New Laws for 2010 for those arrested for DUI

Hello,

California continues to crack down on those arrested for DUI by ratcheting up penalties.

2 new laws that will go into effect in 2010 deal with those convicted of Drunk Driving/DUI in Los Angeles County.  One of the laws is a pilot program that seeks to have those convicted of first offense DUI be forced to install an ignition interlock device in each car that they have access to.

The ignition interlock devices (IID) are to be purchased by those convicted of DUI and each time the driver starts the car, he needs to blow into the device to show there is no alcohol in his system.  Details of the pilot program have not been released yet, but it is clear that avoiding a DUI conviction is now more important than ever.  Hiring an experienced DUI lawyer can help improve the chances of reducing or removing any penalties for your DUI arrest.

The second law that will go into effect has to do with 2nd or 3rd time offender and their ability to get a restricted license.   This also deals with the (IID) device and will be monitored through the DMV.

If you have questions about your recent DUI arrest, feel free to contact me at anthonyarzili@gmail.com or our office at 562-907-4448 for a free consultation.

Best of Luck and Happy New Year,

Anthony A. Arzili

LA DUI Attorney

DUI Tests, To take or not take?

Handling DUI cases for over a decade, you will hear all sorts of bad advice that has led well-meaning people into trouble.

This article is designed to shed some light on some common myths and misconceptions of the law associated with a DUI arrest and DUI Tests.

Most people realize that if you are licensed to drive in california, you must submit to a chemical test if the officer suspects you are DUI.  If you do not, your license is suspended for at least 1 year.  

What most people don’t realize is which tests are actually the mandatory tests and which ones can they politely decline to take.   As simply as can be said, the only DUI test that you are mandated to take is a blood or breath test (at the station).   You do not have to take a breath test at the scene (commonly called a Preliminary Alcohol Screening Device).    So the basic rule is, blood at clinic or breath at station is the only mandated test you have to take.

What if the officer wants me to do a “walk the line” test or “raise one leg and count to 30” ?

I can count on one hand how many police reports i have read where the officer found someone’s field sobriety tests to be “satisfactory.”  Maybe, thats because by the time a report gets to me someone is arrested.  But the truth of the matter is most of the tests are pretty hard to do, even when someone is sober and in their own living room, let alone after a drink and on the side of a the freeway at 2 in the morning.

Therefore, any physical tests at the scene of your DUI stop are not only discretionary but also pretty subjective.    If you feel that you physically cannot do any of the tests, you should politely decline without giving a reason.   If you give a reason, it will be highlighted and displayed on the reports and for goodness sake please don’t say: “I couldnt do these tests even if i was sober”

The one other tests that you should always refuse is the PAS test.  This is the small device that is usually used at the scene as a breathalyzer.  Do not confuse this with the chemical test at the station which is mandatory.  The small PAS device is considered an investigatory tool and is not mandated by any california law.  If you feel that you may be over the limit, pass on this test and take the chemical test at the station.

The other question I am asked is whether someone should take the blood or breath test.  There is no clear answer here, but some factors make the breath test a better option.   A breathalizer machine needs to be calibrated and tested regularly.  It also needs to be used in a certain fashion to produce accurate results.  With that being said, the breathalizer allows your DUI attorney to attack not only how the test was done, but the machine itself.   The blood test can be retested but is generally perceived as a more infallible test.

If you do refuse the mandatory tests, the punishment is harsh.  1 year suspension and no chance of any restricted driving (to and from work). 

The harsh penalties are even more reason to make sure you have an experience DUI and DMV attorney that has handled hundreds of DUI hearings.

If you have any questions regarding your DUI arrest, feel free to contact us at 562 907-4448 or at LABestDefense@gmail.com

Best Regards,

Anthony A. Arzili

Los Angeles DUI Attorney

Do’s and Dont’s of appearing in court.

While most of us probably see these tips as common sense, too often I see people seal their fate but making bonehead mistakes in court.  Here are some important ones to remember:

 1) Dress for court:  Most judges will not say anything but will see inappropriate attire as a sign of disrespect for the court.    No shorts, no tank tops, no flip flops and definitely don’t show off your tattoos.  You don’t appear in court often (hopefully) so make an effort.  Dress shirt, tie and slacks says i respect this court and the law.  For women, a blouse and slacks and nothing low-cut or sleeveless.  If you choose to wear a skirt or dress, it should reach knee level.  A suit is optional but personally I think its a bit too much. 

2) Leave your kids at home: Theres a common misconception that judges will see those little faces looking at their daddy in cuffs and that will pull on their heart strings and somehow help you.  More often than not, its actually the opposite effect.  Most Judges or Prosecutors don’t believe that a court of law is a place for kids.  Also, they will see you as irresponsible for subjecting your kids to see their father/mother in handcuffs.   I empathize with people who may not have child care but there is no excuse for having your children sit through a hearing where they may hear things they soon wont forget.

3) Be on time.   Its common place for you to sit and wait for your attorney to call your case and talk to you.  But if your attorney is waiting for your to arrive, thats bad news.   Most judges have a radar that quickly picks up a client that is tardy.  Please take into consideration that most court have lines to enter and then metal detectors to go through.  Downtown courts have such long lines and parking issues that it may take you almost 45 mintues to get into your department after you arrive at the courthouse parking lot.

4) Be Courteous to all.  From the minute you get out of your car, be on your best behavior.  Too often I hear defendants in the elevator speaking in an inappropriate fashion about someone in court such as the prosecutor, defense attorney or judge.  You don’t know who else is in that elevator with you.   For the most part, people will treat you the way they are treated by you.  Noone wants to go the extra mile for someone who is being abusive or obnoxious. 

Shocking Arrest of Former Detective on Cold Case

Shortly after she sat down at her desk on the third floor of LAPD headquarters Friday morning, Det. Stephanie Lazarus was told a suspect in the basement jail had information on one of her cases. The 25-year police veteran went quickly downstairs.

As Lazarus removed her firearm to pass through security, she unknowingly walked into a trap. There was no suspect — only questions about a terrible secret police believe she has been harboring for more than two decades.

Now disarmed, Lazarus, 49, was confronted by homicide detectives and arrested on suspicion of the 1986 slaying of a woman who had married Lazarus’ ex-boyfriend. The dramatic break in the decades-old case sent shock waves through the tight-knit LAPD community, marking one of the few times in the department’s history that one of its own officers has been accused of murder.

“It’s painful,” LAPD Chief William J. Bratton said. “But murder is also very painful.”

Calling it an apparent “crime of passion,” Deputy Chief Charlie Beck said Lazarus allegedly beat and fatally shot Sherri Rae Rasmussen, a 29-year-old hospital nursing director, two years after joining the department.

Three months after they were married, Rasmussen’s husband returned to their Van Nuys condominium on the evening of Feb. 24, 1986, to discover his wife’s badly beaten body on the floor in the living room. She had been shot several times, Beck said.

Days after the slaying, two men robbed another woman in the area at gunpoint. Homicide detectives suspected that the pair had also killed Rasmussen when she came upon them burglarizing her home, according to news reports from the time. Rasmussen’s parents, newspapers reported, offered a $10,000 reward for the men’s capture.

The search for the men led nowhere. Like thousands of other homicides from the period, the case remained open and collected dust on storage shelves as detectives struggled to keep pace with L.A.’s dramatic surge in violent crimes.

But with homicides in the city falling to historic lows, LAPD detectives have had unusual freedom in recent months to revisit cold cases. Detectives returned to the Rasmussen killing in February, testing blood or saliva samples from the crime scene and thought to have been from the killer. The DNA tests showed that the attacker was a woman, disproving the theory that Rasmussen had been killed by a man.

Detectives scoured the original case file for mention of any women who could have been overlooked during the investigation. Beck said they found a reference to Lazarus, who was known at the time to have had a romantic relationship with the victim’s husband, John Ruetten. Ruetten allegedly broke off the relationship and soon after became involved with Rasmussen, said sources familiar with the investigation who were not authorized to speak publicly.

With suspicion falling on an LAPD cop, the case took on sensitive and explosive tones inside the department. To minimize the chances that word of the reopened investigation would leak, only a small circle of detectives and high-ranking officials were made aware of it. Last week, an undercover officer surreptitiously trailed Lazarus as she did errands, waiting until she discarded a plastic utensil or other object with her saliva on it, police sources said.

The DNA in her saliva was compared with the DNA evidence collected from the murder scene. The genetic code in the samples matched conclusively, police said.

Lazarus was not pursued as a suspect at the time of Rasmussen’s slaying, according to Beck. The two homicide detectives originally assigned to the case have retired and had not yet been contacted by police, he added. Beck declined to say why the detectives did not look more closely at Lazarus as a possible suspect.

Asked at an afternoon news conference whether Lazarus had been either deliberately or mistakenly overlooked because she was a cop, Beck said: “I don’t know the answer to that at this point.” Reached at his home in Arizona, Rasmussen’s father, Nels E. Rasmussen Jr., indicated that he believes so. “We are not surprised that the arrest was made,” he said.

One of the original detectives in the case, Lyle Mayer, said he never interviewed Lazarus in the course of his investigation and continued to believe the burglary theory until his retirement in 1991.

Police officials declined to comment on whether they believe anyone else was involved in the killing. Lazarus was being held without bail and could not be reached for comment.

Officers responded with shock as news of the arrest spread through the department.

“Never in my wildest imagination would I ever think she could do something like this,” said one longtime officer, who socialized frequently with Lazarus. “We drank beers. She was always quick to give you a hug or tell a joke.” The officer spoke on condition of anonymity. Lazarus’ current partner, Det. Don Hrycyk, refused to comment.

Lazarus joined the department in 1983, a year after she graduated from UCLA with a degree in sociology, LAPD and university records show. After several years as a rank-and-file patrol officer, she was promoted to detective and, in 2006, landed a high-profile assignment with Hrycyk tracking stolen artwork and forgeries. There are references in department publications to Lazarus earning public commendation for her work.

She hardly shunned the spotlight. In a recent LA Weekly profile, Lazarus joked that all she knew about art was that it “hangs on the wall” and that “after working here and seeing all the phony art, I said, ‘I can do that.’ ” Lazarus, who according to police has a young daughter and recently married another LAPD detective, told the newspaper that she had started taking oil-painting classes and had first become interested in art when she visited Europe as a teenager. Last year, she gave interviews after helping capture two men convicted of a string of art thefts in the Wilshire area and in Beverly Hills.

Until her death, Rasmussen was director of critical-care nursing at Glendale Adventist Medical Center. Her slaying stunned colleagues, who referred to her as a vital member of the staff, according to news reports. On the day she was killed, she had reportedly stayed home from work after straining her back in an aerobics class. In an article about the family’s reward, her father said Rasmussen had entered college at 16 and had taught for a period at UCLA.

“It’s safe to say we have some closure,” said Ruetten, the victim’s husband, when reached at his home in San Diego. “It’s been a horrible thing to go through it all again.”

andrew.blankstein@latimes.com

Article by LA Times

Chris Brown Sentence, fair or not fair?

There has been some hand-wringing over a judge’s decision to sentence singer Chris Brown to six months of “community labor” — but no time behind bars — after he pleaded guilty to felony assault on ex-girlfriend Rihanna.

But was the sentence too lenient? Several legal experts said the sentence appears to be in line with what other first-time offenders who plead guilty to the same crime would receive.

Dmitry Gorin, a former deputy district attorney who handled domestic violence cases, said the plea bargain “was not unreasonable.” 

“We have a first time offender here and he is getting 180 days’ hard labor and five years’ probation. That is not a light sentence for someone who’s not been convicted before,” Gorin, adding he has negotiated similar pleas.

He said one must keep in mind that if Brown were to serve time in the L.A. County Jail,  he would serve only a fraction of his sentence because of jail overcrowding.

“I have had clients want to do the jail time when they know the jails are overcrowded and then won’t serve anything like the sentence,” he said. 

Stan Goldman, a Loyola Law School professor, said he believes Brown’s defense team walked away with a good deal for their client. He said he has typically seen such defendants given a choice of 30 days in jail or 90 days with Caltrans cleaning up the freeway. 

In 1988, Christian Slater was sentenced to 90 days for beating his girlfriend and fighting with police, who responded to a brawl at a Wilshire Boulevard condominium in August 2007. He pleaded no contest to battering a female companion and a police officer and being under the influence of a controlled substance. 

A judge declined to allow him to serve the time in a treatment facility. Slater instead did the time in a La Verne police jail. There he worked as a janitor and did other manual help.

Similarly “24” star Kiefer Sutherland pleaded no contest to a single DUI count last year and was sentenced to 48 days in jail for that offense and violating the probation terms of his 2004 DUI conviction. He served his time in Glendale Police Department jail and did janitorial work.

Paris Hilton was famously sentenced to 45 days in jail for violation of the terms of her probation by driving on a suspended license. She ended up serving 23 days despite the sheriff releasing her at one point. Upon learning of the release the judge ordered a tearful Hilton back to jail.

In the Brown case, Sandi Gibbons, a district attorney’s spokeswoman, said the plea bargain is not special treatment and is what a first time offender in such cases can receive. 

She said Brown will also be on probation five years and will have to attend anger management classes. She added that Rihanna approved of the plea. 

Article By LA Times: 

— Richard Winton

DUI in L.A.? Be Smart, not a Smart-aleck.

If you have gotten behind the wheel after drinking, you have already made one mistake.  Here’s some info that helps you from making one mistake turn into a night of mistakes.

1) Be smart.

Short and Sweet.  If you are pulled over for a DUI, (and you have been drinking), don’t give the police officer anything more than you need to.  Hand over your license and registration.  Be polite.  But as far as telling the officer, how many beers you had and when you ate, etc.  It only serves to expedite things to a DUI arrest!   You are under no legal obligation to answer questions from the officer about what you drank or when you drank.   If he want you to do field sobriety tests and you don’t think you can pass them, politely decline without giving a reason.  You have no legal obligation to do FST’s.

2) Don’t be a smart-ass.

Take an attitude with the officer that pulls you over, and you can rest assured that he’s going to make this encounter a memorable one.  Trying to argue your way out of a DUI is about as smart an idea as driving drunk in the first place.  Most officers will make up their minds on whether they are going to arrest you, based on the first few minutes of talking with you.   Blabbing away does two things: 1) it makes the officer get defensive and lean more towards arresting you, 2) It makes you seem more drunk by being overly talkative and argumentative.

Common mistakes people make in tough economic times.

Many of us don’t remember another time in recent history when the country’s economic outlook looked so bleak.   In the past year, many of us have had family members or friends lose their jobs.  Some of us know people who have lost their savings in the stock market or have lost their homes.

So it is no surprise that when we are confronted with a family member in legal trouble, most of us feel that hiring an attorney is now just a luxury and not a necessity.

Now more than ever, it is important to be wise in your search for an affordable and effective advocate for your family member.

The first mistake I see a lot of people making is saying that a criminal defense attorney is a luxury and they cannot afford one.  Well, I think for some cases, you cannot afford NOT to have one.

Some cases need extra attention, time and aggressiveness.  These cases need the advocacy of a criminal defense attorney that can devote the type of time and effort that only a privately hired attorney can provide.  As good as some public defenders may be, the truth is that they are severely overworked and do not have the time to devote to one single case.

In the past 4 months, I have received calls from clients that had decided against hiring an attorney for financial reasons.  Now, their case is well advanced in its stages and they are not happy with the way things are going.  They have come back to me and asked me to help “fix” the situation.   Unfortunately, its not as easy as it sounds.   Hiring a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible is important because the final result of my work is based on months, if not years, of hard work.  “plugging in” a criminal defense attorney at the late stages of a case is putting you and your loved one in  a tough situation.    It is not uncommon for some people in these economic times, to just wait and “see how things go in court” and then try to hire an attorney.   My advice to you is clear.  Any effective criminal attorney that earns his fee wants his hands on the case as soon as possible.   By the time you realize you need a privately retained attorney, it might be too late.

The other  obstacle that most families face in todays economic climate is wanting to spend the least amount on an attorney.  Some attorneys have noticed that this may be the case and have flooded the market with cut-rate, low quality service at a very low price.  If you are arrested, you will likely receive lots of  letters in th mail from unscrupulous attorneys that promise to charge them a fraction of the cost of a legitimate attorney.   Again, my advice is clear:  Run away. Fast!

Any criminal defense lawyer or DUI Attorney that is offering to do your DUI or criminal case for what seems like a ridiculously low fee, you have to wonder what services are you really getting.  The old saying of “you get what you pay for” rings true for finding a criminal defense lawyer.  If an attorney is charging you what seems to be a fraction of what others are charging, be aware of just how much time that attorney is looking to spend on your case.  On the other side of the coin, you don’t need to mortgage your house to finance the right attorney, you simply need to be a smart consumer in a tough economic climate. 

The last two pieces of advice that will likely save you some money and save you from jail are simple.  1) Choose an attorney that only handles criminal defense and not one that handles many areas of law.  2) Choose an attorney that is local to the court where your case is pending.  These two criteria will assure that you have an attorney that knows the highly specialized area of criminal defense AND that attorney knows the people and procedures in the court where your case is pending.

 Best Regards,

Anthony Arzili

Man Keeps girlfriend’s corpse in freezer, gets 4 years.

Stephen David Royds, the high-living drug dealer who kept his girlfriend’s corpse frozen in a 2-by-3-foot plastic bin at the Fairmont Newport Beach hotel for as long as a year, pleaded guilty Monday to drug charges and was sentenced to four years in prison.

Royds’ plea at the Harbor Justice Center in Newport Beach closes the criminal case against him and leaves unresolved — perhaps forever — the question of why Monique Felicia Trepp, 33, a former stripper and waitress, was stashed in dry ice in the posh hotel room she’d shared with Royds.

Police investigated Royds after an informant reported buying cocaine from him at a Newport Beach bar called the Classic Q. During a search in March of Room 966 at the hotel where Royds lived, investigators said they found Trepp’s body, described as “moderately decomposed,” in a Rubbermaid container. They also found an electric reciprocating saw on the bed.

Royds became so distraught during the search that he had to be hospitalized.

An autopsy report showed that Trepp had died from an overdose of cocaine and alcohol. There was no evidence of trauma. Authorities said she showed no sign of defensive injuries and might have been dead for a year, and Royds was not a suspect in her death.

Police arrested Royds on suspicion of possession and sale of cocaine.

A 47-year-old New Zealand native, Royds was reportedly a champion-caliber skier who moved to the United States about 20 years ago to pursue the sport and eventually turned to dealing cocaine, authorities said.

Police say he had used several aliases, including “Mel Profitt,” the name of a high-living, drug-dealing character from the 1980s television drama “Wiseguy.”

On Monday, in what was originally scheduled to be a preliminary hearing in the case, Royds pleaded guilty to felony counts of transportation of cocaine and possession of cocaine for sale. He also admitted to a prior drug conviction.

The charges, coupled with a probation violation, otherwise might have brought him nine years in prison, said prosecutor Jeff Levy.

Levy speculated that Royds might have felt he was “stuck between a rock and a hard place” if he reported his girlfriend’s death, because a warrant was out for his arrest.

Royds’ plea requires him to register as a drug offender.

Royds declined an interview with The Times but told the Orange County Register previously that he’d preserved his girlfriend “for religious reasons.”

Story By LA Times 10/1/08

LA County Deputy Sheriff Charged with Sexual Assault, Mayhem and Torture.

After tricking his wife into introducing him to her lover, a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy held the couple captive overnight at an Irvine apartment complex where he beat them, forced them to undress at knife point and ordered the woman to castrate her younger suitor, authorities alleged Wednesday.

Deputy Robert A. McClain then allegedly sodomized his wife and chopped off her hair with the knife, Orange County prosecutors said as they announced the filing of mayhem, torture and sexual assault charges against the 34-year-old ex-Marine who faces a potential life sentence if convicted.

Prosecutors said the nine-hour ordeal began about 10 p.m. Sunday when McClain’s wife told him she was leaving him for the younger man, whom she met while working in the leasing office of the apartment complex where he lives. McClain then used a ruse to persuade his 31-year-old wife to introduce him to the 23-year-old man, said Susan Kang Schroeder, a spokeswoman for Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas.

After arriving at the young man’s apartment, the deputy led the victims to a back kitchenette area in the nearby leasing office, where he started to argue with them and attack them, authorities said.

“McClain is accused of taking out a knife and forcing both victims to undress,” according to the district attorney’s statement. McClain, who also disrobed, “is accused of unsuccessfully ordering [his wife] to orally copulate both him and [the other man],” the statement added.

McClain then ordered his wife to castrate the younger man, and she “fearfully pretended to follow his instructions,” the statement said. Schroeder said there were several puncture wounds in the man’s groin area, including on his testicles.

After slashing the man’s face with the knife, prosecutors said, McClain fled the scene, forcing his wife to go with him.

McClain then forcibly sodomized his wife, chopped off her hair with the knife, and ultimately drove her back to their Irvine home, prosecutors allege. About 5 a.m. Monday, the wife was able to leave the house with her four children and drive to a nearby hospital to get treatment, authorities said.

A cleaning crew discovered the young man in the leasing office about two hours later and called 911.

The young man’s aunt, Nancy Smith, said she was stunned by what befell her nephew, an aspiring singer and songwriter who worked as a salesman at a Jos. A. Bank store in Orange County.

“I think my nephew came across pure evil,” she said in a telephone interview from Florida. “It is hard to believe that there is that much anger and hate in someone.”

The young man’s father said earlier this week that he had warned his son about getting involved with a married woman, but that he didn’t listen. The father, who visited his son in the hospital, said his son would require surgery for a “complete facial reconstruction.”

Both the young man and McClain’s wife remained hospitalized as of Wednesday afternoon.

The woman’s sister, who drove from Arizona to take care of the couple’s children, said they had been married for years and she knew of no previous trouble between them.

“I have always seen him as a good person. So this is very hard to believe. He adores his children. They were his life,” said the woman, who declined to provide her name as she spoke outside the couple’s Irvine home.

McClain, who worked as a guard at the county jail in downtown Los Angeles, resigned from the Sheriff’s Department Wednesday afternoon, said Steve Whitmore, a sheriff’s spokesman. McClain had not had any disciplinary problems since graduating from the Sheriff’s Academy in March, Whitmore said.

McClain suffered minor injuries in the attack and will be arraigned at the Harbor Justice Center in Newport Beach when his medical treatment is completed, prosecutors said. He is being held in lieu of $1-million bail.

Story by L.A. Times Staff Writers 10/1/08

Being Arrested for a Crime? Rule #1, shut up!

I know deep down inside you feel that you can explain yourself to these officers.  You think that once they hear your story, they’ll be like “Oh OK!, sorry guy, we had you all wrong.  We’ll uncuff you and have you on your way with our deepest apologies”   Ok, let’s snap out of fantasy land.  In our real world, police officers have a theory of what happened before you open your mouth.  You are the suspect.  You did what your accused of.  As the words come spilling out of your mouth, all the officer is doing is writing down what he thinks supports the theory that you are guilty.   Every thing that you say will be documented and rest assured it will find its way to the police report.  From there, those same words will be used to convict you in court.    The easiest thing to do (keep your mouth closed) can save you from prison, jail, a felony conviction.   But for far too many people, its unavoidable.   They will put their foot in their mouth because they fall prey to the following myths.

1) Apologize to the police and they will go easy on you. 

You should alwasy treat officers with respect and courtesy.  For the obvious reasons, and also because they can make your life very hard if you don’t.   But apologizing to the officers or telling them how you regret what you’ve done is one of the biggest myths out there.  Most people are under the perception that once you are arrested for a crime, if you just fess up right away and say how darn sorry you are, that they will either let you go or take it easy on you.   While officers respect your honesty, that’s never going to be enough to let you off the hook.  You did what you did, and now they have you admitting to it, so get ready to do your time.  This is not Law & Order, where they ask the suspect to say what he knows and they will take it easy on him.  I guarantee that anyone that is questioning you has absolutely no power to get rid of your charges or to reduce them.  That’s just not how it works in the real world.  So to summarize, be courteous and cooperative but do not admit or confess to anything with police officers.

2) You can outsmart the detectives.

You might think you are smart or that you have the perfect story that may help you get out of your mess.  Here’s the problem, you don’t control this game.  The detectives can hide facts, lie to you, even scare you into saying what they want.  You are in their game.  They do this for a living and they can likely finish your sentences on what you have to say.   Just tell them, you’ve got nothing to say until you see a lawyer. 

I’ve had trials with confessions and without confessions.  I had a case where my client confessed on audio tape in a detailed statement.  We were able to get the jury to find our client not guilty of the felony charges that he confessed to.  But that is more the exception than the rule.  I recently had a case with a wealth of evidence against my client, but the best thing my client did was say nothing to the police.  This allowed us to focus on attacking the evidence and not on defending his confession.  

Best Regards,

Anthony Arzili