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Orange County Criminal Law Blog

False allegations of assault

Assault charges can be devastating, and those who are accused of assault may witness their lives unravel in all sorts of ways. Whether someone faces challenges in their career because of the charges or their reputation is shattered and they face time in prison, numerous consequences may result from these accusations. Unfortunately, many people have been falsely accused of assault. Even though the allegations are false, they can still shatter someone's life if the case is not approached correctly. For these reasons, it is pivotal to carefully review your legal options if you have been wrongly accused of assault.

There are a lot of different reasons why people may find themselves falsely accused of this offense. Sometimes, a former spouse or partner may want to bring down their ex's reputation by claiming that they were abused or assaulted, even though no such abuse occurred. Or, someone may start a fight and accuse someone who was acting in self-defense of assault. These are just a couple of reasons why false assault allegations arise, and it is important for people facing these charges to remember that every case is different.

Defining "criminal threats"

You might think that the only way through which you can be convicted of a violent crime in Fullerton would be to actually take action against another. Yet that is not always the case. Many clients have come to us here at The Law Offices of Jacqueline Goodman thinking that their right to free speech also affords them the freedom to say whatever they want without facing any criminal charges. Yet law enforcement officials may often view the words you say as conveying an intent serious enough to warrant charging you with a crime. 

You might think that only by doing something like yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater in order to incite panic warrants any type of criminal punishment. State law, however, recognizes direct threats made to another individual as constituting a crime. Section 422 of the California Penal Code states that if you communicate anything to another (be it through written or spoken words or electronic communication) that said person believes to be a threat credible enough to cause them to fear for their own safety (or that of their family members), you can be arrested for making criminal threats. This is true even if you never had any intention of carrying the threat out. 

Will hallucinogenic mushrooms become legal in California?

As the nation’s opinions about marijuana continue to shift, the city of Denver — the first city to legalize the substance — has called the status of another natural drug into question.

Hallucinogenic mushrooms have been decriminalized in the city of Denver, Colorado after a recent vote. Now, California residents are wondering if their state is next.

Understanding clemency

The ultimate goal of one's criminal defense efforts in Fullerton is to secure the optimal outcome from their case. In many situations, that may be a full acquittal. In others, however, it may mean reduced criminal penalties. Yet it is important to remember that such an outcome may not result from one's initial prosecution. Indeed, their fight may continue even after having been convicted. In that event, their goal becomes securing form of post-conviction relief. One of the ideal forms of such relief is clemency. 

The argument made for clemency is that one has met the standard of accountability or rehabilitation and that any further punitive action would be unjust. Typically clemency comes in the form of either a pardon or sentence commutation. A pardon is essentially forgiveness of any criminal activity and an order to cease any further punishments from being meted out. A sentence commutation is an order to reduce criminal sentence (either to a shorter prison term or a reduced fine). Clemency petitions are reviewed by the state's parole board and then submitted (with a recommendation) to the Governor's Office, from which a final decision will be issued. Per the California Board of Parole Hearings, clemency requests made by those with two or more felony convictions must also be approved by the State Supreme Court. 

Properly dealing with lost property

You may share the same opinion of most in Fullerton in that the idea of your ever being accused of a crime as serious as theft may seem ludicrous to you. At face value, an allegation of theft seems fairly cut-and-dry: either you stole something or you did not. Yet ask many of those that have come to us here at The Law Office of Jacqueline Goodman seeking assistance, and they will tell you that conduct that you consider to be completely innocent can often lead to criminal scrutiny. 

Take the finding of lost property. If you find something in a public place that is obviously lost, you may think that unless the owner is in the area looking for it, it belongs to you. Yet that may only hold true in certain cases. Section 485 of California's Penal Code says that you may be guilty of theft if you appropriate lost property for your own personal use. There is one major caveat associated with this law: in order for it to apply to your case, circumstances must exist that offer you knowledge of (or a means to find) the item's owner. 

Is eyewitness identification a reliable source of evidence?

For many years, eyewitness identification has been used as a source of evidence in criminal cases across the country. Whether through a physical lineup or using photographs, witnesses have been asked to pick the perpetrator out of a line of potential suspects. Yet, research shows that flaws in the eyewitness lineup process has led to the wrongful conviction and incarceration of many people. According to the Innocence Project, 350 criminal cases have been overturned after DNA evidence proved the innocence of the convicted individual. Eyewitness misidentification was involved in 70% of those cases.

The problem lies in the fact that many law enforcement departments lack a standardized process when conducting eyewitness lineups. Lineup administrators may be familiar with details of the case, which could cause them to lead the witness into choosing a certain person out of the lineup. Furthermore, lineups that are not organized properly could prompt witness to choose a certain person as well. For example, if the suspect was said to have long hair and a tattoo, there should be more than one person in the lineup that matches this description.

The consequences of assault charges

People are charged with assault for all sorts of reasons, whether they unexpectedly found themselves in the middle of a bar fight or a former partner falsely accuses them of a violent attack. Regardless of the reason(s) why someone finds themselves in this position, it is important to remember that the consequences can be devastating. Even if someone is found innocent, their reputation may be damaged beyond repair and they may have to endure a considerable amount of stress.

When outcomes are less favorable, the consequences can virtually destroy someone's life, resulting in job loss, an inability to find work in their field, relationship issues and time behind bars. Some people may be unaware of how serious these charges can be, only to discover that their life has been destroyed by the allegations. This can be especially upsetting when someone is falsely accused of assault by someone who wants to get revenge, such as a former friend or an ex. Every assault case is unique and it is crucial to review all of the details of the incident.

How a drug possession charge can affect you

If you are facing a drug possession charge in California, you may think prison time is unavoidable. The good news is that possession is now classified as a misdemeanor, which means the consequences are less severe than they would be if it was a felony. With the right defense, you may be able to avoid jail altogether.

According to FindLaw, California was the first state to change drug possession from a felony to a misdemeanor. This means a conviction regarding possession cannot lead to prison, although it can result in up to one year in the county jail. In certain cases, a defense attorney may even be able to avoid a conviction by proving unlawful seizure, medical-related use, entrapment or lab analysis issues.

California's violent crime rates increase

In WalletHub's recent ranking of safest places to live in the United States, California was placed in the lower (more dangerous) half at slot 32.

It's no wonder the state received a 46 out of 50 ranking for "Personal residential safety," considering that violent crime in California has increased in recent years, according to the California Department of Justice.

Why is heroin and fentanyl use on the rise?

Opioid use, including heroin and fentanyl, is on the rise in California. In 2017 alone, experts estimate that California lost 2,000 lives due to opioid overdose, with the nation losing an additional 48,000.

With drug education classes having covered the dangers of heroin for years, many are wondering how this substance has managed to make a comeback.

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Fullerton, CA 92832

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