Monday, September 26, 2011


But for the fact that Officer Ramos from the Fullerton Police Department had activated his digital audio recording (DAR), most likely he would never have been charged with murder by the Orange County District Attorney’s office. (CBS News Story)

On July 5, 2011, allegedly, Officer Manual Ramos beat a homeless man, Kelly Thomas, while Corporal Jay Cicinelli repeatedly tazed him. Mr. Thomas died five days later.

The investigation ended on September 21, 2011 with second-degree murder (potential 15 – life prison term) and involuntary murder charges being filed against Officer Ramos and involuntary murder and excessive force charges being filed against Corporal Cicinelli (potential 4 year prison term). These officers had been police officers for 10 and 12 years. (OC District Attorney Press Release)

However, what is most intriguing about this story from the perspective of past, present and future actions by police agencies and officers is the fact that technology is available to record every officer’s move, but either it is not implemented, or where available, it is not mandated.

Regarding the officers in this case, how many times in the ten and twelve years, have these officers not told the truth about their actions? How many times have they made an unlawful arrested? How many times have they lied from the witness stand in court? How many times has someone been wrongfully incarcerated? Now think about all the officers in all the agencies in Orange County, in California, in the Nation - How many times is a police officer’s “word” taken as the truth versus the “word” of an individual, because of the uniform and badge?

There are so many recording devices available to police agencies including those that record only audio, only video, and those that synchronize the video device that is usually attached to the patrol car’s rearview mirror and the audio device that is attached to their uniform. Although police agencies such as Newport Beach, Irvine and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department have these devices, other police agencies such as Huntington Beach do not. In addition, even the agencies that have these devices are not mandated to activate them when in contact with the public.

Although many police officers conduct themselves in a professional manner protecting and serving the public, it’s the percentage of officers who are harming the public either with lies or violence that calls for these recording devices to be mandated. It protects them, it protects us.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Absolutely not. Most violations around the 14601 section of the California Vehicle Code are not infractions and the penalty is not simply a fine payment, traffic school and the possibility of one DMV point.

Driving when one’s driver’s license is suspended is a misdemeanor allegation, and consequences may include a jail sentence not to mention continual suspension of one’s driving privileges and a big fine.
Once the person arrives at Court for the Arraignment (10 Tips For Court) they will face various charges: some type of traffic or equipment violation in most cases (the reason the police stopped the car may be an area to explore for possible defenses) and then the specific Vehicle Code section for driving when driver’s license is suspended.

If the person did not pay a previous ticket, did not show up for court for a previous ticket or owes some type of fee to the DMV and therefore their driver’s license was suspended, the person will be charged with a violation of Vehicle Code section 14601.1. In most cases, if a plea of guilty of is entered they will receive a fine of about $2,000, 3 years of probation (Suge Knight receives probation for driving on a suspended license), and 2 points will be added to their DMV record. They will then have a misdemeanor record and if this person is charged with a similar offense in the future or has one in their past, a minimum of 5-days jail and a greater fine would be ordered.
The Court will not explain the DMV consequences, which are separate from the Court ramifications. If a guilty plea is entered, an abstract will be sent to the DMV and 2 points will be added to the driving record. If other points are on the record, although they may have been able to obtain their driver’s license by simply taking care of a previous traffic ticket or paying a fee to the DMV, now, their driver’s license will be suspended, because they are considered a negligent operator (CA DMV Negligent Operator Points) and (DMV Hearings ).
One other common driving with a suspended license charge is a violation of California Vehicle Code section 14601.2, suspension as a result of a DUI. The sentencing consequences are more severe with a minimum of 10-days jail for a first offense and 30-days jail for a second offense plus $2,000 in fines. Again, the result is 2 additional points on the driver’s DMV record (with the 2 points from the DUI this may cause a longer suspension period).

Friday, June 3, 2011

More Than One DUI? Help Is On the Way

If you have had one or more prior convictions for a DUI, or what is commonly referred to as a "wet reckless", you do not want to go to court and try to resolve the case yourself or hire just any attorney. A second DUI, third DUI, felony DUI, or what is referred to as a multiple DUI arrest, will affect your future, mobility and freedom. Regardless if you are charged with a misdemeanor DUI or felony DUI, you need an Orange County DUI attorney to obtain the most favorable results.


Here's a list of what an experienced Orange County DUI attorney can do for you:
  • A DUI attorney knows the possible defenses along with the elements the prosecution must prove:
    - is the officer properly trained regarding field sobriety tests
    - were the field sobriety tests administered properly, to a proper candidate, in a proper environment
    - is the officer certified to use the breath testing equipment
    - was the breath device calibrated and maintained properly
    - was the blood sample drawn in the proper manner by the proper person
    - was the blood sample analyzed properly
    - was the vehicle legally stopped by the police
    - were correct procedures and admonitions used during the investigation and arrest

  • An Orange County DUI attorney also knows the means in which to gather the necessary information:
    - the police report, in most instances, will not provide you with a defense
    - a dui attorney will know what items are needed, who has them, and what to request or subpoena in order to find a defense, if it exists
    - does the agency have a dash camera, such as the Newport Beach police, which keeps audio and visual recordings of the investigation
    - which agency/ies maintain the breath device
    - how are times and results confirmed and certifications obtained

  • A DUI attorney knows the possible consequences from both the DMV and Court perspectives:
    - what occurs to the driver's license if the DMV is lost, but the Court is won and vice-a-versa
    - how long will the driver's license be suspended, revoked and/or restricted and what steps are needed to have full driving privileges restored
    - if the blood alcohol is this level, the prior is from this year and these circumstances exist, what is expected
    - the case is in this courthouse, where this Judge sits and these Deputy District Attorneys are present, what is expected
    - are there any alternatives to jail, what are they and how do I find out more about those possibilities

An experienced Orange County DUI attorney will not only defend you, but will give you the knowledge in which to make informed decisions about the case as a whole. The ultimate decision - to go to trial and fight the charge, or accept an offer. None of this will occur if you go into court without an attorney, or with one not experienced in DUI cases. You need a DUI attorney to obtain the best possible results for your individual case.

Monday, May 2, 2011


You received a break on the misdemeanor or felony you pled to last year, but you’re still on probation; or maybe you didn’t receive a break, but at least you’re out of jail – be aware that violating your probation will make matters worse.

A probation violation occurs when the sentence the Judge gives is disobeyed during the probation’s time period (usually 3-5 years). So for instance, the Judge says that you must attend and complete a class, but you stop going to it. The class sends a letter to the Court, the Judge sees this, and issues a warrant for your arrest. Another example of this occurs when as part of your sentence and probation, the Judge tells you that you must obey all laws. However, you have a drug addiction and instead of getting the serious help you need, you are arrested for drugs; or you are incorrectly accused of another crime. The Judge sees that you have been arrested and have disobeyed the probation condition of obeying all laws and revokes your probation.

Once a probationer has violated probation, the Court where the sentence was issued will try and have the probationer appear in Court to face the violation by issuing a warrant for their arrest. If the person is on misdemeanor probation, the Court may send a letter to the probationer’s last known address, and depending on the availability of the Sheriff’s office, an officer may try and serve that warrant at the probationer’s work or home. If the probationer is in custody in the same county, such as Orange County, the probationer appears in the Court where the warrant was issued to face the violation. If the probationer is in custody in another county, such as Los Angeles or Riverside, or state, the probationer is transported to the court where the warrant was issued. If the person is on felony probation, after the Judge issues a warrant for their arrest on the probation violation, the probation officer will try to make the arrest.

Once the probationer is in Court, regardless if by appearing as a result of a letter or arrest, they are entitled to a hearing on the alleged probation violation. If the person is accused of not attending a class, paying a fine or giving a “dirty test” (testing positive for alcohol/drugs when they were ordered not to use those substances) and they are wrongly accused, they will want to have a hearing to establish their innocence. If the probationer has been arrested for a new charge, whether misdemeanor or felony, they will want to resolve the new case prior to resolving the probation violation. The resolution of the new case may also resolve the violation on their old case.

If the probationer wants to fight the allegation of a probation violation, they have the right to have an attorney represent them, they have the right to present evidence to defend themselves, and the Court must have the person who is accusing them of the violation testify. However, if the probationer knows that they violated their probation, because they failed to comply with the Court’s terms, it may be in their best interest to negotiate with the Court to be reinstated on probation with as light a sentence for the violation as possible.

The sentence for the violation of probation will depend on several factors: the number of times the probationer has been before the Court on a violation, the severity of the violation, and whether the person is on misdemeanor or felony probation. The person may be found to be not guilty of the violation, they may be reinstated on probation with very little consequences, or they may go to state prison for years. Regardless, an allegation of a probation violation is a serious matter.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Problems with DUI Breathalyzers

It's amazing how many times I have heard an "expert" testify that the breath device used in a DUI case is accurate, because it has so many safeguards that if it wasn’t working properly it wouldn't give a result. Obviously, that's not the case with the Alco-Sensor V used in Ventura County where hundreds of DUI convictions will be overturned and others will never have charges filed against them. Ventura County bought this device in January and since this time they have discovered that the Intoximeters’ breath device has been giving inaccurate readings.

Orange County law enforcement agencies also use one of Intoximeters’ breath devices, the Alco-Sensor XL IV, which is the same manufacturer as Ventura's Alco-Sensor V. The testimony I have repeatedly heard by the District Attorney's expert during DUI trials is that the amount of alcohol my client drank is inaccurate, because the machine is always right. The breath machine has the necessary "safeguards" such as the 15-minute observation period, the calibration and accuracy checks, the .00 reading prior to testing, the deep-lung blow, the two tests within a .02 of each other and on and on- "we have all these safeguards and we have two tests, the machine, not your client, is the one telling the truth". This is probably what they were testifying to the jurors in Ventura County until just recently when they discovered an issue with the mouthpiece of the DUI Breathalyzer.

So when you're sitting in that jury box and you're listening to the District Attorney's "expert" while they tell you that the breathalyzer is accurate by explaining all the “safeguards” and ultimately ending with “it gave two results”, please think again.

For more information on DUI visit: DUI Charges

Monday, April 11, 2011


Completing an application? A common occurrence, whether for school, new employment, advancement in employment, loans, and so forth. Then the question appears, “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?” So vague and unassuming, you just want to put “no” and move on, but should you… or will that DUI, drug issue, bar fight, or other mishap from decades ago show up right when you least need to be reminded of that indiscretion. Clean your record once and for all. There are various terms for cleaning your record, but the most common choice is a Motion to Expunge made under Penal Code section 1203.4. Terminology may be used such as sealing a record, which only occurs if the indiscretion occurred as a juvenile, or a Pardon, which only occurs if the person went to prison. Most, however, will need a Motion to Expunge. This process takes place after a person has completed all of the terms of probation, and where a felony conviction occurred, after the felony has been reduced to a misdemeanor. The Judge will then allow the convicted person to withdraw their plea of guilty or finding of guilt, and the Judge will then dismiss the case against them. Some charges do not qualify for an expungement such as a few vehicle code violations and some sex offenses. Other terms of the plea will not disappear such as driver’s license conditions and the inability to possess a firearm. In addition, if you are completing a government or state application, an expungement will not seal the record for those eyes and you must disclose the previous conviction. However, for the most part, a record may be completely expunged, and when asked if you have a misdemeanor or felony conviction, you can simply put “no”. Click here for more information on expungements

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

DUI Checkpoint App Ban

A few Senators sent a letter to Google, Apple and Research In Motion to remove their DUI Checkpoint Apps from the marketplace. These apps provide information on DUI checkpoint locations or allow drivers to alert each other of DUI locations. The Senators lament that apps alerting users of DUI checkpoints are "harmful to public safety".

However, what the Senators fail to mention, is that this information is readily available to anyone who takes the time to do a little research. These apps simply speed up the research process. By law, police agencies must notify the public of a pending checkpoint. They usually do so in the form of a press release. So for example, go to the Irvine Police Department web site and hit the tab for "press releases". Here, they post all their media notices to the public, including a March 16th entry that advises that on March 17th a checkpoint will be held near Jamboree and Alton in Irvine. One of the steps required in order to have a legal checkpoint is prior notice to the public. Checkpoints are not a secret and as the statistics show checkpoints have not reduced the DUI numbers. The California Office of Traffic Safety keeps statistics on the number of DUI arrests, checkpoints and all traffic safety issues. (

What we do know is that checkpoints only catch an extremely small percentage of DUI drivers, most are arrested by roving patrols, and the number of DUI arrests go up almost every year. The Senators may want to spend their time legislating for free shuttles from neighborhoods to drinking hubs and ban parking lots at these establishments. The money is there, it just needs to be redirected. Oh, and by the way stop calling DUIs "drunk drivers" don't have to be drunk to be DUI. This may also help with "public safety".

Friday, March 4, 2011


St. Patrick’s Day is on a Thursday this year so beware of increased police patrol and the possibility of DUI Checkpoints through the weekend in Orange County and across the state.
In 2010, St. Patrick’s Day fell on a Wednesday, but on the weekend following the holiday, Newport Beach, San Clemente, Huntington Beach and Fullerton police departments conducted checkpoints.

The California Office of Traffic Safety in conjunction with the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration provides over $56 million across this state to enforce DUI laws. Sixteen Orange County cities, second only to Los Angeles, have obtained grants.

“In these tough economic times California’s traffic safety community is not pulling back. For federal fiscal year 2009, OTS (California’s Office of Traffic Safety) awarded $82 million in grants to 203 agencies for programs targeting impaired driving, roadway safety, seat belt and child safety seat usage, emergency medical services, pedestrian and bicycle safety, and police traffic services,” stated the Secretary of California, Dale Bonner.

The OTS has characterized the “Top 50 DUI Cities” in California as those 50 cities that have the highest number of alcohol related fatalities and injuries. The Orange County cities included on this list are: Anaheim, Costa Mesa, Fullerton, Garden Grove, Huntington Beach, Orange, Newport Beach, and Santa Ana. Based on OTS statistics, there were a total of 1029 DUI checkpoints in these 50 cities in 2010. 1,336,738 vehicles traveled through these checkpoints with 783,381 drivers screened, 10,936 drivers performed field sobriety tests (the roadside coordination tests) and 4,054 DUI arrests were made. This calculates to a 3 hundredth of a percent arrest rate based on the number of vehicles entering the checkpoint verses the number of DUI arrests.

Based on these checkpoint numbers, you may be inclined to believe that DUI arrests are on the decline, but the total number of DUI arrests is far different from the checkpoint numbers. Even when there are not any checkpoints, police departments have roving DUI teams which will look any traffic infraction or vehicle equipment violation, especially in the evening hours or holidays and sporting events, in order to lawfully stop vehicles and check for alcohol consumption. The expired registration tag that you’ve been driving with for a couple of months will never cause you any issues when you’re driving to work in the morning, but coming home from dinner at 10 pm at night and that may become an issue.

In 2005, there were 180,288 DUI arrests in California. In 2006, there were 197,248, in 2007, arrests were at 203, 866, and in 2008, 214,811 arrests were made. In 2009, the number dipped a little to 208,531 DUI arrests and we’re still waiting for the numbers for 2010. Is it the more money put into the enforcement, the more arrests; or will the trend show a decline, because of the education and publicity DUI arrests and accidents receive? I don’t know. It still seems like bars and restaurants still have parking lots. These lots are full at night and empty in the early morning when I pick-up my car. What’s the answer?

The OTS Annual Performance Report states that, “in 2011, OTS again identified and targeted California’s “top 50 DUI cities” and funded these cities to conduct additional DUI checkpoints. As a result, the ‘top 50 cities” plan to conduct 598 DUI checkpoints in 2011.”(

Costa Mesa is increasing their checkpoints from the 12 they had in 2010 to 20 in 2011. That’s almost twice per month. Santa Ana conducted 22 in 2010 and has funding for 22 in 2011. Huntington Beach and Newport Beach are also keeping the same numbers of 8 and 6 checkpoints, respectively, for the years 2010 and 2011.

Bottom line, if you choose to drive after drinking you may end up spending thousands of dollars when a cab ride or a call to a friend will save money and time. Yes, there are innocent people arrested (in fact the OTS report gives a 79% conviction rate which means that 21% are not convicted of the DUI), but when in doubt, put away the keys.