
weapons offenses

Weapons offenses can vary quite a bit depending on the crime. For the most part, most weapons offenses involve the possession or use of illegal firearms. However, lately, a handful of Californians face arrest and detention for carrying all varieties of ‘deadly weapons.’

The state of California has very strict laws on weapons of all types. In fact, the Penal Code makes it illegal to possess, manufacture, import, sell, or give away a long list of weapons prohibited in the state.

Weapons Offenses

California defines a ‘deadly weapon’ as: anything that has the potential to cause death if used in a violent manner.

According to California law, even your fist or car can be a deadly weapon. Of course, this depends on how one uses the so-called weapon. The laws surrounding the purchase and ownership of weapons are strict. If you’re convicted of another crime in which you used a deadly weapon, you can face additional penalties.

At one point in time, all prohibited weapons were listed under Penal Code section 12020. Currently, they’re scattered throughout the Penal Code. Some of the more common ‘deadly weapons’ illegal in the state of California are metal knuckles, nun chucks, and dirks and daggers.

Dirks and Daggers

Defined as a knife or other instrument with or without a hand guard that’s capable of ready use as a stabbing weapon and may inflict significant physical injury or death, carrying concealed dirks and daggers is a violation of California law. Folding pocket knives or utility knives are concealable. If the knife is not open and the blade does not lock. Straight knives and folding knives that are open and locked may be worn under California’s “open carry” knife law if they are carried in a sheath worn openly suspended from your waist.

Other knives, like switchblades and ballistic knives, are illegal under all circumstances. Carrying a concealed dirk or dagger is a ‘wobbler.’ That term is new to most people! A ‘wobbler’ is a crime that can be either a misdemeanor or felony. As a misdemeanor, the charge carries up to one year in county jail. As a felony, it carries a penalty of up to three years in California State Prison.

Nun Chucks

Nun chucks found their way into the Penal code in 1974. They’re not legal in the state of California. Possession of nun chucks is a crime. Consequently, it carries up to one year of imprisonment following conviction. Although nun chucks are illegal, there are certain circumstances where possession is in fact legal. If nun chucks are in the possession of a person or on the premises of a school that teaches the art of self-defense, they’re legal. Additionally, the manufacture and sale of nun chucks to an institution that teaches self-defense is legal under California law.

Metal Knuckles

More commonly referred to as brass knuckles, metal knuckles are illegal. Possession of metal knuckles is a felony. However, metal knuckles, in court is often only a misdemeanor. Furthermore, any person who is in possession of a type of composite, wood, or plastic, is committing a misdemeanor.

Additionally, this criminal offense carries potential jail time, probation, fines and, a permanent mark on your criminal record. Though the items are widely available on the internet and swap meets, they are still highly illegal. Widely available doesn’t always equate to legal.

Hire an Attorney

With all of this in mind, talk to a criminal defense lawyer at The Kavinoky Law Firm right away. If you or someone is facing weapons charges, a criminal defense attorney well-versed in California law can help.

1.800.NO.CUFFS is the number to call – we don’t sleep – so you can. Don’t wait to get a free consultation from one of the best criminal defense attorneys in the state of California.

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Vital information on California’s Assault Weapon Laws

Assault weapon laws in California intend to protect the owners as well as other civilians.

Under California law, there are three categories of assault weapons. This list flows from the list of firearms on the original Roberti-Roos assault weapons list. The Categories are as follows:

  1. AK series,
  2. AR-15 series weapons, and
  3. Other weapons defined by specific generic characteristics.

If you’re in possession of an assault weapon, California law states it must carry the proper registration. If the firearm does not have the appropriate documents, the owner faces serious accusations firearms offenses.

Roberti-Roos Assault Weapons Control Act of 1989

Unfortunately for current assault weapon owners, the deadline to register your weapon is far behind us.  In fact, Penal Code 30510 PC (often referred to as the Roberti-Roos Assault Weapons Control Act of 1989) expired in 2001.

Currently, there is no legal way for an individual other than a member of the U.S military or a peace officer to own a registered assault weapon. Unless they owned and registered the assault weapon before the 2001 deadline. Those in possession of an assault weapon registered before 2001 can expect to experience restrictions on its use.

Assault weapons are illegal to purchase in California. Additionally, they may not pass to an heir upon death. If you inherit an assault weapon, you have 90 days to:

  1. Render the weapon inoperable,
  2. Sell the weapon to a licensed gun dealer,
  3. Obtain a permit from the California Department of Justice to possess an assault weapon, or
  4. Remove the weapon from the state altogether.

It is illegal to buy or sell this weapon at pawn shops. Furthermore, attempting to sell an assault weapon online is a punishable firearms offense.

Possession of an Assault Weapon

A person in possession of an unregistered assault weapon may receive either a misdemeanor or felony conviction. If convicted of a firearms offense, they may spend up to three years behind bars. Additionally, if convicted of manufacturing, selling, or transporting an unregistered assault weapon, it’s even worse. These three convictions increase prison sentences to eight years. What’s more, the conviction increases from a misdemeanor to a felony.

Though it is illegal to be in possession of an unregistered assault weapon, the California Penal Code implies that, if arranged in advance, the surrendering of an unregistered assault weapon to the police will result in immunity from prosecution. This immunity is granted in an effort to keep dangerous and illegal firearms off the streets. Many metropolitan areas have gun buyback programs in which a ‘reward’ is given to those who turn in privately owned firearms- both legal and illegal, registered and unregistered. A 2012 gun buyback event in Los Angeles was considered a major success- 2,037 firearms were gathered, including 75 assault weapons, mostly unregistered.

Gun Registration

A common mistake many gun owners make is assuming that the California Dealers Record of Sale (DROS) means the assault weapon has been ‘registered’.  In fact, few know proper registering of an assault weapon includes a separate form and a fee submitted to the California Department of Justice. Your assault weapon is considered to be ‘registered’ only if you receive a letter back from the Department of Justice indicating the registration was successful. Unfortunately, the deadline for registration expired in 2001.

Owning an unregistered assault weapon is a serious offense in the state of California. Since there is no way to register an assault weapon legally in California, and those in possession face serious firearms offenses, it is in your best interest to participate in a gun buyback program or sell your weapon to a gun dealer in possession of a permit allowing them to legally do so.

Defend Your Rights

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. 

About Darren Kavinoky and The Kavinoky Law Firm.

Darren Kavinoky receives recognition over and over for his commitment to clients and for being a top California defense lawyer. The Los Angeles Magazine repeatedly regards him as a Super Lawyer , and the American Trial Lawyers Association highlighted him as one of the Top 100 Trial Lawyers in California. Additionally, he is the legal analyst and special correspondent for the syndicated television program The Insider, and is a sought-after guest on shows that include Entertainment Tonight, Dr. Phil, NBC’s Today Show, and various programs on CNN and the Headline News Channel. Follow Darren on Twitter @DarrenKavinoky or

Top 5 Police Myths Debunked

Police myths are fun stories to tell with friends or to keep kids in line. However, when it comes to protecting your own rights, and keeping you out of jail, it’s important to know the facts.

Whether you’ve spent too much time watching CSI or have enjoyed one too many popcorn cop films, there are a few myths about law enforcement that many seem to believe. Below you’ll find some common myths about police, and some information that will help clear up the falsities.

Police Myths Debunked

Police Myth #1:

Not Talking to the Police is Obstruction of Justice

One particularly popular police myth is in regard to your right to remain silent.

In fact, if a law enforcement officer questions you on the whereabouts of a friend the night of a crime, is it obstruction of justice to remain silent? No, it is not.

On the contrary, according to the Fifth Amendment, under no circumstances may an officer coerce someone into being a witness against oneself. Usually, at the moment police initially speak to you, you don’t know if you’re a suspect or not. You always have the right to not speak with the police. Although obstruction of justice is a real punishable crime, you can’t be charged with it if all you do is remain silent.

An obstruction of justice charge occurs if you:

  1. Lie to the police,
  2. Destroy evidence, or
  3. Intentionally interfere with a police investigation.

Police Myth #2:

Undercover Police Officers Must Identify Themselves if Asked

Though undercover police officers may identify themselves when questioned in films, they are not required to so in real life. Yet another salient police myth is that these officers may not lie when questions.

This simply is not true. There’s nothing to prohibit law enforcement officers from lying while performing their duties. Still, some claim officers must identify themselves on the grounds of entrapment. However, entrapment involves leading someone into engaging in an illegal activity in which they wouldn’t otherwise do. Unfortunately, if you participate in illegal activity with or near an undercover agent, you will require a criminal defense attorney.  Relying on a claim of entrapment won’t help you, and you need a stronger case.

Police Myth #3:

Criminals Hear Their Miranda Rights or They Go Free

Though commonly done, the “reading of your rights” is not necessary. In fact, it is not even read to everyone arrested, nor does it need to be.

If the police catch you in the act of urinating in public, they have the right to arrest you without reading you your Miranda Rights. At this time, we suggest it’s time to consider a criminal defense attorney.

The warning is designed for people who are about to be interrogated; therefore, if the police question you without reading you your rights, anything you say cannot be used against you in court.   Before you consider hiring an attorney to help you walk away from an arrest where they didn’t read your Miranda Rights, be sure they weren’t simply arresting you for a crime you had already committed.

Police Myth #4:

Everyone Gets One Free Phone Call

The idea that the police have to let you use the phone is a Hollywood invention.

Some jails have pay phones you can use to call whenever you wish as long as the person on the other end is willing to pay for the call.  Other jails may allow you to use their phone only once. Phone calls in prisons and jails are a privilege that disappear whenever you stop behaving yourself. Calls are an incentive to keep you in line. Regardless of the availability of phone calls, you DO have the right to an attorney following arrest. You may speak with an attorney after your arrest and during the time police question you.

Police Myth #5:

Officers Must Be Completely Visible at All Times When Making Traffic Stops

This is one of the police myths that takes us back to the idea of entrapment. Many Americans believe officers who hide themselves when conducting speed enforcement are guilty of entrapment.

However, the laws against entrapment have nothing to do with whether or not an officer is visible while a crime occurs. Instead, entrapment is when police officer encourages someone to commit a crime and then later arrests them for that crime. Hiding behind a bush or building with a radar gun doesn’t qualify as entrapment, because you would have sped even if the police officer wasn’t there: they are simply there to catch you when you do.

Hire an Attorney

You don’t have to do this alone! Don’t fall victim to old, police myths. Call California’s Top DUI attorneys with The Kavinoky Law Firm to stand by your side and defend your case. We employ the best criminal defense attorneys in the state so that we can provide you with the best defense possible. Call 24/7 – we don’t sleep – so you can.

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Roadside Stop: Things to Remember When Getting Pulled Over

The roadside stop is the among the most scary things on the road. The flashing lights of a police car in the rear view mirror fill most motorists with dread. Although nobody likes the roadside stop, it’s essential to show a police officer that you’re cooperating. If an officer is at ease, they will be less suspicious of you and your activities prior to the traffic stop.

What to do During a Roadside Stop

#1) Stay Calm

If you’ve ever been part of a roadside stop, you know it’s natural to feel nervous.  If you’ve been drinking, this feeling of panic is intensified due to the possibility of being arrested for a DUI. The main thing to remember when being pulled over is to remain calm. As the officer approaches your car, take a few deep breaths and remember to keep your hands on the wheel until the officer asks for your paperwork.

#2) Keep Quiet

When talking to the officer, don’t admit any guilt. It’s acceptable to give “yes” and “no” answers, but any explanation beyond that is usually not necessary. Anything you say can show up later in court. Wait until formal questioning to offer explanations, and remember whatever you say and do from here on out could make the difference between a conviction and an acquittal. Also, just a note, never bribe the officer. Not only is a bribe unethical, but it is definitely a crime.

#3) Decline Field Sobriety Tests

If you have a traffic stop for suspicion of a DUI, the officer will likely want to conduct field sobriety tests on you. You are not required to submit to field sobriety tests. You may tell the officer you do not wish to participate, especially if you know you’re over the legal limit and will be arrested for DUI. The officer may ask for a reason, but you don’t have to give one. Though you may refuse field sobriety tests, your refusal can go against you in court if the traffic stop results in an arrest.

#4) Decline Field Breathalyzer Tests

If you refuse to submit to field sobriety tests, the officer may ask you to take a breath test. The breath test administered on the side of the road is a preliminary alcohol screening, and the law does not you to do it. You may refuse the Breathalyzer without losing your license. It’s important to remember that roadside breath tests are notoriously inaccurate, so request a blood test at the police station instead.

#5) Sobriety Test at Police Station is Mandatory

If the events of the traffic stop resulted in you ending up at the police station for a DUI, a sobriety test is mandatory. This sobriety test happens in the form of a breath or blood test, and failure to comply with these mandatory tests is a crime. Under the law, it is your decision to obtain a driver’s license and operate a motor vehicle; therefore, by legal implication, you gave “implied consent” for a test under such circumstances.

#6) Be Polite

Though you may exercise your Constitutional rights against self-incrimination, this doesn’t you can be rude. There is absolutely no excuse for being obnoxious or argumentative with the officer, and it can only harm your case later on. Treat the officer with the respect they deserve; it could be the difference between a DUI arrest and a simple warning.

Hire an Attorney

The Kavinoky Law Firm employs the best DUI lawyers in Los Angeles. Call for a free consultation anytime with a top criminal defense attorney in California. Call 24/7 – 365 days a year. We’re here to fight for you.