Category Archives:Criminal Law

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Five People in Custody in Connection with Nordstrom Rack Robbery

Three men and two women were in custody today in connection with a hostage takeover at Nordstrom Rack in Westchester last week.
According to the Los Angeles Police Department Office website, on Thursday, January 10th around 11:00 pm., three armed suspects confronted the employees as they were leaving the closed business.  The suspects forced the employees back into the store and held them hostage while the suspects robbed the business.

During the incident, one of the employees called a relative to inform him that the business was being robbed. That relative then notified the Los Angeles Police Department inciting the immediate response of Pacific Division patrol units.

Based on initial witness statements and the observations of the first officers at scene, it was believed that armed suspects were inside the business and holding the employees hostage.  When members of LAPD’s Special Weapon and Tactics (SWAT) team entered the location, they searched for suspects and rescued the employees.  None of the suspects were found at the location and it was later learned that they left the location in a white Sport Utility Vehicle as patrol units were arriving.

During the course of the robbery, one of the suspects stabbed a female store employee whom he found hiding in a break room.  That employee sustained a non-life threatening stab wound to her neck.  A second employee was sexually assaulted by one of the suspects.  Both victims were treated at a local hospital and released late Friday morning.

Robbery-Homicide Division assumed responsibility for the investigation and more than twenty detectives were assigned to the investigation.  They worked relentlessly for the next forty-eight hours scouring the crime scene, reviewing evidence and identifying the suspects.  By Saturday evening, detectives had identified and arrested the three suspects who committed robbery inside the Nordstrom’s Rack.  Two additional persons were arrested for their actions after the robbery.

Four of the suspects are currently in custody in LA. Sherman is being held in Phoenix without bail. All five suspects are residents of Los Angeles, according to police.

If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime, contact an experienced and aggressive criminal defense attorney to fight for your rights! Call Don Ho Law at 714-748-7715.

Published by Don Ho Law.  Don Ho is a criminal defense and employment law attorney in Orange County, California.

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California Will Be Ringing In 2013 With New Laws

Governor Jerry Brown signed approximately 900 bills into law in 2012, most of which take effect January 1st, 2013. The legislation encompasses a variety of topics such as: pension changes for public employees, new funding mechanisms for the state park system, and new employment laws.  

Homeowners will have increased protections from foreclosure under some of the hundreds of state laws taking effect with the new year.

Meanwhile, lower-income, private-sector workers whose employers do not offer retirement plans may be able to take advantage of the California Secure Choice Retirement Savings Program.

SB1234 and SB923 would require employers to withhold 3% of their workers’ pay unless the employee opts out of the savings program. But the program cannot start enrolling workers until it receives final authorization from the Legislature.

Pensions for public employees will be reduced under a separate bill, a change that is expected to save taxpayers billions of dollars over the coming decades. AB340 increases retirement ages for new public employees, caps annual pension payouts, prohibits several practices used to inflate pensions and requires public-sectors workers to pay more if they are not already contributing half their retirement costs.

The pension changes were sought by Brown as part of an overall plan to reduce government spending.
Several other laws respond to recent news developments.

Coaches and administrators in K-12 schools as well as higher education employees who have regular contact with children will be required to report suspected child sexual abuse. AB1434 and AB1435 were prompted by the scandal involving former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, who was convicted of sexually abusing 10 boys. Authorities say some former co-workers knew of the abuse but failed to report it to law enforcement.

“Caylee’s Law” is named after the 2-year-old daughter of Florida’s Casey Anthony, who was acquitted of the girl’s murder in 2011 despite waiting a month before telling authorities that her daughter was missing. AB1432 makes it a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail if a parent or guardian fails to report the disappearance or death of a child under the age of 14 within 24 hours.

Attempts to pass similar laws in some other states failed because lawmakers were concerned the changes would be too broad.

AB45 is named after 19-year-old Brett Studebaker of San Mateo, who died in 2010 after drinking on a party bus and crashing his own vehicle while driving home an hour later. It holds party bus operators to the same standards as limousine drivers, making them legally responsible for drinking by underage passengers.
California employers will be required to comply with a number of new laws in 2013. 

Employers Must Accommodate Religious Dress and Grooming (AB 1964/Government Code 12926 and 12940): Employers must accommodate an employee’s or job applicant’s “religious dress” or “grooming practices.”  Religious dress includes the wearing or carrying of religious clothing, head or face coverings, jewelry, and artifacts.  Religious grooming practices include those pertaining to head, facial, or body hair that are part of the observance by an individual of his or her religious creed.  This new law specifically provides that segregating the employee from the public or other employees is not a reasonable accommodation. 

New Regulations Related To Pregnancy Disability Leave:  New pregnancy regulations redefine the number of days that employees may take for pregnancy disability leave.  Instead of the previously defined “four months” of leave, the leave is now defined as 17 1/3 weeks to account for the uneven number of days in certain months.  Employers are also required to notify employees in writing when a medical certification is required for the leave of absence.  In light of these changes, employers are required to post new notices in the workplace that notify employees of the changes. 

Employers Must Provide Employees Written Commission Agreements, But Some Exceptions Apply (AB 2675/Labor Code 2751): Employers who pay regular commissions must provide employees with an executed written contract setting forth both the formula for calculating commissions, as well as the method of payment.  Failure to comply with this new law may subject an employer to penalties under California’s Private Attorney General Act (“PAGA”) in the amount of $100 for each affected employee for an initial violation and $200 per employee for each violation thereafter.  The term “commissions” does not include:  (1) short-term productivity bonuses such as those paid to retail clerks; (2) temporary incentives that increase commissions; or (3) bonus or profit-sharing plans, unless they are based on a fixed percentage of sales or profits. 

If you or someone you know believes they have a workplace complaint, call Don Ho Law at 714-748-7715 to speak with an experienced employment law attorney who can discuss your options with you.
Published by Don Ho Law.  Don Ho is a criminal defense and employment law attorney in Orange County, California.

Robbery Suspect Who Caused Cal State Fullerton Lockdown In Custody

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On December 12, 2012, five suspects entered Empire Jewelry and Loan in Moreno Valley about 3 p.m. on Dec.12 and shot an employee, then fled in a dark Lexus, according to the Moreno Valley Police Department.

The men took authorities on a high-speed chase that ended in Fullerton and led to the lockdown of the Cal State campus for more than eight hours.

Two Los Angeles residents, Damine Lavonte Banks, 30, and Jerome Renard Allen, 23, were arrested after they ran from the Lexus after the car chase, according to a police news release.

A third suspect, Traevon Cortez Vidaud, 24, of Compton, allegedly carjacked a second vehicle as he was being chased by officers and led them on a pursuit to Los Angeles, police said. There he stopped and dashed into the midst of a Los Angeles Police Department toy drive, where Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck and other officer were distributing gifts to underprivileged youth. He was apprehended at the toy drive. All three were booked on suspicion of attempted murder and robbery, police said.

Recently, a fourth suspect has been arrested in a Moreno Valley jewelry store robbery and shooting that triggered the police chase and lockdown at Cal State Fullerton.

Roosevelt Andrew Fernandez, 26, of Compton, was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder, robbery, conspiracy, gang association, parole violation and the use of a firearm during the commission of a robbery.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Departmentinmate database says Fernandez was arrested Dec. 21 by the Long Beach Police Department without incident.

Fernandez’s alleged cohorts are facing 20-plus years in prison if convicted of attempted murder, robbery, and gang activity charges with multiple sentence-enhancing gun and great bodily injury allegations.

They will be arraigned at the Riverside Hall of Justice on January 3, 2013. 

If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime, call Don Ho Law at 714-748-7715 to speak with an experienced and aggressive attorney who can discuss your options with you.

Published by Don Ho Law.  Don Ho is a criminal defense and employment law attorney in Orange County, California.

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Tennis Umpire Cleared of Murder Charges, Gets Job Back

The murder charge against U.S. Open tennis referee Lois Goodman, 70, was recently dismissed due to insufficient evidence. Goodman was arrested in her referee uniform last August just days before the US Open. Police said she had bludgeoned her husband to death with a coffee mug in her Los Angeles home then stabbed him to death with the pieces. Goodman claimed her husband suffered a heart attack and then fell down the stairs.

The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office dropped the case before Goodman lawyers presented a report by former New York pathologist Michael Baden that attributed Alan Goodman’s death to heart issues and not head injuries from an assault.

The D.A.’s office did not reveal why it sought to withdraw charges in the high-profile case after a month of claiming that Lois Goodman murdered her husband. They said the case remains open. However, the pathology report that disputed the coroner’s finding reveals the head wound portrayed as deadly was, in fact, superficial.

Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck defended his department’s handling of the investigation. He said investigators were “largely guided” by information obtained through the coroner’s office. “And some other information came up that contradicted some of that. So this is in the D.A.’s hands right now,” Beck said.

Goodman, said she found her husband dead at their Woodland Hills home. She told authorities that she came home and found a bloody trail up the stairs to their bedroom. She believed he had fallen, then made his way to bed. Responding officers believed her and the home was cleaned up.

But three days later, a coroner’s investigator visited the mortuary to sign the death certificate and reported he found ”deep penetrating blunt force trauma” on Alan Goodman’s head and ears. The observations launched a homicide investigation. In a search warrant, a detective described how investigators had found blood throughout the home.

Lois Goodman’s lawyers later revealed that the tennis umpire’s DNA wasn’t even found on the alleged murder weapon. She also passed a defense-arranged polygraph test conducted by a former FBI examiner, according to her lawyers.

The USTA reinstated Goodman as a professional referee in the wake of the decision by prosecutors to drop charges that she bludgeoned her husband to death.

If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime, call Don Ho Law at 714-748-7715 to speak with an experienced and aggressive attorney who can help you fight the charges.

Published by Don HoLaw.  Don Ho is a criminal defense and employment law attorney in Orange County, California.

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O.C. Judge Reprimanded for Rape Comments


A Southern California judge is being publicly reprimanded for saying a rape victim “didn’t put up a fight” during her assault and that if someone does not want sexual intercourse, the body “will not permit that to happen.”

The California Commission on Judicial Performance voted 10-0 to impose a public admonishment Thursday, saying Superior Court Judge Derek Johnson’s comments were inappropriate and a breach of judicial ethics.

“In the commission’s view, the judge’s remarks reflected outdated, biased and insensitive views about sexual assault victims who do not ‘put up a fight.’ Such comments cannot help but diminish public confidence and trust in the impartiality of the judiciary,” wrote Lawrence J. Simi, the commission’s chairman.

Johnson made the comments in the case of a man who threatened to mutilate the face and genitals of his ex-girlfriend, beat her with a metal baton and made other violent threats before committing rape, forced oral copulation, and other crimes. Though the woman reported the criminal threats the next day, she did not report the rape until 17 days later.

Johnson, a former prosecutor in the Orange County district attorney’s sex crimes unit, said during the man’s 2008 sentencing: “I’m not a gynecologist, but I can tell you something: If someone doesn’t want to have sexual intercourse, the body shuts down. The body will not permit that to happen unless a lot of damage is inflicted, and we heard nothing about that in this case.” Johnson said he believed the prosecutor’s request of a 16-year sentence was not authorized by law. Johnson sentenced the rapist to six years instead, saying that’s what the case was “worth.”
In an apology, Johnson explained that he was frustrated with a prosecutor during an argument in 2008 over sentencing and was trying to make a distinction between the case before him and more aggravated cases cited by the prosecutor, according to the decision.

The commission found that Johnson’s view that a victim must resist to be a real victim of sexual assault was his opinion, not the law. Since 1980, California law doesn’t require rape victims to prove they resisted or were prevented from resisting because of threats.

A public admonishment is the lowest form of public discipline issued by the state commission, which oversees the conduct of judicial officers.

Johnson remains on the bench, and will continue to for the last two years of his term.

Published by Don HoLaw.  Don Ho is an attorney in Orange County, California, focusing on criminal and employment law.

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Felony Charge Filed Against Suspect in 'Desperate Bandit' Bank Robberies

A felony charge was filed today against a 47-year-old man who may be the ‘Desperate Bandit,’ blamed for nine bank robberies in Riverside, Orange, and San Bernardino counties. Indio police arrested Michael Patrick Downing, 47, of Chino Hills after a bank robbery in that city Friday.

“A FirstBank branch at 82900 Avenue 42 was robbed after a man approached the teller with a note demanding money”, Indio police said in a written statement. According to investigators, after the man exited the bank, he drove from the parking lot in a white colored Toyota Corolla with an undisclosed amount of money. Indio police radioed the car’s description and an officer later observed a vehicle matching that description on westbound 1-10, about a mile west of the bank.

A patrol car followed the vehicle another four miles until back-up units arrived and then pulled the car over. The driver, Downing, was arrested.

Investigators found a two-liter plastic bottle filled with clear liquid and suspicious wiring during a search of Downing’s car. The Riverside Sheriff’s Department sent out its Hazardous Device Team to determine whether the device was a bomb. After inspection the device was determined to be inert.

FBI officials suspected Downing might be connected to the nine other ‘Desperate Bandit’ robberies that occurred over the past year in Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties because of the nature of the crime and Downing’s physical description.

In Orange County, the desperate bandit has been blamed for bank robberies in Tustin, La Habra, Anaheim Hills, Fullerton and Placentia.

The robber was given the nickname by the FBI after describing himself as desperate in one of the notes passed to a bank teller.

Investigators allege that Downing admitted he committed several other bank robberies in Southern California and say they are “99.99 percent” certain that Downing is the “Desperate Bandit” bank robber.

If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime, call Don Ho Law at 714-748-7715 to speak with an attorney who can help you fight the charges.

Published by Don Ho Law.  Don Ho is an attorney in Orange County, California, focusing on criminal and employment law.

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Wife of Oceanside Police Chief, Brinda McCoy Sentenced to 15-years in State Prison

Brinda Sue McCoy, the wife of Oceanside police chief and Cypress Mayor Frank McCoy, was sentenced to 15 years in state prison Friday for shooting at officers outside her Cypress home. McCoy dialed 911 in 2010 and initiated a 90-minute stand off during which she fired two shots at police. The stand off ended with McCoy crawling to her front door and being subsequently shot with beanbag ammunition by police officers. At her trial McCoy blamed her behavior on her own suicidal thoughts, driven by alcohol and prescription pills. She testified that at one point, she hoped if she called the police they would shoot and kill her. 

McCoy, 49, was convicted in June of five felony counts of assault with a semi-automatic firearm on a peace officer, and one felony count of discharging a fire arm with gross negligence. Following her conviction, Superior Court Judge Francisco Briseno allowed McCoy to be free on bail, but imposed rigid limitations upon her. A few days later, officers found her bleeding in the backyard of her Cypress home after an effort to commit suicide. Briseno ordered her to be taken back into custody on a no-bail warrant. 

When McCoy was sentenced the convictions carried a maximum 29 year prison sentence, but prosecutor Rebecca Olivieri agreed to modify the sentencing enhancements to reduce the jail time. The modifications are partially due to McCoy’s mental health and the fact that she had no prior criminal convictions. The modification allowed Judge Briseno to enforce the lesser term. Though McCoy and the prosecutor reached an agreement, the agreement has several conditions. Most notably, McCoy has agreed to give up her right to an appeal or a new trial. 

It is unusual to modify charges following a conviction. Prosecutor Olivieri explained that she considered factors such as McCoy’s 20-year nursing career, raising a family that includes a son who is a police officer, a daughter who is a police dispatcher, and another daughter in the military. 

A felony is a serious crime and has long lasting effects even after imprisonment. Those convicted of a felony can pay fine or serve jail time. After the imprisonment term has been completed, in many parts of the United States, a convicted felon can face long term legal consequences such as: exclusion from obtaining certain licenses; purchasing fire arms; ineligibility for government assistance programs such as welfare; and sometimes deportation. Additionally, most job applications and rental applications ask if the applicant has ever been convicted of a felony or faced felony charges. 
The goal of the attorneys at Don Ho, LLP, is to provide aggressive and comprehensive defense to those accused of a crime throughout the State of California. The Orange County Law Firm of  Don Ho, LLP, offers a free initial consultation where our criminal defense attorneys will explain the charges you are being accused of and what the District Attorney’s office needs to do to prove their case, as well as explain your rights and provide a fair and unbiased evaluation of your case.  
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Football Player Chad Johnson Arrested For Domestic Violence and Battery

On Saturday Chad Johnson (formerly known as Chad Ochocinco), Miami Dolphins wide receiver,  was arrested for allegations of domestic violence and simple battery.

According to Johnson’s neighbor, Johnson’s wife, Evelyn Lozada, fled to his home after a dispute regarding a receipt for condom’s found in Johnson’s car. As they were talking, Johnson allegedly grabbed her and head-butted her on the forehead, causing a laceration.

When officer’s arrived, Johnson confirmed that there had been an argument over a sales receipt, but that Lozada had head-butted him. According to police, Johnson’s wife indicated that she wanted to file charges, signing an affidavit of complaint indicating as much.

Following the domestic violence allegations and Johnson’s arrest, VH1 pulled the couples new reality TV show, ‘Ev and Ocho’, which was slated to premiere next month. In the wake of his arrest, the Miami Dolphins also dropped Johnson from the team.

The same day Lozada released a public statement indicating her disappointment with Johnson’s ‘false accusations’ and her hopes that he ‘receives help’ for the past weekend’s alleged altercation, Lozada filed for divorce. The couple had been married for six weeks.

A criminal conviction is costly, you may have to serve time in prison or pay a fine. Your career and family may be disrupted, as well as your reputation tarnished. The attorney’s at  Don Ho, LLP, are dedicated to providing an aggressive and comprehensive defense for those accused of crime throughout the State of California.

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Santa Ana City Councilman Arrested, Faces Sexual Assault Charges

Charges of sexual assault are life changing as they can ruin reputation, relationships, and careers.

On July 2, 2012, Santa Ana City Councilman Carlos Bustamante, 47, was charged with sexually assaulting seven women, while working for the Orange County Public Works,  in what prosecutors said was an abuse of power and public trust. The allegations against the Councilman include luring women into his office during business hours, under pretenses of discussing business matters, only to hug, kiss, and grope them. 

The alleged sexual assaults are said to have occurred between 2003 and last year. However, statute of limitations restrict additional charges with twelve other women from being filed. The victims are said to have faced intimidation tactics and were fearful of losing their jobs if they were to come forward. As a result, a judge has ordered Bustamante have no contact with the seven women he is alleged to have sexually assaulted before and during the trial.

Bustamante’s defense attorney is asking for dismissal of all charges, accusing the Office of the Orange County District Attorney of deliberately hindering his client’s opportunity to have a fair trial. Specifically, he accuses the District Attorney of excessive comments that crossed the line of acceptable legal conduct to tarnish Bustamante as a “sexual offender of the worst sort.” 

Bustamante’s arraignment has been re-scheduled for July 26. If convicted on all counts, Bustamante faces a maximum of 26 years in state prison, and would be subject to lifetime sex offender registration

If you have been accused of sexual assault, the experienced Orange County Criminal Law firm of Don Ho, LLP can help you better understand your legal rights and options.

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Don't Push Your Luck on St. Patrick's Day

Green beer on St. Patrick's Day
Image via Wikipedia
With St. Patrick’s Day falling on a Saturday this year, there will be no shortage of places to celebrate or sobriety checkpoints throughout Orange County.  While Orange County is known for being extremely strict when it comes to drunk driving, law enforcement agencies usually take it up several notches during holidays such as St. Patrick’s Day.  If you drive under the influence this weekend, you may not be able count on that “luck of the Irish” to get you out of the legal hot water in which you may find yourself.
In California, it is illegal to drive while impaired by drugs and or alcohol; and/or driving with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher.  California Highway Patrol has provided individuals with an easy to read BAC chart that shows how body weight and drinks can alter a person’s BAC levels.    
Here are a few tips that can help keep you safe this weekend and avoid a DUI charge:
  • Designate a sober driver – leave your car keys at home
  • Hail a cab or use public transportation – call one for round trip or leave your vehicle, call a taxi and return the next morning to pick up your vehicle
  • Stay put – spend the night at a friend’s house to avoid driving drunk
  • Walk home – if you live close, walk to and from where you will be drinking; make sure to stay in well-lit areas and travel with a friend for added safety
  • Fix your car – officers must have a reason to pull you over other than just being suspicious of a DUI; ensure car and lights are in proper working order
Avoiding a DUI is fairly simple: do not drink and drive.  Plan a safe way to get home before you even go out.  Also, if you see someone who is about to drive away while impaired, take his or her keys and help the person get a ride home.
If you know of a DUI checkpoint in your neighborhood, you may want to avoid it.  Sobriety checkpoints can prove to be tricky even if you have not consumed alcohol.  Sometimes, in their enthusiasm to catch drunk drivers, officers who run these checkpoints end up making wrongful arrests or mistakenly assume that someone under the influence when he or she is not.  You cannot be arrested simply because you turn away from a checkpoint.
If you have been arrested at a DUI checkpoint or Saturation Patrol this St. Patrick’s Day, the experienced Orange County Criminal Law firm of Don Ho, LLP can help you better understand your legal rights and options.
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