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What Is a Mistake of Fact in A Criminal Case?

A criminal defendant may argue in their case that they never intended to commit a crime and that the criminal act that occurred was truly a mistake of fact or a mistake of the law. Mistakes of fact and mistakes of law are different and can be explained to you by your criminal defense lawyer. A mistake of fact arises when a criminal defendant misunderstood some fact that would negate the element of the crime. If a person was accused of larceny, for example, but believed that the property he or she removed was rightfully their own, this could negate any intent to deprive another person of the property which is a legally required element to pursue criminal charges against such an individual.

An important qualification for mistakes of fact is that this mistake must be reasonable as well as honest. The mistake must be one that would appear reasonable to a jury or a judge. If the person who alleges that the property was taken, told the accused person repeatedly that the property was not his to take and that he could not take it, it would not be a mistake of fact to pursue this as a criminal defense strategy.

You need to walk through all elements of your criminal defense strategy as soon as possible after you have been accused to give you the best possible chance to identify the strategy that help to support your freedom and avoid a criminal conviction. The right criminal defense lawyer is the most important asset you will have at your side as you move forward through your criminal case and consulting with one sooner than later gives you the most possible chances to walk away without having to deal with a conviction or any of the other negative aspects of a criminal case.

Knowing the facts and the grounds to fight back when you’ve been accused of a crime can help you avoid time in jail and other consequences of these allegations. Knowing when a mistake of fact has been made can supplement your criminal defense strategy in Sacramento in a big way.

Should I Appeal My Criminal Court Conviction?

If you have recently been convicted of a crime in Sacramento, there’s no doubt that you are curious about your rights and wondering whether or not you should proceed by filing an appeal. If you find yourself in this situation, you should never be alone. Consulting with the right criminal defense attorney can be a significant asset towards protecting your rights and giving you the peace of mind that someone is working hard on your behalf to overturn the original decision on appeal.

You may be eligible to appeal your case if mistakes were made at the lower level that compromised your case, such as having a defense lawyer that failed to act with competence, a prosecutor acting unethically, the judges making a bad ruling or the jury issuing the wrong verdict. An appeal is not a brand new trial before higher court; instead it is a limited review of convictions previously handed down. The appellate court does not retry the case, accept new evidence or take testimony from witnesses.

The appellate court instead reviews the proceeding from the lower court as well as the judicial ruling to identify whether or not legal errors were present that substantially impacted either party’s rights. The individual who chooses to move forward with the appeal is known as the appellant. How you chose to proceed with an appeals case depends on whether or not you were charged with a federal crime. After you have been convicted at a jury trial or a bench trial in the California Superior Court, you maintain the right to appeal that conviction, but you need to take action sooner rather than later to increase your chances of success. You must file an appeal no later than 60 days after the trial court judgement.

Having a seasoned California appeals lawyer can make the difference between pursuing an appeal successfully or having to cope with the consequences of a conviction. If you have already been convicted of a crime in Sacramento, you cannot afford to wait and should instead retain an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately.

 

What You Need to Know About Resisting Arrest

If a police officer indicates his or her intention to arrest you, emotions may be running high. It might seem as though you’re running out of options and that you should try to fight back to avoid getting arrested. This could be a big mistake, however, and there could be consequences if you tried to resist arrest without a valid reason to do so. This is why you should understand what it means to resist an arrest well in advance.

It is rare that an individual who has been placed lawfully under arrest by the police officers will be able to forcefully resist. In the event that the officer violates your rights, however, and uses excessive force, you may be eligible to resist arrest. The primary element of such a claim involves whether or not the arresting officer has used excessive force that could lead to severe bodily harm. In this situation, a person being arrested has the right to defend themselves. This is because many states stipulate that an officer’s use of excessive force is the same as battery or assault which enables a victim to defend themselves.

An officer’s use of force could be categorized as excessive if it could lead to severe injury or death. The test that the courts use to determine whether or not excessive force was used is whether or not a reasonable person would have felt that it was necessary to resist arrest in self-defense. This is a very high standard to meet and requires an experienced criminal defense attorney to assist you with these allegations.

It is very rare for a court to find that an arrestee was entitled to use resistance and even in these situations where the court finds that he or she was within their rights to resist arrest, the determination is whether or not the amount of force exercised by the defendant at the time was appropriate. The force used to resist arrest typically needs to be in proportion to the force exercised by the arresting officer. Consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney can help you with these complicated questions surrounding arrests.

 

 

How to Defend Against a DUI Blood Sample

While many police officers will first ask a suspected drunk driver to submit to a breathalyzer test, he or she may also take the suspect to the hospital or police station to obtain a blood sample. Blood samples can be critical to DUI cases, both for the prosecution and the defense. However, they tend to be less accurate. This is due to the amount of time that lapses between driving and the time a blood sample is obtained. If you submitted a blood sample in your DUI case, here’s how you can defend yourself.

Integrity of the Collection Process

The collection process should be performed by a trained medical professional well-versed in sterile, safe blood sample collection. Obtain the name of the person drawing your blood and their credentials. Also write down the name of the facility you are at and the time and date of the collection. Provide this information to your attorney. This will help determine if there are any discrepancies in the person’s professional ability to obtain a sound sample.

Chain of Custody

For a blood sample to be considered viable, it must follow a prescribed chain of custody. There must be documentation that outlines where the sample was, who it was with, and when. The chain of custody should remain unbroken. If there is any period of time when the blood sample’s location or possession cannot be ascertained, present this to the court. Often, blood samples may be omitted from court if there’s a break in the chain of custody.

The Specific Lab’s Rate of Error

You’ll want to find out where your blood test was taken and what processes they use to test samples. Not all labs use the same process and each process has its own rate of error. Ask your attorney how to obtain this information and if it can be useful in your case. For example, if the lab used to test your sample has a high rate of error, the sample may be questioned. It could even be omitted from court.

Contact Sacramento Criminal Defense Lawyer Jennifer Mouzis Today

If you’ve been arrested for a DUI, don’t hesitate to get comprehensive legal representation. California DUI law is strict and you simply cannot afford to gamble with your future. Contact a lawyer at our office today for a consultation at 916-822-8702. 

List of Common California Wobbler Crimes

In the State of California, many crimes can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. In fact, it depends on the circumstances surrounding the offense. Some offenses are what is known as “wobbler” crimes. Wobbler crimes can be successfully defended by filing for a reduction to a misdemeanor and then securing evidence to prove innocence or to have incriminating evidence dismissed. So, here’s a quick list of some of the most common California wobbler crimes and how to get the help you need with an aggressive defense.

Theft Crimes

  • Second degree burglary
  • Grand theft, grand theft auto, grand theft farm animal, grand theft person, grand theft during an emergency
  • Theft of one or more dogs for commercial use
  • Receiving stolen property, attempted receiving stolen property
  • Receiving stolen vehicle
  • Theft of trade secrets
  • Embezzlement
  • Attempted extortion

Fraud Crimes

  • Forgery
  • Forgery of identification cards or driver’s license
  • Fraudulent possession of a completed check or money order
  • Forgery of public or corporate seals
  • Altering records

Child Crimes

  • Abandonment
  • Child neglect by parent or guardian
  • Nonsupport or willful abandonment of child under 14 years of age
  • Willful cruelty to child
  • Inflict traumatic injury to child (child abuse)

Sex Crimes

  • Unlawful sexual intercourse
  • Unlawful sexual intercourse with minor under the age of 16 by someone over age 21 or with minor more than 3 years younger than defendant
  • Seduction of minor for prostitution
  • Spousal rape
  • Abduction of minor for prostitution
  • Failure to register as a sex offender under certain circumstances

Weapons Crimes

  • Purchasing a firearm in violation of a protective order
  • Bringing a firearm or other deadly weapon into a courthouse or a state or local public building
  • Selling or otherwise supplying a firearm to be used to commit a felony by a criminal street gang
  • Assault with a stun gun or taser
  • Possession of a firearm within 1,000 feet of a school
  • Possession of other weapon on school grounds
  • Discharging a firearm from a vehicle
  • Sale or possession of automatic guns

Crimes Involving Law Enforcement

  • Resisting an executive officer
  • Resisting officer causing serious bodily injury or death
  • Police brutality/assault and battery by a police officer
  • Failure to appear on a felony
  • Escape from a mental health facility

Contact Sacramento Criminal Defense Lawyer Jennifer Mouzis Today

The above are just some of the more common wobbler crimes. In fact, there are a great number of them. So, if you are charged with a wobbler offense, it’s crucial that you work with an attorney well versed in these unique laws. Contact us today.

Most Common Types of Computer Crimes

As technology continues to grow exponentially, computer crimes are becoming more common. Here are several of the most common computer crimes and what you should do if you are charged.

Hacking

Computer hacking is one of the most widely publicized computer crimes. However, very little attention is given to its actual definition. A hacking crime occurs when someone intentionally and wrongfully gains access to the private personal data belonging to someone else via computer. In California, if you are convicted of hacking, you could be sentenced up to 10 years in prison.

Identity Theft

Identity theft is another computer crime that gets a lot of notoriety. It is similar to hacking in how personal data is accessed. However, if the information is not accessed through a computer, it is usually charged as fraud. However, with identity theft, the personal data is obtained with the knowledge and purpose to commit fraud with someone else’s identifying information.

Data Theft

The definition of data theft under California law is illegally obtaining computer data from a computer system, a computer network, or a physical computer itself. Data theft is a California wobbler crime and can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the situation. Often, data theft is committed against companies or businesses and the crime is charged as a felony.

Harassment

Computers and the Internet are used to communicate with people all over the world. Harassment is a common computer crime charged more often in cases of cyberbullying and cyberstalking. In fact, if you are charged with computer harassment, you could face up to one year in jail if it is charged as a misdemeanor and up to five years if it is charged as a felony.

Phishing

Phishing is a lesser known computer crime that carries a stiff sentence if convicted. These scams involve posing as a legitimate entity or company to obtain important personal information, including credit card information or usernames and passwords. Some phishing scams obtain this information through the sending or installation of malware or a virus on another person’s computer. If convicted, you face between 3-15 years in prison. Also, you could be ordered to pay up to a $250,000 fine.

Contact a Sacramento Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

If you are charged with a computer crime, prosecutors must prove knowledge and intent to commit the crime. There are many defense tactics that may protect your rights under the law. Contact Sacramento criminal defense lawyer Jennifer Mouzis today for more information by calling 916-822-8702.

 

Criminal Threats in California

It’s not uncommon to hear someone make a threat against someone else or against you. In fact, most of the time, these are idle threats that simply don’t mean anything. This may make it surprising if someone accuses you of a criminal threat and you are charged with a crime. What constitutes “criminal threats” and how can you defend yourself against these charges?

Criminal Threats Defined

For a threat to be considered criminal, a few criteria must be met according to California Penal Code 422 PC:

  • The threat must be to physically harm or kill someone and
    • Caused them to be reasonably afraid for themselves and/or their loved ones and
    • Must be unequivocal and specific, not vague and
    • Was communicated in writing, verbally or “via an electronically transmitted device.”

You can also be charged with criminal threats if a threat you make meets the above criteria. This is true even if you do not intend to carry out the threat, or whether or not you actually have the means to do so.

Examples of Criminal Threats

  • Threatening to kill or seriously injure a co-worker because they made you angry
  • Sending an email to your boss threatening to set their vehicle on fire after they terminated you from your job
  • Sending a text to your ex after a breakup stating that they should watch their back because you have a gun

How to Defend Yourself Against Charges of Criminal Threats

If you find yourself under investigation for criminal threats or were arrested on charges, know how you could defend yourself. Common defenses against charges of criminal threats include but are not limited to:

  • The threat was made in such a way that it is unreasonable for that person to fear for their safety or the safety of family members
  • The person who was threatened was never actually afraid and is only seeking legal action against you for revenge
  • The threat was vague and unspecific
  • The threat was not made verbally, electronically, or in writing, such as making a threatening gesture only

When to Contact a California Criminal Defense Attorney

If you’ve been charged with criminal threats, it’s important that you consult with an attorney as soon as possible. This is a wobbler crime, meaning that you may be charged with a felony or misdemeanor. Protect your rights with the help of Attorney Jennifer Mouzis by calling 916-822-8702.

The Basics of Assault and Battery

Many people think that assault and battery go hand in hand or even that they’re actually just one criminal charge. However, assault is a separate charge from battery. In fact, a person could be charged with assault without being charged with battery. The reverse isn’t necessarily true though. It’s rare to be charged with battery without also facing an assault charge. Here are the two crimes defined and what your next step should be if you are arrested for assault or assault and battery.

Assault 101

The act of assault isn’t necessarily an act at all. It is simply the threat of physical harm to another person. However, the threat must be sufficient to be considered assault. In order for a defendant to be convicted, it must be proven that the threat of bodily harm or death was so great that it was reasonable for the victim to become very fearful for his or her life and/or safety.

Battery 101

Assault can occur without even touching the victim. But battery is the actual act of doing bodily harm or causing physical damage to that person.

Lawful Violence Defined

For someone to be convicted and found guilty of battery, the violence must have been unlawful. This means that not all violence against another individual is illegal. For example, you may have engaged in lawful violence if you:

  • Defended yourself when someone was attempting to harm you
  • Defended someone else when another person was attempting to harm them
  • Received implied or actual consent from the alleged victim
  • Used violence to stop a progressing crime or to prevent a crime from occurring

What the Prosecution Must Prove in Order for You to Be Found Guilty

The burden of proof lies with the prosecution, as it does in any criminal case in California. In order for a conviction, the prosecutor must prove that:

  • Violence (in the case of battery) or serious threats to the safety of someone else (in the case of assault) occurred
  • That the violence was considered unlawful, either through the intentional application of violence or the reckless disregard for the safety of the victim.

Contact a Sacramento Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

A criminal defense lawyer is your best shot at reducing or dismissing the charges of assault and/or battery. Contact our office today and let us zealously advocate for your rights under the law by calling 916-822-8702.

 

Do You Know How to Defend Against Possession of Drugs?

When you’re charged with the possession of drugs in Sacramento, you stand to face serious penalties. While some drugs, like marijuana, are decriminalized, others like heroin, cocaine, and even prescription narcotic medications are still illegal. Don’t wait to get help from a criminal defense lawyer after a drug possession arrest. Here’s how you and your lawyer can get the charges against you reduced or even dismissed entirely.

Did the Officer Abide by California Search and Seizure Laws?

One of the first things a criminal defense attorney will look at is whether or not the officer who searched your person or your property and seized the illegal substance did so legally. Searches and seizures may only occur with clear probable cause or a warrant. If the officer did not abide by the law, the substance seized may be struck from court.

Was the Substance Analyzed in a Crime Lab?

In order to charge you with possession of a drug, a prosecutor must prove that what was seized was an illegal drug. This means that the substance should be sent to a crime lab to confirm what it is. Additionally, you should be certain that the chain of custody is not broken in any way when the evidence is turned over to the crime lab. In fact, any tampering with the evidence could render it inadmissible in court.

Can the Prosecutors Provide the Evidence at Trial?

A key component in securing a conviction for drug possession is the prosecution being able to actually produce the evidence. Ideally, whatever drugs were found should be kept in an evidence room under lock and key after being analyzed. However, at times police misconduct or even simple negligence causes the drugs to somehow “disappear.” If the prosecutors can’t produce the actual evidence of drug possession, it will be very difficult for them to obtain a guilty verdict against you.

Contact a Sacramento Drug Possession Defense Lawyer Today

If you’ve been arrested for the possession of drugs in California, don’t wait to get legal help. It’s important that you have someone working on your side right from the start of your case to protect your rights. Contact Sacramento Criminal Defense Lawyer Jennifer Mouzis today for more information by calling 916-822-8702.

3 Things People Don’t Know They Need from a DUI Lawyer

When people consider a DUI lawyer, they often think of an attorney who zealously defends a person charged with drinking and driving in court. While this is part of what a DUI lawyer does, there are a number of things a DUI defendant needs. Here are three things that most people don’t know they need from their DUI attorney.

1. Help with the Administrative DMV Hearing

In the State of California, you have a 10-day window of time in which to request an administrative DMV hearing. Your license will be suspended automatically if you do not request this hearing — which may be done over the phone. However, you are not legally required to have a hearing. It is, however, in your best interest to request one. An attorney will help ensure that the hearing has been scheduled. Your attorney can also help represent you in order to show the DMV that the suspension of your license isn’t justified or that it would cause undue hardship.

2. Keep Evidence Out of Court

Law enforcement officers have strict policies they must adhere to when evaluating someone for drinking and driving and making a DUI arrest. Any evidence against you could be considered inadmissible in court if the evidence was obtained in a way that violated said policies, which can be helpful in deconstructing the prosecution’s case against you. Evidence that can be challenged include but is not limited to:

  • Breathalyzer test results
  • Field sobriety test results
  • Blood test results
  • Urinalysis results
  • Officer observations

3. Help You Stay Out of Court (or Defend You in It)

If the evidence against you is challenged and much of it is considered inadmissible in court, the prosecution’s case begins to weaken and you may find that the charges against you are dropped. In fact, this is the goal and what your attorney will work towards. However, if the prosecution’s case against you is strong, your attorney can help you determine whether or not it would be in your best interest to accept a plea deal or fight for your rights in court.

Contact Sacramento criminal defense lawyer Jennifer Mouzis today to learn more about your rights under the law after a DUI arrest and to schedule a consultation to discuss the charges against you and what the best course of action will be. Call now for an appointment at 916-822-8702.