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San Francisco Criminal Defense Blog

Can I lose my property if I am charged with a drug crime?

Asset forfeiture, also sometimes called civil forfeiture, is one of the many potential penalties that can result from getting charged with a drug crime. This means that your assets can be taken away if law enforcement officers claim that they were somehow involved in your drug crime.

What is forfeiture?

One of the major problems with fighting a forfeiture proceeding is that, unlike the actual drug charges, it is a civil case. It is also, technically, a case against your property, not against you. One important consequence is that, while criminal defendants are constitutionally entitled to a public defender, their property is not. Further, the burden of proof in a forfeiture case is far lower than in a criminal case, which means prosecutors will have to work less to prove their claims that your property was involved in drug crimes. Generally, forfeiture can happen even if you are not actually convicted of the drug crime that gave rise to the whole matter; recent changes in California law do require a conviction for forfeiture of an asset worth less than $40,000, a vehicle or real estate.

California strengthens penalty for possession of date rape drugs

The New Year means a new set of laws take effect in California. One of the most significant developments in criminal law includes a new law that will create a felony charge for possession of date-rape drugs with the intent to commit sexual assault. The increased penalty comes just a year after California voters approved a ballot measure, Proposition 47, to reduce several drug crimes from a felony to a misdemeanor charge.

Before the passage of Proposition 47, possession of date-rape drugs could be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Instead of sticking with the ballot measure ruling to make possession a misdemeanor as part of the larger drug law reform, California lawmakers re-upped the penalty for possession of date rape drugs.

What circumstances contribute to aggravated DUI?

Driving under the influence carries charges that have significant consequences. However, some events involving DUI may lead to more severe consequences than a singular charge called "aggravated DUI." An aggravating circumstance is any attendant factor that increases the criminality of the act.

What can cause a DUI charge to go from "normal" to "aggravated?" By exploring the circumstances, you can best understand the elements necessary to consider in a criminal defense case.

Criminal conviction can threaten California real estate license

Under California law, the government may deny a real estate license application or begin disciplinary proceedings against the holder of a real estate license when the license applicant or holder is convicted of a crime that is substantially related to the job of being a real estate broker. Therefore, for someone who works in the industry or who is hoping to break into the market as a licensed California broker, criminal charges can have professional and personal ramifications far beyond just the potential conviction itself.

Get legal advice about protecting your real estate license

It is imperative to retain a criminal defense lawyer as early as possible when a California real estate professional faces criminal investigation or charges, whether federal or state. Careful, thoughtful and knowledgeable legal representation is necessary to understand how to navigate through the process of investigation and negotiation with the prosecution.

Deferred judgment will keep your record clean

Being charged with a crime is frightening. Will it go on your record, and affect employment and background searches? Will one mistake cost you for the rest of your life, even if it seemed harmless or minor in the spur of the moment?

What is deferred judgment?

One common way to keep your record clean is called deferred judgment (also known as deferred adjudication). Deferred judgment is a form of plea agreement where the accused pleads guilty and undergoes treatment or therapy in lieu of jail time. After a probationary period the charges are dropped and no conviction goes on your record. The arrest will still appear on your record, but an attorney may be able to seal your record from future background checks, depending on the crime.

Mandatory minimum sentences for drug charges: Why they don't work

Mandatory minimum sentencing is a misguided strategy intended to reduce drug-related crimes. As a federal sentencing scheme, it emerged in the late 1980s in response to a bipartisan crackdown on drugs.

Advocates contend that laws of this kind deter potential criminal activity and simplify anti-drug objectives. They also maintain that minimum sentences help keep high-level drug dealers off the streets. Yet, the reality is much more complicated.

How domestic violence allegations can turn your life upside down

Domestic violence charges can have a substantial impact on all aspects of your life. From prison time to hefty fines, the punishments associated with domestic abuse are costly on both personal and financial levels.

What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence refers to behavior - whether verbal or physical - that either causes or threatens to cause harm to a family member, spouse or co-inhabitant in a shared household environment. These charges are leveled against individuals and families of all age groups, cultural backgrounds and sexual orientations.

Child abuse cases involving shaken baby syndrome aren't always clear-cut

These days, every new parent receives warnings about the dangers of shaken baby syndrome. Violent shaking can lead to lasting brain trauma or even death.

When accusations surface that a baby has been a victim of this syndrome, it's easy to jump to conclusions. Police and prosecutors often lay the blame on whoever was last looking after the child. Parents or caregivers are stunned to find themselves facing serious criminal charges.

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