Yearly Archives - 2017

5 Changes in California Marijuana Law that You Need to Know

In California, out with the old and in with the new should be the new motto. The legalization of recreational marijuana use hits the ballots in the Golden State in November, 2016, potentially making California the fifth and largest state to fully legalize recreational use of pot in the U.S.

If legalized, California would be joining Colorado, Washington state, Oregon, Alaska and the District of Columbia in allowing recreational use of marijuana for adults over the age of 21 and would reduce many of the marijuana drug crimes in the state.

So what would changes in this “budding” industry mean for California legally?

According to the [i]California Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform, if recreationally legalized, residents of sunny California can expect some of the following changes:

  1. Like current alcohol laws, marijuana would be legal for purchase and consumption by residents aged 21 and over.
  1. Adults over the age of 21 would be allowed to cultivate marijuana at their home, in a garden space not exceeding 100 square feet.
  1. Old criminal marijuana laws would be repealed and replaced with new, more lenient regulations*:
  • $100 fine for possession of less than an ounce for people aged 18-20
  • $500 fine for adults over the age of 21 sharing marijuana with people under 21.
  • $500 fine possessing more than one ounce outside of the home
  • $500 for smoking marijuana in public or where otherwise prohibited
  • Possible criminal implications for possessing more than 1 pound
  • Possible criminal implications for any cultivation by persons under the age of 21
  • Juvenile offenses will be punished by fines ranging from $100-$500 for first and second time offenses, with the third offense being punished by 10 days in a juvenile facility.
  • Felony “wobbler” offenses will be treated as either misdemeanors with punishments of up to 6 months in jail and/or $1000.00 fines or as felonies. These wobbler offenses include; the cultivation of marijuana on county, state or federal property, exporting marijuana out of state, trafficking, using violence in marijuana sales and distribution.
  • Smoking marijuana while driving or operating a boat or plane will be a misdemeanor and carry a punishment of up to 6 months in jail and a $1000 fine.
  • You can be fined $50.00 for every ounce in your possession over the legal limit.
  • For home cultivation, you can be fined $10 for every square foot exceeding the legal limit, OR a flat fee of $2000 per day can be implemented for each day you allow space exceeding 100 SF in your home grow area.
  1. The legalization of recreational marijuana use will allow for tens of thousands of people to have prior drug criminal records expunged. For some, these convictions are the only things damaging an otherwise clean criminal history.
  1. Because the use of marijuana would be legal, the court system can no longer use recreational use as a reason to remove children from a home where use is prevalent. Parents no longer face a risk of losing their children to social services for the consumption of marijuana.

With California’s new drug laws on the horizon, the grass truly can be greener on the other side, however it is important to remember that these laws have not yet gone into effect, and current marijuana laws and punishments are still applied, enforced and applicable. Even in the event of major marijuana law reform, you will still have to adhere to many rules comparable to those applied to alcohol use. Keep in mind that landlords will have the legal right to ban the use of marijuana on their property. Employers may require that you test negatively for THC, or deem a marijuana related conviction grounds for firing. You may be deemed ineligible for employment at certain place if you test positively for THC. Like cigarette smoke, individual cities may post and enforce “no smoking” signs by order of the law, and issue citations for those in violation of local ordinance.

If you have any questions about California’s marijuana reform laws, or need information or legal advice regarding current policy, feel free to give the attorneys at Shield Criminal Defense Law a call today. We are available 24 hours a day to answer your questions at (213) 514-8732.

*This list is not exhaustive. For a full scope of California’s up to date laws and penal codes please contact an attorney.

[i] THE CONTROL, REGULATE, AND TAX CANNABIS ACT OF 2016. (n.d.). Retrieved August 28, 2016, from http://www.reformca.com/2016

 

When Your Child Gets in Trouble with the Juvenile Law System

At some point in our youth, we all experienced a little “innocent fun” that ended up being not so innocent. Maybe it was a fight, or attending a party where there was alcohol, or even teasing someone in school. These are probably things we don’t think much of now, but times have changed. In a time where fights don’t always end with fists, and teasing a classmate goes viral online; prosecutors, educators and law enforcement no longer blame questionable behavior on “kids being kids.”

Juvenile crimes can be charged as both misdemeanors and felonies. Like the adult judicial system, a felony conviction can have harsh, long lasting penalties, and can include being sentenced to time in the adult prison system-an outcome no child, or parent wants to consider.

Many minor offenses can land your child in the juvenile court system, the following are a few lesser crimes that can end up causing big trouble:

* Because of the progressive marijuana laws in California, the possession of marijuana is no longer a jailable offense, even for individuals under 21; unless it is their third marijuana related offense. 10 days of time in a juvenile corrections facility is typically imposed for the third offense. First and second offenses are punishable by fines ranging from $250-$500.

While the above offenses can be charged more aggressively, typically crimes listed below are more likely to be prosecuted and tried in the court system:

It’s very important to obtain representation for your child if they’re being investigated, arrested or have been charged with a crime. Unlike the adult judicial system, charges against your child can be lessened, dropped, or be converted to alternate forms of rehabilitation at any point during the charging process. An attorney with experience working in the juvenile justice system can help court appointed social workers find alternate sentencing option that will keep your child out of the system and in the family home.

If the crime is particularly severe, or if the minor is a repeat juvenile offender, social workers can recommend that the case be tried in the adult system. Minors charged in the adult system face a judge or jury. Should incarceration be sentenced, the juvenile can be ordered to serve time within the California Youth Authority until the age of 25, at which time they are moved into the adult prison system. A juvenile defense attorney will automatically request that any jail time imposed be served within the juvenile corrections facility. Nothing increases the likelihood of committing a crime in the future like ending up in the adult system as a minor.

The attorneys at Shield Criminal Defense Law believe in second chances and setting children on the right path. This is most likely achieved through rehabilitation and counseling outside of the jail setting. We will fight to keep your child out of the system, or reduce the amount of time spent away from home to a minimum.

We understand that this is a stressful time for your family. Call Shield Criminal Defense Law today to speak to a Los Angeles defense attorney about how we can help defend your child. We are available 24 hours a day at (213) 514-8732.

Domestic Violence: Guilty Before Proven Innocent?

If you’ve been accused of committing a domestic violence related offense, you may feel like the phrase “innocent until proven guilty” is a myth. Often in cases of DV, the accuser is given the full benefit of the doubt and the alleged abuser becomes a social outcast within the family, community and sometimes at work, even before they see a courtroom.

Because prosecutors and law enforcement take domestic violence accusations so seriously, they will likely issue a peace (or “stay away”) order the moment the accuser files charges. This could mean that before you ever speak to a judge or investigators, you will be ordered to stay away from your abuser, any children you may have together, and out of your home until the court hears your case.

Most people are surprised to learn that they can be charged with domestic violence against people who are not their spouse or partner, and for acts that don’t involve physical abuse at all.

Domestic violence can be charged for any assault or abusive, threatening act against a spouse, partner, children, family members, people who live with you, or ex-partners. In some jurisdictions, you can be charged with domestic violence for an abusive or threatening act against an ex-partner’s new spouse or partner.

The most commonly charged act of domestic violence is Domestic Battery. Battery is charged when the defendant punches, slaps, kicks, pulls hair, or performs any act involving the infliction of willful force against any of the aforementioned individuals.

Other acts of violence charged as domestic violence include:

  • Vandalism or destruction of property used as a method to harm, intimidate or “punish” the victim
  • Holding the victim against their will, either by force or threat i.e.; not allowing them to leave the home or space under the threat of violence or actual physical force
  • Brandishing a weapon with the threat of physical harm
  • Threatening violence if the victim presses charges or testifies against you, also referred to as “Witness Intimidation”

Most of the offenses above are considered felonies, or at the very least, “wobbler offenses”, which in California means the State could prosecute as either a misdemeanor or a felony. There are also additional sentencing consequences that can be imposed if you’ve ever been convicted of a felony previously, or if the act was committed with a deadly weapon. In addition, a conviction of any domestic violence charge will require you turn in any firearms you may own to authorities and lose your ability to ever purchase a firearm in the future.

With all the odds stacked in the favor of the victim, and without physical proof being required to constitute an actual crime took place, it may seem the odds are greatly stacked against those accused of domestic violence. However, there are several defenses that can be used to fight DV charges:

  • Self-defense is the number 1 defense against any charge of violence. If you were defending yourself against physical harm, you may be able to prove self-defense, and have the charges against you dropped.
  • Defending someone else in your household may also be used to defend your domestic violence charges. If you were acting in the defense of your child, for instance, the court may see your behavior as necessary, and not proceed with a criminal case.
  • Oftentimes estranged partners or spouses will use domestic abuse to “get back at” their former partner out of spite and claim abuse when no act of violence ever occurred. Proving your accuser’s allegations were vindictive in nature will result in having your charges dismissed, and the peace order quashed.

Regardless of the facts of your case, you’ll need an aggressive domestic violence defense lawyer to protect your interests inside and outside of the court. Having an attorney experienced in defending domestic violence charges will allow you to fight charges brought against you out of anger, explain cases of self-defense, and work with prosecutors to have your charges reduced or dismissed.

Domestic violence charges can put your life and freedom on the line. You need a Los Angeles defense attorney in your corner. Call Shield Criminal Defense Law today for a comprehensive legal analysis of your domestic violence case, we are available 24 hours a day at (213) 514-8732.