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Federal and State Attorney on New California Bail Reform
Last year, this blog discussed the need for Bail Reform in California in “It is Way Past Time to Rethink Bail in California.” Well, earlier this week, Bail Reform was signed into law. It ends money bail and goes into effect October 2019.
Here is how it used to work. You get arrested and taken to jail. There was a Bail Schedule in each County. Basically, the Bail Schedule was a (computerized) list of all the things people get arrested for, battery, DUI, drug cases et cetera and how much their bail was. For example, if you got arrested for a first time misdemeanor DUI, bail was $2500. If it was a felony DUI, your bail was $100,000. What most people did was pay a bail bondsman 10% and they would bail you out. The catch was, you never got your money back, even if you were never found guilty. Think of it as an arrest tax.
The bigger issue with bail is that many people who get arrested can’t even afford to pay the bail bondsman. Unless their lawyer was able to convince the Judge to release them, they jus sat in jail until their case was heard. This sometimes meant weeks or months in jail when the person had not been convicted of anything.
Lastly, there has been concern for some time that determining bail or release by Judges was subjective and that minorities were at a disadvantage.
Starting in October next year, there will no longer be bail. You will either be released upon your promise to appear or you will sit in jail until a Judge decides if you should get out and on what terms.
The new system will set up a tiered system. Whenever someone is arrested there will be an assessment. Based on the charge they were just arrested for, their past criminal history, any history of failing to show up to court and a number of other factors, If the assement determines the person is low risk or mid level.
It is good news to hear that the State government is considering changing how defendants are assigned bail in criminal cases. And, it is good news for several reasons.
Before going on, it may be useful to provide a basic understanding of how bail works. When someone is arrested, in most cases, their bail amount is determined by the bail schedule. Periodically, Judges get together and discuss how high bail should be for each type of crime. The worse the crime, the higher the bail in general. The underlying idea is that if a Defendant has to put up, say, $50,000.00 to get out of jail while their case is pending, they will be more likely to come back to court so they don’t lose the money.
The first problem with our bail system is that what was just described is not how it usually works. Only a very small percentage of Defendants who bail out of jail pay the entire bail amount themselves. What happens is most contact a bail bondsman. They pay the bail bondsman a percentage of the bail amount, often ten percent, and it is the bail bondsman who promises to pay the court the full bail amount if the person does not show up for court. The person bailing out never gets the ten percent back. So, it is not their money that is on the line if they don’t go to court. Many of the opponents of changing the law say having money on the line
helps ensure people come to court when they are supposed to. But, they don’t have any of their own money on the line, it has already been spent.
The next thing about our bail system is that it unfairly punishes innocent people. If an innocent person is arrested and they cannot afford to bail out, they have to sit in jail until someone figures out they don’t belong there. It can take months for a case to get to the point where the Court or the prosecutor realize a person did not commit a crime. Sometimes that doesn’t happen a the person has to rely on 12 jurors to set them free. By the way, aside from totally destroying a person’s life by keeping them in jail, it is also very expensive to taxpayers as well.
In fact, in some cases, people who are innocent eventually plead guilty just to get out of jail. They are in so long that they already have done as much or even more time in jail then would be sentenced to for the crime they are accused of committing.
Even if the person is not innocent, the bail system is unfair to poorer people who get arrested. While a middle class or rich person might be able to afford bail, most poorer people can’t. Aside from the fact that it sucks to sit in jail, it can also make it harder to assist your lawyer in defending you.
We should not simply get rid of bail. In some cases it can be very useful and important. But, it does need to be changed. The reality is that if a defendant is irresponsible and or criminal enough that they are going to fail to appear at court when they are supposed to, having them bail out is not going to change that very often. So, the people who are responsible and not so criminal have to pay for it. The same ones who don’t need bail to begin with.
Things have changed over the last 28 years we have been defending the accused in drug cases at the border 21 USC 952 and 21 USC 960 often called importation of controlled substances verses drug distribution cases that often involve complaints or indictments charging conspiracy to distribute drugs under Title 21 USC 841(a)(1) and 21 USC 846.
Generally speaking, in the 1990’s and early 2000’s importation and drug conspiracies were more often a result of investigations by the DEA and FBI as a general rule. After the Obama years and the growth of the HSI or Homeland Securities Investigations readily describes the new reach of ICE under the umbrella of HSI. The ICE website very plainly states “The National Security Presidential Directive/NSPD-25 directs U.S. government agencies to attack the vulnerabilities of drug trafficking organizations by disrupting key business sectors and weakening the economic basis of the drug trade. The illegal drug market in the U.S. is based on illegal narcotics grown or manufactured in foreign countries and smuggled across our nation’s borders.
ICE agents enforce a wide range of criminal statutes including Title 18 and Title 19 of the U.S. Code. These statutes address general smuggling issues as well as customs violations. ICE also enforces Title 21, which covers the importation, distribution, manufacture and possession of illegal narcotics.”
So, things have changed. I recently was retained on a case involving allegations of mailing controlled substances across the country which was being investigated by the DEA. While it seems that the DEA is largely involved with nation-wide distribution, you don’t have to look very far to see that the DEA is very interested in where the money from illicit sales goes under the old adage “follow the money.” It is true, the DEA will follow the money, but if you visit the forfeiture website you will see most all law enforcement agencies are following the money because they retain a portion of any monies that may be tied to an illegal transaction under the theory that it was the property of the United States Government before the currency was used for illegal purposes. The standard of proof is a “preponderance of the evidence” rather than “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” and the defendant is the cash or asset. It is truly a multibillion dollar operation by the Government.
There is no doubt that it is easy to be confused by all the statutes that may lead to criminal charges and seizure of money, currency, greenbacks, Benjamins – whatever you want to call it and what you can purchase with it whether it be real property or a conveyance – which is any type of vehicle and even boats like the cigarette boats some of us remember from the Miami Vice TV show in the 1980’s.
So, if you or a loved one is charged with a federal criminal offense, please give Daniel Smith, that is me, a call at San Diego Defenders. I started my career as a Federal Defender, my father was a federal prosecutor known as an AUSA and my grandfather began his defense practice in the days of prohibition when alcohol was illegal. We have experience in negotiating successfully and going to trial in federal court. Recently, we secured one of the few acquittals (not guilty verdicts) in a drug courier or “Blind Mule” case, in which we conducted our own investigation and beat the odds against the overwhelming resources of the federal government.
At San Diego Defenders we defend state cases (including DUI’s) but much more such as complex Federal Criminal Defense. We are always available to talk, even on weekends, just call (619) 258-8888 and the operator will connect you to my cell or leave a message that I will return asap. The federal system is confusing from the moment you talk about bail. If your loved ones ever find themselves detained for questioning, it is important that they know they will be given absolutely no credit for giving information without a federal criminal defense lawyer arranging for an agreement IN WRITING before any information is given!
So, whether you are faced with US Customs, ICE, HSI, DEA, FBI, Secret Service, or even a Postal Inspector, find a good federal criminal defense lawyer. Find us at www.SanDiegoDefenders.com and download our app on your phone for easy directions on what to say and how to contact us along with many useful features or call (619) 233-6900 during business hours or (619) 258-8888 and we will take the time to explain a federal criminal case to you and your family. If you or anyone you know needs help, we are here for you and we speak Spanish! Our Paralegal, Layla Smith and our intern Ashley Ortega both are Spanish speakers and can help translate if needed. So, call us now at (619) 233-6900.
San Diego Affordable Attorney Explains What to Do If Arrested At the U.S.- Mexico Border
A friend or a loved one arrested can be a long, intimidating and scary process. Do we wait? Do we post a bail bond or should we wait until arraignment and talk to the judge? San Diego Defenders get frequent calls from loved ones saying that don’t know what to do because their loved one was arrested at the border, it has been more than 24 hours and they simply cannot figure out where they were sent after the arrest was made. What we can tell you is that in many cases the arresting officer or an agent that who is usually a CBP at the U.S. Border are trained to interrogate and question the individual to get as much information as they can.
In many cases this process can take over 24 hours before they are even booked into a federal holding facility like the MCC or CCA. These facilities can be the state or County jail or in the MCC on the federal side; if you are looking for them in the federal side you can go over to the inmate-locator site (Federal Bureau of Prisons Inmate-Locator) and punch in all the required information to find out where they are. For the state, you can look at the “Who’s in Jail” website with the sheriff’s department and it’ll ask you for require information once again. With these websites, you can see if your loved one was booked. These arrests can possibly be made by U.S. Customs, CHP, CVPD or any other agent. There are many questions you may have and we can help you figure it all out.
If your loved one has been booked give us a call at 619-258-888 so we can talk about the case and help you and your loved one. These cases may go federal or state, more cases border drug and dui cases are going state than have ever gone before because of the recent crackdown on immigration where Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, has said that all the immigration cases will be prosecuted. That means that many of the drug cases are also going state that would have otherwise gone federal.
So, if you are trying to find your loved one give us a call we can track them down and find out where they are, but more importantly they need representation. We at San Diego Defenders can help, we have payment plans, we’re affordable and we’re located across the street from the courthouse at 585 Third Ave. Chula Vista, CA 91910. Feel free to call 24/7, we will be there to help you get your loved one the representation they need.
If you haven’t heard the recent news, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced at the San Ysidro border crossing near Tijuana some recent changes in the way of a zero-tolerance mandate on illegal immigration. In most parts of the US we have a zero-tolerance policy for kilos of drugs that are crossed and then busted, and now those who are entering the U.S illegally are dealing with this recent “crackdown” by the Border Patrol at the crossing POE’s or Ports of Entry. Our federal district court immigration cases are skyrocketing. There is no doubt that a large amount of people wanting to come into the U.S. creates an impact in our courthouses for immigration, but what happens to all the drug cases involving methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine and fentanyl creating the opioid crisis we hear about on TV?
So, what does this mean? The huge unexpected impact on our federal court systems pushes the drug cases to the State of California jurisdiction. Border cases are overflowing in Federal Court and in response, other cases that are usually handled in federal court are being sent to state court. For example, a drug border bust is now being sent to State Courthouses like the Chula Vista Court across the street from where San Diego Defenders is located in the South Bay. Being so close and having a collective 60 years of experience in criminal defense can be a benefit to you or your loved one charged with a drug importation or transportation with the intent to distribute under HS 11377, HS 11379, HS 11360. There is no substitute for experience and you are smart to choose a lawyer who knows the judges, prosecutors and all the people that run the courthouse involved in drug charges and border transportation drug cases.
Recently, Lawyers Dan Smith and Jon Pettis of San Diego Defenders received a verdict of an acquittal or “not guilty” on a 20-kilo methamphetamine drug border crossing in federal court down on Broadway and Union Street. But now, the very same case would which are very important and life changing are going to the Southern Division of the San Diego Superior Court in Chula Vista. We at San Diego Defenders want all cases to result in an acquittal as well or a dismissal because we know how important you and your love one’s life is. We are affordable, have payment plans and plenty of free parking in a small building between two doctor’s offices and close to the bail bondsmen such as King Stahlman, Yo Salgo and Espinoza Bail Bonds.
The free app you can download from our www.sandiegodefenders.com website will give you a map to our office directly across the street from the South Bay Branch at 585 Third Ave. Chula Vista, CA 91910. We want to help you with your case and give you an affordable payment plan so that you can get a private lawyer that can help you get your life in order. Call us day or night at (619) 258-8888 to be connected directly to criminal defense attorney Daniel Smith and you will feel better after he explains what to expect. Call us at (619) 258-8888 and let us help you.
San Diego Military DUI Lawyer Explains What to Say When Arrested
San Diego Defenders helps a lot of people who are in the military whether it’s the Navy or the Marines which is what me mostly see in San Diego, with DUI’s off base or even on base. Now, when you are being pulled over for a DUI many questions can go through your mind like “What do I do next?” “Who should I call?” “Should I report it to my command?”
San Diego defenders created a new, fast and easy to use app that can help guide you in these situations. You can easily download our app on our website www.sandiegodefenders.comor on the app and google play store. Having this app can be very handy, we created multiple sections that will help ease the process. Some buttons included are a help button that automates a text message for you to send, an emergency contact list and many more, but the most important section in this app is a statement to officer/rights. This section tells you exactly what to say to the officer if you get arrested, this is very important for your military careers because we want to get these DUI’s right and help defend you in the best possible way.
We know your life is in our hands when you get arrested and for that reason we have affordable payment plans.
A DUI is life changing whether you go to the command, NJP, captains mast, or court martial. We will help you with all these considerations along with the state court case. Make sure to give us a call and help us help you. Call San Diego Defenders 24 hrs a day 7 days a week at (619) 258-8888 to talk to lawyer Dan Smith and set an appointment at the easy to find and park office at 585 3rd Ave, Chula Vista, CA 91910.
San Diego Military Lawyer on 4th of July DUIs Checkpoints – Navy and Marines
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San Diego DUI Lawyer Answers Questions about Hit and Run
Clash! Even the name of the band sounds like a hit and run. And, like the song says, “should I stay or should I go now? If I go there will be trouble, if I stay it will be double!”
Nearly everyone who has driven for a substantial period of time has been involved in some sort of accident. California law requires all drivers involved in accidents where property damage or injury occurs to stop and provide their insurance information. If you don’t, then it is a hit and run.
In California, if there is only property damage, hit and run is a misdemeanor (Vehicle Code section 20002(a)). If someone is injured or killed, it is a “wobbler” which means it can either be a misdemeanor or a felony (Vehicle Code section 20001). A misdemeanor hit and run can mean up to six months in jail, but, usually results in being placed on probation. A felony hit and run can mean between 2 to 4 years in prison, with the presumptive term being 3 years. Many hit and runs also involve another crime, for example DUI or car theft. Another crime being involved is often the reason for the person leaving the scene.
The most people leave the scene is because they do not want to pay for the damage they have caused. And, of course, if they have had ANY alcohol in the time before the “fender bender” they are afraid of getting a VC 23152 (a) DUI if the police come rolling up to investigate.
There is a good example of a felony hit and run on trial right now in San Diego County. The Defendant is also accused of DUI and vehicular manslaughter. The prosecution claims the woman was drunk and drove onto a sidewalk where she hit and killed a man who ended up crashing through her windshield where he remained. The Defense claims she fell asleep and drove home because she was in shock at the body suddenly appearing in her car. A jury will get to decide what happened.
While that case is pretty extreme, it does raise the question that goes through into many peoples’ minds when they are in an accident. Should I stay or should I go.
In fact, some people do leave, but, then have to decide whether or not to turn themselves in to the police. In either case, it raises an important question for prosecutors and judges, how lenient should they be.
Take a typical example, a person is DUI and hits something or someone. They know or suspect they are DUI. If they flee, they might get away with it. If they stay, they are not committing another crime, hit and run, but, they are essentially ensuring they will be arrested for the DUI and have to be responsible for the damage done.
An underlying concept of our justice system is that punishments for crimes are not only meant to punish the person being sentenced, but, they are also meant to be a warning or a deterrence to potential offenders as to the consequences of breaking the law. Prosecutors and judges often talk about “sending a message” to the community at large. If that concept has any validity, then taking into account when someone doesn’t flee should earn them some credit when it is time to determine what their punishment should be. Think about it this way, if a person who stays after an accident or turns themselves in later after initially fleeing gets hammered at sentencing, doesn’t that send the message of, “FLEE.” It could be taken as an incentive to “hit and run” meaning no one really knows what happened and the victim cannot be taken care of financially.
While this blog may not answer your particular question, you can call San Diego Defenders 24/7 at (619) 258-8888 and you will be put through to attorney Daniel Smith or get a call back as soon as is possible. Or go to www.SanDiegoDefenders.com and download our app for IOS or Android phones that has helpful hints on what to say to an officer if approached on a hit and run.