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Archive for the ‘Drug Law’ Category

Should California Decriminalize the Use and Possession of Marijuana?

Monday, July 19th, 2010

This coming November California voters will be presented with a Proposition that will decriminalize and tax the use and possession of marijuana if enacted.  Proponents, of what is otherwise known as Proposition 19, argue the fact the initiative will generate millions of dollars in tax revenues in support of the measure.  Opponents argue quite forcefully and logically: why would any one support a measure that essentially supports people getting high?

This writer certainly shares the measure’s opponents concerns about recreational drug use and abuse, and opposes same, but as a practicing criminal defense attorney, I also know that there is a terrible disparity in society’s enforcement of its drug laws along racial and ethnic lines.  And, our society has spent billions of dollars, has ruined perhaps an many as millions of lives, and has the highest incarceration rate in the world, because of our so called war on drugs.

Our scheme of drug laws in archaic, doesn’t work, and is to expensive to enforce in our current economic times.  Along with its predecessors, Proposition 215, the 1996 initiative allowing for the medicinal use of marijuana, and Proposition 36, the 2000 initiative allowing an opportunity for first and second time drug possession offenders to be placed in treatment, rather than incarcerated, Proposition 19 appears to be another step in the right direction.

If you or someone you know has been arrested for a drug crime in Santa Clara County, contact the San Jose drug lawyers at the Law Offices of Bernard P. Bray.

30 Days for DUI Manslaughter: Could it Happen in California?

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

Sacramento California raised Dante Stallworth, who was most recently employed as a receiver for the Cleveland Brown’s, after stints with the New England Patriots, the Philadelphia Eagles, and the New Orleans Saints was sentenced in Florida to 30 days in jail for DUI manslaughter.  Was this result at variance from the public’s expectations in such situations?  You bet it was!

While the outcome could have been the result of great lawyering, Stallworth’s celebrity status, or most appropriately extenuating facts and circumstances of the case, this writer strongly suspects that it was most probably the influence of the victims’ family who reportedly received a substantial confidential settlement from Stallworth.

The reported facts of the case are not mitigated.  Apparently, Stallworth drove his Bentley around a stopped car to beat a red light and struck 59 year old Mario Reyes, who was walking to a bus stop form work as an overnight crane operator.  While Stallworth cooperated with the authorities, he is alleged to have provided a blood alcohol breath test  result of .126%.  The legal limit in California is .08%.

The case did not go to trial, and resolved at a very early stage of the proceedings, and consequently did not provide much opportunity for courtroom lawyering.  To pin the result on Stallworth’s status as a sports celebrity would be a stretch for even the most cynical of observers.

Could such a result be possible in law and order California, the home of the nation’s first three strikes law?  Sure, and this fact should arguably not be shocking, or even out of line, when considering current state law concerning the rights of victims to influence the outcome in criminal cases.  Florida, like California, has its own Crime Victim’s Bill of Rights, and it appears on first read not even to be as expansive as the bill that the California voters passed on November 4, 2008 in the form of Proposition 9, also known as Marsy’s Law and the Victims’ Rights and Protection Act of 2008.  Proposition 9 extended the victim’s right to be heard, to a right to be involved substantively in the criminal justice process.  California victims are now constitutionally entitled to safeguards fully protecting all of their rights, including the right to reasonably confer with prosecuting agencies even before any pretrial disposition of a criminal case.

Perhaps in an ironic tweak of law, Florida’s Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights arguably set up vulnerable crime victims to unnecessarily infringe upon the power of the state in its search for justice for the people of the state of Florida, and certainly in the case of Dante Stallworth, set up his victims to be his most powerful allies in the courthouse.

If you or someone you know has been arrested for a DUI in Santa Clara County, contact the San Jose DUI lawyers at the Law Offices of Bernard P. Bray.

If I am Arrested for Drug Possession will I Have a Criminal Record?

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

Yes. Even after successful completion of the Prop 36 program or the drug diversion program you will have a criminal record. While successful completion of those programs will result in your case being essentially dismissed, you will still have a record to the extent that anyone wanting to investigate your background will be able to find out about such arrests.

Written by San Jose Criminal Lawyer, Bernard P. Bray.

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