Articles Posted in Pre-Filing Investigations

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Some Los Angeles DUI crashes are more “picturesque” than others.Golden-Gate-Bridge-DUI

Most people enjoy visiting the Golden Gate Bridge, but few tourists actually drive Ford Mustangs onto the bridge and get stuck there, even if they’re driving under the influence of alcohol. Unfortunately, this is exactly the position 44-year-old Daniel Soto found himself in last Tuesday.

Allegedly, Soto had been traveling southbound through San Francisco trying to beat morning rush-hour traffic, when he lost control of his Ford Mustang, plowing over one of the Golden Gate Bridge’s steel barriers and through a steel gate before landing on a nearby sidewalk. Soto’s airbags were deployed, so his car became “wedged” on the narrow sidewalk according to California Highway Patrol Officer Andrew Barclay. Soto sustained only minor injuries.

Barclay called the incident “uncommon,” and in its own way, the story may seem humorous. However, Soto’s poor decision last Tuesday could have easily resulted in severe injuries or death for him and the citizens around him. Every DUI incident must be taken seriously, and its consequences examined thoroughly to prevent similar incidents.

Driving under the influence can lead to poor decision making on several levels. For example, high blood alcohol levels tend to affect one’s sensory perception. It often becomes difficult for an inebriated driver to see the road, the median, or surrounding traffic.

Many people drink because they are depressed or angry. Once someone in this emotional state gets behind the wheel, his or her potential for injury to self or others skyrockets. The driver’s strong emotions cloud judgment and critical thinking skills, making him or her vulnerable to poor decisions.

Finally, some drivers decide to drive under the influence because they think it will be adventurous or fun. Unfortunately, what starts out as a joyride with friends often turns into a DUI citation, a trip to the local jail, fines, and probation. Poor decisions made out of a desire to have fun while under the influence can also result in gratuitous property damage and embarrassment, as Daniel Soto discovered.

To respond effectively to your charges, call a qualified Los Angeles DUI lawyer with the Kraut Law Group today to schedule a free consultation.

 

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LA Weekly regularly keeps tabs on Los Angeles DUI patrols and checkpoints, to the ire of some law enforcement officials and others who worry that publicizing news about checkpoints can have a negative impact on the deterrent.dui-checkpoints-los-angeles

One of the reasons why police establish checkpoints at relatively random locations is to leverage the element of surprise. So critics worry that, when papers like LA Weekly reveal maps of DUI checkpoints, then at-risk drivers might be more likely to “let loose” and drive in a more cavalier and dangerous fashion.

While this fear is understandable, it begs the question: is there any actual evidence that publicizing locations of checkpoints actually does cause harm? Here’s the reality. Journalists might argue that revealing checkpoints does no harm. And some in law enforcement might argue the opposite — that it does endanger the public. But we really don’t have impeccable science to support either position.

In light of that, it’s interesting to note when and how the Los Angeles Police Department and other agencies set up their checkpoints.

On Thursday November 6th, for instance, per the LA Weekly, the LAPD set up saturation patrols in the Olympic Division near Koreatown as well as the Central Division. Pasadena Police, meanwhile, set up a saturation patrol in Pasadena. On Friday, police set up a DUI checkpoint in Panorama City at Roscoe Boulevard and Nobel Avenue. On Saturday, police ran a checkpoint at Vose Street and Sepulveda Boulevard, in Van Nuys. And on Sunday afternoon, police patrolled for DUI drivers in North Hollywood from 5 PM to 1 AM.

Whether police rounded you up at one of these checkpoints, or you found yourself behind bars after causing an accident on the 405 or the 101, or you failed field sobriety tests, such as walk the line or finger the nose, you need powerful insights and an effective advocate to win your freedom. Call the Kraut Law Group today to schedule a free consultation with a Los Angeles DUI lawyer — a former Deputy District Attorney with nearly two decades of experience.

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When you report on Los Angeles DUI cases day-in, day-out, as we do on this blog, it’s easy to become a little numb to the news.Mario-Careaga-DUI

Yes, many DUI stories are horrible – for everyone involved. But when viewed en masse, the stories can start to lose their meaning. Sometimes, however, a story emerges that strikes a chord not just because it involves a celebrity (or someone in power) but rather because it exposes our own fragility. It illustrates how a single lapse of reason can have profound consequences for victims, family members and anyone touched by the crash.

To that end, consider the sad story of Nancy Lopez-Ruiz, a 22-year-old dancer for the Miami Heat Basketball Club. On September 10, 2010, police arrested Mario Careaga and charged him with manslaughter DUI, after he hit Lopez-Ruiz’s bike on U.S. 1 and Sunrise Boulevard. The force of the crash threw the dancer off her motorcycle and launched her 130 feet from her vehicle, where she died.

Last week, court began hearing testimony in Careaga’s case. The jury saw photographic evidence that Careaga had been partying at the nearby Galleria Mall and drinking. He told the court “There were three drinks that I got, I finished two, but the third I did not finish — I left it on the counter.” Per an affidavit, police took two blood samples from Careaga after the crash and found that he had BAC levels of 0.24 percent and 0.23 percent respectively.

For those of you at home who are keeping score, that’s just about three times the legal limit for DUI in Florida or California – most places in the country. Law enforcement says that Careaga drifted out of his lane and hit Lopez-Ruiz with his Mercedes. He was released on $10,000 bond.

Per California law, when someone dies in an auto accident – and DUI is suspected – prosecutors can hit you with a very serious charge of vehicular manslaughter. Prosecutors will use police reports and investigatory tools to determine charges. You need to construct your defense immediately after an event in which someone dies, since evidence that could exonerate you – or at least mitigate your punishment – can quickly disappear. Witnesses may forget what they saw, for instance, or critical evidence from the scene may be cleaned up.

In a worst case scenario, you could be hit with a charge of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, pursuant to penal code 191.5 (a).

To build an effective defense to Los Angeles DUI charges – whether they’re vehicular manslaughter charges or a simple misdemeanor offense – call Harvard Law School educated ex-prosecutor Michael Kraut and his team today at the Kraut Law Group for a free consultation.
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In one of the most intense Los Angeles DUI arrests in recent memory, Police Officer Don Thompson — a former bomb squad officer — jumped into a burning Mercedes Benz Station Wagon on the 405 to save a 72-year-old man from certain death.car-on-fire-accident-on-405-dui.jpg

California Highway Patrol authorities say that the 72-year-old was likely driving under the influence of drugs, when he smashed his car in Sherman Oaks (near Burbank) on the 405 near the 101 Interchange. Apparently, he lost control of his 1991 Mercedes Benz, whacked into the right shoulder wall, doubled back across all lanes, and smashed into the concrete. His car then burst into flames.

Officer Thompson acted fast.

He had been driving Southbound on the 405 toward LAX, when he saw the explosion. He stopped, pulled to the side, leapt over the center median, threw open the door to the Mercedes and found the 72-year-old unconscious inside. According to Lieutenant Andy Neiman of the Los Angeles Police Department: “the fire was starting to spread inside the passenger compartment… [Thompson] was able to cut the seat belt with his knife, pulled the gentleman out of the vehicle, and two citizens who also stopped and came up and also assisted in pulling the driver further away from the vehicle.”

Thompson suffered serious injuries during the rescue, including first- and second-degree burns as well as smoke inhalation damage. He was transported to Urgent Care for treatment. Neiman called the situation “a Christmas Day miracle,” claiming that “nobody would survive that vehicle based on what the Fire Department observed when they arrived.”

The story indicates the profound role luck can play in Los Angeles DUI events. If you were arrested for DUI – and you’re lucky enough to be reading this – you can be at least thankful that you survived, even if you face jail time and/or if you hurt other people.

Good luck and bad luck happen to everybody. The more important question is: how do you manage that luck? How do you ensure, as author Jim Collins wrote about in his bestseller, Great by Choice, a “good return on luck”?

One of the best ways is to connect with knowledgeable, resourceful people. Get in touch with a seasoned Los Angeles DUI criminal defense lawyer, ASAP, to understand your options and construct a meaningful defense. Connect with Michael Kraut of the Kraut Law Group today.

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A political move could have powerful implications for your Los Angeles DUI or drug crime offense.long-beach-drug-crime-laws.jpg

Governor Jerry Brown recently vetoed legislation that would have reduced penalties for people arrested for possessing heroin or cocaine. The proposed legislation would have transformed those charges from felonies to misdemeanors.

The current law – and future law, thanks to the veto – requires simple possession of heroin or cocaine to be charged as a felony punishable by up to three years behind bars. SB 649, the proposed bill – would have reduced the Los Angeles criminal charge down to what’s known as a wobbler – a crime that can be prosecuted as either a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on circumstances.

Kim Horiuchi, a lawyer for ACLU, expressed her organization’s displeasure with the veto: “Gov. Brown has rejected… modest reform that would have helped end mass incarceration in this state… Brown remains inexplicably opposed to meaningful sentencing reform.”

Not every group wanted reduced penalties. The California District Attorneys Association, for instance, fought SB 649. That group released a statement saying “most would concede that drug addictions destroy lives and families, and are damaging to society… minimizing the consequences of addictive and destructive behavior does not make it less addictive or destructive.”

While Governor Brown did oppose this particular piece of legislation, he said that he remained open to supporting other changes to the state’s criminal justice system.

Many statistics suggest that this system could definitely use some reform. A Human Rights Watch report from 2009, for instance, found that African Americans in California are arrested for drug possession crimes at a rate that’s three times the rate for whites. And new research into the nature of addiction suggests that many conventional approaches may not be particularly effective.

Fortunately, you do not have to fix the system yourself. You just need to get a handle on your own Los Angeles DUI or drug crime charges. To that end, consider working with Attorney Michael Kraut of the Kraut Law Group. Mr. Kraut is a former prosecutor who spent at least 14 years working in the capacity of Senior Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles.

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Were your Burbank DUI blood test results foolproof? los-angeles-dui-blood-test.jpg

Perhaps… but then again, perhaps not.

Odds are high that police followed proper procedure and avoided breaking laws or trampling your Constitutional rights. But you never know.

Consider in this context a spectacular story out of Tennessee. A former special agent, Kyle Bayer, just got canned, after a police investigation showed that Bayer had tampered with a DUI blood test. Bayer’s mishandling of evidence could jeopardize literally thousands of DUI cases throughout the state.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) says authorities learned about Bayer’s misdeeds, after a local defense attorney cross-checked the blood results for a client accused of vehicular homicide. Dale Edward Farrell caused a vehicular death on March 16, killing Knoxville, TN architect, Edward Bankston. Farrell submitted a blood test, and it came back from the lab at 0.24 percent BAC. (As regular readers of our Burbank DUI blog know, that number is exactly three times the legal limit for driving under the influence in Southern California, per California Vehicle Code Section 23152.)

When Farrell’s defense attorney submitted the blood test, however, it came back at 0.01 percent – 8 times below the legal limit… and 24 times below what the original blood test showed!

An executive at TBI, Robert Daniel Royse, wrote about what happened: “All indications are that this is an isolated incident by an examiner who, despite extensive training, switched two adjacent blood samples at the onset of an analysis process and then failed to follow a number of procedural checkpoints, which would have caught the error.”

Once this information came to light, Farrell’s vehicular homicide and DUI charges were dismissed. It’s still unclear how this fiasco will resonate: will other DUI convictions be overturned? If so, how many?

But this story clearly illustrates that DUI defendants in Burbank (and elsewhere) should NOT simply accept test results at face value.

If you or someone you love was recently been stopped at a checkpoint on Olive or pulled over on the 134 under suspicion of DUI, an attorney with the Kraut Law Group can explain your rights and develop a methodological, insightful defense. Connect with an experienced Burbank DUI defense attorney at the Kraut Law Group today for more help with your case.

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Whether you just came under investigation for Long Beach healthcare fraud — or you’ve been arrested for fraud and other crimes — you’re trying to figure out what you should do next to protect your rights and ensure fair treatment. medicare-fraud-los-angeles-attorney-defense.jpg

Frankly, it’s tough to talk about your Long Beach fraud charges, even with friends and family. News reports on healthcare fraud vilify defendants — make them seem almost like cartoon characters. Even the use of words like “scheming” and “scamming” can influence people’s perceptions. You may be prejudged as guilty, even if your case is more complicated than it appears to be at first glance.

Avoid saying anything that might compromise your potential defense. As a savvy Long Beach criminal fraud defense lawyer will tell you, you must be careful about what you say about your case and to whom.

Also, know this: would-be sympathetic friends and colleagues may not understand why you did what you did:

• Perhaps you and a few colleagues stole people’s Social Security Numbers to purchase wheel chairs or other expensive electronic medical equipment… and then you billed Medicare at exorbitant rates and pocketed the money.
• Or maybe you pulled off a far more sophisticated, multi-level crime.

Odds are, however, that you did not wake up one morning and say to yourself “I want to be a criminal and defraud Medicare.” Odds are, the thought process took place gradually and involved multiple epiphanies. For instance, maybe you felt enraged at the unfairness of the insurance system. You blamed the system for making it impossible to run a profitable medical business. So you started committing the fraud as a way to “make things even” in your eyes.

Or perhaps a smooth talking colleague or boss convinced you to go along with the fraud because of peer pressure or threats of retribution.

You’d like to walk your friends and associates through your thought process, so they can understand why you did what you did, even if they still judge you harshly. After all, you’re not a cartoon villain — you’re a complex human being who’s trying to navigate a confusing world.

Of course, you also need grounded advice about your next steps.

What should you do now, not only to protect your rights, but also to ensure a positive outcome in your case?

The seasoned Long Beach healthcare fraud defense lawyers at the Kraut Law Group would be happy to listen to you in depth and provide a free, no obligation case evaluation. That way, you’ll be equipped with a good understanding of the charges and your potential options for recourse.

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Not all Burbank sex crime cases sound like something out of Orange Is the New Black, the hit TV show about a yuppie woman forced to serve time behind bars for a crime she committed years ago. sex-crime-like-orange-is-new-black.jpg

But a recent case out of Phoenix sounds like it was ripped from an Orange Is the New Black B story.

Phoenix police booked 37-year-old Linda Laibe for photographing and videotaping women in public bathrooms throughout the Phoenix Valley. According to Trent Crump, a local police sergeant, Laibe did her photo and video shoots at restrooms “throughout the valley” in places like Walmart, Chase Field, University of Phoenix Stadium, and the Rainforest Café. The woman then put photos and videos up on the internet and sold them. She faces 38 counts of voyeurism, although authorities are still piecing together exactly how she did what she did and how many women were victimized.

Potential Lessons for Your Burbank Sex Crime Case?

One of the scary aspects of Laibe’s case – from a defendant’s point of view – is that she faces 38 separate counts of voyeurism. Even a single count can lead to major trouble, like jail time, restraining orders, probation, and the like. But in the Southern California legal system, the penalties from various counts can “stack on top of each other” and lead to huge sentences.

For instance, if convicted of a single count of Burbank lewd conduct, your penalty might be a month or two behind bars, depending on factors, such as the nature of the crime and your criminal history. But if you’re convicted of TEN of those charges stacked on top of one another… you could face well over a year behind bars.

Whether you got caught making a single bad mistake – or you systematically violated Burbank sex crime laws – you need to understand your defense options, so you can make rational, sensible decisions. Unfortunately, the law can be quite complicated and confusing. Unprepared defendants can easily say or do things that can complicate their cases and land them in even deeper legal hot water.

Fortunately, you can turn to a trusted Burbank sex crime defense lawyer with the Kraut Law Group for insightful, thorough help.

Just because you made a mistake – or even a series of mistakes – does not mean that you should suffer needlessly. Mr. Kraut is a former prosecutor. He spent 14-years putting defendants like Burbank sex crime offenders behind bars before switching over to represent criminal defendants. He provides regular commentary on Burbank criminal defense for many esteemed publications, like the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and LA Weekly.

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Think of the most self-destructive thing you could possibly say or do after a Los Angeles DUI arrest. carol-frances-omeara-DUI.jpg

Keep thinking… because there is almost no way you’re going to be able to beat what 55-year-old Billings, Montana resident, Carol Frances Omeara, allegedly told police officers.

On October 8th, police arrested Omeara for her fourth lifetime DUI, after she called police from her car to tell them that she was “just too damn drunk” to leave her vehicle. According to local reports, Omeara consumed an entire pint of vodka in just 5 hours and then got behind the wheel. When she called officers at around 10:40 PM, they wanted to know whether she had a “medical or mechanical issue,” to which she responded: “No, I’m just too damn drunk.”

Police came to the scene, shortly thereafter, and freed her from her vehicle. They then gave her a breath test. She blew a whopping 0.311% BAC reading. That’s nearly four times the legal limit for driving under the influence in Southern California (or anywhere in the U.S., for that matter).

In fact, Omeara is actually lucky that she didn’t die. At around the 0.30% or 0.40% BAC mark, you can suffer serious medical problems. For instance, you can go into a coma, suffer liver or organ damage, and experience other catastrophic, unwelcome side effects.

Omeara’s cry for help was actually less “crazy” than it seems.

She had been stuck in her car for four hours, right outside her home. (She was just a few feet from her house!) But imagine if she had been stuck in a snowstorm and had lost reception on her cell phone. She could have frozen to death in her car. Alcohol is a natural vasodilator; it releases heat from your body’s core. (That’s why you get a “warm flush” when you have a glass of whiskey on a cold day).

In other words, she could have frozen to death just feet from her own home.

Not that she’s going to have an easy time defending against a 4th DUI, either.

If you’re convicted multiple times for driving under the influence in Los Angeles, you can face substantially increased penalties, such as more jail time, felony charges, a longer license suspension, and other unpleasantries.

To make sense out of your Los Angeles DUI charges and advocate aggressively for your rights, connect today with Mr. Michael Kraut of the Kraut Law Group. Mr. Kraut is a Harvard Law School educated ex-prosecutor. He serves as legal expert for KTLA News, LA Weekly, and other respected publications throughout the Southland and beyond.

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Driving under the influence in Long Beach – or really anywhere in the country – can ruin your career. That’s true whether you’re a grocery store clerk or an NFL Pro Bowl superstar.jay-ratliff-DWI.jpg

Consider the recent arrest of Jay Ratliff, a starting nose tackle for the Dallas Cowboys, who was arrested recently in Grapevine, Texas. He rammed an 18-wheel truck with his Ford F 150 truck while allegedly DUI. No one got hurt in the crash – Ratliff was the only person in his truck.

A local police officer, Sam Shemwell, said that Ratliff refused a breath test. But police asked for and got a search warrant to do a blood test on Ratliff. His toxicology reports have not come back.

The nose tackle’s arrest came just a month and a half after a much more awful disaster took the life of Cowboys’ linebacker, Jerry Brown. We covered that story when it happened. But to refresh your memory: Josh Brent, another Cowboy, got into a DUI accident that led to Brown’s death.

If convicted of the charge of intoxicated manslaughter, Brent could face two decades behind bars.

After what happened with Brown, the Cowboys have asked all players to install something called “safe key” in their cars. This device is similar to the interlock ignition devices (IID) that Long Beach DUI convicts often must use in their vehicles. The device prevents people from driving if they test positive for alcohol in their system.

Back in December, Ratliff got into a “volcanic” shouting match with Jerry Jones, the owner of the Cowboys. Jones recently told ESPN.com “As far as I’m concerned [Ratliff] is outstanding. He has given everything he has ever had to the Dallas Cowboys.”

Who knows how Jones will react to Ratliff’s recent arrest? But the DUI problem is certainly not going to help him with his employer.

That goes for anybody who has been arrested for a crime like Long Beach DUI. When you get in trouble on the 405 or elsewhere — even if you’re nowhere near work — your problems can follow you to the office. For instance, if you lose your license after a Long Beach DUI, you may not be able to get to your job. Furthermore, your arrest can reduce your employer’s trust in you, make it more difficult for you to find new work, and create other challenges and financial burdens.

So what should you do?

If you haven’t yet connected with a Long Beach DUI criminal defense lawyer, consider talking today to attorney Michael Kraut with the Kraut Law Group. Mr. Kraut is a Harvard Law School educated ex-prosecutor who has tremendous, extensive experience helping clients like you get good results and feel back in control of their lives.

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