Redwood City Criminal Law Blog

Parole recommendation for Manson family murderer

According to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, former Charles Manson follower Leslie Van Houten has been recommended for parole. However, there is a 150-day waiting period that includes a period of review for board staff. Furthermore, her parole must still be approved by the governor. The parole board also recommended her release in 2016 and 2018, but the decision was reversed by the governor at the time.

Van Houten is serving a life sentence for the 1969 murders of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca. Although she was not present at the murder of actress Sharon Tate and her house guests the night before, she was also convicted of conspiracy to murder them. Originally, she was sentenced to the death penalty, but the death penalty was subsequently overturned. With the death of her first lawyer, her conviction was overturned as well. Another trial ended in a hung jury before she was sentenced to life in prison in 1978.

New law could help hundreds obtain their release

Individuals who are serving time for murder convictions in California may be eligible for release after a change to state law. The change went into effect on Jan. 1, and it says that only killers can be convicted of murder. Previously, those who were indirectly related to such a crime could be charged as if he or she actually killed the victim.

The first person who was ordered released because of the new law had spent the last 15 years in prison. While robbing a drug dealer, his partner stabbed the dealer to death. The accomplice in the incident was convicted of murder and sentenced to at least 25 years in prison. It is believed that up to 800 other people could be impacted by the new statute.

California man goes to prison for drugs

A Riverside County Superior Court judge sentenced a 31-year-old Temecula man to two years in state prison on January 3 after being accused of drug dealing by area police. A second individual, a 49-year-old Temecula man, was also sentenced to three years of felony probation after pleading guilty to in September to a related drug possession offense.

According to information released by the Riverside County Sheriff's Department, local law enforcement began conducting covert surveillance operations at the 31-year-old Temecula man's home after receiving a narcotics tip in April 2018. The narcotics tip purportedly contained information alleging that illegal drugs were being sold at the residence located on Kaffirboom Court. Investigators then claim that they witnessed the 49-year-old Temecula man arrive at the home with some other individuals on May 4, 2018, and enter the residence.

Viable defenses to involuntary manslaughter depend on the facts

Unlike most crimes, involuntary manslaughter is not a crime in which the accused's state of mind or intent is an element. The California Penal Code defines it as an accidental homicide committed either during the commission of a non-felony crime or as the result of reckless conduct during a lawful activity. Under either theory, there is no allegation of intent by the accused to kill the victim. If the case is based on an allegation involving a lawful act, the prosecution must, however, prove the accused/defendant knew or should have known the conduct was such that it posed a potential danger to others.

Legal experts explain that although the burden of proof to convict a defendant is on the prosecution, it is the prosecution that typically is seen as having the advantage in a criminal case due to the vastly superior resources available to the government as compared to all but a few defendants. A viable defense must either challenge one or more of the elements of the alleged crime or rely on an affirmative defense. An affirmative defense is where the defense does not disagree with the allegations as put forth by the prosecution but explains the conduct is not unlawful because of specific circumstances. Self-defense is an example of an affirmative defense.

Shoplifting is about feelings despite whether you’re rich or poor

Whoever says our feelings don’t matter is probably ignorant to the fact that feelings are often in the driver seat of our decision-making Ferrari. It is our feelings or anticipated feelings that drive us to do what we do, despite our head-knowledge on moral behavior and our agreement with what is relatively “right” and “wrong”.

Criminal behavior such as shoplifting is included in this connection with feelings and impulsive or planned stealing. Interestingly, a recent study revealed that it didn’t matter what a person’s financial state was when it came to shoplifting. In the past, celebrities have been caught stealing when they clearly have the money to afford the item for which they were caught trying to remove from the store without paying for. The stereotype of a “poor” person stealing from a store isn’t always accurate in every instance.

Police bust up $1 million national drug ring

On Nov. 28, four California men were arrested for allegedly running a sophisticated drug trafficking scheme out of San Jose. The defendants, who all range between the ages of 35 and 42, are facing various drugs and weapons charges.

According to authorities, the defendants were posing as the owners of a computer company and approaching shipping companies about transporting their products to locations in the eastern and southern parts of the U.S. In reality, police say, they were manufacturing marijuana and other illicit substances and shipping them to distribution areas on the other side of the country. The scheme allegedly yielded around $1 million in profits. Meanwhile, the defendants paid around $70,000 in shipping costs.

Graffiti and vandalism laws in California

California law makes intentional acts of vandalism and graffiti illegal. Furnishing materials associated with the creation of graffiti is also banned.

For example, it is a crime in California to give a minor etching cream or spray paint without first obtaining proof that the minor is a legal adult and confirming their identity. It's also against the law for minors to purchase these items. Openly carrying these items in public without valid authorization is banned for all individuals, regardless of age.

You may not want to represent yourself in your DUI case

Unfortunately, after leaving the bar and committing a minor traffic violation, an officer arrests you for allegedly driving under the influence. You hope to reduce trial costs and simplify the process by representing yourself in your suspected DUI conviction, but you may end up trading saved expenses for your freedom.

California courts inflict serious punishments on those found guilty of driving under the influence. A conviction with jail time, fines and expensive programming may leave you wishing you had obtained better defense.

California man faces life in prison for hate crime

A 21-year-old California man could be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole if he is convicted of killing a gay and Jewish University of Pennsylvania student. Prosecutors say that they are considering the homicide a hate crime because the man's phone contained large amounts of anti-Semitic and homophobic material. The man entered a plea of not guilty during a Nov. 9 hearing in Orange County Superior Court.

The victim was reported missing after visiting a Lake Forest park with the man in January. The man is alleged to have picked him up at his parents' home. An exhaustive search ensued, and the 19-year-old student's body was discovered a few days later buried in a shallow grave. Pathologists determined that he had been stabbed multiple times in the neck and face. Prosecutors say that they have DNA evidence linking the man to the crime as well as the evidence found on his phone.

Man faces murder charge for allegedly killing sailor on I-5

A 21-year-old man sits in San Diego County Central Jail for the alleged shooting death of one man on Interstate 5 and shooting another man about 10 minutes earlier on Boundary Street in Mount Hope. After these incidents, the California Highway Patrol located the suspect's vehicle on northbound I-5 and alerted the San Diego Police Department.

The girlfriend of the deceased man reported the crime after the suspect allegedly shot her boyfriend when he stopped to offer help to the suspect, whose vehicle was stopped on the freeway. The victim died shortly thereafter at UC San Diego Medical Center. Police have not identified the motive for the shooting.

Your Solution Starts With A Free Consultation

We do not recommend a watch-and-wait approach when you are facing a criminal charge. It is in your best interest to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to start your defense right away. Schedule your free initial consultation at our Redwood City, California office today by calling 866-410-0465. You can also reach us via email to learn more.

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Chuck Smith, Attorney at Law
777 Marshall Street
Redwood City, CA 94063

Toll Free: 866-410-0465
Fax: 650-568-2823
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