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Criminal Defense From A Former Prosecutor

criminal defense Archives

Why probable cause isn't required to access online data

A person who uses Facebook or Twitter may unwittingly have their information handed over to authorities in California or other states. The same may be true of those who use Venmo, Lyft or Uber. Property owners who use the Ring home security system may not know that Amazon will generally provide basic personal information to authorities. This may happen even if the property owners themselves have refused to comply with a request to provide that data.

Court ruling expands the definition of convictions

If a person in California has been taken into custody in the past seven years, it may show up in a background check. If the person was convicted of a crime, it may show up in a background check regardless of how long ago it happened. According to a decision made by the Seventh Circuit, a conviction occurs at the federal level whenever a person pleads guilty to a crime.

Civil rights groups urge prosecutors to keep Brady lists

Police officers are often the most compelling witnesses in criminal prosecutions because juries tend to find their testimony extremely convincing. This is why civil rights groups in several states recently sent letters that urged prosecutors to compile lists of law enforcement personnel who have behaved in ways that call their impartiality and professionalism into question. One of these letters was sent by groups including ACLU California to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.

Witness errors can sway the outcome of a case

Those who witness crimes in California or other states may be asked to pick the perpetrator out of a lineup. However, it is relatively common for an individual to pick the wrong person or get other details of a case wrong. Therefore, it is important that authorities have a way to determine how accurately a witness picks a potential defendant out of a lineup. There are many possible signs that an identification is correct.

Study finds risk assessment algorithms racially biased

Criminal courts and judges in California are increasingly making use of risk assessment technologies to determine how likely a person is to commit a crime in the future or how likely a person is to skip out on the next hearing. These risk assessment tools are billed as more objective and scientific than the human judgments they're replacing, but evidence indicates that there may be racial bias built right in.

Arrest highlights a growing concern over cell phone privacy

California residents often grapple with the idea of allowing a police search. That struggle becomes even more profound when it involves a cell phone or other electronic device. According to NBC News, police are placing increasing pressure on private citizens to give up their passwords or risk going to jail.

Apps to fight crime may promote fear, discrimination

Smartphone apps touted as aids in fighting crime have become popular among many California users despite the fact that they face less criminal activity than in the past. Apps like Nextdoor, Citizen or Ring doorbells promote themselves as methods to become more aware of the neighborhood and potentially suspicious activities. However, critics say that the apps only serve to stoke unnecessary fears about crime without making the streets safer. They also warn that the programs tend to encourage racial stereotyping and neighborhood exclusion.

What to know about the Fourth Amendment

When the government wants to conduct an investigation against an individual, it is limited by the Fourth Amendment. This is true whether an investigation takes place in California or any other state. An individual also has a right against unreasonable searches or seizures when a private person or entity is working with a government entity. The amendment applies in both state and federal cases as per a Supreme Court ruling in the case of Wolf v. Colorado.

Study measures racial attitudes toward police bias

In California and across the country, black and white Americans have distinctly different views of and experiences with the police and the criminal justice system. These differences were made clear in a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center. Notably, both black and white respondents agreed that black people are treated unfairly in the American justice system. While 87% of black participants said that blacks were treated less fairly overall, 61% of whites said the same. Roughly similar numbers said the same thing about unfair treatment by the police.

Incorrect warrants can send people back to jail

Some people in California who have had warrants dismissed or who have already served a sentence may find that warrant reappearing years later. These so-called "ghost warrants" are often for minor issues, such as traffic violations or unpaid fees, and disproportionately affect poor people. While sometimes this happens because prosecutors will not let minor cases go, it is often a case of clerical error.

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