Statutory Rape

Statutory rape accusations can destroy lives and careers. The stigma attached to any sex crime can follow a person even if formal charges are dismissed. A criminal attorney in Sacramento can help mitigate the damage and help obtain the best result possible.

California Penal Code Section 261.5 provides the definition of statutory rape. The Penal Code simply defines the crime as sexual intercourse with the person who is under the age of eighteen. There are however several subsections that can significantly affect a statutory rape case.

Statutory rape charges can be brought as either misdemeanors or as felonies. If the difference between the accused and the minor is no greater than three years the criminal accusations can only be filed as misdemeanors. If the accused however is more than three years younger than the minor, statutory rape can be charged as either a misdemeanor or as a felony.

If the accused is age 21 or over and the minor is under 16 years of age, the crime can also be filed as either a misdemeanor or a felony. In practice, the greater the age difference, the more likely felony charges are filed. The maximum punishment for a charge of felony statutory rape is four years in state prison. For a misdemeanor statutory rape charge the maximum penalty is one year in the county jail.

The law entitles prosecutors to also seek civil penalties in statutory rape cases. The amount of civil penalties allowed varies from $2,000 to $25,000 depending largely on the age disparity between the accused and the minor.

Child molestation charges may be filed along or instead of statutory rape charges. Depending on the minor’s age and the disparity in age between the accused and the minor, prosecutors may choose to file child molest charges which carry much more significant penalties up to life imprisonment and sex offender registration.

At the present time, a person convicted of misdemeanor or felony statutory rape, in the absence of a number of other factors, will not be required to register as a sex offender. The law in this area is however often changing. It is always best to consult with a Sacramento defense attorney that is experienced and knows how to best defend accusations and charges of statutory rape.

If you believe that you are being investigated or accused of potential statutory rape, call a criminal attorney in Sacramento for a consultation. It is generally not advised to speak with law enforcement officials prior to speaking with a statutory rape defense attorney. This is so even if you know you are innocent. Statements can often be taken out of context, misconstrued and used against you later in court.

Gang Allegations

Gangs operate in cities of all sizes throughout California and are responsible for a lot of the crime in this state. There are many different types of gangs and they continue to grow, especially in the state of California. Street gangs are criminal organizations formed on the street operating throughout the US. Prison gangs are criminal organizations that originated within the penal system and operate within correctional facilities throughout the United States. They are self-perpetuating criminal entities that can continue their criminal operations outside the confines of the penal system.

Have you been charges with a gang related crime? Contact a Sacramento criminal attorney for free consultation.

Outlaw motorcycle gangs are organizations whose members use their motorcycle clubs as conduits for criminal enterprises. One percenters are any groups of motorcyclists who have voluntarily made a commitment to band together to abide by their organizations rules enforced by violence and who engage in activities that bring them and their club into repeated and serious conflict with society and the law. Neighborhood or local street gangs are confined to specific neighborhoods and jurisdictions and often imitate larger, more powerful national gangs.

Gang allegations are some of the most difficult criminal cases to defend. In 1988, California enacted the “California Street Terrorism Enforcement and Prevention Act” which defines a criminal street gang as “any ongoing organization, association, or group of three or more persons, whether formal or informal, having as one of its primary activities the commission of one or more criminal acts, having a common name or common identifying sign or symbol, and whose members individually or collectively engage in or have engaged in a pattern of criminal gang activity.

Even if you are not a gang member, you can be punished for committing a crime in conjunction with gang members and a gang allegation can add 5 to 10 years to some felonies and can turn an otherwise non-life case into a potential life-sentence case. Because gang allegations are difficult to defend, make sure to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney Sacramento California who will make sure the prosecution turn over all of its “gang evidence” in.

Criminal History Questions in Job Applications

As of July 1, 2014, all state and local agencies are forbidden to ask applicants to disclose information regarding criminal convictions, with some exceptions, until it has been determined that the applicant meets the minimum employment qualifications. There are some exceptions like Peace Officers, Child Care Providers, IHSS Workers, and careers of the sort. California law prohibits both public and private employers from asking an applicant to disclose any information concerning an arrest or detention that didn’t result in a conviction.

By eliminating criminal history questions from job applications, unemployment has and will continue to decrease and economic stability will improve in communities. Even if an employer has the right to ask about your criminal record, it may not be allowed to consider that history in making any hiring decisions, unless the offense is directly related to the job. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has said that excluding all applicants with a criminal record could discriminate against certain racial and ethnic groups. To make sure they aren’t acting in a discriminatory way, employers should consider the nature and seriousness of the offense, how much time has passed since the offense and the nature of the job.

Many employers give out applications asking about criminal records without giving the individual a chance to explain. Once it is revealed that someone has a criminal conviction, they are pretty much taken out of the running and are not considered for the job and unfortunately, this prevents many people from starting over and building a new life.

The movement to remove these questions are important to give applicants a better chance of being evaluated based on their qualifications for the job, but regardless, a criminal conviction can still prevent an individual from getting a job that will allow them to support themselves. For this reason, it is best to contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Fairfield from the very beginning to prevent any conviction after an arrest.

Questions To Ask A Bail Bonds Agent

Since you will only be able to have limited interaction with a bond company from the time you are arrested to actually choosing which bondsman to use to get you out of jail, it can be tough to determine who to trust. Usually, trust is built over time through experiences and reference points, but because you won’t have a lot of time to do so, there are certain questions you should definitely ask before you choose a bail bondsman.

Are you licensed? – To be a bail bondsman, you have to get a license from the state you operate, especially in California. Although rare, some bad bondsmen try to operate without a license, which makes the entire process more complicated. You can check a license status at the California Department of Insurance

How much do you charge? – A trustworthy and licensed bail company will usually charge 10%. Be apprehensive if the bail bondsman you are speaking with says it is 5% because they are probably cheating the system somehow. The best companies on average charge 10%, which is a sure sign of integrity and good business. By law, the maximum a bail company can charge is 20%.

How fast can you get me or my family member/friend out of jail? – Be wary of bondsman that give you an exact date to when they can get you or someone else out of jail. Bondsman can only control when they get their portion of the release process complete, but not the entirety of the jail system. Jails operate on a safety-first basis and things can easily go awry.

How long have you been in business? – Bail bondsmen can build up a good reputation with clients, the courts and jails in the area through time and experience only so the longer the company has been in the business, the better you’re in. In addition, it would be best to do a little research on the company to see if they are listed with the Better Business Bureau which is an organization that protects the rights of consumers. Also check out their rating to see where they fall in line with other competitors.

Will I receive a written contract? – Some bail agents allow for partial payment up front or regular periodic payments. And because payment agreements, types of bail, and length of time can vary, ask for a written contract of all finances and payment requirements.

Have you been charges with a crime? Contact a Sacramento criminal defense lawyer for free consultation.

Possession of Illegal Drugs – Illegal drugs are a serious problem in the United States.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health in the United States estimated that 20 million American’s used illegal drugs in the month prior to taking the survey. The survey showed that drug use is most common among young adults: 18-25 years old.

California law includes two primary categories for drug offenses. First, simple possession, which means possession for personal use, and possession with the intent to sell, which means possession with the intent to redistribute the drug. California state law also mandates separate offenses related to phencyclidine, methamphetamine, and narcotics or restricted dangerous drugs from offenses related to marijuana. If you are being charged with a drug charge, contact a criminal defense attorney today.

The penalties for drug offenses are mainly determined by three factors:

  1. The type of drug;
  2. Amount of drug; and
  3. Intent or purpose for which the defendant had the drug.

If you were charged with simple possession and convicted, you may be ordered to pay a fine, serve up to one year in county jail, or both. In contrast, if you were charged with possession for sale, you may be ordered to pay a fine, be sentenced to serve two to five years in state prison, or both, if convicted. Possession of marijuana of less than one ounce or 28.5 grams yields a different penalty. If convicted, you may be ordered to pay a fine of $100.00 or more and may be mandated to serve up to one year in county jail.

Bail Laws

Bail laws, although generally have remained consistently the same since the creation of the Bill of Rights, have undergone some reforms throughout the years. Initially, under the Judiciary Act of 1789, bail was determined based solely on the type of crime committed. Any crime that didn’t result in the death sentence was entitled to admit bail. Under the Bail Reform Act of 1966, bail was decided depending on whether the suspect would flee once released pre-trial.

Now, the criteria for which crimes are allowed bail have been refined. Under the current federal law, people who fit into certain categories are subject to detention without bail. Crimes of violence, offenses for which the maximum sentence is life imprisonment or death, certain drug offenses, repeated felony offenders, or if the defendant poses a risk of fleeing, or crimes with obstruction of justice are not admitted bail. A special hearing is held to determine whether the defendant falls within these categories and if the judge decides he or she doesn’t, bail is admitted.

In general, bail is a form of property, case or bond guaranteed to a court to persuade it to release a suspect from jail under the criteria that the suspect will return for trail or forfeit the bail. In some cases, bail money can be returned at the end of the trial as long as all court appearances are made.

Because judges are responsible for setting bail and most people want to get out of jail immediately as opposed to waiting a day to see the judge, most jails have a standard bail schedule that specify bail amounts for common crimes. If a suspect wants to post bail but can’t afford it, he or she can ask the judge to lower it. Depending on the state, this is done in either a special bail setting hearing or when the suspect appears in court for the first time, call the arraignment.

The purpose of bail is to allow the suspect to remain free until convicted of a crime. Additionally, the bail must be no more than is reasonably necessary to keep the suspect from fleeing before a case is over. Meaning, that bail should not be used to raise money for the government or to punish a person for being suspected of committing a crime. Unfortunately however, some judges impose a very high bail in particular types of cases. A bail set for this purpose is called preventative detention and although many argue it is a violation of the Constitution, courts have rejected this argument.

If you are accused of a crime, there are three different types of bail you can post.

The first option is a cash bail and in order to do so, you have to either have the exact amount of cash on hand or post a cashier’s check for that amount in jail. Some jurisdictions may allow you to post bail using a credit card but cash is always the easiest way. But because the amount may vary from $10,000 to $100,000, it is very difficult for people to post cash bail. If you do have enough cash on hand at the time of arrest and you post bail, your criminal defense attorney and you must attend all of your court appearances or else you forfeit the amount and it will not be returned.

The second option and the more frequent option is a bail bond by a licensed Yolo County Bail Bonds agent. Because having large amount of cash on hand is rare, people will opt out for a bail bond, which is a contract between the accused and a Yolo County bail bonds agent who posts bail on your behalf. You have to pay the agent a premium which is usually 10 percent of the bail amount and you must attend every court appearance. Having a contract with a bail bondsman in Yolo County is sometimes the best way. If you fail to appear in court, the bail bond agent forfeits the bail money, not you. For this reason, bail bondsmen monitor you to make sure you appear in court. If you fail to do so, it is up to the agent to find you. Because this is a risky process for the agent, he or she typically requires some type of collateral like a house, car or anything else of value. If you fail to appear in court, this collateral will be used to cover the forfeiture of the bail amount.

Instead of posting a cash bond or relying on a bondsman to do so, you can choose to post a property bond. This is where you post your equity interest in real property; however, the value of the equity must be at least twice the bail amount. Furthermore, the property must have been recently appraised, any liens should have been disclosed and the property equity be professionally estimated. If you fail to appear in court, the county will place a lien on the property and the county will then foreclose the property to recover the amount of bail. These types of bonds are time-consuming so generally speaking, people opt for posting bail with an agent but if you don’t have financial resources to post cash bail or to pay premiums, a property bond is a third option.

What Happens if Defendant Gets Re-Arrested While Out On Bail Bonds in Sacramento County?

Part of the agreement regarding bail bonds in Sacramento County is that the defendant appears to all court hearings and abides by all laws. If the defendant gets re-arrested while on bail, he or she has therefore violated the conditions.

If this happens, there are a few decisions the court may make in response to the defendants violation. For example, the court may charge the defendant for a new crime or can modify the bond or impose a new bond depending on the conditions. Some of the things the court considers are the severity of the crime, prior criminal record, where the crime took place and the extent of damage caused by the defendant. Once the defendant is back in custody, the bond can be surrendered and the co-signer is no longer liable. However, if the co-signer decides to surrender the bond, he or she will lose the premium that was paid. Additionally, if the co-signer decides to get the defendant out on bond again, he or she will have to post two new bonds and pay the premium on both bonds again.

The best way to avoid this from happening is to make sure the defendant follows the conditions of release. Some of the conditions are: not committing any additional crimes, which may include refraining from alcoholic beverages; show up at required court hearings; refrain from speaking with the victim or witness; and comply with any other restrictions set forth by the court. If the defendant does not appear to court, the defendant or the co-signer will be contacted to find out why. Usually 85% of the time, the defendant did not intentionally avoid going to court, and it was just due to a mistake or oversight. If that is the case, contact your bond agency immediately to see what can be done to fix the mistake.