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August 2014 Archives

Is a Criminal "aider and abetter" treated differently?

An aider and abetter in a criminal case is just as guilty as the principal who does the crime and is subject to the same criminal penalties as the principal.  That means the getaway driver of the robbers is just as guilty as the robbers.  Anyone who "before or during the commission crime intends to aid or abet the perpetrator" and by words or conduct does aid or abet the perpetrator in the commission of the crime is just as guilty as the perpetrator. (See CalCrim Jury Instruction 401).

What does "possession" in drug cases in Vista mean?

"Possession" in drug cases means in Vista and throughout California that you have control over the illegal drugs or the right to control it either personally or through another.  You do not have to own the drugs, you do have to know they are there.  Whether you actually possess the drugs or marijuana is one of the elements in proving a simple possession for personal use or possession for sale.  Possession may not be an issue if it is clear on where the drugs were found that it belonged to a certain person, like if they are found in someones identifiable purse or clothing.

Is "driving" necessary for a DUI in Vista, California?

Driving is necessary to prove DUI in Vista and all of California, and is an element of the crime just like impairment or being .08 blood alcohol level or more.  It must be found beyond a reasonable doubt that the person was in control of the vehicle and there was some voitional movement of the vehicle.  Driving does not have to be seen by the officer, but can be proven by testimony of other witnesses or the "circumstances" which may show driving beyond a reasonable doubt.

Are shoplifting and petty theft the same?

Shoplifting and petty theft can be the same.  If the value of the stolen items is $950 or less and the items were taken were retail merchandise, then it may be treated the same.  If the value is greater, than $950 it becomes a grand theft.  If the value is less than $50, the prosecutor could even charge an infraction  petty theft instead of a misdemeanor.  Misdemeanor petty theft or shoplifting are punishable by up to 6 months jail and $1000 fine.  Depending on the facts of the case, prior record and other factors, it may be possible to get a lesser charge or avoid custody.  Infractions are minor offenses and punishable by a fine only.

What is "mental competency" in a criminal case?

Mental competency is defined in California Penal Code 1367(a) which generally states that if the defendant because of a "mental disorder or developmental disability" is unable to understand the nature of the criminal procedings or assist his/her attorney in their defense in a rational manner, criminal charges will be suspended pending a return to competency.  There are proceedures and hearing rights also outlined in related sections of the Penal Code.

Will a DUI prior make any future DUI a second offense?

A DUI prior conviction stays on your record and can be used against you as a prior for 10 years from the date of offense.  It will make another DUI within 10 years of the offense a second offense.  To be a third or fourth DUI offense, all of the priors must be within 10 years of the new offense.  

What is a "terrorist threat" criminal charge in Vista Courts?

A "terrorist threat" charge in Vista Courts and throughout California, is an unequivocal immediate threat to kill someone or do great bodly injury to them made verbally, in writing or by elecronic communication which was intended to be a threat and is taken seriously as a threat.  It does not matter that there was no intent to carry out the threat.  It is defined legally in California Penal code 422.  It is a serious felony and a strike under the three strikes law.  The maximum penalty is up to 3 years state prison and $10,000 fine.

Is a Medical Marijuana DUI in Vista Courts the same as any DUI?

A medical marijuana DUI is a DUI, it does not matter you have a medical authorization to use marijuana.  It is the "driving while impaired" reagrdless whether it is a prescription drug, illegal drug, medical marijuana or alcohol.  The issue is whether or not you were impaired for purposes of driving so you no longer had the ability to drive with the same care and caution as a sober person under similar circumatances.