Articles in "Criminal Defense Law"

Juvenile Dependency Cases in Ventura County CAN Be Won!

by Matthew Bromund

Principal Attorney
May 30th, 2014

social worker“Open Up!  We are here from Child Protective Services and we need to speak with you.”

With that, the curtain rises on what is, for almost all families, a nightmare.  Beginning with that phrase, a parent has to defend their ability to be in their child’s life from a system that is geared to assume the worst.  As a society, we have adopted laws to protect children from abuse, to deliver them from evil inflicted upon them in their own homes and to reassure ourselves that we do not turn a blind eye to the neglect of young people’s welfare.  We have also empowered a system that, all too often, tears families apart and places vulnerable children into even greater danger.  How do we balance these risks?  In theory, we balance these in the juvenile dependency court.

Ideally, the system we create would be attentive to the specifics of each family’s reality and culture.  Ideally, the social workers vested with this power would have enough time and resources to see the truth and enough wisdom to use their power carefully.  Ideally, foster families would all be carefully screened for mental health and empathy in addition to having the resources and stability necessary to take in abused and neglected children.  But ours is not an ideal world.  We substitute ‘one-size-fits-all’ for a customized, individualized approach.  We overload caseworkers who, all too often, give in to bitterness and prejudice and take their authority to act as a license to decide who is ‘good enough’ to parent children.  We create such an overwhelming need for foster families that willingness overtakes qualification and sometimes children are delivered into far more dangerous situations than the ones they had at home.  At no point, do these failures of the system invalidate the good efforts and noble intentions of most of the people involved in the work of rescuing and protecting children.  The overwhelming majority of social workers and foster parents do what they do out of sincere love and care for young people.  There are dedicated volunteers to defend the rights of children to be free from abuse, and they do great work.  But the risks are real and the casualties of our system are substantial.

To try and limit those casualties, attorney as the Bromund Law Group take on the case of PARENTS in juvenile dependency proceedings.  Parents are the neglected parties in the juvenile dependency process, often going through the case alone or with very limited appointed legal assistance.  Cases always begin with allegations against one or both parents and it is their perspective that is most often dismissed or discounted.  Allegations aren’t the same as facts and more than a few times we have found that an allegation deemed credible by a social worker evaporated in the light of examination when we insisted upon facts being produced.  Even more importantly, when a family hits a difficult patch (job loss, divorce, chemical dependency), we work constructively with our clients to see that they obtain the support and guidance they need to become the parents their children deserve.  It is not easy work.  There are no guarantees.  But sometimes, with a client who knows how important it is to be there for their children, we prevail.

haiti-rfl-interview-4Just today, I saw a woman reunited with her child after a year of work in the juvenile dependency process.  When we started, her case seemed hopeless.  Her child’s father had a chemical dependency and had degenerated into being an absolute menace to her and her son.  The social worker was convinced that my client’s personal attachment to her son’s father would result in the child being subjected to real risk of abuse.  My client’s limited facility with English and non-existent network of family support meant that she was overwhelmed by the process she faced, alone.  We stepped in to defend her and her son’s right to be returned to his family.  Month after month we built a network of resources around her.  Month after month she met with the social worker, took on extra work to afford a safe place to stay, fought every day to put her son’s welfare first and demonstrate the kind of love only a parent can have for a child.  Today, because of her hard work and our clear understanding of what was really important in the case, her son comes home.  Never again will this family have to go into the dependency court and face the fear of being permanently divided from each other.

If you know someone who needs the kind of patient steady counsel and determined advocacy we provided here, please feel free to have them give us a call.  We cannot guarantee results but we can promise you we will use our best judgment and advocacy to make your family whole.  Juvenile dependency work is about the most terrifying thing any family can face; don’t face it alone.

Matthew Bromund of Bromund Law Group

Matthew Bromund
Principal Attorney

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.

New Developments for Bail Bonds and ICE holds in California

by Adriana

January 16th, 2014

New Developments for Bail Bonds and ICE holds in California

With Immigration reform seemingly stalled in our Federal Legislature, the State of California has taken the lead on some pressing immigration issues on the state level. Assembly Bill 4, which went into effect January 2014, pushes back on the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency’s ability to “ICE holds” to force local law enforcement to keep immigrants in custody until they are transferred to Immigration’s custody.

The Legislature has found that ICE holds have been wrongly used to detain both citizens and lawful immigrants without justification. Unlike warrants, ICE holds are not issued by a reviewing authority, and do not need to be supported by any standard of proof, such as reasonable cause. In the past, once an ICE hold was issued, local authorities would not consider releasing the subject of the hold until that person was transferred to Immigration authorities. To read the entire text of the bill, click here : http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201320140AB4.

cuffsThis development means that unless the immigrant has pending charges or convictions of certain crimes, local law enforcement is required to release him/her from custody. This is an exciting development which gives Immigration Attorneys a new tool to use to assist our clients who are being wrongfully kept from their families. This development makes it possible for a detained person to argue for a bond in certain situations, and requires immediate release in other situations.

If you have any questions about how this new law may affect you or a loved one, please do not hesitate to contact the Bromund Law Group for a free consultation.

Red Light Camera Tickets in Ventura County

by Matthew Bromund

Principal Attorney
December 27th, 2013

red light camerasHere in Ventura County, California, the red-light camera has been deployed at most of the busiest intersections in two of the county’s larger cities:  Oxnard and Ventura.  The tickets issued through the operation of these devices cost drivers more than $480 each and many people believe two falsehoods about the tickets:  1) that they cannot be issued in error, or challenged effectively in court and 2) that they make the intersections safer.  At the Bromund Law Group, we have a 80% success rate for our clients in contesting these tickets at trial and a 100% certainty that the cameras make intersections more dangerous.  How you ask?

Here are my Top Ten Winning Arguments for Red Light Camera Tickets:

1.    Blurry photo of the driver.

2.    The driver isn’t recognizable as the defendant. 

3.    Driver is not the charged defendant. 

4.    Affidavit of someone not in court identifying our client as the driver.  Not admissible at trial as an affidavit is not competent evidence. 

5.    Yellow Light is too brief.  Vehicle Code Section 21455.7 says that yellow lights cannot be shorter than those provided in the CalTrans Traffic Manual.  (Under present California rules, the minimum yellow light change interval for a left turn or right turn phase is 3.0 seconds.)

red light tickets ventura county

6.    The warning signs are not present or proper in dimension and visibility.  Vehicle Code Section 21455.5 requires the posting of warning signs. The signs must comply with CalTrans specifications:  They must be at least 30″ wide and 42″ inches high, the bottom edge must be at least 7 feet above the pavement level (5 feet in rural areas), and they must be laid-out per the CalTrans design.

7.    The specific camera used to generate your citation was not installed as required by Vehicle Code Section 21455.5.  In 2005, twice in 2008, and twice again in 2010 appellate courts clarified the law, ruling that a city errs if it fails to provide warning tickets for the first thirty days of operation when it adds a new camera to its system.

8.    The light wasn’t actually red at the time you entered the intersection.  Light speed isn’t the only speed that matters when looking at a photograph of a red-light.  California Vehicle Code Section 21453, says:  “A driver facing a steady red… shall stop….”  LEDs (light-emitting diodes), the fastest-acting light source used in signals, can take slightly more than  0.1 second to light-up (turn-on) after the power has been applied.  The key to this defense is close observation of the sequence of pictures showing the relative brightness of the light as the images progress. 

red light tickets ventura county

9.    The ticket wasn’t issued properly.  The police often mail the ticket to the wrong address or send it outside the authorized time period for issuance.  Vehicle Code Section 40518 requires the notice to be sent within 15 days of the alleged violation. 

10. The city may not have a cost-neutral contract with the vendor who runs the camera.  Vehicle Code Section 21455.5 prohibits “pay per ticket” contracts.  21455.5(h) says: (h)(1) A contract [with a red light camera supplier]… may not include… payment… based on the number of citations generated, or as a percentage of the revenue generated…”  Oxnard and Ventura have had, in the past, contracts that do not comply with this law.  Oxnard averages about 600 such tickets per month.  Oxnard signed a new contract in September 2013.  Ventura averages about 780 such tickets per month.  Ventura’s contract is not cost-neutral in regards to ‘rolling right turn’ tickets and thus can be challenged outright in court. 

As for whether or not the cameras make us safer, I cite you to the following:

ventura county red light tickets

  1. Palm Beach did a study, showing that rear-end collisions spiked after the installation of the cameras.  You can read about it here.
  2. If you don’t like studies, how about logic?  Here is a good succint argument about how the cameras change behavior in ways that are not consistent with driver safety. 

The Bromund Law Group’s most recent victory on a red-light camera ticket came on December 6, 2013.  If you would like to help us notch another win, call us today at 805.650.1100.  As a defense attorney, I love to fight these tickets and restore justice to the justice system. 

Matthew Bromund of Bromund Law Group

Matthew Bromund
Principal Attorney

You have the right to remain silent, but do you have the Ability?

by Matthew Bromund

Principal Attorney
October 30th, 2013

Most people know that when you are arrested the police are required to give you the Miranda warnings before they ask you questions.  Its so much a part of our culture that the warnings on this card can likely be recited, from memory, by just about anyone over the age of 13:

miranda warningYou have these rights even before you are arrested.  You just don’t think about it.  In fact, most people don’t think about it even after police read these rights to them.  That’s because you have heard it so often the meaning has completely vanished and it is just a stream of words, like the Pledge of Allegiance, or the Lord’s Prayer.  (I know all of these mean a lot to many people, but when was the last time you really thought through these words and their meaning?)

In California, you are not required to perform tests (like Field Sobriety Tests), answer questions (like “have you been drinking?” “where are you coming from?” “do you know why I pulled you over?”), or do more than comply with the lawful commands of a sworn peace officer.  When you do so, you are helping the police convict you of a crime.

The police are NOT on a ‘quest for the truth’.  Once they have decided you committed a crime, they are on a hunt for evidence to convict you.  If you are guilty, they don’t need your help; facts speak for themselves.  If you are innocent, your words can make you appear guilty because the police are only listening for the words that support their decision that you committed a crime.  Other words you say will be discounted as self-serving, misquoted to support the theory of guilt, or completely ignored.  Intentionally or not, the police officer will be focused on those things that support a conclusion of guilt.

If you are driving, you ARE required to consent to have your blood drawn, if you want to have a chance to avoid having your license suspended.  This is done under the ‘Implied Consent’ law.   But the police don’t get to take you to have your blood drawn if they don’t have probable cause to arrest you for suspicion of DUI; most of the time it is your words and actions on field sobriety tests, and not your driving, that give the officer probable cause for that arrest.  Of course, implied consent only matters for your driving privilege, for a criminal conviction a different rule applies.

For the crime of DUI, and most other alleged crimes, the police cannot take evidence without your consent or a search warrant.  The new rule on DUI investigations is important, and it is one that the courts in California are going to need years to sort out.  For now, just understand that your rights to personal privacy include your blood, the contents of your home, and the information on your cell phone…if you don’t give the police your consent to access these private items.

In almost all criminal cases, the statements of the innocent defendant make the case for the prosecution.  If the innocent simply remembered to remain silent, to ignore the techniques and threats of law enforcement, and to rely upon their constitutional rights, their liberty would much more often be preserved.

 

Matthew Bromund of Bromund Law Group

Matthew Bromund
Principal Attorney

 

This post is intended for general information only and is not intended to address your specific situation.  For more specific advice, you should contact a licensed competent professional in your jurisdiction.  This document in no way creates or implies an attorney-client relationship between any reader and the Bromund Law Group or Matthew Bromund.  If you require specific legal advice in California, please do not hesitate to contact the Bromund Law Group at 805.650.1100.