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Two men have been charged with vehicular manslaughter in a street racing case that resulted in the death of a young woman jogging on the same road. Manuel Maldonado was arraigned this past Wednesday and has been accused of being one of two drivers engaged the race. The other defendant has not yet been brought to court. Maldonado remains in custody at $100,000 bail and the court denied his attorney's request to release him on his own recognizance, or OR.

Vehicular Manslaughter with gross negligence is a serious felony and strike offense. The prison range for this crime is a term in state prison for two, four or six years and a revocation of driving privileges. In some circumstances similarly situated defendants can be charged with murder if the conduct was done with malice, or with an “abandoned and malignant heart.” (See Penal Code sections 192 and 188).

The Mercury News reports that the victim's family was present at the arraignment and could be heard demanding justice and shouting at the defendant. The paper further reports that the two young men did not know each other before the race and have no prior criminal history.


San Mateo County charged a man with felony DUI last year after he slammed his car into a SamTrans bus, injuring five people. He pleaded “open” meaning the court could have sentenced him to two years state prison, which prosecutors were asking for. However, earlier today the court sentenced the man to one year county jail, five years probation and the other mandatory terms and conditions including the DUI Offender Class.

Felony DUI can be charged on a first offense if the drunk driving resulted in bodily injury. Vehicle Code section 23153 states that if a person drives a motor vehicle while intoxicated and commits an unlawful act while driving that results in the injury of a person, he may be charged with felony DUI. A fourth offense for driving under the influence may also be charged as a felony.

The penalties for a felony DUI are stiff: two, three or four years in state prison (or up to six years if the victim suffered great bodily injury), three to five years of formal probation, the 9 to 18-month DUI offender class and a five year revocation of driving privileges.


A 19 year old Stanford student and collegiate swimmer has been accused of sex crimes including rape and sexual assault. The student, who has been asked to leave the university, is being charged with the sexual penetration of an intoxicated person, under Penal Code section 289(d), among other related charges. According to the Mercury News the assault was witnessed by two bicyclists who prevented the suspect's escape.

Sex crimes such as the sexual penetration of an unconscious or intoxicated person is a serious felony crime and strike offense under California's Three Strikes Law. Penal Code section 289(d) or (e) carries a prison term range of three, six or eight years and is a mandatory sex registration offense.

The Mercury News reports that the student attended a party over this past weekend where he met the victim. Sometime after midnight he was found on top of the woman by two men riding bicycles who detained him until police arrived. It is further reported that the woman was allegedly too intoxicated to consent or resist. It is unclear whether the suspect was intoxicated at the time


Posted on in DUI

Arrests for driving under the influence, or DUI, fell by ten percent in Santa Clara County. For the 2014 Christmas season, the county reports forty-six (46) fewer DUI arrests made at check points and other “saturation patrols.” 468 arrests were made as a part of DUI enforcement patrols in 2013 as opposed to 422 such arrests last year during the Christmas and New Year holiday season. This number does not reflect the total number of DUI arrests made in the county for the year, but just those arrests made as a part of DUI checkpoints and other “Avoid the 13” operations in the month of December.

It is illegal to operate a motor vehicle in California while under the influence of alcohol, drugs or a combination of both. It is also per se illegal to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of .08% or above. (See Vehicle Code section 23152(a) and (b).)

The consequences of a DUI conviction as a first offense is 48 hours to six months in jail, entry into the First Offender Program, three years probation, and a six month license suspension. Each subsequent conviction raises the stakes for the driver including more jail time and longer suspension periods. For example, a conviction of second DUI will result in a one year suspension. A fourth DUI may be charged as a felony and may result in a state prison sentence.


A man was arrested for indecent exposure, a registrable sex crime, in Palo Alto. The man, who is on active probation in Santa Clara County and San Mateo County was taken into custody on December 26, 2014 for exposing his genitals to at least two people in downtown Palo Alto.

The indecent exposure claimed two unsuspecting victims. The criminal suspect is alleged to have exposed his genitals to a man while standing in front of a business on Bryant Street. While doing so he then accosted a woman trying to enter the building. The Mercury News reports that the suspect wagged his appendage at the woman as she passed him and entered into the building. She locked the door and called the police.

The defendant's alleged conduct, if proven, constitutes a violation of Penal Code section 314.1. To prove a violation a prosecutor must show that the defendant willfully exposed himself, in the presence of another person, which was done for the defendant's sexual arousal or for the arousal of another person. A conviction may also be obtained if the exposure was done to offend another person.


The District Attorney has announced a sex crimes investigation of Forty-Niner defensive lineman Ray McDonald. The Mercury News is reporting that a woman recently alleged that McDonald sexually assaulted her, prompting investigators to make an inquiry.

These sex crimes allegations come on the heels of a very public domestic violence investigation, where McDonald was accused of abusing his fiancé. The District Attorney's Office declined to file, saying there was insufficient evidence to prosecute McDonald. His fiancé was pregnant at the time but declined to cooperate with investigators.

However, the Mercury reports that the Forty Niners have terminated McDonald's contract and released him from the team immediately. The Forty Niner management cited the lineman's “poor decisions,” and the new allegations of sexual assault. This comes just as the Forty Niners were ousted from the play offs this year after their recent loss to the Seahawks over the weekend.


Posted on in Theft

A burglary suspect has been arrested by San Jose police and is being held without bail in the Santa Clara County Jail. 19-year old Jacob Breschi is alleged to have burglarized thirteen to twenty homes, particularly in south San Jose and the Evergreen neighborhoods. According to the Mercury News, Evergreen has seen a dramatic increase in home invasions in the last year or so.

Burglary of a home residence is a felony and a strike offense. (See Penal Code section 459). First degree burglary is the entering of an inhabited dwelling (a house, apartment, trailer coach, houseboat etc) with the intent to commit a felony. The entering element of this crime may be satisfied if some part of the suspect enters the dwelling, even if minor and only into the outer boundary of the home. A theft need not be intended; rather the intent to commit any felony amounts to the completion of the crime.

A violation of one count of Penal Code section 459 as a first offense carriers a state prison term range of two, four or six years.


Posted on in DUI

A driver suspected of a DUI (driving under the influence) may now face a felony vehicular manslaughter charge in San Mateo County. The criminal defendant is accused of driving into an 84-year old woman, while backing out of a Walgreens drive thru.

A DUI may amount to manslaughter if a person died as a result of the drunk driving. On a second or subsequent allegation of DUI, the defendant may be charged with murder if the driving resulted in the death of another person.

On November 14, 2014 the 21 year old defendant was making her way through a local Walgreens drive-thru, when she decided to back her vehicle out. As a result she ran into a pedestrian, 84 year old Nina Falk. The victim later succumbed to her injuries and passed away at a local trauma center. The defendant immediately fled the scene but was later discovered by police. She was arrested on suspicion of felony hit-and-run and felony DUI. The District Attorney is expected to amend the charge to include vehicular manslaughter in the wake of the victim's death.


The San Jose police officer accused of sex crimes, including rape of a woman he was supposed to protect, is facing new allegations of another sexual assault. Officer Geoffrey Graves is facing a civil lawsuit in which the victim claims he assaulted another woman just months before the incident that led to his arrest.

The new sex crimes allegation comes as the officer faces criminal charges of rape and sexual battery that could send him to the state penitentiary for eight years.

According to the Mercury News the City of San Jose and the Police Department are challenging the civil lawsuit as being untimely. The City Attorney had claimed that the victim missed the six month deadline to file for a financial claim, which is a prerequisite to filing the lawsuit. However, the deadline was waived by the court. The suit is asking the court to award monetary damages, punitive damages, restitution and attorney fees.


Assault & battery, gun crimes and other felony arrests were made in the wake of the San Francisco Giants historic World Series win on Wednesday. The City was awash in celebrations and mayhem just as soon as pitcher Madison Bumgarner threw the last pitch of the game. Revelers and looters came out to take advantage of the situation.

Besides the assault & battery arrests, people were seen vandalizing cars, throwing firecrackers at police, setting bonfires and committing other misdemeanor and felony acts of destruction. Alcohol is attributed to much of the conduct following the game.

There were also a few but otherwise isolated acts of violence including two shootings and a stabbing. Three police officers were hospitalized for injuries. Most of the mayhem occurred near and around the stadium as people came out from the bars and restaurants. The Mercury News reports that the more violent acts occurred in the Mission District.


A Santa Clara resident has been accused of sex crimes against a sixteen year old child. The Mercury News is reporting that the defendant was a social worker for the San Mateo County Family and Child Protective Services and he had been assigned to the victim's case.

The sex crimes that prosecutors are alleging include molestation, oral copulation and unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor. Further reports indicate that the man is also being charged with possession and distribution of child pornography. The defendant is on paid administrative leave for an unrelated matter.

A charge of oral copulation (Penal Code section 288a) carriers a prison term of up to three years. All of the allegations, if admitted to, would mean that the defendant would have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life (Penal Code section 290).


The theft and file sharing of people's private pictures is reportedly a wide spread game among officers of the California Highway Patrol. CHP Officer Sean Harrington has been recently accused of accessing a woman's cell phone and sending her personal and intimate photos from her phone to his own. The file transfer was done while the woman was in custody on suspicion of driving under the influence or DUI.

The theft, however, appears to be a practice among CHP officers, who routinely steal people's private photos and videos and send them to each other. Harrington has admitted that CHP officers confiscate cell phones of women they arrest, search for nude phots and then share the photos among fellow officers. Harrington and his fellow officers have called this practice “a game.”

An investigation into Harrington's phone suggests that this is not the first time he engaged in such criminal conduct. In a separate incident Harrington sent photos of a woman to CHP Officer Hazelwood, while the woman was being x-rayed after a vehicle crash. He followed up with a message to Hazelwood: “Enjoy buddy.”


A DUI defendant is accusing an Eastbay California Highway Patrol Officer of stealing explicit and personal photos from her cell phone by emailing or texting them to his own phone. The Mercury News is reporting that Officer Sean Harrington is under investigation after a report that he transferred nude photos of a DUI detainee after accessing her cell phone while booking the woman into county jail.

Investigators indicate that six photos of the woman were found on the officer's phone, after having been sent directly from the woman's phone. The file transfer took place while the woman was in custody who could not have executed the exchange herself. The Mercury reports that Officer Harrington asked for the woman's password in order to access her phone.

Harrington and his partner stopped the woman, who has not been identified for privacy concerns, for a traffic violation. The officers smelled an odor of alcohol emanating from inside the vehicle and a DUI investigation ensued. According to the Mercury her blood alcohol equivalent was .29. Nevertheless, the Contra Costa County District Attorney has dismissed the DUI charge in response to the investigation into Officer Harrington's conduct.


Posted on in Theft

A Southbay robbery spree ended recently with the arrests of three suspects in San Jose. The men are suspected in the bank robberies on four separate occasions in San Jose, Campbell and Gilroy and are believed to be members of a criminal street gang based in Salinas, California.

Robbery in general is defined as the taking of the personal property of another, from his person or in his immediate presence, against his will and done by use of force or fear. (California Penal Code section 211). Robberies that are done in concert of two or more people carriers a state prison term range of three, six or nine years.

Bank robbery is and can be a federal offense under 18 USC section 2113. Holding up a bank by means of force or the threat of force may be punishable to a term in federal prison for up to twenty years. The Feds are unforgiving when it comes to violent crimes and present much heavier sentences to criminal defendants.


Identity theft does not just happen to ordinary members of the public. A Northern California police officer became the victim of identity theft, after his cell phone was wiretapped with illegal spyware. The defendant, an owner of an unlicensed private detective company, installed illegal surveillance technology on the police officer's cell phone, thereby obtaining confidential and other sensitive information from the officer.

Such identity theft is possible with the use of “interception device” technology made available by StealthGenie and other similar brands. It is also illegal to be in possession of some of the associated devices, which are used for the capture and seizure of personal or confidential communications.

According to the Mercury News, the defendant in this case was sentenced to more than eight years state prison on several felony violations, including identity theft, illegal possession of spyware technology and conspiracy. The defendant's husband was also charged. He was a police officer with the Pacific Grove Police Department at the time the crimes were committed. He was handed a three year prison sentence for his involvement.


Two men suspected of felony assault & battery at Santa Clara's Levi Stadium were arrested this past Sunday. According the Mercury News two men were assaulted by two other men in a restroom on the 300 level of the San Francisco Forty Niner's new stadium. A cell phone video of the incident has been posted online showing the attack as others look on.

Besides assault & battery charges there are other violations that the suspects may be charged with. This may include assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury (Penal Code section 245(a)(4)). This would be a strike offense pursuant to California's Three Strikes Law. The suspects could also be charged with simply battery; however a misdemeanor charge is unlikely, especially if the attack was unprovoked.

The suspects were immediately taken to Santa Clara County jail and the victims were transported to an unnamed hospital for treatment. Little information regarding the injuries have been provided.


Two arson suspects have been arrested and remain in custody in Alameda county jail. In a recent interview one of the men maintained his innocence and denied involvement in a string of fires that destroyed nearly twelve buildings in downtown Alameda. The co-defendant has admitted setting only one of the fires, which he says was a meth-related accident, and denied involvement in the others.

Arson is suspected in a string of fires that spanned seven blocks, including the Park Street shopping district in Alameda. According to the Mercury News several homes were damaged or destroyed and several business equally affected. Surveillance video shows a man walking and then running away from a fire seemingly ignited in a trash bin.

In California, arson is a serious felony offense. Arson of property carriers a prison term of up to three years. However, if the arson is of an inhabited building the prison range is three, five or eight years. If a person suffers great injury as a result of the intentional fire the defendant may be subject to an enhancement that carriers an additional three to five years in prison.


Felonies including assault with a deadly weapon and felony battery are among the charges facing a driver for the ride-sharing company Uber. The driver, who is an independent contractor with the company, is being accused of attacking one of his passengers after an argument erupted over the traffic route the driver was using. According to the Mercury News, the passenger suffered facial fractures, head trauma and other injuries.

Such felonies and assault charges could land the driver in prison, especially because the reported injuries amount to great bodily injury, or GBI. Great bodily injury is vaguely defined as significant or substantial harm that is not otherwise minor or moderate in nature. Facial fractures easily come within the GBI definition.

Uber is a ride-sharing service where people connect to various drivers by way of a smartphone device. People can request pick-ups, track local vehicles and pre-pay for the trips. Founded in San Francisco, the company's transportation service has quickly out-paced the traditional taxi.


Posted on in Theft

Sheriff Deputies have arrested two burglary suspects in the Santa Cruz area. Authorities were tipped off when a man named Erick Vlach was admitted to Dominican Hospital for a gunshot wound to the foot. The man first told hospital staff that he was shot by an unknown assailant. However, when Sheriff Deputies arrived they pressed the man for information and soon discovered he was accidentally shot by his friend. It turns out that the mystery assailant was actually an accomplice to a burglary in Scotts Valley.

Earlier in the day a burglary was reported at the 1500 block of 30th Ave in Scotts Valley, California. The report indicated that two masked men were involved, carrying semi-automatic handguns. Cash, electronics and marijuana were among the stolen items.

Vlack was arrested for burglary, felony possession, conspiracy and assault with a deadly weapon. His accomplice was charged with the same crimes, but also violation of probation for a previous felony crime.


The Santa Clara County District Attorney will be filing domestic violence charges against Forty-Niner defensive end Ray McDonald. McDonald was arrested on felony charges on Sunday August 31, 2014 after his fiancé called the police. According to the Sacramento Bee the couple was celebrating McDonald's birthday when the two began to argue. The argument allegedly led to a physical altercation and injuries to the fiancé. She is ten weeks pregnant.

The domestic violence charge most likely to be filed is a violation of Penal Code section 273.5, or causing corporal injury to a spouse or cohabitant. This may be filed as a felony or misdemeanor and may result in jail or prison depending on the extent of the injuries and any prior criminal history that a particular defendant may have. This is reportedly McDonald's first accusation of domestic violence, which of course remains an accusation at this point.

The NFL has recently imposed strict sanctions for players who are found guilty of domestic violence. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell recently announced a sanction of six months suspension for any player guilty of a domestic violence. A second time offender may be banned from football for life. Additional penalties exist if the victim was pregnant at the time of the offense.

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