Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Teens And Social Media Use

These days’ teenagers use social media to document everything from the mundane task all the way to criminal acts. What they do not realize is that the police now track social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter in the hopes of gaining leads and evidence for their open cases.

In July, a riot broke out in Huntington Beach after a surfing competition. During the violence, police cars were vandalized (obscenities were scrawled on them). Police tracked down a suspected vandal after leads from the Huntington Beach Police Department Facebook page proved valuable. 18 year old Luis Enriques Rodriguez of Anaheim, CA was tracked down and arrested after he “liked” photos on the Facebook page of the damaged patrol cars and shared them with his friends. This was noticed by the fans of the Huntington Beach Facebook page, and a series of tips led them to the arrestee. Rodriguez’s Facebook profile picture shows him sitting on top of a squad car during what seems to be the same day as the riots, wearing the same outfit.

Police uploaded numerous pictures from July’s riot to Facebook in the hopes the public would help identify people in the pictures. Several suspects have turned themselves in since their photo was added to the Facebook page.

Rodriguez was not the only one to boast about his involvement in the riot. 18 year old Niko Johnson posted to Twitter that he is Huntington Beach’s most wanted. Like, Luis Enrique Rodriguez, Niko Johnson was arrested for his participation in the riots.

Teens don’t realize that social media can incriminate them and lead the police right to their front doorstep - and so often they do it to themselves!

If your teenager has been arrested, attorney Katie Walsh can help. Call 714 619-9355 for a free consultation.
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Friday, August 9, 2013

How To Choose A Criminal Defense Attorney

If you or your loved one has been arrested for a crime you may be facing serious consequences such as jail time, probation, a criminal record or fines. Whether it is a misdemeanor or a felony, or even “under investigation,” the best way to prepare for the next court date is to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

How do you know who to hire? How do you know who to trust?

Pick an attorney that practices criminal law

Whether or not your particular case will be settled through a plea bargain or headed for trial, it is important to choose an attorney who is knowledgeable in criminal law and is able to try your case in front of a judge or jury if it gets to that. Lawyers with no experience in criminal law won’t have a comprehensive understanding of the rules of evidence, will have difficulty identifying the weaknesses and strengths of your case, and will have no credibility to negotiate a good deal for you. Most importantly, the criminal world of law moves differently that the civil world and it is important for your lawyer to know how the Judges and District Attorney operate.

Watch out for a lawyer that practices in various areas 

A lawyer who practices personal injury law one day, divorce the next, and later criminal defense lacks the specific experience and knowledge necessary to provide you with the commitment or specialization that your case requires. Only choose attorneys who practice criminal law exclusively.

Avoid lawyers that guarantee a result 

If you consult with a lawyer who promises you certain results—particularly before they have evaluated your case—immediately cross him/her off your list. Criminal law is complicated and every case is unique. There are no guarantees, or simple answers. Any attorney who makes promises to obtain certain results in a criminal law case is not worth your trust, time or money.

Choose a lawyer that can clearly explain your situation and your legal rights

Your lawyer should be able to simply and clearly explain the criminal charges against you, what they entail, your legal rights, what prosecution has to prove, and how evidence can be used against you in court. Your criminal lawyer should also explain the possible consequences you may face for your charges. Your lawyer should always be direct, honest, and to the point, rather than promising that you will “win your case.”

Do not bargain shop for a criminal lawyer

While an affordable attorney is a concern, it should never be the main priority. There are too many things at stake and you need the best attorney who can ensure your rights and interests are fully protected every step of the way. Attitude, compassion, and experience are very important when it comes to choosing a criminal law lawyer. Many lawyers will quote a flat fee, but this fee is not just for the hours they may work on your case. You are also paying for their skills, knowledge, experience, and qualifications. Fees are often based on the difficulty of the case and the amount of time the lawyer etc. will spend in court and researching and preparing. Your fee will be higher (often a separate charge) if the case is expected to go to trial.

Do not be scared to discuss lawyer fees

You have a right to know how much a criminal law lawyer will charge you before deciding to hire him or her. The lawyer should be able to tell you during the initial consultation how much the services will cost you. Do not choose a lawyer that can’t answer your questions or address your concerns Does the lawyer answer all of your questions using language and terms that you can understand? Does he/she return your phone calls and spend time with you going over your case? Are you frequently updated on the circumstances surrounding your case? A good criminal law lawyer should be able to provide you with all that and make you feel relaxed and at ease.

Go with your gut

Did you feel better after speaking with that attorney? Were your questions answered? Or did you feel like just another number? If you experience a bad feeling with one lawyer, seek the assistance of another one.

If you need help with your case please contact the Law Office of Katie Walsh at (714) 619-9355.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Ariel Castro Sentencing Hearing

Last week Ariel Castro pleaded guilty to 937 counts of kidnapping, rape and other charges. In lieu of the death penalty, and in exchange for pleading guilty at an early stage and not putting everyone through a trial, he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. August 1st was the sentencing hearing, where the judge imposed the sentence of life without the possibility of parole. Also at a sentencing hearing are victim impact statements, if there are any.

At this hearing, the prosecution called witness after witness who described the house that Castro turned into a prison for three women. FBI agent Andrew Burke described the alarm system and how Castro had chained his victims. Bedroom windows were boarded shut from the inside; multiple locks were deployed on heavy doors. Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Det. Dave Jacobs said he talked with Castro a few days after the women escaped and that Castro said, “I knew what I did was wrong.” Under questioning by prosecutors, Cleveland police detective Andrew Harasimchuk said that the women described a pattern of being physically, sexually and emotionally assaulted for years. He said all three women were abducted after Castro offered them a ride, and that each was chained in his basement and sexually assaulted within a few hours of being kidnapped.

Michelle Knight, Castro’s first kidnapped victim in 2002, spoke at the hearing. She was lured into Castro’s house after the promise of a puppy for her son. “You took 11 years of my life away and I have got it back. I spent 11 years in hell. Now your hell is just beginning. I will overcome all that happened, but you will face hell for eternity.”

As a victim of a crime you are entitled to address the court at the sentencing hearing, should you desire. Often times family members are able to address the court as well, to speak of what their life has been like as a result of the crime. If you are a victim of a crime, a victim rights attorney can help you with your case by preparing a statement, appearing for you in court, speaking to the judge and the attorneys for you and even reading you statement if you do not want to.

For more information on victim rights please contact the Law Office of Katie Walsh at (714) 619-9355.

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