Archives : 2011 : February
Under California Penal Code Sections 518 to 527, the crime of extortion involves “obtaining of property from another, with his consent, or the obtaining of an official act of a public officer, induced by a wrongful use of force or fear, or under color of official right”. Threats do not need to be physical. Extortion is both a California criminal offense and a federal offense of blackmail under 18 U.S.C. Section 873 when it involves interstate commerce, the use of a computer, telephone or if threats occur on federal property. Extortion is generally charged as a felony. You may face fines not exceeding $10,000 and imprisonment up to four years for an extortion conviction.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s department detectives have been investigating whether actor Mel Gibson was a victim of extortion and have presented their results to the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office on February 16, 2011. Officials have been investigating Gibson’s claims that his ex-girlfriend, Oksana Grigorieva, allegedly extorted $10 million from Gibson in exchange for not releasing some embarrassing voicemails of Gibson terrorizing her. There was also a report that Ms. Grigorieva may have texted Gibson about her intentions. Gibson and Grigorieva had been in a bitter child custody battle over their two-year-old daughter, which was settled in May 2010. Gibson and Grigorieva signed a child custody settlement agreement whereby Gibson gave her child support, a house and joint custody of their daughter Lucia in exchange for her not releasing the tapes. He claims she reneged on the deal when the tapes appeared on the Internet. After the tapes were released, he claimed she was involved in extortion against him. She has consistently denied any wrongdoing. The case is separate from the allegations she has claimed against Gibson for domestic violence. The District Attorney’s office has been reviewing the extortion case since August 2010, and no formal charges have been filed against Grigorieva.
If you are under suspicion for extortion or have been arrested for extortion in California, you should hire a California criminal defense attorney immediately to defend you. You cannot be convicted of extortion if property or money was given to you, and there were no threats or force or fear. The attorney can argue lack of sufficient evidence or misunderstanding to get the charges dismissed. The prosecutor would not be able to prove that you committed the crime beyond reasonable doubt without proof of fear and threats.
Under Penal Code Section 422.55, California hate crimes are criminal acts or attempted criminal acts committed against an individual or group based upon race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, sexual orientation, gender or a disability. A hate crime in California can be charged as a felony under Penal Codes Sections 422.7, 594.3. 11412 or 11413 or a misdemeanor under Penal Code Sections 302, 422.6, 422.9, 538 (c), 640.2 or 11411. Under Penal Code Section 422.6 (a) or (b), any person convicted of violating this Section faces up to one year in county jail or a fine not to exceed $5,000 or both, and community service not to exceed 400 hours during 350 days during a time other than employment hours or school hours. No person may be convicted of a California hate crime for using hateful speech alone.
The death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole can be imposed under Penal Code Section 190.2(a)(16) if the victim was intentionally killed because of race, color, religion, nationality, or country of origin. Life without the possibility of parole may be imposed under Penal Code 190.3, if the victim was intentionally killed because of sexual orientation, gender or disability. Under Penal Code 422.75, sentences may be enhanced for a felony crime committed as a result of a victim’s race, color, religion, nationality, country of origin, ancestry, disability or sexual orientation an additional one, two or three years in prison if a person acts alone and two, three or four years in prison if a person acts with another.
A 53 year old women named Kim Rebar Henry of Fullerton, CA was arrested on arrested Friday February 11, 2011 on an unrelated warrant and booked on Monday, February 14, 2011, on suspicion of one count of felony vandalism and damage to property to violate civic rights. Henry is believed to be responsible for nine incidents that occurred in Anaheim, Irvine, Santa Ana and Brea. She is being held at the Orange County Jail in lieu of $67,500 bail. According to authorities, Henry allegedly spray-painted graffiti on two Catholic churches and several buildings in Orange County. A surveillance video that was released to the media resulted in a person calling Santa Ana Police department and identifying Henry. The graffiti found was painted in black paint and threatened to kill African Americans and Asians. Graffiti was also discovered on a walkway next to the Saint Thomas More Catholic Parish by Irvine Police on January 11, 2011with the words painted “Kill Cathlicks”. Irvine police also found graffiti at the Chase Bank on the 500 block of North Euclid that said kill and two specific ethnicities. Anaheim police responded to a graffiti incident also on January 11, 2011 at the St. Boniface Catholic Church where the words “Kill the Cathlicks” was painted at a wall near the entrance of the church. Investigations by Anaheim, Santa Ana, Irvine and Brea police are ongoing.
If you are arrested and charged with a California hate crime, you should contact a California criminal defense attorney to represent you. The attorney may be able to get the charges reduced or dismissed by arguing such legal defenses as aggravated battery, mistaken identity, self defense or false accusations depending upon the circumstances surrounding your case.
The legalization of marijuana continues to be a controversial issue as it makes its way back into legislation in two states, Washington and Massachusetts. Legislators in both the Washington State House and Massachusetts State House reintroduced bills recently to legalize marijuana use for persons 21 years of age and over with regulation and taxation of the marijuana commerce. In Washington State, Democrat Mary Lou Dickerson, State Representative and Chairman of the Human Services Committee, introduced Bill 1550 on January 25, 2011, which proposes to regulate the sale of marijuana in Washington State through state liquor stores with the licensing of cannabis growers regulated by the Liquor Board. Farmers would have to obtain a license from the Liquor Board at the cost of $5,000 per year. It would be considered a gross misdemeanor to sell cannabis without a license or to sell or distribute it to a juvenile under 21 years of age. The intention of Washington State legislatures is to increase state revenues while breaking up crime-syndicate drug cartels so that revenues can be used towards health services throughout the state due to budget cuts and shortages. The Washington bill has 13 co-sponsors and has now been referred to the Committee on Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, which is the same Committee where the bill failed to pass last year. The State approved the legalization of medical marijuana in 1998, and in 2009, the Seattle City Council voted unanimously to support decriminalization.
Massachusetts House Representative Ellen Story (Democrat from Amherst) filed House Docket Number 1091 (H1091), An Act to Regulate and Tax the Cannabis Industry on January 24, 2011. The bill is currently awaiting a bill number. The proposed bill would eliminate all criminal and civil penalties in the State of Massachusetts for persons over 21 years of age who possess marijuana for personal use or share it with other adults. The bill would also provide for the regulation, licensing and taxing of commercial cultivation, possession and distribution of marijuana. The Massachusetts bill also failed to pass last year.
Meanwhile, the Montana Majority Republican House voted recently to overturn their Medical Marijuana Ballot Initiative which was passed in 2004 legalizing the use of medical marijuana. The bill, HB 161, is currently awaiting a vote in the Montana State Senate. The Montana House Speaker Mike Milburn (Republican from Cascade), who sponsored the bill, argues that the Marijuana Ballot Initiative has attracted criminal elements. Democrats argued that the initiative has failed because of the lack of regulation of medical marijuana by the legislature. Others Representatives such as Diane Sans (a Democrat from Missoula) argued that the State has already tried making medical marijuana illegal and that failed to work and that there is a value to using marijuana for medicinal purposes. It may not be so easy to get the repeal approved in the Montana Senate where the consensus is there needs to be reform, but that re-criminalizing it would be turning back the clock. There are several bills regarding taxing or regulating medical marijuana that have been introduced as well.
Right now there are 15 states and the District of Columbia where medical marijuana use and possession is legal including:
California SB 420 was approved in 2004 which sets forth guidelines on the use, possession and growing of medical marijuana. A ballot proposition was approved by voters in 1996 approving medical marijuana use for AIDS, anorexia, arthritis, cancer, chronic pain, glaucoma, migraines, multiple sclerosis, seizures, nausea and other chronic medical conditions. State penalties for possession, use and growing for persons with medical marijuana prescriptions were also decriminalized. California Proposition 19 was recently defeated which would have legalized marijuana use and allowed the State to regulate and tax the commercial growing of marijuana.
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