Articles in "Basic Rights"

Not All War Wounds are Visible

by Matthew Bromund

Principal Attorney
July 30th, 2014

honoring our fallen warriors

“War is Hell”– General William Tecumseh Sherman

Hell sometimes doesn’t end when the war does.  We have had two centuries of honoring our fallen warriors, those indispensable few who gave all so that this nation, this experiment in liberty, would not end.  We keep cemeteries and holidays and give posthumous medals to recognize their courage and sacrifice.  Their widows and orphans become special to our society and we look out for them (not enough) so that they need not endure deprivation in addition to the grief of loss.  But what about the wounded warriors, the ones who come home but leave something important behind?

Purple Heart on American FlagIf their wounds are visible, they can receive physical therapy, prosthetics, surgeries and, most importantly, accommodation by a society that can see their injuries.  Their lot is not good and their suffering is certainly real but we can all understand what has to be done for them to make their way in the world.  By and large, we do our best to help them along.

For the warrior whose wounds are not visible, however, things are more grim.  The stress and trauma of war (combat, death of friends, loss of innocence and shattered wordviews) linger for many veterans for the rest of their lives.  Those injuries can become wounds far deeper than any visible wound and can impair one’s ability to function in our society.  After all, no one accommodates your combat-caused paranoia because no one can see that you are feeling paranoid.  Even worse, most of our society doesn’t even stop to consider that the mental wounds of war persist and impact EVERY part of someone’s ability to interact with society.  Instead, we just expect that a returning veteran can integrate smoothly back into normal life.

In the field of criminal defense, we know, all too well, that this is not the case.  Many veterans struggle with severe persistent mental illness after returning home from serving their country.  Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is the most recent high-profile illness, resulting in disorientation, difficulty controlling violent impulses, paranoia and occasionally hallucinations but it is by no means the only illness.  Schizophrenia is another common war wound that causes a person’s entire world view to shift radically, rendering their ability to address everyday life extremely limited.

At the Bromund Law Group, we work very hard to see that these veterans are given the same consideration we would give a veteran with a visible wound.  We believe that mental illness is no different than physical illness in the extent to which it is blameworthy to be ill.  We don’t blame the person with the flu for being unable to work or the blind person for being unable to see and we shouldn’t blame the schizophrenic for being unable to handle our rule-intensive compliance-driven society.  Fortunately, California law agrees.  Through the provisions of Penal Code Section 1170.9, a criminal court is obliged to consider treatment rather than incarceration for veterans whose wounds are mental.  This is a powerful tool for the skilled advocate to shape a resolution that is more just and rehabilitative.

We cannot guarantee that we will be able to avoid jail time for all charged and guilty defendants.  We can, however, report that recently we were able to navigate a case through to resolution that will keep a severely mentally ill combat veteran from the Vietnam war from being further harmed by a sixty-day stay in the county jail.  His schizophrenia rendered him too ill to benefit from the mental health court and too difficult to accept confinement safely.  For the 18 months we worked on his case it appeared as if all the options were bad:  he was guilty, there was more than enough evidence to convict him, he was in extremely poor health and his mental illness caused him to react violently whenever anyone tried to confine him.  Fortunately, we persisted on his behalf and eventually won recognition that the principal embodied in section 1170.9 (treatment for the mentally ill veteran is appropriate instead of confinement) could be vindicated here through an out-patient process by staying his jail time while he was successfully participating in treatment.  In this task, we were gratified to see the District Attorney’s Office of Ventura County recognize that doing justice requires using judgment and discretion to see that maximum punishment is not always what is best for society.

Now, thanks to this hard work, one of our wounded warriors is able to continue the long hard struggle to leave the hell of war behind and return to the bright light of freedom.  His sacrifice allows us to enjoy our freedom; our advocacy allows him to attempt to enjoy his.

serving those who servedIf you or someone you love needs help in seeking a just resolution to charges against a veteran, please do not hesitate to contact the Bromund Law Group.  I am an honorably discharged naval officer with a long family tradition of military service; I care deeply about the welfare of those who defend our freedom every day and in every age.  We never charge for a consultation and we are honored by your trust and confidence in our advocacy.

As always, this blog does not constitute advice for your case or any other specific case.  It is merely provided to offer opinions and insights about ongoing legal issues.  If you require specific advice, please call our office today at 805.650.1100.

Matthew Bromund of Bromund Law Group

Matthew Bromund
Principal Attorney

In California, You Now Have a Spouse, Not a Husband or a Wife

by Matthew Bromund

Principal Attorney
July 26th, 2014

Marriage Equality

After years of litigation and voting, California’s three branches of government have united to rule that the California Constitution is wrong.  By signing SB 1306, Governor Jerry Brown ratified the actions of the State Assembly to enact the ruling of the California Supreme Court:  Marriage is now between two single people who consent to be married.  The Family Code will no longer reference “husbands” and “wives” but rather spouses.

This is a historic step that opens the door for couples of every sexual combination to be legally married.  Since the US Supreme Court’s ruling in June 2013 declaring that the trial verdict against the constitutional amendment stating that marriage was between one woman and one man could not remain a part of California’s constitution would stand, California has effectively been a state permitting same-sex marriage.  Today, however, the California Family Code formally recognizes that fact.  In bringing into alignment all three branches of government, this new law makes clear that two people can marry regardless of their sex.

It will be interesting to see if the availability of same-sex marriage produces a decline in civil unions (the mechanism created to permit same-sex couples the same benefits as a marriage without using the title ‘marriage’).  It will also be interesting to see if the predictions of Proposition 8′s supporters comes true and other groups, currently denied the state of marriage, petition to have their relationships recognized as marriages as well.

For now, it is a remarkable moment in history, when the Christian conception of marriage (one man/one woman/for life) is formally and finally divorced from the law in California.  I predict religious organizations of all types to now promote their definition of marriage as being one binding on the faithful while the law continues to move towards a more pragmatic recognition of family, however constituted, as being valid so long as it is based upon the consent of the adults involved.  In that way, I suspect the First Amendment’s guarantee of the free exercise of religion for all citizens to be more forcefully asserted by those whose own marriage traditions have long been treated as illegitimate in a Christian-dominated legislative arena.

As family law attorneys, what does this mean?

First and foremost, it means advising clients to do ever more work to insure that their expectations in a marriage are reflected in a prenuptial agreement.  Since California’s Family Code now has only three obligations provided for, by law, in the marriage:  mutual respect, fidelity and support (CA FAM Code Sec. 720) and a marriage can be dissolved on the basis of irreconcilable differences, a couple desiring any other vows or requirements should do so in a prenuptial agreement.  Many spiritual practices and religions have additional obligations, obligations that can only be legally enforced if the parties participate in a prenuptial agreement.

Second, it means that conventional dissolutions will soon be occurring for same sex couples.  In the past, these relationships have been spared the usual process of dissolution with all its standardized forms and formal processes, because the civil union body of law was not as cumbersome as the dissolution body of law.  I personally hope that more couples plan ahead and are prepared for the possibility of a dissolution when they first contract a marriage but that hope remains as intense for same sex couples as it is for opposite sex couples.

Third and finally, it means that we can all celebrate the resolution of a long-standing dispute in our society.  While the courts have been given the power, through practice, of telling us what our laws are and should be, there is something important for our democratic republic in seeing that the law is generated by our legislatures and enacted by the consent of our executives.  As long as the elected branches of government are not engaged in the process of drafting the laws and leaving it only to the courts to address, we lose an important part of our sovereignty.  Whether a specific citizen of California hails or hates this new provision of law, we can all now say that this IS the law, enacted by our government.

As always, if you or someone you love has need of assistance and guidance in family law matters in California, the Bromund Law Group is here to help.  We offer no cost consultations and provide comprehensive family law services in English and Spanish.  This blog is not intended to provide specific guidance in your case and is rather offered for general educational purposes.  Please do not rely on this blog for your case nor should you consider this entry to constitute the formation of an attorney-client relationship with the Bromund Law Group.  If you have questions, please call us at 805.650.1100. 

What if something that WAS illegal becomes legal after you were convicted?

by Lisa

March 28th, 2014

If the crime was Marijuana Possession and it happened in the state of Colorado, you might be able to get that mark removed from your record.

The Colorado Appeals Court has ruled that if you were convicted of a marijuana possession crime, which would not be considered under the legal possession amount, you may ask that it be thrown out.

Because there has been a “significant change in the law”, a defendant could be eligible for post-conviction relief!

Click HERE for article.

California First State to Sign a Bill to Protect Digital Reputation of Minors

by Lisa

March 21st, 2014

In today’s world, Digital Reputation and Digital Citizenship are hot topics.  How you act online can effect how the world views you.  The Internet acts as a pedestal upon which our reputation sits for possibly all the world to see.

A class with one laptop per child laptops

 

On Monday, March 03, 2014, Gov. Jerry Brown signed the “erase bill” (which will take effect January 2015) that will allow minors the opportunity to delete a post from social media to protect themselves.

 

You can read an article about it here click

 

Do you think that this right should be reserved for only minors?  What about those over 18?  Those with mental illness?  Should they be able to delete only their own posts or posts other people make about them?

 

If you have a question about this or another legal topic, please feel free to contact the Bromund Law Group at 805-650-1100.

You Have the Right to….Do What?

by Matthew Bromund

Principal Attorney
January 23rd, 2014

Know Your Rights

A police officer detains you on the street, starts asking you questions and demanding you produce identification, registration, licenses and other documents to satisfy official curiosity about you.  You might suspect you have certain rights to decline to provide this information but you don’t want to be wrong and end up on the receiving end of the ‘use of force spectrum’ that today’s public safety officers are trained to employ to insure ‘officer safety’.  It is our foremost advice that you do not provide any officer an excuse to use force on you.  Do not enter an aggressive posture, do not use profanity and do not resist any physical force used upon you, no matter how upsetting or unjustified it may be.  Your safety and survival is the first objective of any interaction with police. Our second piece of advice is to remember that, even before you are arrested,

YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT.  You are not obliged to tell the police who you are, where you are going, where you are coming from, or what you are doing in a public area.  Before the police are entitled to that information, they must suspect you of committing a crime.  Most, if not all, citizens who are later arrested and charged with a crime end up finding that their own statements to police constitute the initial, and occasionally only, evidence against them.  Every single day, I review police reports where the evidence for guilt comes almost exclusively from the statements of my client, the accused.  There is simply no reason for people to talk to the police unless they are a victim of a crime and need their help to apprehend the offender. You might be thinking, “But if I am not a criminal why shouldn’t I talk to the police, even when I am not a crime victim?  Police are there to serve the public and help law-abiding citizens like me, right?”  Your thoughts are correct, if our public servants were angels and not humans.  Police officers are trained to think that their job is the apprehension of criminals and that every person on the street could represent a threat to their life.  The days of the neighborhood beat cop who will leave kids to be kids are long gone.  More importantly, we have had full-time legislatures, both in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., concocting every more lengthy criminal codes making almost any action taken in public potentially illegal.  Since IGNORANCE OF THE LAW IS NO DEFENSE, you cannot assume you are ‘law-abiding’ just because you don’t know whether your activity is illegal.   Fortunately, the courts have established that you do have a right to help you in this situation, if you remember to exercise it:

YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO ASK WHAT CRIME YOU ARE SUSPECTED OF COMMITTING.  If the officer can’t articulate an answer to this question, then you should be released from any detention and allowed to move on.  You do not have to answer any questions prior to receiving an answer to this question.  (Some exceptions apply, for example, if you are driving, the police have the right to see your license and proof of insurance to determine whether or not you are legally entitled to operate a motor vehicle.)  If the officer tells you what crime you are suspected of committing, then you do have the obligation to identify yourself, produce any licenses or permits that may be relevant to the situation…and nothing else.

YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO REFUSE TO PERFORM ANY PHYSICAL TESTS OR ANSWER QUESTIONS ABOUT WHAT YOU ARE DOING.  So many people believe that they have to comply with the orders of a police officer and yet there is simply no legal basis to justify this belief.  Police have the power to make orders for public safety (‘Everybody leave this area, there is an armed gunman inside that house.’), to detain a suspected criminal (‘Put your hands behind your back while I hand-cuff you and search you for weapons.’) and to insure their own safety when there is an apparent threat (‘Drop your weapon.’).  They do not have the power to compel you to perform feats of balance, memory or dexterity.  Your participation in any of these is ‘voluntary’ at law, meaning you can say no. To maintain a republic of free citizens, it is critical that the citizenry exercise their rights.  Some are doing so.  Here is a great example, shown in a 3 minute video and analyzed, phrase-by-phrase, for its legal accuracy in the state of Maine.  The rules for behavior apply everywhere:

1.  Be calm.

2. Be patient and remember, police aren’t used to citizens standing up for their rights.

3.  Be silent whenever possible.

4.  Insist on being treated as a law-abiding citizen and do not use physical force to vindicate your rights.

If you do these things, and are later charged with a crime, your attorney will have the best possible case to win your freedom and vindicate your rights.  The Bromund Law Group specializes in representing those charged with crimes in California, especially in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties.  If you need help with this sort of situation, please do not hesitate to call us at 805.650.1100.

Matthew Bromund of Bromund Law Group

Matthew Bromund
Principal Attorney

This blog offers general insight and opinions and is not intended to address any specific legal case or situation.  Please consult a competent professional before relying upon this blog for your specific situations.