Over the years, the issue of statutory rape has been a complex and controversial one. Statutory rape is said to occur when an underage person or minor engages in sexual intercourse. Under California law, a minor cannot legally give consent to have sex. So, when they engage in such activity, the law views it as “statutory rape.” The question then arises: How does the law work when two minors engage in sexual intercourse.
How Does Consent Work?
Rape is often associated with sex where one of the parties has been forced to engage in sexual intercourse without offering consent. However, in statutory rape cases, the “victim” is typically a willing participant. However, the reason such activity is considered criminal is California law does not give minors the legal authority to give consent to sex. Legislators consider minors to be incapable of comprehending the importance of having sex or making that judgment call. This is why the law does not allow them to make that decision until they become adults, or turn 18.
What the Law Says
California Penal Code Section 261.5 states that it is a crime for any individual to have sexual intercourse with another who is under 18 and who is not the spouse of the defendant. So, this includes instances where both persons involved in the sexual intercourse are under the age of 18 as well as cases where one is a minor and the other, an adult.
That said, if both parties are under the age of 18, it is not common for either to face statutory rape charges. This is because it can be extremely challenging to determine who should be considered the victim and who, the perpetrator. In such cases, it is highly unlikely that prosecutors will decide to file charges. Instead, they may simply receive counseling about the dangers of sex before adulthood. However, if one person is 18 and has sex with a girlfriend or boyfriend who is underage, he or she might be charged with statutory rape.
What Are the Penalties?
Statutory rape could be charged as misdemeanors or felonies depending on the circumstances of the case. The penalties could vary from case to case as well. Typically if an individual is convicted of statutory rape, he or she might face up to a year in jail. An 18-year-old who has sex with a 17-year-old might face misdemeanor charges.
If the defendant is under 21 and the alleged victim is 16 or older, a felony charge may be filed. Defendants could face up to three years in county jail and fines of up to $10,000. If the defendant is over 21 years of age and the victim under 16, he or she could face up to four years in state prison.
A statutory rape conviction may not automatically mandate registration as a sex offender. Typically, the judge will decide whether you need to register or not. Once again, this will depend heavily on the facts and circumstances of your case.
A statutory rape charge is serious whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or a felony. If you are facing these charges, contact an experienced Orange County sex crime defense lawyer who will help protect you from potentially serious repercussions.
A visit from Child Protective Services (CPS) can be confusing and stressful for any parent. During such a visit, parents might make some poor decisions or provide dubious statements without being aware of it. Investigators who work for CPS have experience working with parents who are in such a situation. During their visit, if they notice something suspicious or if they suspect drug use, they might ask a parent to take a drug test.
While you may assume that you must agree to a drug test when CPS demands it, that is not the case. As with any police agency or law enforcement official, a CPS investigator cannot subject you to a drug test unless you agree to it or unless they have a warrant. So, if you do not give your consent to the CPS investigator, he or she will need a warrant to require you to take a drug test. And to do that, they need probable cause. While you have the right to not comply, you might be faced with other consequences.
Could a Refusal Affect Your Custody Case?
The biggest concern for parents if they are asked to take a drug test by a CPS investigator is whether their child custody terms will be affected by a refusal to take the test. Often, when CPS officials receive anonymous reports about child abuse or child endangerment, they launch an investigation. If they don’t find evidence to corroborate the report, they may not pursue it further. However, because CPS has authority over parents, many think not complying with a drug test request might result in their children being taken away from them.
If you are a parent in such a situation, you may also believe that complying with such a request might lead to the end of an investigation. However, the fact remains, that none of this could happen. If investigators are looking into a slew of issues, the drug test may just be one part of it. So, if you refuse to take a drug test, it will likely become a part of your case findings.
When a Drug Test Can Be Done
When CPS investigators have your consent or a court order, they can conduct a drug test. The agency often requires drug tests for parents who have lost a child due to addiction issues. Sometimes, they may even conduct random drug tests and put that down as a condition for parents to get their children back.
If a parent refuses to take the drug test, CPS could refuse to return their children. So, even though the drug test is supposed to happen with your consent, it might be forced because parents feel they must do so in order to get their children back. If police agencies are involved in an investigation, you should worry about potentially facing criminal charges.
In such cases, it would be in your best interest to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help protect your rights and help you do what is best for your children and your family. Being under CPS investigation can be an extremely emotional and stressful time for you. The potential for criminal charges could add more complications. A knowledgeable Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer will be able to help you assess your options and achieve the best possible outcome.
Drug cartels are typically traditional mafia groups that are involved in the transportation and sale of drugs across state and national borders. Cartels may be smaller groups such as street gangs or large networks that operate across an entire region. However, regardless of their size, a cartel is basically any organization that is involved in drug trafficking. These groups or cartels have been widely feared and have affected how law enforcement officials operate.
History of Drug Cartels
Drug cartels are feared because of the manner in which they are organized. A number of these cartels wield an enormous amount of power and influence, which can wreak havoc in communities or even entire cities. One time period that comes to mind is Chicago in the 1920s when cartels were not only involved in illicit drug trafficking, but also with the sale of alcohol at the time of the Prohibition, money laundering, embezzlement, extortion schemes, and even murder.
Today in Mexico, drug cartels in border towns engage in mass murder terrorizing community members, perpetrating widespread corruption among officials and even kidnapping residents and tourists. The law in the United States has evolved to deal with drug cartels and organized crime. Law enforcement has had some success in cracking down on cartels and organized crime by passing tough new laws and creatively utilizing existing drug crime laws to crack down perpetrators.
What Are Some Common Charges?
Members of drug cartels are not just charged with drug crimes and related charges, but also a number of other criminal charges unrelated to drugs. When it comes to organized crime and drugs, individuals may face other charges including but not limited to assault and battery, fraud, embezzlement, prostitution, money laundering, theft, bribery, and murder. However, prosecutors find it challenging when it comes to charging members of a drug cartel because their goal is often to increase the criminal penalties to the extent where cartel members will choose to enter plea agreements.
To that end, prosecutors may try to use different strategies. They might file conspiracy charges against members of a cartel where one person assists another in the commission of a crime such as murder. In that case, the person could be found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder, even if the murder didn’t actually occur. If the person had the intent to commit the crime, he or she could be found guilty of conspiracy. These types of charges are extremely effective against drug cartels and other organized criminal groups.
Fighting Drug Crime Charges
Another effective strategy employed by prosecutors is to charge defendants separately for under state and federal laws. This could result in significant punishment, for example, a lengthy prison sentence. This strategy often scares defendants into accepting a plea deal. Another law that comes into play in these cases is the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act or RICO, which is a federal law targeting the heads of cartels and other organized crime groups. Under RICO, such individuals may be subject to additional penalties for each racketeering charge.
It is important to understand that these are extremely serious charges with devastating, lifelong consequences. If you have been charged with a drug-related crime, it would be in your best interest to contact a Los Angeles drug crime defense lawyer who will protect your rights and fight the charges.
Physical Evidence in Arson Cases
California laws make it a crime to intentionally or recklessly set for to a structure, forest land or property. You could be charged with arson even if the property you set fire to is your own. The law views the act as arson if the property is a building or piece of real estate, if you cause the fire to your personal property to commit insurance fraud. You could, of course, face charges if the fire you are accused of setting causes injuries to another person, causes fatalities or damage to someone else’s property or land.
According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, nationwide, only about 10 percent of fires where arson is involved ends up in criminal charges. This is because there are often no eyewitnesses or people who actually see the fire being set. More importantly, any type of physical evidence is often destroyed in the fire.
Lack of Physical Evidence
A number of California fires, some of them fatal, have failed to yield arson charges because investigators simply could not find the physical evidence that was necessary to determine who did it. For example, some of the biggest fires in California history including the 1993 Malibu fire and the 1994 Laguna Beach fire that burned 441 homes, were never solved.
A majority of arson cases tend to be built on circumstantial evidence or evidence that depends on an inference to connect it to a conclusion of fact. When it comes to an arson case, there are typically few if any witnesses. A device that sparks the fire such as a match or a cigarette butt might itself be destroyed or burned in the fire.
Proving the Case
When it comes to California arson cases, prosecutors have been able to, in some cases, obtain convictions without any physical evidence and purely with circumstantial evidence where juries are asked to infer that the defendant committed the crime based on the circumstances of the case. However, it is much more challenging for a prosecutor to build an entire case purely on circumstantial evidence. This is because the prosecution, to obtain a conviction, must prove beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant committed the arson. And physical evidence is an important part of that.
An arson case is not easy to prove. It requires an extremely complex and sophisticated investigative process, which is why these cases are assigned to special units and elite teams of investigators who have the knowledge and the capability to analyze chemical and other evidence to make determinations. As criminal defense lawyers, we conduct our own independent investigations and expert witnesses who can clarify to jurors that what are perceived to be indicators of arson such as melted wiring or uneven burn patterns are not really reliable ways to conclude that the fire was caused by arson.
Depending on the nature and circumstances of the case, an arson conviction could result even in murder charges, if the fire resulted in deaths. This means a conviction could mean a life in prison sentence. The consequences of an arson conviction could be life-changing. Our arson defense lawyers can help you fight the charges and protect your rights every step of the way. Call us to find out how we can help you.
In California, embezzlement refers to stealing or misappropriation of funds that have been entrusted to an individual. To convict a defendant of embezzlement, the prosecutor must prove that the owner of the property entrusted it to the defendant; that the defendant then fraudulently used the property for his or her own benefit; and that by doing so, the defendant intended to deprive the owner of the property of its use. In order to prove that the defendant committed the act of embezzlement the prosecutor must show evidence that there was a relationship of trust between the property’s owner and the person who was entrusted with it.
Embezzlement is a crime that may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. This depends on the amount of money that has been embezzled or the value of the property that is believed to have been taken. A misdemeanor embezzlement conviction could result in up to six months in county jail and a fine of up to $1,000. A felony embezzlement conviction could result in up to three years in prison, formal probation and a fine of up to $10,000.
Tips if You Have Been Accused
If you have been accused of embezzling money or property, you may be wondering how to clear your name and defend the charges. Here are a few tips from our Orange County embezzlement defense lawyers:
Contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer right away. Whether you are under investigation for embezzlement or whether you are actually facing charges, the most important step you can take is contact a criminal defense lawyer who can help ensure that your legal rights and protected every step of the way.
Don’t talk to the police or investigators. You need to have a defense lawyer by your side before you talk to anyone. Police officers may seem friendly and may even seem like they have your best interests at heart. But, that’s not usually the case. Anything you tell the police can, and most often, will be used against you in court.
Stay away from social media. Remember, that anything you post on Facebook, Twitter or anywhere on the Internet can also be used against you as evidence in court. This could include posts by you, responses you post on others’ sites and any photos or videos you may upload. If you are been accused of embezzlement, it is best to stay away from posting or responding to anything online.
Preserve all pertinent evidence. Save any and all types of evidence including receipts, internal memos, emails and other communications and correspondence, which show you did not embezzle the money or property.
Contacting an Experienced Lawyer
Our experienced criminal defense lawyers know that even getting accused of embezzlement can have serious repercussions for you. In addition to facing criminal charges, you may be looking at other consequences such as job loss or even career loss. The allegations may leave your precious reputation tarnished. This is why you need to fight the charges with a knowledgeable and skilled defense attorney on your side.