Oct 11, 2019
| Read Time: 1 minute
Martin Jesus Ruiz, 24, admitted to sending racist threats to another student earlier this year. He appeared in court on Tuesday. He is now ordered to take an anti-bias class at The Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles. He was also ordered to three years of probation. Ruiz pleaded guilty on September 3rd to the charge of interfering with civil rights. This charge came when he threatened another student for what was said on social media. Ruiz was arrested by campus police a few days after the post went live. They were able to find him because of his appearance in the video and his username. The post stated that Ruiz would find the victim and hang him. Ruiz has until January to complete the anti-bias course. He also has been ordered to not have any contact with Simmons. Last month Ruiz wrote an apology letter to Simmons. He explained in the letter that he is not a racist and holds no ill-will toward members of the African American community. Ruiz has stated that at the time of the threat he was angry at the victim. This is because of their reaction towards a rap video created by a friend of Ruiz that had racial remarks. In that period of time, Ruiz became emotional and lashed out. According to Ruiz’s attorney, Kerry Armstrong, the comments made by Simmons on the rap video were also insensitive, causing Ruiz to lash out. Mr. Armstrong also reported that Ruiz hopes he can put this experience behind him and that he wants to be a teacher someday. Sources: The San Diego Union Tribune, FOX 5
Oct 9, 2019
| Read Time: 3 minutes
California law criminalizes assault, which is defined in PC 240 as an unlawful attempt to commit a violent injury on a person coupled with the present ability to do so. If you have been accused of assault, you could face time in jail as well as other penalties. At our law firm, we work with clients to fight back against assault charges in California. Our team has helped many clients receive a favorable disposition to their case, but the sooner we can get started the better. Contact one of our California assault attorneys today. What Are Examples of Assault? The following must be true for an assault to have taken place: The defendant took some act that was likely to result in force being used against someone The defendant took this action willfully The defendant knew that a reasonable person would believe that they were about to get hurt as a result of the act The defendant had the ability to apply force when he or she acted There are many common examples of assault: Children throw rocks at people walking by their home. Two people get into an argument in a parking garage. A driver takes a swing at the other, who ducks to avoid getting punched. Two people grab the last big screen TV on a Black Friday doorbuster sale and one tries to kick the other person away. In each of these examples, the defendant attempted to cause a violent injury to another person and also had the ability to inflict force. However, there are some situations that are not assault. Shouting angry words at a person from across the room is not assault. Likewise, threatening someone on a social media account is not an assault (though it may be another crime). In these examples, the aggressive person has no present ability to inflict force on a person. Similarly, a person who turns around quickly and slams their shoulder into another person’s face has also not committed an assault. Their accidents were purely accidental and not undertaken willfully, even if the victim suffers serious injuries. What is Felony Assault in California? Felony assault is also called aggravated assault, which is a much more serious crime. Some aggravating circumstance is present that renders the assault particularly blameworthy, so the prosecutor can charge for aggravated assault: The defendant used a deadly weapon, like a gun or knife, to commit the assault The defendant committed the assault with the intent to commit another felony, such as rape or murder You can find the aggravated assault statute at Penal Code 245. What Are the Punishments for Assault and Aggravated Assault? Simple assault in California is a misdemeanor offense. The penalties include: Up to 6 months in county jail A fine of up to $1,000 If a defendant is convicted of aggravated assault, the prosecutor gets to choose whether to charge as a misdemeanor or a felony. A misdemeanor aggravated assault carries the following penalties: Up to a year in jail A fine of up to $1,000 A felony conviction carries even more severe penalties, including time in California prison. A convict can also lose important civil rights, such as the right to vote or serve on a jury. Felons also lose their right to possess a firearm. For life, while misdemeanor defendants lose the right for ten years. Don’t forget the collateral consequences that follow any assault conviction. With a criminal record, many defendants struggle to find employment since the conviction shows up in a background report. Are There Defenses to an Assault Charge? Yes. Some of the most successful defenses include: Self-defense. A person can use self-defense if they reasonably believe they or another person is about to suffer a bodily injury and they believe that self-defense is necessary to avoid the danger. The person can only use the amount of force that is reasonably necessary to defend against the attack. Lack of intent. The defendant might have injured someone accidentally or involuntarily. Lack of present ability to harm. The defendant might have been too far away to actually violently injure a person. Mistaken identity. The police might have picked up the wrong person for the crime. The prosecutor always has the burden of proof and needs to prove simple or aggravated assault beyond a reasonable doubt. If they fail to do so, then the defendant cannot be convicted. We can’t talk about defenses without pointing out that the victim does not actually need to be injured. It’s enough that the defendant could have inclicted violent injury. Pointing out the victim walked away unscathed is not a good defense. Contact a California Assault Attorney If the police have arrested you for assault, time is of the essence. At our firm, we have seen many criminal defendants make simple mistakes that end up leading to their conviction. For help with your case, contact us today. The Law Offices of Kerry Armstrong, APLC, has tackled some of the most difficult cases in California. We are proud of our record and want to help represent you, too.
Oct 9, 2019
| Read Time: 3 minutes
California Penal Code Section 288 is the statute that addresses lewd or lascivious acts with a child under 14 years of age. This law prohibits any acts that are of a sexual nature or are indecent. California’s age of consent is 18, so you can be convicted of a lewd act even if the child is an active participant in the encounter. If you have been accused of committing lewd or lascivious acts with a child, you need an attorney’s help. The law is fairly complicated, and building a proper defense takes experience. As mentioned above, simply arguing that the child was an active participant in any contact is not a defense that will work in these types of cases. Please contact our firm to schedule a confidential consultation so we can get to work right away on your case. What Is a Lewd Act on a Child Under Penal Code 288(a)? To obtain a conviction, the prosecution must do more than simply accuse you of behaving inappropriately around a child. Instead, the prosecutor must prove each of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt: The child was under the age of 14 at the time of the incident. You touched any part of a child’s body willfully and lewdly, or you willfully and lewdly caused a child to touch another person’s body, including your own. You committed the acts with the goal of arousing, gratifying, or appealing to your sexual desires or the sexual desires of the child. For example, accidentally bumping into a child is not a lewd act, since you did not commit it willfully. Having a child lewdly touch you is also not a crime—so long as you did not willfully and lewdly encourage it. However, adults and children often have conflicting memories about what happened, and the prosecutor will need to decide who to believe. Other Offenses Under the Statute The statute has other subsections that criminalize other conduct and potentially award greater or lesser penalties: PC 288(b) is similar to the section above but involves lewd or lascivious acts committed through fear, duress, violence, or force. Conviction under this section of the statute carries a greater punishment. PC 288(c) involves lewd or lascivious acts with a child who is age 14 or 15 if the defendant is at least 10 years older than the minor. It carries a lighter sentence than PC 288(a). PC 288.5 is like PC 288(a) but involves multiple incidents. If you committed 3 or more acts within a 3-month period, you can be charged with continuous sexual abuse of a child if you lived in the same home or had recurring access to the child. Punishments for Committing Lewd or Lascivious Acts California’s law provides for severe penalties for violations of the statute. Each case is different, and not all defendants will receive the same punishments. However, some prosecutors will seek the maximum, depending on your criminal history: PC 288(a). It is a felony to commit lewd or lascivious acts with a child under 14 years of age. A defendant can face 3, 6, or 8 years in prison and a $10,000 fine if convicted. PC 288(b). Committing a lewd or lascivious act using force, duress, violence, or fear is a felony and carries a sentence of 5, 8, or 10 years and a $10,000 fine. A defendant is also ineligible for probation, so prison is unavoidable. PC 288(c). Committing a lewd or lascivious act with a child who is 14 or 15 is a wobbler. It could be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony. A misdemeanor can result in up to 364 days in jail, while a felony could send you to prison for 3 years. PC 288.5. Continuous sexual abuse of a child can net a defendant 6, 12, or 16 years in state prison. Registration as a Sex Offender Lifetime registration as a sex offender is required for conviction of any offense under Penal Code 288. If you fail to register, you can face additional criminal charges and possibly spend up to 3 years in prison. Simply for failing to register. With registration, you will need to update local law enforcement of your personal information. Your personal information, such as name, address, and photograph, will also be posted to the public website. There Is Hope At the Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC, we remind clients that an arrest or accusation is not a conviction. Many children make up stories to strike back at a teacher, coach, or parent. It is vital that you find a trustworthy attorney who will advocate for you. We have many successful stories we want to share with you. Our attorneys have handled well over 100 trials and have decades of experience. Please contact us to schedule a free consultation.