The Right To Jury Trial In A DUI Case

Every person accused of a crime that carries potential jail time has a Constitutional right to a jury trial, where 12 citizens are selected from the community to listen to the evidence, be instructed on the applicable law, and render a verdict by applying the facts to the law. A jury trial generally lasts about a week or so, depending upon which courthouse your case is assigned to. A jury trial in a DUI case is like any other criminal case. It begins with jury selection, and proceeds through opening statements, examination and cross-examination of each of the witnesses, closing arguments, jury instructions, deliberations, and verdict.

If you are charged with a violation of Vehicle Code Section 23152 (b), driving with a blood or breath alcohol level of .08% or higher, and if you are acquitted of that charge (meaning that all 12 jurors agree you are not guilty of the charge), then the DMV case is automatically set aside. This is the only thing that can happen in court that will impact the DMV Hearing.

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Dealing With CPS On Child Abuse Cases

DCFS, sometimes referred to as CPS, is there to protect children and that is a very noble cause in most cases. However, there may be instances where a CPS worker can be over zealous and border harassment towards parents in certain cases. As a criminal defense attorney in Torrance for over twenty years I have seen many horror stories. This article helps to explain how to deal with Child Protective Services when they have you in their sights.

First, understand the role of the CPS worker, their goal is to investigate cases of suspected abuse and resolve the cases by either closing the case and doing nothing or taking the child and referring the case to the County for prosecution.

In most cases it is best to cooperate fully with them, let them do their job. In many cases, hiring a lawyer may actually aggravate the situation and extend the investigation. If a child makes allegations of abuse they take these statements seriously. They have jurisdiction over the child. CPS will view any lawyer for the child who was hired by the parent in this context as having a conflict of interest. They rarely believe any recant, and if a lawyer hired by mom or dad is hovering, they will assume the parents have pressured the recant and you are there to force the issue.

With regard to requests to interview the child, cooperate. They will yank the kids if mom prohibits kids from speaking with them. CPS first and foremost is about the welfare. If you don’t play the game with DCFS they have no other choice but to remove the child from the home to facilitate an interview.

Regard the decision to hire an attorney as a last case scenario. There certainly are cases where retains counsel can be the best decision, certainly contact a Child Abuse Defense Attorney when allegations have risen to a criminal investigation and the police want to interview you about the accusations.

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Preparing a Statement of the Case for the Attorney.

If you hired this law firm to represent you in your case, Matthew wants to know as much about your case as possible. We understand that being arrested and charged with a crime can be very traumatic and uncomfortable. We request that our clients prepare the “statement of the case” and supply that to the attorney in order to memorialize the events of the case. The statement is essentially the Defense version of the “report of the incident” and is helpful for the lawyer’s file.

Criminal cases can take months to resolve and our client’s memory of the events can be crucial. Writing down those events will help the client recall as well as help the attorney have an easy source to read their version of events. This statement is used exclusively for legal representation and will be completely confidential. Include any and all positive facts you can remember along with any mitigating information that may help to explain the conduct police are accusing you of.

For your convenience, you can e-mail the statement to the attorney at matthew.ruff@sbcglobal.net.

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I Missed My Court Date, What Can I Do ?

Anyone can be in a position that for whatever reason causes them to forget or miss their Court date. When this happens there are things you can do to rectify the situation and avoid being arrested and sent to jail.

When you fail to show up to Court on a misdemeanor the Court issues a warrant for your arrest but you can do the following to clear up the FTA.

First, contact the Court that was expecting you and find out their policy for the recall of warrants or failure to appear. If the matter was a traffic ticket you can usually reschedule the date with the Court. In Torrance for example you can call the clerk and sometimes get an extension. If the matter was a misdemeanor you should appear at the clerks window first thing the next day. Most Courts open at 8 am. You can explain the reason for missing your Court appearance and they will send you up to appear before the Judge and recall your warrant.

For most misdemeanor cases you can hire a lawyer to go in and appear for you to get the warrant recalled. This helps if you live outside the area and cannot easily appear in Court yourself.

If the matter is a felony you can do the same but first contact an attorney do help you with the case.

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New Drone Laws For Los Angeles

The city of Los Angeles has enacted new laws that make criminal certain conduct by drone operators. Here is the gist of the new law on operation of drones in Los Angeles city:

1. No Person shall operate any Model Aircraft within the City of Los Angeles and within 5 miles of an airport without the prior express authorization of the airport air traffic control tower.

2. No Person shall operate any Model Aircraft within the City of Los Angeles in a manner that interferes with manned aircraft, and shall always give way to any manned aircraft.

3. No Person shall operate any Model Aircraft within the City of Los Angeles beyond the visual line of sight of the person operating the Model Aircraft. The operator must use his or her own natural vision (which includes vision corrected by standard eyeglasses or contact lenses) to observe the Model Aircraft. People other than the operator may not be used in lieu of the operator for maintaining visual line of sight. Visual line of sight means that the operator has an unobstructed view of the Model Aircraft. The use of vision-enhancing devices, such as binoculars, night vision goggles, powered vision magnifying devices, and goggles or other devices designed to provide a “first-person view” from the model, do not constitute the visual line of sight of the person operating the Model Aircraft.

4. No Person shall operate any Model Aircraft within the City of Los Angeles other than during daylight hours defined as between official sunrise and official sunset for local time.

5. No Person shall operate any Model Aircraft within the City of Los Angeles more than 400 feet above the earth’s surface.

6. Excluding takeoff and landing, no Person shall operate any Model Aircraft within the City of Los Angeles closer than 25 feet to any individual, except the operator or the operators helper.

Anyone operating a drone in Los Angeles should familiarise themselves with the new law. A violation of the drone laws is a misdemeanor and can result in arrest or jail time.

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A New Way To Treat Alcoholism?

Anyone who knows an alcoholic knows that treatment can be difficult.  Not every treatment is effective for every person, herd is a new and exciting approach to treating alcoholism.

The Sinclair Method (“TSM”) is named after Dr. John Sinclair (recently deceased) who started as a researcher in the U.S. and who was recruited to Finland by its National Institute for Health to research treatment for alcoholism (apparently alcoholism is very prevalent in Finland).

What he discovered is that heavy drinking behavior, which involves nothing more than a craving for alcohol, is a learned response (i.e., conditioned) the same way Pavlov’s dogs were conditioned to salivate when a bell rang, by numerous and repetitive sessions of pairing delivery of food with the sound of a ringing bell (and as we know after awhile the dogs would salivate simply from ringing the bell). The second half of Pavlov’s experiment that most people have not heard about is called “extinction.” Extinction is simply continuing to ring the bell but without food, and after numerous and repetitive sessions of the bell without food, the dogs would eventually stop salivating when the bell was rung. They would return to what I call baseline.

What Dr. Sinclair discovered is that consumption of alcohol releases natural endorphins upon our opioid receptors in our brains (the same receptors that are hit with heroin, morphine, and other drugs of abuse). Though not so relevant, the theory is that some people are born with a more robust opioid receptor system, hence making them more at risk for addiction. Either way, alcoholism is developed from numerous acts of drinking over the years (usually starting around 18-21 years old) which builds a reinforcement loop in the brain : Drink alcohol, endorphins are released, endorphins hit opioid receptors, brain feels reward, behavior is reinforced. Drinking behavior is repeated. Drinking behavior is strengthened. For the person predisposed to addiction, eventually this leads to an uncontrollable craving for alcohol that influences the alcoholic in almost everything he does, and which he cannot help (especially when a “trigger”, like seeing a bottle of wine, smelling beer, having emotional issues, etc. happens).

Dr. Sinclair thought that if the reinforcement loop could be blocked or extinguished, the craving for alcohol would diminish. He was right. He found that by pairing an opioid antagonist, which is a drug that binds to the opioid receptors and blocks anything else from binding to them (e.g., endorphins, heroin, morphine), with drinking, he could slowly and steadily decrease the craving and hence behavior of drinking alcohol. Some of you might be familiar with a drug called Narcan, which is also an opioid antagonist that emergency responders will give intravenously to persons who have overdosed on heroin, and in about 1 minute the patient fully wakes up from the heroin stupor.

TSM is used in clinics throughout Finland and is apparently the go-to method there. It claims a 78% cure rate, and of the 22% that are not cured, about 10% is attributed to non-compliance with taking the medicine while drinking (called “extinction sessions”). As such, when a patient is faithful with the process he can expect a 90% chance of being cured (supposedly the average time is 4-6 months). The other 10% that do not respond to TSM are thought to have a slightly different opioid receptor system. The “Golden Rule” of TSM is to always take a Naltrexone tablet 1 hour before drinking (to get it into the blood system), and not to use it when you are not drinking, (i.e., daily / prophylactic use which is the way it is prescribed here in the U.S. without much, if any, success). Apparently one tablet is good for about 24 hours.

There are clinics in Florida using it, which I think has to do with the fact that a Dr. Roy Eskapa, who has written a book called the Cure for Alcoholism, and who seems to be the main voice for TSM, apparently lives there. There are doctors all over catching on, and at the cthreefoundation.org site you can find some local L.A. doctors (also on google) prescribing Naltrexone for TSM. Apparently doctors unfamiliar with TSM will not generally prescribe Naltrexone with the idea of pairing it with drinking to cause progressive extinction (TSM calls it “pharmacological extinction”). So, best to go with an enlightened doctor already familiar with TSM.

 

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The Police Are Calling Me For A Statement, What Should I do?

The Constitution in this Country gives us certain rights which protect us from overbearing or aggressive police and government agents.  The most important of these rights is the 5th Amendment right against self incrimination which affords us with the protection against police forcing us to become a witness against ourselves in any criminal investigation.

This right is your best defense against police who seek to interview you or question you about a crime.

How do you assert this right?  The best way to deal with this is allow an attorney to act on your behalf to contact the police and advise them you are asserting your right to remain silent.  If you cannot afford a lawyer tell the police you want a public defender.  In no case should you try to speak with the police and try to “talk your way out of it”. Cops are much more experienced than you in dealing with people and getting them to make incriminating statements.  The fact is that even if you deny involvement in a case it could come back to haunt you later if there is evidence to contradict your statements and then your credibility is shot if you have to testify down the road in Court.

Be smart, hire a lawyer as soon as possible.

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