Monthly Archives: March 2013

Distinguishing Between Pleading Guilty And “No Contest”

Alford plea vs no contest

                            Alford plea explained

Although pleading guilty and pleading no contest might appear to be the same to a nonprofessional, there are some subtle differences between these two pleas, when some finer points of the laws existing in our state are considered. A different kind of plea exists too, called as the Alford plea, which can be used by a defendant to plead guilty of a crime, not by of admission of the guilt itself, but because sufficient evidence exists to prove that he or she is guilty.

Alford plea vs no contest

The basic definitions of these two pleas have already been mentioned above. A person can plead guilty of a crime in a court of law, and can wait for the judgment on his or her case to be given out by the jury and the judge. This usually happens in cases where the defendant is convinced that the evidence against him or her is undisputable, or if they have committed the crime themselves. In such cases, the person does not have any defense of their own, and the court can proceed with levying punishment against the person.

A defendant can enter a no contest plea in a court of law if the evidence against him or her is overwhelming, but the defendant wants to state that he or she is not guilty of the crime. Pleading no contest or nolo contendere means that, the court can proceed with punishing the defendant for the crime, but will have to bear in mind that a plea of no contest has been entered. This is often done in cases to avoid a civil action against the defendant.

Alford plea is a very different type of plea, and it deals with the situations where the defendant does not admit guilt in a court of law, but admits that the prosecution has sufficient evidence that can incriminate him.

Nolo contendere

                           No contest plea explained

If you are trying to differentiate between Alford plea vs no contest plea, then this brief description of both pleas would have helped you. Pleading guilty in a court of law is not as easy as it seems. The court will not accept the admission of crime at face value, and will require some details in order to accept the plea for the guilty.

These are some details regarding some of the pleas, which are used in a court of law. These pleas help in the smooth running of the judicial machinery.

Different Pleas In Docket Sheets

Document the plea

Entering the no contest plea

A docket sheet is one that records all the events related to a particular order, usually in the chronological order. Docket sheets in a criminal case will document the plea that the defendant entered and how he responded to the charges against him. In the case of criminals, there are a few different pleas that an accused may choose to enter, as given below.

Not guilty

By making a ‘not guilty,’ the defendant out rightly denies all the charges made against him and the evidences constituting the case. In such a case, the prosecutor will have to prove the facts beyond a reasonable doubt. The defendant is entitled to fair jury trial if he enters a ‘not guilty’ plea, but does not have to be necessarily present any evidence. If the defendant does not enter into any plea by himself, then the court will enter a ‘not guilty’ plea on his behalf.

Guilty

In a guilty plea, the defendant admits to having committed the crime that he has been charged with. By entering such a plea, he gives up his right to a fair trial. The court may not acknowledge the guilty plea unless there are facts to show that the defendant entered such a plea knowingly and willingly. While making such a plea, the defendant should understand what this charge involves, the punishments that can be awarded and the different consequences.

No contest

A defendant who pleads to no contest does not admit to having committed the crime, but admits that there is enough evidence to get him convicted. The court does not hold a trial in case of a ‘no contest’ plea. For all practical purposes, the defendant is considered as guilty and the court may sentence him unless there is no crime at all. Otherwise, the prosecution does not necessarily have to prove the crime beyond doubt and the defendant does not necessarily have to prove his innocence either.

Alford plea

While comparing the Alford plea vs no contest, there is very little, that differentiates the two. By entering an Alford plea, the defendant pleads guilty while refusing his involvement in a crime, i.e., he pleads guilty, yet at the same time maintains his innocence as well.

Alford plea vs no contest

Consequences of entering the Alford plea

That was some information about the various pleas that a defendant may choose to enter when faced with criminal charges. Before entering a plea, it important that the defendant understand various pleas, the difference between the Alford plea vs no contest plea, the consequence of each plea, the punishments that may be awarded and various aspects like that.

Aggravating Factors That Make Battery A Felony

Aggravated mayhem

               Punishments for aggravated mayhem

Domestic battery is defined as the non-consensual touching of another individual, be it a spouse, partner or another person living within the same household, and which does not cause any serious injury. Domestic battery as defined above is generally only a misdemeanor. The crime becomes aggravated battery if it results in serious injury. Aggravated battery is punishable up to four years in state prison. Given below are certain aggravating factors that make a battery a felony.

Sexual battery

Sexual battery is the non-consensual touching the intimate parts of a body for sexual arousal. This is considered as a misdemeanor. However, if the victim is a minor with a previous history of convictions, then in such cases, sexual battery becomes a felony. If it is committed against the employee of the batterer, then it will be considered as an aggravating factor.

Hazing

Hazing can be defined as any initiation or pre-initiation process by a student body or organization, irrespective of whether it has been recognized by an educational institution or not. In many states, hazing can be charged as a felony if it results in serious bodily injury. It can be awarded up to one year in prison and up to $5000 fine.

Discharge of a firearm or laser

Discharging a firearm with malicious or willful intent in a dwelling, building, motor vehicle or aircraft can be considered as a felony. By ‘inhabited,’ we mean that the structure is one that is currently under use irrespective of whether it is in fact occupied at the time of discharge or not. It can also be if a firearm or laser is shot at an aircraft, again regardless of whether it s occupied in flight or not. Such a felony is punishable up to seven years jail time in state prison.

Mayhem

Domestic battery

                      Aggravated mayhem explained

An action can be termed as mayhem if it deprives an individual of any body part. Mayhem can include, but not restricted to slitting or injuring a nose, ear or lip. Generally, mayhem is misdemeanor, but aggravated mayhem that is a crime, which is committed intentionally and recklessly, with extreme indifference is considered as a felony. Punishments awarded for aggravated mayhem may be lifetime in prison with only a possibility of parole.

That was some information on the various aggravating factors that makes battery a felony. For more info on the same, refer online legal resources or visit your local library.

How To Become An Immigration Lawyer

Immigration lawyers in Los Angeles

                     Becoming an immigration lawyer

Becoming a lawyer is a dream for many, and in the many divisions that exist within a lawyer’s field of work; immigration is certainly an area that has managed to gather a lot of interest in recent years. It certainly has some of the most sought after jobs, and once you have managed to establish yourself as an immigration lawyer, the cases will flow unabated in your direction. However, becoming an immigration lawyer is not easy, and it will require some hard work. Here are some steps that will certainly guide you on the way to becoming one of the elite immigration lawyers in Los Angeles.

Selecting Law school

The first step involved is of course, the selection of the right law school. Most of the law schools have at least one elective course in immigration law, but it is better to concentrate on colleges that offer a specialization in immigration law to its students. This is because, those colleges that specialize in immigration will be able to offer a variety of courses that are related to various immigration related issues. Graduating from such schools that offer specialized courses, will help you with improving your knowledge in the relevant areas. Another advantage of joining such schools is that they allow the third year students to specialize on specific immigration issues. University of Michigan, Stanford, Harvard, University of Texas and John Marshall law schools are some reputed institutions in this area.

Internship programs

Once you manage to enroll into a reputed law school, the next step involved is finding a relevant internship program. There will be several second summer internship programs available for the students, but it is crucial that you select the right one. One of the important steps to becoming an immigration lawyer involves you getting into an internship program at an immigration law firm, or at a related nonprofit organization. Make sure that you select the right organization to pursue your internship program, as there will be several organizations that will be interested in offering internship programs.

Faring well at internship

It is important that you are able to make an impression at the firm where you are pursuing your internship program. Otherwise, the firm will not become interested in hiring you for a full time job. If the firm where you pursued your internship program does not hire you, the other firms might follow suit.

Nonprofit organization

                      Los Angeles immigration lawyers

These are some details regarding immigration law in the country. These tips will help you in pursuing a career as an immigration lawyer. Immigration lawyers in Los Angeles are widely respected, and you will be able to build a healthy career.

Annual Incomes Of Immigration Lawyers Analyzed

Immigration lawyers in Los Angeles

                    Los Angeles immigration lawyers

Becoming a lawyer is a dream for many people. The salary such a job offers, along with the social status it brings along, is certainly among the factors that entice young people to take on a career as a lawyer. Let us now look into the annual incomes that an immigration lawyer can expect in the state of California. The information given below will help you in understanding the average annual earnings of immigration lawyers in Los Angeles.

Bill hourly

Those lawyers who are fortunate enough to get into a top law firm will tell you that they are paid by the hour. This is the case throughout most parts of the country, especially the metropolitan regions of New York, Los Angeles and Boston. The usual hourly charges vary from one law firm to another, but it is usually in the range of $300. It is to be noted that the billing is done in either 6-minute or 15-minute increments.

Flat rates for specific services

Competition is high among law firms, and thus to attract clients, they offer flat rates to customers in specific cases. Such cases include immigration, visa processing and international assignments fields. There exist flat rates for processing H-1B (“Specialty Occupation”) Worker Visa in the United States, and it usually costs in the range of $5000 for the clients. The United States Permanent Residence cases will cost around $10000 for the clients.

Client specific rates

Law firms usually charge the fees based on their clients. Such client specific rates are required, as they will be helpful in calculating the lawyers’ fees. Larger clients usually have a high number of transactions within the law firm, and thus calculating the fees based on hourly rates can become quite impractical. Thus, these larger clients are usually charged on a per-transaction basis. In the case of smaller clients, it is easier for them if the fees are charged on an hourly basis.

Method of payment

Once the legal matters are done with, the clients will have to pay up the sum they owe to the legal firms. There exists a common standard, by which the payments are carried out. Once the invoice has been approved by the internal accounts payable team representing the client, they will have to pay the fees within 30 days.

Internal accounts

       Immigration lawyers Annual income

Detailed information regarding the annual salaries of the immigration lawyers in Los Angeles can be quite difficult to obtain. They are handsomely paid by bigger law firms, and they can charge their clients on an hourly basis.

Laws Of Mayhem

Aggravated mayhem

                Laws regarding aggravated mayhem

The Singleton case brings up a chill up my spine every time it is mentioned. It is one of the most popular cases, mainly due to the high-profile killer whose brutality is directly out of one’s worst nightmare.

In 1979, Lawrence Singleton was convicted on charges of aggravated mayhem and attempted murder. The case was that Singleton had raped and chopped off the arms of a 15-year old girl in California. Good luck found the girl though as she was able to bring herself to a hospital in time before the injuries took a toll on her. The police arrested Singleton soon after that and the court sentenced him to 14 years in prison and was slapped a $2.5million fine in damages to the girl.

This was hoped to be the last case in which anybody heard of such brutality but unfortunately, it did not stop there. Singleton murdered another girl soon after his jail term and was then convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

One wonders that if the justice system was quick to note that the aggravated mayhem that Singleton was charged with had carried harsher sentencing, would it not have prevented the murder? After all, the man did chop off the forearms of a minor and with it, robbed her of much of life’s joy. When considering that, the $2.5million fine seems to be peanuts. In fact, if the laws were tough on criminals, it would certainly have prevented many more such cases; after all, Singleton was not the only case of absolute brutality.

Singleton case

   Mayhem laws are dealt by courts

Therein lies the greatest irony of law; it should be fair to everyone even though it at times cannot. The courts can only work conforming to the contours of the laws set in place by our legislators. These laws have been prepared not just keeping a singular case in mind or a single aspect. Suppose there was an instance where a victim of battery tries to defend him or herself with a knife and cuts the ears off her assailant, it would also have to be tried under these laws. Adequate safeguards have to be put in place to ensure that the innocent is not punished without letting the guilty take advantage of the laws’ loopholes.

And that is how law is. It is never perfect but that is what lawyers make use of. As civilized persons, we have to interpret laws and improve them clause by clause.

Some Info About Criminal Defense Lawyers

Criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles

        Criminal defense lawyers as public defenders

A criminal defense attorney is the one who represents individuals charged with criminal cases. These lawyers generally work on their own as solo practitioners or they may also work as public defenders. Even though any lawyer can represent a defendant in court, a criminal defense lawyer is one who can offer his clients the experience gained through the daily practice of criminal defense law.

Qualifications of a criminal defense lawyer

To practice as a criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles or San Francisco or any other state for that matter, an individual should have graduated from an American Bar Association accredited law school and should have qualified their state’s bar exam. Clearing the bar exam makes a lawyer eligible to practice not just in state courts, but federal courts as well.

Any lawyer can take up a criminal defense case, but criminal defense lawyers are people with added qualifications. Majority of the criminal lawyers are people who had worked in a state or federal prosecutor’s office prior to starting defense practice. Others may have previously worked as public defenders before starting their private practice. Public defenders have the advantage of being exposed to all kinds of cases and therefore gain a lot of experience.

Private criminal defense lawyers

A large number of criminal defense attorneys prefer to practice on their own or along with one or two partners. Be it a criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles or Massachusetts, they usually run a general practice and will take up any kind of criminal case. Of late, criminal defense attorneys have started specializing in particular areas such as drug cases, driving under the influence cases and other major felonies like murder or robbery.

A few criminal defense attorneys also choose to work for huge law firms that work for commercial and business clients. Corporate clients charged for white collar crimes against them like money laundering and fraud are represented by these lawyers.

Criminal defense lawyers

      Private criminal defense attorneys

Public defenders

Public defenders are people who represent individuals who cannot afford their own lawyer. They are paid by the state, country or federal jurisdiction to operate out of a public defender office. Despite their huge caseloads, public defenders are extremely competent lawyers. Once the judge orders for a public defendant, it is up to the supervising attorney to assign the case within the office.

That was some information on criminal defense lawyers. For more information on the same, refer online legal resources.

How To Fight Charges Of Aggravated Mayhem

Aggravated mayhem

 Litigation in aggravated mayhem cases

Aggravated mayhem, in the United States, falls under the criminal code for aggravated assault, and is seen as a highly brutal offense as it renders the victim incapable of the complete use of his body. Sometimes the accused may even face imprisonment if he is found guilty by the court.

What is mayhem?

Mayhem is by definition a willful act, and involves essentially the cut off or disabling any limb of another person. The amount of violence that went into committing the act of mayhem often determines the punishment incurred if found guilty. This also takes into account the manner in which the plaintiff was attacked. The seriousness of the crime increases proportionally to the violence the plaintiff was subjected to.

What to do if you are accused

If you are accused of an act of mayhem, the first thing to do, as always, is to get yourself a good lawyer, especially vital in this case due to how high the punishment may go. If you appear before a jury and are unable to convince them of your innocence, or if your lawyer is, prospects are bleak. Other criminal offence accusations may leave you room to maneuver within error, but when the charges involve mayhem, go for the best you can afford and solicit.

The Penal code section 206 contains essentially this definition for torture: the infliction of great bodily injury upon someone, with the view to causing cruel and extreme pain and suffering. The reason for such an act may lie among revenge, extortion, persuasion, or any sadistic purpose. The stipulated punishment is life imprisonment.

The Penal code section 205 identifies aggravated mayhem as the unlawful and circumstantial manifestation of apathy or indifference towards the physical and mental wellbeing of another person. To be found guilty, the accused must have disabled the victim permanently, or dismembered him. The crime is recognized as a felony that can elicit punishment of upto life imprisonment in the state prison, with parole a possibility.

What is mayhem

                   Best aggravated mayhem lawyers

If you or a loved one is accused of either of the above crimes, it is imperative that you seek out and solicit the services of a respectable and able attorney to represent you in the courtroom. For more information regarding what to do when charged with aggravated-mayhem, and how to procure services from a good lawyer, refer online legal resources.

A Case Of Mayhem

Aggravated Mayhem

        Aggravated Mayhem and Mayhem

Holly was walking along Northern Avenue when suddenly a masked man came at her out of nowhere and slashed at her face. The attack was so violent that Holly suffered multiple injuries to her face including a split lip, near loss of vision in her left eye and slit off her ear. For all practical purposes she was almost unrecognizable. All that the thief gained were a few dollars and a credit card.

She had to undergo surgery to restore her facial muscles. After spending a lot of money and effort on the part of her doctors, not to mention the pain she had to suffer, most of her face was restored in twelve weeks.

There was outrage in her neighborhood and the police were under pressure to book the culprit quickly. Fortunately, they didn’t have to wait for too long as the unsuspecting thief used Holly’s credit card at a fuel station and was soon arrested. They booked him under aggravated mayhem laws of the state.

Everyone deserves a fair trial and in this case, the accused got one too. The facts of the case were put before the criminal court and the judge soon gave his verdict. The thief was fined enough to compensate the medical bills that Holly had to suffer and also for other losses. But the judge did not convict him with aggravated mayhem.

Different forms of Mayhem

Why did the judge not convict the accused with this higher degree of mayhem? For this, you will need to understand the difference between the two acts as per California law, which is where the crime had taken place.

Causing physical injury which results in the loss of certain parts of the body such as the lip, eye, ear or others may be viewed as “mayhem”. The defense tried to argue that since Holly’s face was medically corrected, the accused should not be convicted with this charge. Unfortunately for him, the judge dismissed this argument stating that the law clearly details that such an argument does not mitigate the charge of mayhem.

Loss of limb

             Differences between two forms of mayhem

When it came to aggravated mayhem, the defense argued that the accused had no intention to cause permanent loss of limb or other organs. The prosecution found it difficult to prove otherwise and the judge allowed the argument and convicted the accused with only mayhem.

This case shows the importance of knowing the difference of two very closely related terms with respect to law. Moreover, it shows that a lawyer should take advantage of these differences for the benefit of his client.

How To Become A Criminal Defense Lawyer In Los Angeles

Criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles

Tips to become a criminal defense attorney

For maintaining peace and serving justice, lawyers have become an indispensable part of our society. They are needed for a variety of tasks ranging from defending the innocents accused of crime to punishing the culprits. With the prison population on a steady rise, the demand for criminal defense lawyers has gone up as well.

Becoming a criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles

Becoming a criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles or in any part of the world for that matter is not an easy task. Here are some tips to help you out-

  • Join an undergraduate degree program and complete it. Criminal defense attorneys often have to study subjects such as sociology, criminal justice and even psychology. Consult an adviser about the prospects of taking criminal justice as an elective. To learn about the daily life of an attorney, apply to a court or a criminal defense firm during summer. Also, look for internships at the local, state or federal level.
  • In order to be able to join a law school, it is mandatory to clear the Law School Admission Test (LSAT.) Study well for this test and pass it with good grades. This test consists of three parts to analyze your analytical, logical and reading comprehension skills. Once you are done with the test, apply to a reputed law school approved by the American Bar Association.

    Criminal defense lawyer

    increasing demand for criminal defense lawyers

  • In law school, choose criminal law as your branch of study. Sign up for as many criminal courts and clinics as you can. During the school year, send out resumes to district courts or law firms for internships. Join a criminal attorney club sponsored by the school. Start your ABA application and complete it. Once you have graduated, prepare for the bar examination and clear it.
  • Look for jobs at a courthouse as a court clerk or as an assistant district attorney. Study the statutes in your jurisdiction. Look for a position that will give you experience as a criminal defense lawyer, preferably in litigation. Alternatively, you can also look for employment in law firms that specialize in criminal defense.

These are some tips to help you become a criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles. As you can see, these are only tips and the actual road to becoming a criminal defense lawyer is not an easy one. You will have to put in a lot of hard work and dedication to achieve your dream of becoming an attorney.