February 24, 2011

Jason Davis Charged with Felony Drug Possession, Being Under the Influence and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia

Earlier this month, we reported that Jason Davis, alumni of “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew” and grandson to the oil mogul and philanthropist Marvin Davis, was arrested for drug possession in Newport Beach, California.

The Orange County D.A.’s office has now officially charged Davis with felony heroin possession, being under the influence of a drug and possession of drug paraphernalia.

The felony drug possession charge carries up to three years of California state prison time. The remaining charges of being “under the influence” and possessing drug paraphernalia are both misdemeanors. The “under the influence” charge carries up to one year in a county jail. The paraphernalia charge subjects Davis to a possible additional six months in jail.

Perhaps the easiest of these charges to prove is the under the influence charge. This is because even though drug possession seems pretty straight forward, it isn’t. There are a number of defenses that a skilled California drug crimes defense attorney could present that refute the fact that the seized drugs were actually “possessed” by Davis. The same goes for the paraphernalia charge.

However, all that the D.A. needs to prove in order to convict Davis of being the under the influence is that he was under the influence of a drug in some detectable manner…a definition that isn’t difficult to establish.

This is why it is critical for anyone facing California drug charges to consult with a local attorney who is experienced in this very specific area of the law. Only he/she will know the most effective legal defenses to present…as well as the most persuasive manner in which to present them.

February 18, 2011

Over 100 People Charged with Healthcare Insurance Fraud

More than 100 doctors, nurses and physical therapists from eight states including California were charged yesterday with healthcare insurance fraud for overbilling the nation’s Medicare program. This is this nation’s largest healthcare insurance fraud bust to date.

Over 700 federal law enforcement agents investigated and arrested the defendants who are accused of illegally billing Medicare over $225 million. This bust was part of a national effort to combat an epidemic that has cost the government between $60 billion and $90 billion each year.

If convicted, these defendants face federal penalties that include imprisonment, SUBSTANTIAL fines and repayment of any monies that were fraudulently obtained. They will also likely face the same types of penalties from their local governing states. And, in California, for example, a conviction for healthcare insurance fraud will also most likely result in a revocation of the defendant’s professional licenses.

It is also probable that at least some of these defendants will face additional charges for conspiracy, mail fraud, money laundering, embezzlement and grand theft.

February 16, 2011

The Importance of a Romero Motion

California’s three strikes law is an oppressive sentencing scheme that can unfairly send even nonviolent offenders to prison for life. And even when it’s not a third strike that the offender is facing, the three strikes law doubles the sentence of a “second strike” offense as well. The good news is that a successful California Romero motion allows a judge to “strike” a strike so that he/she is legally able to sentence a defendant to less time when appropriate. That is the beauty of a California Romero motion.

Another benefit of having a judge strike a prior strike is that this will often allow you to participate in diversion programs that you would otherwise be ineligible for. For example, drug addicts who are repeat offenders are generally prohibited from participating in most drug diversion programs when they have strikes on their record. However, having a strike stricken may allow you to participate in drug court where the focus is on rehabilitation rather than on punishment.

If you are facing a second or third strike in California, you should immediately consult with a California criminal defense attorney who can evaluate whether or not you are a good candidate to file a Romero motion. If you are…and if the motion is successful…it will make a world of difference.

February 10, 2011

Lindsey Lohan Pleads Not Guilty to California Felony Grand Theft Charge

Actress Lindsey Lohan just can’t seem to stay out of the spotlight…or out of trouble. She appeared at the Los Angeles “Airport” Court yesterday for her arraignment that stems from an incident in January where she allegedly stole a $2,500 necklace from a Venice jewelry store. Although Lohan claims that she only “borrowed” the necklace from the boutique and that her stylist should have returned it, the boutique owner is disputing this claim. As a result, she was charged with violating California’s grand theft law and pled “not guilty” to the charge.

The judge set bail at $40,000, which Lohan posted about an hour after the proceeding. He warned her that if she breaks the law again, he will send her to jail without setting bail.

This grand theft charge comes while Lohan is still on probation for her 2007 DUI and just weeks following her release from rehab. If convicted, she faces up to three years in prison on the theft charge. She will also face a probation violation. And for that…according to the judge who is overseeing that case…she could face an additional six months.

February 8, 2011

The True Believers in Los Angeles Drug Court

Unfortunately, there are a number of California criminal court judges who are just moving through the justice system. They have grown complacent or bored or have been placed in the least desirable courtrooms as “punishment” for past rulings and/or behavior. However this is not the case with the judges who specifically request assignments in Los Angeles drug court.

Los Angles drug court operates under the same rules and guidelines as other California drug courts. But L.A. drug court judges are special…they are “true believers” in the system and are dedicated to achieving results.

For example, the judge who presides over two of the Los Angeles drug courts…the Van Nuys and San Fernando drug courts…offers little incentives to reward his successful defendants. After completion of the first phase of treatment, he calls the defendant up to the bench to give a package of gummy bears…this while his court reporter holds up a sign telling the rest of the people in the courtroom to applaud the accomplishment.

And the judges who preside over these L.A. drug courts have full-blown graduation celebrations to celebrate the wonderful accomplishments that their defendants have made. Having these types of judges who truly want to work with sometimes reluctant defendants can make an incredible difference. Too bad all judges aren’t true believers in the criminal justice system.

February 8, 2011

A Brief Overview of Prop. 36, Deferred Entry of Judgment and California Drug Courts

Drug diversion is a general term that incorporates three different types of drug treatment that are all available (under the appropriate circumstances) as alternatives to incarceration for nonviolent drug offenders. These include Proposition 36, Penal Code 1000 PC Deferred Entry of Judgment and California drug courts.

California drug courts are the most inclusive and least regulated of the three diversion programs. Because each drug court essentially runs itself, each is also able to “bend the rules” to accommodate individuals who the judges believe would truly benefit from drug treatment…regardless of how many times the individual has previously relapsed.

Deferred entry of judgment is the least rigorous of the programs. Defendants who are eligible for this program are not placed on probation, so there are no additional requirements that the defendant must fulfill other than to complete drug rehabilitation.

And although Prop. 36 is mandatory for those who qualify, it is subject to quite a bit of judicial discretion. If, at the end of your treatment, the judge doesn’t believe that you “successfully” completed the program…but rather just completed it…he/she could still impose a sentence for the drug offense. This is unfortunate, since the primary benefit of drug diversion is that once you successfully complete a program, your drug charges are dismissed.

February 7, 2011

Will Jason Davis be Eligible for California's Deferred Entry of Judgment Program?

“Celebrity Rehab” alumni Jason Davis (grandson of the famous industrialist and philanthropist Marvin Davis) was arrested in Newport Beach, California two weeks ago for possession of a controlled substance. His arrest came only one-day after the Celebrity Rehab “reunion” show taping in which he claimed he was clean and sober. If the allegations are true…and Davis is still using drugs…he would be a good candidate for California’s deferred entry of judgment program.

California’s deferred entry of judgment program allows nonviolent drug offenders to participate in drug treatment in lieu of incarceration. If you successfully complete the diversion program, your drug charge(s) will be dismissed.

Clearly, a Celebrity Rehab alumni…someone with an obvious drug addiction problem…is in need of help. However, Davis’s criminal history will dictate whether or not he is eligible for deferred entry of judgment. If he has any prior drug-related convictions or has participated in another drug diversion program in the past five years, he will not be able to participate in this program, though he may be able to move his case to a California drug court where they are more amenable to accepting those with a known history of drug abuse.

February 4, 2011

Possession, Possession for Sale and Sales... Understanding the Differences Between these California Drug Offenses

Three of the most commonly prosecuted California drug charges include possession of drugs, possession for sale and selling drugs. Possessing drugs is a relatively straightforward offense…if you possess illegal drugs (or even prescription drugs without a valid prescription) you are guilty of this offense. If you sell drugs to another person, you violate California’s drug sales law. It’s Health and Safety Code 11351 HS California’s possession for sales law that requires the most explanation.

This is because Health and Safety Code 11351 HS California’s possession for sales law is an intent based crime…and intent can be very difficult to prove. Cops often rely on what is known as circumstantial evidence when they arrest suspects on this charge. “Circumstantial” evidence is evidence that doesn’t directly point to guilt but can be inferred from the circumstances. With respect to a possession for sales charge, this type of evidence can include the quantity of the discovered drugs, scales, paraphernalia and supplies used to “package” drugs.

However, just because a person possesses these items doesn’t mean he/she necessarily possesses drugs for sales. Paraphernalia is also indicative of personal use. Perhaps the suspect didn’t “unpackage” his/her drugs after buying them for his/her own use. Scales could also be used to help manage one’s own use of the drugs. And generally speaking, an “addict” will stock up on his/her supply to avoid having to make several smaller purchases.

Because of these issues, skilled California drug crimes defense attorneys can oftentimes negotiate plea bargains for the reduced “personal possession” charge. Not only does this offense carry lesser penalties, but it also allows a defendant to participate in drug treatment in lieu of incarceration.

February 4, 2011

Former USC QB Arrested for California Drug Sales

Ex USC quarterback Mitch Mustain is out on bail after being arrested for selling drugs. This means that he most likely violated Health and Safety Code 11352 HS California’s law against selling or transporting drugs. This arrest comes as he is preparing for the NFL draft.

Although not much has been released about the investigation or arrest, we do know that the arrest was the result of a sting operation. “Sting operations” are a common way for police to investigate California drug sales charges. These operations are usually conducted undercover either in-person or via the Internet, or from observation/surveillance posts. Many times these operations don’t comport with legal procedures or prove to be unreliable when it comes to how the actual drug sales took place.

Mustain’s felony arrest was for allegedly selling prescription drugs. Health and Safety Code 11352 HS California’s law against selling or transporting drugs makes no distinction between selling illicit drugs or prescription drugs…selling drugs is a crime in California, period…that is, unless you are a pharmacist or other medical employee with legal authorization to do so.

If convicted, Mustain could face up to five years in the California state prison.

February 3, 2011

New Los Angeles Central Jail Finally Opens

The “new” Los Angeles central jail is up and running as of yesterday, despite the fact that it was more or less completed almost two years ago. Why the delay? Because the city’s hiring freeze made it so that the Los Angeles Police Department couldn’t hire any new detention officers to staff the new 172,000 square foot facility.

After fighting a losing battle to obtain an exemption from the hiring freeze, the LAPD Police Chief shut down four of their smaller jails to free up more detention officers to help run the new facility. And in a controversial move, the Chief decided to take 90 sworn police officers off the streets so that they could fully staff the jail.

This group of officers will work in the new facility for about six months when they will be replaced by a new group who will rotate in. This will be the continuing plan until the city is able to hire civilian detention officers to replace the police officers.

This $84 million complex, officially known as the Metropolitan Detention Center, is located at Temple and Los Angeles streets in downtown Los Angeles. It replaces the old dilapidated jail that was attached to Parker Center which is the former LAPD headquarters.

February 2, 2011

Will Charlie Sheen Be Charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance?

You’ve no doubt heard that recovering drug addict actor Charlie Sheen was taken to Los Angeles Cedars-Sinai hospital late last week due to alleged abdominal pain. Sources reported that he suffered from a hernia. And while this may very well be true, other sources who were reportedly with Sheen prior to being taken to the hospital say that after receiving a “designer suitcase filled with multiple bricks of cocaine” he immediately began using the drug and continued to do so for several hours. So the question is – will overzealous police or prosecutors try to charge Sheen with violating California’s law against possessing a controlled substance?

California’s law against possessing a controlled substance is defined in Health and Safety Code 11350 HS. This law makes it a crime to possess a controlled substance without a valid prescription. Cocaine is one of the types of controlled substances that are regulated by this law.

If convicted of HS 11350, Sheen would face a felony, punishable by up to three years in the California state prison. However, without actually having that alleged suitcase in their possession, prosecutors would face a losing battle, since third-party “reports” that the suitcase existed would be excluded as “hearsay”…an inadmissible type of evidence.