Child Custody & Housing

Traditionally, child custody was given primarily to one parent – usually the mother – and the other parent would have some form of visitation. This often consisted of every other weekend, Wednesday evenings, a portion of the summer and alternating holidays.

Criminal Courts: What Is Statutory Rape?

Rape cases are prevalent in the paper - from Brock Allen Turner (a swimmer attending Stanford convicted of rape) to Bill Cosby’s current case. In those cases, intent seems clear; the victims involved were all under the influence of different drugs, which could very easily have affected their consciousness; however, in some cases it’s not so black and white, especially in one type called statutory rape.

What Is Statutory Rape?

Statutory rape differs from other types of rape in that, if all participants are over the age of consent (in California, that’s 18 years old), the act is considered a crime even if the minors involved do give their consent. And in cases where there is force or coercion involved, it may be considered aggravated rape or child molestation.

Criminal Courts: What’s the difference between a Grand Jury and a Trial Jury?

Grand juries and trial juries are both made up of average people who are called for jury duty but they serve very different purposes. A grand jury investigates civil and criminal matters in proceedings closed to the public.  A civil grand jury investigates the operation, management, and fiscal affairs of the county and the cities in the county. A criminal grand jury has constitutional authority to indict a suspect after finding “probable cause” that he or she has committed an offense. A trial jury gives a decision about whose facts they believe in the trial itself.

What Is a Grand Jury?

A grand jury helps the prosecutor decide whether to bring criminal charges against a suspect in a crime. Under California law, counties with a population over four million consist of 23 people while smaller counties usually have 19. Grand jury proceedings may last for months at a time.

Not Only Is Driving While Holding a Cell Phone Illegal, You Risk Probable Cause

Vehicle Code (VC) 23123.5 – no driving while holding your cell phone!

Imagine that you are stopped by a police officer, and you ask, “what seems to be the problem, officer?” And, you’re told, “Well, you were driving with your phone in your hand…”. Wait a minute. I know it’s against the law to “text and drive.” But driving while holding my phone? Can they do this?  Yes..

Hate Crimes

The tragic shooting of nine African Americans during a bible study at a South Carolina church in 2015 by an admitted racist and white-supremacist was prosecuted late last year in Federal Court as a Hate Crime. And it is a Hate Crime, isn’t it?  Shockingly, no.  At least not by South Carolina law.  South Carolina is one of five states that do not have laws on the books that criminalize crimes motivated by hate.  Luckily, Federal statutes recognize the criminality of Hate Crimes, and that racist and white supremacist will be put to death.

Criminal Threats and Harassing Messages

The Constitution guarantees us the right of free speech, right? So, can’t we say whatever we want? Not exactly.  It’s not an absolute. California law has long recognized specific limitations when it comes to speech, such as prohibitions against slander and libel. And California has even criminalized some speech, such as in the case of criminal threats and harassing messages.

A criminal threat in violation of Penal Code section 422 occurs when someone threatens to kill or cause great bodily harm to someone else. It can be charged as either a “serious” strike felony offense within the meaning of the California three strikes law, or as a misdemeanor.

What if the speech doesn’t threaten anybody? Can that be a crime? Yes, if you send repeated messages with the intent to annoy, that can be a violation of Penal Code section 653m, a misdemeanor.

What Is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence refers to violent acts committed by a family or household member against another, such as child abuse or the mistreatment of one’s spouse. Domestic violence can refer to physical harm inflicted on a member of a household or family, by another member of the same household or family. The catch-all term domestic violence can generally apply to any partners -- married or unmarried, straight or gay, living together or simply dating.

Do You Actually Need A Divorce Lawyer?

These days, there are certainly plenty of divorce stories that sound more like war stories. However, you have also probably heard of divorce stories that turned out pretty well. What really makes the difference between these two divorce situations?

An Overview Of The Drug Enforcement Administration

The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) was created in 1973 by President Nixon after the government noticed an alarming rise in recreational drug use and drug-related crime. A division of the Department of Justice, the DEA is tasked with enforcing the controlled substances (illegal drug) laws by apprehending offenders to be prosecuted for criminal and civil crimes. The DEA is the largest and most effective anti-drug organization in the world, with 222 domestic locations and 86 foreign offices in 67 countries.

Alimony and Taxes

You may deduct the alimony or separate maintenance payments you are required to make to your spouse or former spouse, or to a third party on behalf of that spouse. This is because your spouse or former spouse will pay the tax on this income. One benefit of having the recipient pay the taxes is that the recipient's tax rate is likely lower than the tax rate of the person paying alimony. This topic covers alimony under divorce or separate maintenance decrees or written separation agreements entered into by you and your spouse or former spouse after 1984. It explains what is deductible if you pay alimony, and what is taxable if you receive alimony.

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California Sexual Assault Laws

Crimes generally referred to as sexual assault may be prosecuted through California's sexual assault, or sexual battery, laws. These laws prohibit unwanted touching of another person's intimate parts. The California Penal Code defines intimate parts as the victim's "sexual organ, anus, groin, or buttocks of any person, and the breast of a female." When sexual assault leads to non-consensual intercourse with the victim, it's charged as rape.

Horowitz For Law

The Investigation and Prosecution of Hate Crimes

Hate crimes are crimes motivated by racial, sexual, or other prejudice, typically involving violence.  Some gang cases can be charged as hate crimes, and speech alone may be the basis for hate crimes. Under certain circumstances, misdemeanors can sometimes be elevated to hate crime felonies, as can seemingly straightforward crimes against property. Vandalism, hate symbols, cross burning, disorderly conduct at a religious service and terrorism can be hate crimes. Even obstructing the exercise of religion can be a hate crime. This presentation looks at hate crimes, the penal codes associated with them, and how hate crimes are investigated and prosecuted.

Sexting- Is It A Crime?

In its various forms, "sexting" is the transmission of nude images or suggestive material via text messages. Such transmission can be textual or image-based and typically occurs via cell phones, smart phones, computers, etc. However, it is typically the latter, image-based transmission of nude, partially nude, and/or suggestive pictures of individuals, sometimes minors, that can potentially lead to criminal consequences.

This article was originally posted to the FindLaw public blog.

California Divorce Law: Who Gets the House?

Divorce means splitting the shared assets and liabilities of the couple.  If the spouses agree on the splitting, this can be relatively painless. If there are disagreements, mediation is the next best thing. If, however, mediation dead-ends, the disputes go to court, and a judge will decide where the split happens.

This is an easy read by Orange County attorney Gerald A. Maggio regarding dividing property and debt in California divorce law.

California Child Custody Laws

Divorce happens, and children are often involved in the process. For parents that are going to file for divorce, the children will be the most important variable to carefully consider. Who will the children live with? How close to both parents will they be? What happens if one of the parents moves out of the area? Will the custody be split evenly or not? Who will pay child support? What about education? Tax deductions? There is a lot to think about....

This article does a very good job of laying out basic California child custody laws.

What Are Juvenile Status Offenses?

If an adult does these things, its no big deal. However, when a juvenile does, it is an offense simply because of the age of the individual when the activity occurs. These activities are considered "status" offences because of the age of the person at the time of the offense. Here is some good information that was originally posted on  FindLaw's Learn About The Law section for parents, families and friends about status offenses.

Injured? Processing Insurance Claims? Some Tips

If you've been in an accident and you are in the process of working through your insurance claims, a little knowledge goes a long way. Insurance companies are there for a reason, but they are not really your friend, even if the agent wants it to seem that way. I something doesn't seem right in your interactions with the insurance people or the way your claim is being handled, don't hesitate to hire an attorney. Here are some great tips from Wayne R. Cohen, a prominent attorney out of Washington DC.  

Business Succession Plans: An Important Part of Estate Planning

The sad fact is, most small businesses do not survive the transition to the second generation when the first generation passes. Small business owners should include business succession plans in their overall estate plan, or the business will become part of the statistical 80% that do not make it.

Crafting a business succession plan as a part of a holistic estate plan can significantly increase the odds of survival. Although each business succession plan is unique, there are some common challenges that can be addressed in planning...

The Whirlwind of Cyber Bullying

The power of technology nowadays is undeniable. From using Yelp to quickly find a new restaurant in your area to posting pictures of your latest vacation, technology seems to know no limits.

Unfortunately, the rise of technology has also led to extreme consequences, one of which is cyber bullying.

Cyber bullying is defined as “the use of electronic communication to bully a person, typically by sending messages of an intimidating or threatening nature.” Typing behind the protection of an electronic screen has given adolescents a false sense of security in making comments that are more threatening than ever before. In extreme cases, cyber bullying has been known to lead to suicide. 

So what exactly is cyber bullying doing to our communities and what are ways to fight it?

Why Is Dennis Hastert Only Serving 15 Months in Prison?

In under a decade, former House speaker Dennis Hastert went from standing second in line to the presidency to being sentenced to 15 months in federal prison for bank fraud linked to multiple allegations of child abuse. So who exactly is Dennis Hastert, and why is an alleged child molester serving only 15 months in prison?

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Protecting Against Identity Theft

Identity theft is prevalent and getting more and more so in our fast-paced, Internet-connected world. What exactly is identity theft? What laws are used to prosecute identity theft? What should you do if you are a victim of identity theft?  How can you protect yourself from it? All these questions and more are framed and answered in this presentation about identity theft.

Sanford Horowitz to Speak on Identity Theft at the Wine, Women & Wealth Seminar

Identity theft has become the fastest-growing white-collar crime in America. With your name, social security number and date of birth, a thief can apply for everything from a credit card or a bank loan to even an insurance policy.

In a seminar focused on serving women who wish to take charge of their financial futures, expand their knowledge, and build their confidence regarding wealth, privacy and security, Santa Barbara attorney and privacy law specialist Sanford Horowitz will be speaking about identity theft.

One Defense Against California's Three Strikes Law: The Romero Motion

If you or a loved one have a criminal record with previous convictions in the state of California, and have been charged with a crime, you run the risk of running afoul of California's Three Strikes law. The Three Strikes law increases punishments for repeat offenders.  If applied to the conviction of a repeat offender, it can result in long sentences that otherwise would not be on the table.

An experienced criminal law attorney can defend against California's Three Strikes. They will either work to defeat the charges themselves, or dispute that the charges be considered a “strike” under California law.

Don't Be Afraid- Aggravated Stalking Is Taken Seriously In California

Many people make fun of "stalking" others on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media networks, so its easy to not take stalking seriously.  However, the state of California takes stalking behavior seriously. Very seriously. If you are convicted of stalking in California it could mean a felony.  Aggravated stalking could result in a lengthy prison sentence. This excellent article, written by Dominic J. Lombardo, Attorney at Law, clarifies.