Deportation, Deportation, Deportation — The Dramatic Rule Change for Non-Citizens charged with Drug Crimes in California

I frequently meet with clients who want to know how a conviction in their California state court criminal case will impact their immigration status.  Drug cases in particular have very harsh and unforgiving immigration consequences for non-citizens who suffer a conviction.  Even non-citizens present in the United States legally (such as green card holders) can face severe immigration consequences from a drug conviction.

For 11 years the case of Lujan-Armendariz v. INS (2000) 222 F.3d 728 had held that an expunged conviction for simple possession of drugs did not constitute a “conviction” for immigration purposes. Therefore, a non-citizen could escape the harsh immigration consequences of a conviction in their drug possession case by entering a drug treatment program pursuant to Penal Code 1000 or Prop 36. These statutes allow a person’s California drug case to be expunged upon successful completion of the drug treatment program. Once the case was expunged, the courts stated that there was no longer a “conviction” for immigration law purposes.

On July 14, 2011, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Lujan-Armendariz, as well as all subsequent cases bound by stare decisis which followed the Lujan-Armendariz rule. The new rule, announced in the case of Nunez-Reyes v. Holder (9th Cir. 2011) 646 F.3d 684, states exactly the opposite.  Specifically, the 9th Circuit in Nunez-Reyes held that a first-time simple drug possession offense expunged under a state rehabilitative statute is a conviction under the immigration laws. The Court observed that Congress intended that convictions for state-law simple possession of drugs have adverse immigration consequences.

What this means is that non-citizens accused of simple drug possession in California will now face deportation and other harsh immigration consequences even if the conviction is expunged pursuant to PC 1000 or Prop 36, because the the expunged conviction is still a “conviction” for immigration purposes. Non-citizens facing drug charges now have more to lose than ever.

If you or someone you know is facing drug charges and is not a U.S. citizen, it is critical that you immediately contact a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney who understands the immigration impact a conviction would have. The attorneys at the X-Law Group, P.C. frequently handle criminal defense cases for non-citizens.  We currently handle drug cases in all Southern California courts, including Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, Ventura, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. If you would like more information on how we may help you, please do not hesitate to contact us.  We offer free consultations and affordable payment plans. Give us a call at 213-223-2232 and visit our website at http://www.thexlawgroup.com/.

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New custody credits rule for California jail sentences after October 1, 2011

“Susie” was sentenced to 30 days in a California jail for disorderly conduct.  Susie will not actually serve 30 days in jail if she is eligible for custody credits and she “earns” them.  So how do we know when Susie will be released from custody if it’s not 30 days?  In order to figure out when Susie will be released you must know how “custody credits” work.

Custody credits function similar to vacation time at work. For those that are lucky enough to get paid vacation, the usual scenario is that for every “x” amount of days worked you get “y” amount of vacation days.  Custody credits work the same way in California.  In California, most jail inmates can “earn” custody credits toward the completion of their jail sentences.  This means that for every “x” number of days served in jail, Susie gets “y” number of days of custody credit.  These custody credits are deducted from Susie’s total sentence as if she actually served those days, even though she did not.

Currently, California jail inmates, if eligible, can earn 2 days of custody credits for every 6 actual days served.  (These rules do not apply to state prison cases.)  Stated another way, a California jail inmate can earn 6 days of total credit for every 4 days he or she actually serves in custody.  This means that California jail inmates currently serve 2/3 of their sentence when given full custody credits.   This rule changes as of October 1, 2011.

As of October 1, 2011, eligible California jail inmates will earn 2 days credit for every 4 days actually served,   This means that California jail inmates will effectively serve 1/2 of their sentence (as opposed to 2/3 under the old rule), when given full custody credits. This new rule will not be “retroactive,” meaning that crimes committed before the law takes effect on October 1, 2011 will be subject to the old 2/3 rule, whereas crimes committed on or after October 1, 2011 will be subject to the new 1/2 rule.

If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges and would like to speak to an attorney about the case, please do not hesitate to call The X-Law Group, P.C.  The attorneys at The X-Law Group, P.C. handle criminal defense matters in all of Southern California, including Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, Ventura, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.  We offer free consultations and affordable payment plans.  Give us a call at 213-223-2232 and visit our website at http://www.thexlawgroup.com/.  We look forward to helping you.

I have been charged with petty theft in California — Am I eligible for a dismissal?

If you have been charged with misdemeanor petty theft in California, you may able to get your case dismissed if you can convince the retailer to agree to a civil compromise under California Penal Code sections 1377/1378.  The civil compromise must be approved by the judge, who has the power to reject any such compromise.  If you have questions about whether you are potentially eligible for a civil compromise dismissal, you should contact a criminal defense attorney.

If you do qualify and the retailer agrees to the compromise, it must be shown to the judge that you have paid all costs incurred by the victim as a result of the offense.  You must also present evidence in court that the retailer has agreed to a civil compromise of the theft.  The judge has discretion to either reject or accept any such compromise.

Although it may be tempting to try to negotiate a civil compromise on your own behalf without the assistance of a criminal defense attorney, this is not a good idea.  Any statements you make to the retailer can be used against you in court because those statements are not protected by any privilege.  This makes it even more important to hire a criminal defense attorney to help you with your potential civil compromise.  Further, although the statute does not give the prosecutor the ability to contest the dismissal, if your lawyer can get the District Attorney on board with the compromise the judge may be more willing to agree to the dismissal.

If you or a loved one is facing a misdemeanor petty theft charge, it is imperative that you have a criminal defense attorney review your case to see if you are eligible for a Penal Code 1377/1378 dismissal.  The attorneys at the X-Law Group, P.C. handle petty theft and other cases in all of Southern California, including Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, Ventura, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. If you would like more information on civil compromise dismissals, please do not hesitate to contact us.  We offer free consultations and affordable payment plans.  Give us a call at 213-223-2232 and visit our website at http://www.thexlawgroup.com/.

Murder Suspect Released in Arizona due to Violation of 6th Amendment Right to Counsel

Arizona defendant Joseph Roberts was facing murder and other charges when the Apache County Attorney’s Office authorized police officers to interview Mr. Roberts without his lawyer present, despite the fact that the County Attorneys who authorized the interview knew that Mr. Roberts was represented by an attorney and that the attorney would not be present and did not know about the interview.  This interview took place one day before Mr. Roberts’ scheduled preliminary hearing, and during the interview Mr. Roberts was told that if he did not accept the offer that was being given to him during the interview that he would be “held to answer” at the preliminary hearing, that he would be facing the death penalty or life in prison without parole, and that he had to make a decision immediately or else all deals would be off the table.

After learning of the improper police interview with his client, defense attorney David J. Martin moved to dismiss all charges against his client for violations of the 6th Amendment Right to Counsel.  Judge Donna Grimsley granted the motion and dismissed all charges against Mr. Roberts, ordering him released from custody on January 19, 2011.  In her ruling, the judge found that the 6th amendment violation resulted in prejudicial and irreparable harm to the attorney-client relationship.  Not only did the ruling result in all murder charges being dismissed, but the County Attorneys involved in the matter are now facing disciplinary charges by the Arizona State Bar.

If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges, it is critical that you have an aggressive and knowledgeable attorney on your side who can protect your rights.  The attorneys at the X-Law Group, P.C. handle criminal defense matters in all of Southern California, including Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, Ventura, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.  We offer free consultations and affordable payment plans.  Give us a call at 213-223-2232 and visit our website at http://www.thexlawgroup.com/.

Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and the California DMV

“I feel fine, I only had…” is the classic line given by those later arrested for DUI while driving away from a night of fun and drinks with friends.  As the years have gone by, the California legislature has put the hammer down more and more on drinking and driving, leading to harsher punishments and longer license suspensions.  The California DMV will suspend your license for a very long time if you don’t meet its deadlines and prevail in your administrative hearing.  Even then, your license will still be suspended if you are convicted in your criminal court case.  Hiring an aggressive and knowledgeable attorney is key.

In California, if you have been arrested or cited for driving under the influence (DUI), the first thing you must do to protect your driving privilege is to request an administrative hearing with the DMV.  The rule is that you have only ten days from the date you were cited or arrested for driving under the influence in order to request the administrative hearing with the DMV.  If you fail to contact the DMV within 10 days to request an administrative hearing, your license will be automatically suspended.  The length of the suspension will depend on many factors, including whether this is your first DUI or whether you have already been convicted of DUI offenses in the past.  For example, starting January 1, 2012, a person arrested for a fourth DUI (within a 10 year period) now faces a 10-year driver’s license suspension.

In order to request the administrative hearing, you must contact the driver safety office that handles the geographic area where your were cited or arrested.  A list of the driver safety offices can be found on the DMV’s website at http://dmv.ca.gov/fo/dsolistings.htm.  Your attorney should also request discovery from the DMV and request that the automatic suspension be stayed pending the outcome of the DMV administrative hearing.

It is critical that you have an attorney represent you at your DMV administrative hearing. These hearings involve complex issues such as whether you were legally stopped and whether the police officer had probable cause to arrest you.  The lawyers at The X-Law Group, P.C. are experienced in both DUI and DMV matters, and can handle your both your DMV hearing and your criminal DUI court case.  We offer free consultations and affordable payment plans.  If you would like more information you may visit our website at www.thexlawgroup.com or give us a call at 213-599-3380.