Sunday, January 24, 2010

Dumb and Dumber Awards 2009

For the Defense Dumb and Dumber Awards for 2009

This is a new feature of my blog. All facts are taken from public records. Some criminal acts are not based on any intelligent assessment of risk. The Dumb and Dumber Awards seeks to honor those who crimes will also cause a chuckle. We hope.

Third Dumbest Criminal Act for 2009

Defendant walking down the street sees a bum laying on the sidewalk. As he approaches the bum asks to buy some dope. Defendant offers a $10 rock of meth. Bum agrees and gets out his 10 bucks. Defendant grabs the $10 and runs. Whoops the bum is a cop playing buyer in a buy bust operation. After a two block chase police converge on hapless defendant

Second Dumbest Criminal Act for 2009

Defendant sees a bike leaning against a wall. Thinking he can take it and cash it in for drugs he hops on and rides away. Only problem: the bike belongs to a cop in the middle of a bust. When he looks up and sees defendant pedaling away he calls for help. Duh.

Dumbest Criminal Act of 2009

Defendant after a night of holiday partying joins a crowd of people torching discarded Christmas trees. When its his turn to torch he spots a tree leaning against a light pole and torches it. He is immediately surrounded by police. He wonders why until he notices that the tree was discarded in front of a police station. Moral: if your going to pull a prank don't do it in plain view of the police.

Shoplifting: Civil Demand Letters

What are these civil demand letters?

When shoplifting occurs the store has two options. It can call the cops who will arrest you and later the DA will decide whether to press charges. In addition and at the same time their Loss Prevention Department can send you a letter demanding that you pay them damages in an amount specified by statute. Usually these demands are low enough that the store will never bother trying to collect their penalty and I routinely advise clients to ignore them. When you do that, the civil demand will usually be assigned to a law firm to collect. What risks do you run by not paying them?

Palmer, Reifler & Assoc

If you receive a letter from a law firm it will likely come from Palmer Reifler & Associates. It will be very demanding, threatening lawsuits and wage garnishments. That's all these guys do. They extort the civil penalty from poor people who really can't afford to pay it. If you doubt me google their name and look for the class action lawsuits filed against them. Will they sue you? It's very unlikely. They prefer quick money from frightened people rather than going through a prolonged trial process or even small claims court. If they continue to harass you have an attorney write them a letter with some teeth in it. These snakes will slither away.

New CA Criminal Laws for 2010

Every new year sees a host of new criminal laws ushered in which are designed to crush the poor and oppressed. This year we have 3 new laws that will actually help you with certain criminal charges as well as credits for time served.

No More 2/3s Time Served in County Jails

The old rule, set forth in PC § 4019 meant that for every four days your serve in county jail you get credit for six. In most cases this worked out to a third time credit. Sentenced to a year in CJ you served 8 months. From now on, except for certain classes of violent crime and sex crimes, for every two days you serve in CJ you will get credit for four. The new rule means essential that prisoners in county jail will now get half-time credits. A year's sentence now means you serve six months.

Felony Theft Limits Increased

For many theft laws under the old regime anything over $400 was a felony. The legislature has now upped the limit so that in some cases the value of the property taken must be over $950 before a felony can be charged. Ex: example, receiving stolen property formerly could be charged as a felony if the property’s value was over $400; now the value must be over $950.

Non Violent Parolees: No More Prison for Violations

In the past any violation of parole could get you sent back to state prison. The legislature is changing the rules so that if you are a non-violent, non-sex crime offender you can NOT be sent back to prison for petty violations. Under existing law, the department is authorized to return a parolee to prison if the Board of Parole Hearings determines that the parolee violated the terms of his or her parole, as specified. This bill would prohibit the department from returning certain parolees to prison, placing a parole hold on the parolee, or reporting the parolee to the Board of Parole Hearings for a violation of parole, with certain offenders excepted.