Friday, February 28, 2014

It is Now Legal to Look at Maps on Your Cellphone While Driving

The California Court of Appeal just ruled that drivers are allowed to use their cell phone for the purpose of looking at maps. The law that prohibits the use of cell phones, while driving, does not apply to drivers looking at maps on cell phones. The Court expressed that the law specifically applies to people using their cell phones to listen and talk. Therefore, drivers are only permitted hands free devices to listen and talk while driving.  However, the Court found that using cell phones in other ways is not prohibited by this statute.

This is a very important ruling by the Court because this law must now apply to all California trial courts.  The reason for many stops is the use of a cell phone while driving, and the fine for this citation continues to rise.  Also, many DUI arrests are predicated by the use of cell phones as being the reason for the stop.  Now, it is going to become very important for an officer to tell what specific purpose the driver is using the cell phone for.   Many people listen and talk on their cell phones using the speaker option, and this makes it impossible to tell whether someone is looking at a map or on speakerphone.

If you are stopped for illegally using your cell phone, whether it leads to a subsequent arrest or simply a citation, it is important to contact an attorney at The Law Office of Ben Mironer right away.  We can help use this new law to get a citation like this dismissed, or possibly get evidence excluded from your case, if it was obtained after such a stop.  An experienced attorney will thoroughly explain our defense and how we will argue your case in court.

Appellate Courts are only able to make these types of landmark decisions because people decide to challenge the status quo.  The appellate court reversed a trial court’s decision to find the driver guilty of the cell phone violation.  It is crucial to have an attorney that can challenge a trial courts’ decision in the court of appeal.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Justin Bieber Rejected Plea Bargain Offer and Will Try to Beat His DUI

You can't always believe the police report!

Justin Bieber rejected a plea bargain offer today, in his Florida criminal case for DUI and street racing.  Bieber's attorneys suggest that the officers may have embellished as to statements made by Bieber.

His attorneys are also challenging the street racing charges. The prosecutors reportedly offered Bieber a no jail deal, with probation and certain standard DUI terms.

Bieber reportedly is not interested in a deal with probation or an alcohol program. Unfortunately, most deals that have no probation, usually carry a jail sentence. Also, the alcohol program is required by law for a DUI.

In essence, he wants his lawyers to get him no probation, no jail, and no alcohol program.  This suggests that Bieber will have to take his chances with a jury trial. Unless the DUI defense team can discover problems with the prosecutions case, it appears that Bieber will be headed to trial.

This can turn out to be a very interesting case, especially if Bieber has been falsely accused by over-zealous police officers that wanted to arrest a celebrity. Right now, Bieber's attorneys are requesting additional discovery and building their defense for Bieber. This case may potentially expose the weaknesses in DUI cases, on a national level.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Top 5 Ways to Beat a DUI

It is crucial in any criminal case to conduct a thorough investigation of the evidence, but especially in any DUI case because there is usually some chemical evidence that prosecution must prove is reliable. Sometimes a good investigation by the defense can uncover that a bad investigation was conducted by law enforcement. Prosecutors commonly have to state on the record that “problems with proof” is their reason for reducing charges, or dismissing a DUI.

An experienced criminal defense attorney knows that a good motion can get a case dismissed without the need for a trial. A motion is a way for the attorneys to request the court to review certain issues before trial commences. Sometimes motions are in regard to discovery, while other motions may question the legality of stops, searches, or arrests. A “suppression motion” is a common motion used by defense attorneys to challenge the constitutionality of a stop and the lawfulness of an arrest. If the defense motion is granted, and all of the evidence is suppressed, the DUI should get dismissed.

Prior to commencing trial, your defense attorney will have an opportunity to file motions immediately before the start of the trial. These motion are known as 402 motions or motion in limine. Sometimes certain evidence can get excluded because it lacks any scientific merit, or it lacks foundation. An experienced trial attorney knows how to spot the prosecutor’s evidence that can be challenged, and raises the contention effectively. If a Judge excludes some of the prosecutor’s evidence it can obviously weaken their case, but it can also potentially lead to the DUI getting dismissed.

By putting 12 angry people in a jury box, you do two things. For one, you raise their interests as to what they’re going to be listening to for several days about you. But two, you give yourself the opportunity to get your charges dismissed, as opposed to pleading guilty. This opportunity means that you have a chance, which is something you don’t have when you plead. The pressure is really put on the prosecution to prove their case because there will generally be flaws in the police investigation, the chemical evidence, the prosecutor’s witnesses, and the case in whole. This is why often times DUI cases in California that go to trial get dismissed.

Unlike other criminal offenses, DUI cases in California are very specialized and require professional attention and expertise. Good DUI attorneys know how to utilize the four methods mentioned above to get the best imaginable outcomes. Not all criminal defense attorneys are suited to aggressively advocate DUI cases. Some criminal attorneys don’t have the knowledge or ability to properly handle a DUI case, so you must get an attorney who mainly does DUI cases in California. Also, you need to be weary of some good DUI attorneys that no longer have the desire to personally handle cases, so find out who’s handling your case. It is crucial to have a skilled and seasoned DUI attorney represent you. That is truly the BEST way to beat a DUI.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Todd Harrell of 3 Doors Down Arrested for a DUI

Todd Harrell, base player for 3 Doors Down, was reportedly arrested late Tuesday for suspicion of driving under the influence. This recent arrest occurred in Mississippi, where he was previously convicted of DUI in 2012. He had appealed the 2012 conviction, but the appellate court had upheld the decision. More importantly, Harrell is also currently facing several serious charges for driving impaired in an accident resulting in another driver’s death in April 2013. That traffic collision landed Harrell in jail for several days, in Tennessee.  The Judge released him on $100,000 bail, pending the outcome of that case. In California, the bail for a felony DUI, even without a great bodily injury, is usually $100,000.

Harrell now faces a second offense DUI. In his first offense he was involved in a traffic collision where he rear ended a pick-up truck. After consenting to a blood draw, he reportedly told police officers he had five different prescription pills in his system. In this current arrest, it appears that the report suggests Harrell was under the influence of a substance other than alcohol. In California, if this case goes to trial, the prosecutor must go through the prior conviction, and Harrell is entitled to “bifurcate” the trial. This means that the jury cannot find out about his prior conviction during trial, and should not hold it against him. Also, his attorney must make sure the jury does not know about his pending case in Tennessee.  A fair juror must decide whether someone is guilty based on Harrell’s actions in this case only, they should not be influenced by information that can cause a bias against Harrell. It is unfortunate that sometimes people don’t learn from their mistakes, but everyone is entitled to a fair trial.

These current charges are very serious, but the charges in Tennessee against him are obviously much more serious. In California, Felony DUI where someone is killed can be charged as a “Watson” murder. This offense can carry a sentence of life in prison. When someone is convicted of a misdemeanor or felony DUI, they are given an advisement that if they are involved in a traffic collision where they’re under the influence and someone is killed they can be charged with second degree murder. Even though this incident didn’t involve a traffic collision, it seems Harrell needs to be proactive in seeking help for any substance abuse issues he may have. Not just to benefit his case, but to improve his well being.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Chris Kattan of SNL Arrested for Suspicion of DUI

Actor Chris Kattan, well known for his roles on SNL and Night at the Roxbury, was arrested around 2 am last night for suspicion of drunk driving. He was arrested after an anonymous 911 caller notified police about a Mercedes swerving in the 101 freeway. His vehicle later crossed into a coned area, and collided with a cal trans vehicle.

This is another unfortunate incident, which shows us again that celebrities are not super-human. As the story has been reported, there appears to be a lot of evidence suggesting Mr. Kattan was too impaired to drive. Now, his case will be heard in the Van Nuys courthouse, which is notorious for being very strict with DUI cases.

The City Attorney's Office will likely be the agency to prosecute this case. This office is known for being very tough on DUI defendants. Now that it appears Mr. Kattan was seen swerving and moments later was involved in a traffic collision with a cal trans vehicle, the City Attorney's Office will likely go forward with a prosecution. Even though we don't know the alleged BAC level, given this driving pattern, the prosecutor may file a DUI charge under California Vehicle Code Section 23152(a), even if Mr. Kattan was below .08%.

Also, the 911 call will likely be admitted into evidence based on California case law. An "anonymous tipster" may contact 911 to report a drunk driver and the audio recording may potentially be used against Mr. Kattan, even if the caller is anonymous. The key is whether the 911 call properly identified Mr. Kattan's vehicle description, location, and whether the call describes a driving pattern that is sufficient to give an officer probable cause to stop the car.

A DUI attorney could potentially have a major impact on this case. If Mr. Kattan was not a celebrity, a common person in this same situation would be facing a jail offer from the prosecutor. Even though this is potentially a first offense DUI, the combination of facts and the location of the incident could cause someone to end up in jail, unless they have a skilled DUI attorney to defend them. This is why it is critical to hire a local DUI attorney, for anyone facing DUI charges in the Van Nuys courthouse.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Can I Ever Become a Nurse if I Have a Criminal Conviction on My Record?

The Board of Nursing is very select in their admissions, and will not admit someone that has a criminal conviction on their record. Furthermore, most nursing schools require that their applicants have no criminal record. This would make it seem impossible to become a nurse, if you’ve ever been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony criminal offense.

However, there is hope! Most criminal misdemeanor and many felony criminal convictions can be cleared from your record. The process is called a criminal record expungement, and it allows the court to withdraw your plea of guilty/no contest, and enter a not guilty plea, and then dismiss your case. Under California Penal Code §1203.4, the court may grant an expungement if it is in the “interests of justice.” It is crucial to get an expungement attorney that focuses in the area of post-conviction relief, in order to optimize your chances of getting the petition granted.

Some felony cases may be reduced to misdemeanors and expunged, but it is important to hire an attorney that knows which offences may be reduced and which can’t. There are also various requirements that must be satisfied, in order to be eligible for an expungement. An expungement attorney can discuss all of the requirements to verify you’re eligible, before you pursue a petition with the court.

One of the requirements for expungement, is that you can’t still be on probation for a criminal conviction. However, you may be eligible for an early termination of probation under California Penal Code §1203.3. If so, you could potentially get an expungement granted at the same time as an early termination of your probation.

The key is that you must have an attorney that handles lots of expungement petitions, in order to give yourself the highest probability of success in these matters. It is crucial to know exactly what the court is looking for, and how to prepare the petition. An attorney with a track record of success in expungements has already demonstrated that they know exactly what the Judges are looking for. Even though every case is different, and every individual client is different, there is a formula as to what the court wants to see in an expungement petition. For more information, visit Expungement for Nurses.