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Criminal Defense Archives

How bail works

California residents who are taken into custody may be required to post bail in order to be released. Either the amount of bail set or a percentage of it must be paid by the defendant or someone else. In some cases, a person may be held without bail. This is the case if the person is considered to be a danger to the community or flight risk. Bail might also be only allowed under certain conditions. For example, the person may be required to undergo drug testing or give up firearms. The amount of bail is set based on similar factors. The seriousness of the crime, the evidence and any past history may all be considered.

What it means to be an accomplice to a crime

California law recognizes complicity or being an accomplice to a crime as having encouraged or aided in the commission of a misdemeanor or a felony. This is the case under federal law as well. Accomplice liability means that an accomplice could face the same penalties if convicted as the person who actually committed the crime.

Sixth Amendment rights

Whether or not California defendants in a criminal proceeding have a court-appointed attorney or an attorney paid for with their own funds, they have a Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial and should expect to receive, at least, adequate legal representation. If the legal actions of an attorney during a trial reach a certain degree of negligence, a court could overturn a guilty verdict. However, the burden of proving the extent of legal negligence necessary to invalidate the outcome of a judicial process is very high.

Understanding the plea bargaining process

Many Californians have heard of plea bargaining, but they may not understand why it is used or what benefits it might offer to each of the parties who are involved. Plea bargaining has been an accepted practice in the U.S. for decades as a way to resolve cases.

The importance of state of mind in criminal charges

California residents who are facing criminal charges may also face a question about their state of mind at the time the incident allegedly happened. "Mens rea" is a Latin term that means "guilty mind" and that in a legal sense refers to whether or not a person intentionally committed an act.

Exonerations reach record high in 2015

The criminal justice system is designed primarily to protect the innocent rather than punish the guilty, but mistakes do happen and people who have done nothing wrong are sometimes convicted and sent to prison. While prominent civil rights attorneys working with groups like the Innocence Project often feature in media stories about people who have been freed from prison after spending many years behind bars, experts in the area say that prosecutors actually deserve much of the credit. A district attorney in California set up the nation's first conviction integrity unit in 2002, and experts say that the work of such units around the country played a significant role in exonerating a record number of prisoners in 2015.

False confessions and the Reid Technique

Many California residents may have heard about the case of Brendan Dassey from watching the Netflix series "Making a Murderer." Dassey, then 16 years old, confessed to murdering a photographer in 2005. He was ultimately convicted. However, a Beloit College psychology professor noted that there were certain parallels to other cases he had been involved in that dealt with false confessions.

The intoxication defense in California

In some criminal cases, the defendant may assert intoxication as a defense to the alleged crime. While intoxication is not available as a defense to every alleged criminal act, voluntary intoxication may be used as a defense to crimes that involve an element of specific intent. Involuntary intoxication may be asserted as a defense to any criminal charge.

Improper action by California prosecutors may invalidate wiretaps

Recent reports indicate that officials in the California town of Riverside overstepped their prosecutorial authority and issued improper orders for wiretaps. These wiretaps were used for a large portion of the nation's internal surveillance and were used to gather evidence for at least 300 arrests nationwide.


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