Year: 2018

Forgery in California is a Felony

Forgery can involved of a number of illicit deeds involving the alteration, signing, and creation or using of a particular instrument of either a financial or physical nature. The financial item or physical product could be a knockoff of some name brand, or may consist of signing one’s name on checks, wills, and so forth.

Persons may commit forgery by copycatting another party’s signature to a legally binding document like a contract, settlement check, or living will.

We look deeper into California’s forgery laws and when they become felonies, along with potential penalties and what rights accused persons are afforded.

Legal Definition of Forgery in California

An individual who knowingly and willingly signs, takes control of, and benefits from putting another person’s signature onto a financial instrument, or creates a product that takes away value from its original creator has committed forgery. Wills, codicils, and similar conveyances are included in California Penal Code Sections 470-483.5, Forgery and Counterfeiting.

Forging driver’s licenses or similar government instruments, medical records, school records, and other official instruments leads to being tried under California law unless such actions happened on Federal property, which may then qualify the charges for Federal prosecution.

What Prosecutors Must Prove

Trying forgery cases can be an uphill battle for prosecutors since the burden of proof is much stronger than fraud or other financial crimes.

In order for prosecutors to win a conviction against persons accused of forgery, they must prove:

  • An instrument or item exists;
  • That item was materially altered or contains a signature bearing a person’s name which is not his or her own;
  • The person acted with the intent to defraud a party, company, or government entity.

A common defense to forgery is that the individual did not intend to defraud another.

Punishment for Forgery

Felony forgery charges will ensue when an item exceeds $950 in value, a change enacted by Proposition 47. Should the prosecutor succeed in convicting defendants of forging, sentences can range from two to three years in county jail, or 16 months imprisonment. Fines, fees, and restitution will be tacked onto the sentence, along with potential probation terms.

Anything under $950 in value becomes misdemeanor forgery, which is punishable up to one year in county jail. Federal charges have different penalties, although some forgeries can result in decades behind bars.

How a Forgery Attorney in California can Help

Proving someone took control of an uncashed check, living will, government document, or anything similar may be easier to prove than if someone did not. With handwriting experts, witnesses, and a solid paper trail, a conviction could be a mainstay on someone’s criminal record.

Consider an experienced forgery attorney an investment in your future. Not only can a great criminal defense attorney exonerate you from forgery charges, he or she can clear your name with others who have chided you since your arrest, such as your employer or mainstream media.

James E. Blatt defends forgery cases with an incredible level of devotion, working each case with a primary goal of getting charges dismissed. Find out why retaining a Super Lawyer™ makes a world of difference and contact him today.


Potential Defenses to Voluntary Manslaughter in California

How prosecutors will approach manslaughter depends on the element of intent. With voluntary manslaughter, it was an individual’s intention to take another’s life, but unlike murder, the individual accused of killing another lacked premeditation.

We dive into California’s voluntary manslaughter statutes and what potential defenses will be used to help eliminate, or lessen, the charges against you.

California Manslaughter Statute

According to statute, voluntary manslaughter can be charged when an individual is killed during a sudden quarrel or heat of passion without malice. It lacks an element of premeditation since one did not have time to plan another’s death; it just happened. If the killing took place while operating a vehicle or piece of machinery, it would be construed as voluntary vehicular manslaughter if one specifically used the vehicle to aid in the killing of another.

If an individual found out another’s sexual orientation, gender, or gender expression, and based the manslaughter on this information, it could potentially become murder unless one can prove provocation and that the defendant had no knowledge of it.

Proving Voluntary Manslaughter

Malice, or an obvious hatred toward the victim, is usually when manslaughter becomes murder or homicide. Events leading up to the death of another are also taken into account prior to charging someone with either. Manslaughter laws in California are complex, requiring an attorney to help defendants accurately navigate them.

Lacking malice and planning, prosecutors are forced to charge persons with voluntary manslaughter, then prove an individual sought to end the life of another. If they can not do this, the charges are again lowered to involuntary manslaughter, the lowest possible felony murder charge.

If the state successfully convicts the defendant of voluntary manslaughter, sentences range from three to 11 years in CDC along with fines, restitution (if applicable), and possible probation.

Defenses to Voluntary Manslaughter

Manslaughter attorneys have numerous defenses they can raise if their clients stand accused. Some may include:

  • Individual acted in self-defense after being provoked or struck first;
  • Defendant believed deadly force would neutralize the threat and prevent their own death (imperfect self-defense);
  • Lack of mental acumen or insanity, or proven case of PTSD;
  • Defendant was involuntarily intoxicated;
  • Victim was not dead after the altercation ended, but later succumbed to the injuries.

Charges may be dismissed if any part, or all, of an investigation was improperly conducted. Moreover, during the heat of passion, prosecutors must prove that you went into an altercation planning on doing nothing less than killing an individual through provocation. Many times, this is difficult when the only two people to corroborate the events were the people involved, of which one is deceased.

If You are Charged, Take it Seriously.

Prosecutors want individuals with malicious intent off of California streets. Defense attorneys want enough evidence presented to prove their client is guilty as charged. A huge tug-of-war match will ensue, with either the prosecution dropping the case or lowering charges dramatically based off availability of proof.

An experienced manslaughter attorney knows the value of evidence, or the lack thereof, and will do anything possible to get a client off the hook. That is why it is important to never ‘talk too much’ or self-incriminate when dealing with investigators.

James E. Blatt has secured numerous acquittals during his career and wants to help you beat your manslaughter charge or lower it down to battery. Contact his office today, and get the defense you deserve when your freedom is in jeopardy.


What Constitutes Felony Embezzlement in California?

In California, embezzlement is the fraudulent misuse of assets by an individual to whom it has been entrusted. Misusing assets at or below $950 is a misdemeanor; misusing goods or money over that amount is a felony. Unlike theft of goods or money from persons without any financial relationship between them, embezzlements involve two parties bound together through a fiduciary relationship.

Because embezzling closely relates to theft and larceny, we will discuss the distinctions and what may constitute charging a person with felonious embezzlement in California.

Theft, Fraud, Embezzlement, or Larceny?

Much of California’s Penal Code is fungible. Theft, larceny, fraud, and other interchangeable terms essentially mean one’s money or property has been taken without consent. Depending on in which state the crime happened, they could all be misdemeanors or felonies.

With embezzlement, assets are taken normally in a corporate setting. It might involve transferring funds from a company account to a personal account without authorization, or taking money from a trust account before due time. California treats this charge seriously, especially since the amounts taken normally reach into the millions.

To prove property or money was embezzled, prosecutors must prove that:

  • A reliance, or fiduciary relationship, exists between both parties;
  • Money or property was acquired through the relationship, and by no other means;
  • Ownership of property must have been transferred to someone else, or controlled by the defendant;
  • The defendant acted willfully and intentionally.

To prove Federal embezzlement, the aforementioned must have happened across state lines, on government property or with government funds.

Punishment for Embezzlement in California

Misdemeanor embezzlement charges in California may result in one year in jail, up to $1,000 fine, and restitution in the amount taken. If escalated to felony charges, penalties will range from restitution, jail time, and probation to extended jail time.

If state funds were used to commit the crime, state jail and the inability to hold a public office are possible. Federal charges could net persons charged with embezzlement 20 years per count.

Potential Defenses

Common elements of embezzlement leave plenty of room to debate whether an individual actually committed the crime. Some common defenses that may fend off these charges include:

  • Property or money had no demand for return. Many times people will simply request assets get returned upon discovering them missing. When an individual or company makes no demand for their return, it is not unreasonable to assume they are uninterested in regaining control of goods.
  • Authority claim. If defendant can show proof they were given authority to take control of assets and use them as they wished, embezzlement would be off the table.
  • Claim of good faith. Although much harder to prove, defendant may be able to sidestep charges if a good faith belief existed that title to goods could be transferred to them.

California’s complex Penal Code leaves much to question when persons are charged with financial crimes like embezzlement. It is important to locate an attorney who specializes in this area of law to help relieve you of potential jail sentences unjustified by virtue of charges imposed.

Need to discuss your case with expert trial lawyer James E. Blatt? Contact us today!


California Marijuana DUI Laws and Defenses

While it is currently legal in California to enjoy the pleasures of marijuana, there are still several ways in which law enforcement can use pot against you. Today’s narcotics and marijuana possession laws afford Californians little leeway to get high and drive. Let us look at how this drug may cause loss of license, an immediate arrest, and problems that will not go away.

The Current Law

In California, if you are pulled over for suspicious driving or are in an accident that you have caused, the police may have cause to test your blood for marijuana or alcohol. If they find your blood to be over the legal limit, which is 5 ngs (nanograms), or 5 billionths of a gram, of delta-9 THC per milliliter of blood, you can be charged with marijuana DUI. If someone else was seriously injured as a result of an accident, and you are found with more than 5 nanograms of delta-9 THC per milliliter of blood, then you can be charged with vehicular assault.

What if I Refuse a Blood Test?

The police can not coerce you to give up your blood. However, they can charge you under the law as if the test came back positive, which is why refusal should only be done under attorney guidance. Now, some clever folks may be wondering if the Fifth Amendment protects them against self-incrimination. The answer is no. The Fifth Amendment only protects against

incriminating yourself in testimony. It does not apply to DNA tests, blood tests, hair samples, or fingerprints. In other words, you can refuse a blood test, but the police (and very likely the judge) will consider refusal as evidence that you are, in fact, inebriated and are only withholding the evidence for the purpose of hiding that fact.

There is also the chance that the judge will consider this an affront to the execution of justice. They may decide to revoke your driver’s license as a result of your refusal.

Pot stays in your system for 30 days. The fact you smoked 10 days ago may be a defense to your charge. California authorities have developed a blood test to determine how much marijuana is in your system. It is true that marijuana will remain in a hair sample or urine after 30 days. The blood test is designed to determine how much marijuana is in your system at the time the test is given.

Marijuana DUIs in California

To be clear, California treats marijuana the same way it does any intoxicant. Those who are caught driving under the influence are subject to the same penalties as an individual driving under the influence of alcohol. That can include felony charges when an individual has been caught driving under the influence more than twice. It includes felony charges when an individual injures another person while intoxicated.

If you have been charged with marijuana DUI, you will need an attorney who will advocate on your behalf – not just any counsel, but ones who have significant experience with marijuana possession law. You are facing serious charges; therefore, you need legal assistance that is equally serious.

Los Angeles criminal defense attorney James E. Blatt helps persons accused of marijuana DUI, with his first goal being dismissal of their case. Contact his office today to retain superior representation in all criminal defense cases.

Immoral Interrogation of Persons Accused of Terrorist Threats

Harsh interrogation’ most recently came to be defined by the Bush administration as enhanced questioning methods used by U.S. government military and intelligence organizations. To many, it is merely a clever and politically correct phrase that cloaks the more ominous connotation of torture, yet this type of persecution dates back to the earliest recordings of human history.

As recently as World War II and the Vietnam War, heinous techniques were used by both allies and combatants to extract information for defense purposes (in fact, the methods were grotesque and frightening). They all called for the infliction of maximum pain and bodily (or emotional) harm as a means to ensure that individuals would supply accurate responses to tactical questions. Today, you will find that persons who purportedly initiate terrorist threats to Americans may undergo similar ‘grilling.’

Since the end of these conflicts, and in light of more recent skirmishes across the globe, many U.S. law enforcement agencies have taken a more voluble stance against the application of any type of physical, mental, or emotional abuse to write an unnecessary narrative. That, of course, includes the immoral debasing of persons accused of terrorist activity.

Are Interrogatory Methods a Political Ploy?

When the use of enhanced interrogation techniques came to the public’s attention, the military and intelligence organizations were quick to point out that they could in no way compare to the final moments of terror that American citizens had suffered as they were flown into the Twin Towers or were left to die horribly as first responders lost their own lives in valiant attempts to save them.

These visions were offered to serve as justification that amounted to nothing more than ‘tit for tat.’ How that translates to today’s use of interrogation in alleged terroristic threats is indicative of which organization is questioning the defendant.

Choosing an Alternative Resolution

Do alternative methods of questioning subjects in such dire matters of national
security exist?

Certainly there are a number of experts in political matters who agree this question merits more attention. However, as the nation awaits this new attitude and transformation, there are those in the military who continue to study the ethical options available to the military in regards to obtaining information from our adversaries.

Defense attorneys have long contended that the unconstitutionality of immoral interrogations extends beyond those who infringe upon our nation. In fact, persons who merely look like they could be terrorists are being treated and interrogated as such. Just like they have been post-9/11.


The use of ‘torture’ in its earlier explanation and the politically correct terminology of ‘enhanced’ interrogation techniques should leave free-thinking citizens wondering where the line is drawn between constitutionality and rationality. With a clear understanding that silence on the matter has been mistaken for approval of the use of callous tactics to garner information, more people are speaking out against inhumanities such as harsh questioning strategies.

For the innocent person interrogated by law enforcement simply by fitting into societal façades of what an anarchist, if you will, should look like, harsh interrogations should be outlawed at all levels of government.
Have you been apprehended for terrorist threats or unfairly questioned or interrogated? Regardless if you are guilty or innocent, these tactics are wrong. Contact our firm today and let us serve justice to those who treated you unfairly.

Defending Credit Card Fraud Charges in California

Like other white collar crimes, credit card fraud involves the unauthorized use of another person’s credit card, whether one has possession of the card or not. Regardless how much was spent, being accused of this crime could have serious residual effects, including loss of gun ownership rights, loss of employment, and extended periods of incarceration.

Defending charges of fraud by credit card takes an in-depth understanding of finance laws, and the willingness to dig deep inside the prosecutor’s case to learn the backstory.

How California Law Defines Credit Card Fraud

California’s evolving Penal Code, specifically Chapter 5, sections 484-502.9 covers the crime of larceny in its many forms. Except for provisions regarding leased property, anyone who ‘carries away another’s property without paying for it’ commits larceny. Let’s concentrate on section 484g, which outlines credit card fraud.

An individual who uses, with the intention to defraud, another’s access card or card information without the cardholder’s express written consent has committed credit card fraud. The charge is escalated to grand theft if the amount exceeds $950 within a six-month period.

The same can be charged if another’s access card is copied or purposely damaged.

How Prosecutors Will Charge the Crime

When persons are simply in possession of stolen credit cards, a litigable offense has occurred even if they have not used the stolen instruments. Prosecutors defend the interests of both the state and victims, and will use whatever evidence is presented to hold persons accountable.

Some credit card offenses are called ‘wobbler’ offenses, meaning either misdemeanors or felonies may be charged. For example, possessing and using expired credit cards may be charged as misdemeanors, whereas actually charging thousands on someone’s credit account may land the perpetrator in prison.

How county prosecutors charge credit card fraud depends on specifics involving the case. Did an individual actually have written permission, but had that permission later recanted by the owner? Did an individual living in California possess someone’s credit card information from Arizona? Many factors determine final charges assessed to the defendant.

How Defense Attorneys Protect Clients

Persons who never intended to defraud or steal another’s credit card information for purposes of egregious spending may have defenses to their alleged crime.

For example, an individual who used expired credit cards to pay for items would lack requisite intent to be held accountable under California law. Same would hold true if mother sent her daughter to purchase groceries, but the cashier felt uneasy about daughter using the card and calls police. While the cashier would be correct in feeling suspicious, no criminal charges would apply since she was granted permission.

Other meritorious defenses may apply to credit card fraud cases, which your attorney can explain to you in further detail.

If Caught With Stolen Credit Cards

It is never suggested one takes another’s credit card. However, if you are caught red-handed, do not volunteer information to law enforcement as they have got enough to arrest you, anyway. Cooperate with their requests, and take note of every detail surrounding your arrest. Small technicalities, like not having the arrest Mirandized, may get charges dismissed.

California’s Penal Code leaves little room to argue. Credit card fraud is serious, as are the punishments that coincide with being found guilty.

Credit card fraud attorney James E. Blatt takes cases with one goal: complete dismissal. If you have been charged with any financial wrongdoing, contact his office immediately by phone, email or scheduling an in-person consultation. Learn about him through his notable cases.

Could California’s Net Neutrality Bill Curb Internet Crimes?

Anyone proactive online since dial-up speeds were popular knows Net Neutrality could mean speeds are reduced for others or increased for persons willing to pay. Advertising expenses would reach almost unaffordable heights for some, while content you have enjoyed before may be impossible to find – if your ISP does not block access to it altogether.

One notion is that with stricter access comes fewer internet crimes. Is that belief ill-conceived, or could having ‘controlled movement’ when accessing various websites actually force people into old school criminal thinking – far easier to control with today’s technology?

Legislators Want Tougher Laws

An internet without rules is undoubtedly grim, and many have experienced this fact firsthand with numerous Facebook live killings, Craigslist murders and abductions, and various other internet crimes and scams. SB-822 specifically addresses broadband internet access service and provisions that would make California the toughest state on Net Neutrality. The bill would dissuade internet service providers (ISPs) from denying access, or speeding up or slowing down video content or websites, or forcing some websites to pay for ‘premium’ speeds.

During the same session, SB-460 inched closer to legislative action, an action lauded by committee members. It would forbid establishments that encroach upon net neutrality rules in SB-822 from being awarded public contracts.

Internet service providers strongly oppose both bills, citing an overreach into what regulations the federal government seek to replace.

Passing These Bills Could Thwart Crime

Most internet crimes, such as fraud and other schemes, are crimes of opportunity. Having the ability to freely access sites across the world provides just enough ammunition for folks who intend to harm one’s financial health. Bank and loan fraud manifests from one’s ability to easily acquire username and password information from black market sites, too.

Given the opportunity, persons with the wrong mindset will capitalize on anyone’s right to access sites with or without parental permission.

Take away one’s ability to access certain websites, and you will neutralize digitally conceived threats of violence and financial malfeasance. However, punishing select groups of law violators hurts the millions that want to access content from a myriad of legitimate mediums.

California politicians will engage in an epic battle to either prevent internet ‘gatekeepers’ from existing altogether, or may have to rethink their strategy to assuage the fears that telecom giants will lose customers in droves.

What Comes Next?

Both SB-822 and SB-460 will hear arguments on the legislative floor this week, with no finite timeline for final approval and enactment. Until something is passed, the current state of internet access will remain unchanged.

Even if something is passed expediently, do not expect internet crimes to curb immediately. Those truly intent on using the internet to perpetuate crimes will find their way around blocks or rules, although having regulation may greatly diminish the number of internet-based crimes committed annually.

Regardless what crimes are committed online, all defendants are innocent unless proof beyond doubt exists to the contrary.

James E. Blatt works all internet crimes cases with one goal – to get all charges dropped. If you have been charged with or are currently being investigated for internet crimes, contact the firm immediately.


The Rise of International Wire and Mail Fraud Rings

Just when society finally figured out they will not receive a new car or lottery winnings after sending someone in Jamaica or Nigeria $1,500, 15 new international scams started bilking Americans out of millions. In fact, wire and mail fraud in countries you would never suspect were capable of committing such evil are leading this new wave of pay-me-or-else fraud.

The Justice Department concluded their recent roundup, which netted 21 arrests in California and seven additional states, and many of those arrested contracted the services of India-based call centers to perpetrate their crimes. An additional three dozen indictments were handed down in Ahmedabad, although that barely dented the expansive fraud network quickly multiplying across India.

International fraud is only effective when data lists are up-to-date. With the recent Equifax data breach that victimized 148 million Americans and counting, it is safe to assume someone’s data list got refreshed, then got sold several hundred times over.

Innocent People Suffer

While Homeland Security and similar law enforcement watchdogs are getting better at nailing international fraudsters, it does not come without an innocent person or two being set up by these fraud rings, many without their knowledge.

Phone number spoofing is one method overseas fraudsters use to maintain anonymity. Using cloud dialers and VoIP services, anyone with an email address and burner phone can own an American number. Even if that U.S. issued number is already issued to another person. With today’s technological advancements and evolving communication, people in India can phone an individual in California and make it look like the call originating from a friend’s cell phone.

Email addresses and Facebook profiles are another easy target that could implicate an innocent person without prior knowledge. If you have gotten scam messages from friends or emails that seem too authentic to be real, you will understand how sophisticated wire and mail fraud have gotten.

Perhaps the easiest way to put an innocent person unwittingly in harm’s path is the infamous cashier’s check scam. Individuals are sent real checks that look authentic, often from an elderly person’s account. After depositing and withdrawing funds to send back overseas, you will receive an unwelcome phone call from your bank, saying the check was fraudulent. It is too late at this point; clean funds have been wired overseas, and you are stuck either making the bank whole, or facing fraud on financial institution charges.

Prevention Through Education

International fraud quickly adjusts to new laws and stricter data security. It is probably not going away anytime soon, but that does not mean individuals are obligated to play along.

As you have heard before, if it is too good to be true, run. You did not win the lottery, a barrister did not leave you $500 million locked inside a Nigerian bank, the IRS is not going to arrest you for being $200 in arrears, and you do not owe for payday loans you did not take out.

Finally, if you have been wrongly implicated in any wire or mail fraud scheme, it is important to keep any evidence safe. Email communications, even if the source deleted their account, are helpful pieces of evidence that may exonerate you, and bust the international fraudster who pulled you into their ring.


Wire and mail fraud charges are serious. There are no mandatory minimum sentences, but even a single count could net you 30 years in prison. James E. Blatt will work tirelessly to get unwarranted charges dismissed, but you must phone his office immediately if you are under investigation or have been recently indicted.

Internet Crimes: Avoiding False Accusations

The FBI’s well-publicized Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) provides an easy, clandestine method to report the many wrongdoings that occur in cyberspace. From scams, to child porn, to the sale of personal information, internet crimes are documented and then sent to IC3. They get looked over and passed on to local or federal law enforcement.

Problems arise when internet users can access the site, and fraudulently report alleged wrongdoing simply because they cannot stand someone. Some reports that should be sent to Interpol are routed to the IC3, too, creating logjams for months on crimes that should be legitimately investigated.

Even greater issues arise when an innocent, hard-working family breadwinner gets an unwelcome knock on the door, and is then ushered away by Federal agents for some internet-based crime that he or she did not commit.

Familiarizing Yourself with the Law

Most American households have some form of technology that has access to the internet like laptops, tablets, smartphones, or desktops. Legislation is constantly updating to protect children, women, data, families – you name it. Familiarity with laws governing digital mediums may help keep individuals safe, although some laws have obvious imperfections.

The National Registry of Exonerations, listing over 2,200 overturned convictions and dismissed cases, testifies to how imperfect due process can be. Many innocent defendants are wrongly adjudicated, taking years to clear their names. The registry does not account for thousands of internet crimes committed annually by individuals yet to be caught – crimes that got pinned on hard-working Americans without their consent.

Internet users should understand how laws, including net neutrality and acceptable use of data, may affect them later on. If one is unfamiliar with the law, or has questions regarding data found on computers they purchased secondhand, an internet crimes attorney consultation would be a wise investment.

Staying Protected and Reporting Suspicion

Email attachments and ‘unsavory’ websites can put incriminating information on your PC without your knowledge. Pop-ups, which are new browser windows that open automatically by script, and pop-under windows, which are not seen until you close your main browser window, may contain illegal or illicit information, pictures, and similar. Those windows have tracking cookies which stay on your computer indefinitely, making someone look guilty, even though that person just innocently opened an email attachment.

Chat rooms, as you probably know, are popular places to find oneself implicated for wrongdoing. That beautiful 39 year old professional sending you pictures is not always 39; she is sometimes 15 or 16 years old. After agreeing to meet with this individual, it is too late – especially if you cannot prove she disclosed her age as 39. Undercover police stings are usually how ‘purported’ child sex crimes are thwarted, although innocent persons legitimately thought they were meeting someone of age.

In cases where computers are purchased with illegal pictures on them, or one believes he or she is being set up, put down the mouse and phone your attorney immediately. This cannot be stressed enough. With the guidance of your attorney, you can then report pictures and illegal data to authorities, who can determine through time stamps and other technical information whether you have been victimized by chance, or may need to prepare for trial.

Internet crimes are serious offenses charged federally, at state level, or sometimes both. The most important component to winning your case is having experienced counsel. James E. Blatt will zealously defend those wrongly accused of internet-based crimes, but you must phone his office immediately so evidence can be preserved.

Assembly Bill 109 and Overcrowded Prisons Seven Years Later

Signed by then-Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. in 2011, AB 109, known as the 2011 Public Safety Realignment, was enacted to make sweeping changes to California’s overcrowded correctional facilities. By reducing costs and keeping non-violent, low-level offenders from returning to state lockup, California hoped that 33 prisons would drop their designed capacities to 137.5% by 2013. At the time of signing, prisons were operating at 179.5% of capacity.

As of August, 2018, many prisons remain at over 150% of designed capacity, with the overall average holding at 131.9%. Even worse, 4,200 guilty persons sentenced to California prisons are being housed in Mississippi and Arizona facilities, creating capacity problems with other state prison systems.

Seven years removed from Gov. Brown Jr.’s signature, California seems no better off today than before recidivism and prison overpopulation were placed in the hands of fed-up voters. This despite the landmark Brown vs. Plata case in which the government confirmed that inmates had their Eighth Amendment rights violated by virtue of overcrowding.

Rising Cost of Inmate Upkeep

Criminal defense attorneys often push hard for in-home confinement, probation, or both, which helps keep first-time and returning low-level offenders out of state confinement. If prosecutors feel jail time is merited, non-violent offenders should theoretically be allowed the option to serve county time. At least that is why AB 111 was written into law.

AB 111 was rolled out concurrently with AB 109, permitting county jails to tap into funding necessary to expand their jail system. If county jails expanded, lower level offenders could still receive CDC time, but be remanded to county for the duration of their executed sentences. By design, fewer petty criminals would be circulated through state prisons, which would lower capacity to respectable figures.

The CDC spends roughly $70,810 to house an inmate for one (1) year. Around $32,000 goes toward guard pay, with the remainder allocated to rehabilitation programs, inmate healthcare, administration, food and activities. In the wake of ICE roundups, California penal facilities are strained even further, although immigrants are suing due to harsh conditions in California, which may effectuate an increase in expenditures.

Under the current governor’s plan, $11 billion will be earmarked for rehabilitation and correction efforts. It is unclear under this new proposal if recidivism, capacity, and reassignment of low-level offenders serving time in high-security facilities are addressed. Counties will have access to these funds to expand programs and start work-release initiatives, although state prisons will consume a good portion for their own upkeep.

Forecasting Prisons of Tomorrow

Politicians and other figureheads of that ilk must find ways to address California’s prison overcrowding, especially if the CDC is expected to house immigrants rounded up by ICE. Some prisons and county facilities house inmates in shack-size rooms with triple bunk beds, creating unwarranted mental strain on inmates, not to mention provoking an unhealthy environment.

The Office of Research shows a 2017 CDC prison population of 131,260 with an estimated 2020 population of 121,224. Because of the projected impact of Proposition 57 and a decrease in court commitments, CDCR expects the prison population to reduce for the duration of the projections cycle released annually.

One area in which prisons are improving is their parole system. From August of 2017 to March of this year, roughly 12,000 inmates earned credit time toward their release, and California’s Parole Board is hearing nonviolent cases more frequently. This may help lessen the overcrowding issue, yet many believe an overhaul of the California criminal code could also relegate low-level offenders to more effective substance abuse and psychological programs.

The myriad of criminal procedure differences in California offer little clarity to someone facing serious jail time. Contact criminal defense attorney James E. Blatt, an expert in all facets of criminal law with only one goal: getting cases dismissed by mounting a comprehensive defense of alleged crimes.


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