Will Bruzzo's Blog

Criminal Defense | Drunk Driving | Military Law

Monday, September 14, 2020

Senator Lucas & Felony Conspiracy

 As demonstrations spread across the country following the May 25 death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, statues venerating Confederate military leaders became the target of protesters.  In Portsmouth, Virginia such a demonstration was held and protestors began defacing a confederate monument with paint. An African American state senator was present, L. Louise Lucas who apparently told the police they could not arrest the protestors.  Ms. Lucas had no authority to so direct the police and the police would have been well aware of that. A month after the riots the Portsmouth City Council voted to remove the monument.

Statements indicate that several hours after Ms. Lucas left the area of the monument a man was severely injured when a piece of the statue broken off by protestors struck him.

On August 18, CBS News reported that Senator Lucas was being charged with felony conspiracy to damage a monument in excess of $1000.00. Notably, members of the local NAACP chapter and three public defenders were also charged. The matter had not yet been sent to the prosecutor for the formal filing of charges but a warrant has issued for the arrest of Ms. Lucas who was supposed to be in session with the legislature that day. Angela Greene, the newly appointed Sheriff of Portsmouth who is also African American, announced the warrants for Senator Lucas and others.

While there is no evidence that Senator Lucas personally defaced the monuments, if the police can show she planned with others to destroy the statues she could be legally charged with conspiracy.  However, because there is evidence a crime was committed does not mean the person should be charged. The police constantly use their discretion in determining whether to charge someone even when the evidence of an offense is clear.   Camping without a permit is a crime violated by thousands of homeless Americans every day that goes uncharged. Panhandling is another potential charge that is rarely used.

Notably, it was against the law in Montgomery, Alabama for Rosa Parks to refuse to give up her seat on the bus to a white man in 1955; Ms. Parks was arrested for her efforts and a warrant signed by the bus driver who has police authority at the time. It was also against the law to sit at the ‘whites only’ lunch counter at the Woolworth Drug Store in Greensboro, North Carolina in 1960.  Thousands of peaceful demonstrators were arrested in those efforts to address America’s racism.

Despite our nation’s history of slavery, Jim Crow and institutional racism the police in Portsmouth, Virginia are using their discretion to issue felony warrants for several African Americans who were present when the vestiges of the Confederate States of America were defaced and damaged to protest the oppression, murder and systemic rape of African people brought to this country in bondage.  The officials in Montgomery and Greensboro who perpetrated the oppression of African Americans are infamous for their contribution to injustice.  Now it appears that police officials in Portsmouth yearn to enter the pantheon of those who protect the laws and symbols of oppression and racism.  Let us hope that better angels eventually prevail in Portsmouth and that John Lewis’ notion of ‘good trouble’ to describe acts of civil disobedience be applied to this event as it would have been applied to tearing down the Berlin Wall or throwing tea into the harbor waters.

William W. Bruzzo has been a Criminal Defense Attorney for 26 years in California. He is also a former Major in the United States Marine Corps, having served as a Judge Advocate, Executive Officer and Company Commander.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Restraining Orders

civil harassment restraining ordersRestraining Orders 

Restraining orders may be brought by anyone to stop someone else from harassing them, threatening violence or committing violence against them. There are five types of Restraining Orders: Domestic Violence Restraining Orders, Civil Harassment Restraining Orders. Elder or Dependent Adult Abuse Restraining Orders, Workplace Violence Restraining Orders and Gun Violence Restraining Orders. Once a Temporary Restraining Order or permanent Restraining Order is granted it has the force of law and a violation of the Restraining Order can cause the offender to be charged criminally.

Civil Harassment Restraining Orders 


Civil Harassment Restraining Orders apply when you want to restrain someone and you are not related to them or in a dating relationship or have a child with them. These Restraining Orders are often used between neighbors but can be used in any situation where a party feels they are being harassed, threatened with violence or a victim of violence. There are two stages to getting a Civil Harassment Restraining Order granted. First the party asking for the order submits a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) request through their attorney which usually includes a statement from the party describing what happen and why they want the Order. Generally, the Judge only looks at the Petitioner’s request for a TRO and makes a decision without a hearing and without input from the other party. The other party does not even need to be advised of the TRO request although the court prefers they be notified. If the court grants the TRO (and also if it denies the TRO) a hearing is held 21-25 days later. At that hearing both sides may put on witnesses or other evidence to prove/disprove the case. If a Restraining Order is granted at that later hearing it can last for 3 years or longer and be renewed with good cause by the Petitioner. The granting of a permanent Restraining Order designates the person restrained as a violent person and appears on background checks similar to a criminal conviction. Even if no criminal case is filed against the person who committed the misconduct, the court can still find there is enough evidence to grant a Civil Harassment Restraining Order. Attorney Will Bruzzo has successfully represented many clients on both sides of Civil Harassment Restraining Orders and is ready to represent you and offer a free consult. Tel. (714) 547 4636

Domestic Violence Restraining Orders

Restraining Orders 


Restraining orders may be brought by anyone to stop someone else from harassing them, threatening violence or committing violence against them. There are five types of Restraining Orders: Domestic Violence Restraining Orders, Civil Harassment Restraining Orders. Elder or Dependent Adult Abuse Restraining Orders, Workplace Violence Restraining Orders and Gun Violence Restraining Orders. Once a Temporary Restraining Order or permanent Restraining Order is granted it has the force of law and a violation of the Restraining Order can cause the offender to be charged criminally. 

Domestic Violence Restraining Orders 


Domestic Violence Restraining Orders apply when someone who you are/were married to, related by blood, in a dating relationship with, have a child with or is an in-law (mother-in-law, grandparent-in-law) is harassing you, threatening violence or committing violence against you. There are two stages to getting an order granted. First the party asking for the order submits a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) request through their attorney which usually includes a statement from the party describing what happen and why they want the Order. If children are involved, it may also ask for orders on where the children are going to live and child/spousal support amounts. Generally, the Judge looks at the Petitioner’s request for a TRO and makes a decision without a hearing and without input from the person to be restrained. The other party does not even need to be advised of the TRO request although the court prefers that they are. If the court grants the TRO (and also if it denies the TRO) a hearing is held 21-25 days later. At that hearing both sides may put on witnesses or other evidence to prove/disprove the case. If a Restraining Order is granted at that later hearing it can last for 3 years or longer and be renewed with good cause by the Petitioner. The granting of a permanent Restraining Order designates the person restrained as a violent person and appears on background checks similar to a criminal conviction. In addition to causing issues on background checks it can also cause problems when it comes to child custody and visitation if applicable. Even if no criminal case is filed against the person who committed the misconduct, the court can still find there is enough evidence to grant a Restraining Order. Attorney Will Bruzzo has successfully represented many clients on both sides of Domestic Violence Restraining Orders and is ready to represent you and offer a free consult. Tel. (714) 547 4636

Elder Abuse/Dependent Adult Restraining Order

Restraining Orders 


Restraining orders may be brought by anyone to stop someone else from harassing them, threatening violence or committing violence against them. There are five types of Restraining Orders: Domestic Violence Restraining Orders, Civil Harassment Restraining Orders. Elder or Dependent Adult Abuse Restraining Orders, Workplace Violence Restraining Orders and Gun Violence Restraining Orders. Once a Temporary Restraining Order or permanent Restraining Order is granted it has the force of law and a violation of the Restraining Order can cause the offender to be charged criminally.

Elder Abuse/Dependent Adult Restraining Order 


The main difference between an Elder or Dependent Adult Abuse Restraining Order and the other orders is that there are wider grounds for bringing such an order. Also, a Caretaker, Conservator or other concerned person can bring the action on behalf of the elderly (65+ years old) or dependent adult. The grounds for an Elder Abuse/ Dependent Adult Restraining Order include: Physical Abuse, Financial Abuse, Neglect, Abandonment, Mental or Emotional Abuse, Isolation or deprivation of goods and services by a caretaker leading to harm or suffering. Those that can bring the Restraining Order are the Elderly person or Dependent Adult themselves and the following: a conservator or trustee, an attorney-in-fact acting within the authority of the power-of-attorney, guardian ad litem, and other legally authorized person. Often times when family members are fighting over money or property in a will or trust and a parent is still alive, this request for Restraining Order will arise.

The process for obtaining the Elder Abuse/Dependent Adult Restraining Order is the same as for the other Restraining Orders: First the party asking for the order submits a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) request through their attorney which usually includes a statement from the party describing what is happening and why they want the Order. Generally, the Judge only looks at the Petitioner’s request for a TRO and makes a decision without a hearing and without input from the other party. The other party does not even need to be advised of the TRO request although the court prefers they be notified. If the court grants the TRO (and also if it denies the TRO) a hearing is held 21-25 days later. At that hearing both sides may put on witnesses or other evidence to prove/disprove the case. If a Restraining Order is granted at that later hearing it can last for 3 years or longer and be renewed with good cause by the Petitioner. The granting of a permanent Restraining Order designates the person restrained as a violent person and appears on background checks similar to a criminal conviction. Even if no criminal case is filed against the person who committed the misconduct, the court can still find there is enough evidence to grant an Elder Abuse/Dependent Adult Restraining Order. Attorney Will Bruzzo has successfully represented clients on Elder Abuse/Dependent Adult Restraining Orders and is ready to represent you and offer a free consult. Tel. (714) 547 4636

Workplace Violence Restraining Order

Workplace Violence Restraining OrderRestraining Orders 


Restraining orders may be brought by anyone to stop someone else from harassing them, threatening violence or committing violence against them. There are five types of Restraining Orders: Domestic Violence Restraining Orders, Civil Harassment Restraining OrdersElder or Dependent Adult Abuse Restraining Orders, Workplace Violence Restraining Orders and Gun Violence Restraining Orders. Once a Temporary Restraining Order or permanent Restraining Order is granted it has the force of law and a violation of the Restraining Order can cause the offender to be charged criminally. 

Workplace Violence Restraining Order 


A Workplace Violence Restraining Order is essentially identical to the other Restraining Orders except that the EMPLOYER can bring the Restraining Order on behalf of his EMPLOYEES. Examples of when these sorts of Orders are applicable is when a former employee is harassing/threatening violence /being violent toward the current employees/employer or when a customer is harassing /threatening violence/being violent toward the employees/employer. The major difference is that the employer does not necessarily have to be harassed to get the order, he can get an Order on behalf of his employees only OR for himself and his employees.

The process for obtaining Workplace Violence Restraining Order is the same as for the other Restraining Orders: First the party asking for the order submits a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) request through their attorney which usually includes a statement from the party describing what is happening and why they want the Order. Generally, the Judge only looks at the Petitioner’s request for a TRO and makes a decision without a hearing and without input from the other party. The other party does not even need to be advised of the TRO request although the court prefers they be notified. If the court grants the TRO (and also if it denies the TRO) a hearing is held 21-25 days later. At that hearing both sides may put on witnesses or other evidence to prove/disprove the case. If a Restraining Order is granted at that later hearing it can last for 3 years or longer and be renewed with good cause by the Petitioner. The granting of a permanent Restraining Order designates the person restrained as a violent person and appears on background checks similar to a criminal conviction. Even if no criminal case is filed against the person who committed the misconduct, the court can still find there is enough evidence to grant a Workplace Violence Restraining Order. Attorney Will Bruzzo has successfully represented clients on Workplace Violence Restraining Orders and is ready to represent you and offer a free consult. Tel. (714) 547 4636.

Gun Violence Restraining Order

Gun Violence Restraining Order 


This is a court order that prohibits someone from having any guns, ammunition, or magazines (ammunition feeding devices). The person must surrender all guns, ammunition, and magazines that he or she currently owns if the Order is granted. You can ask for one against a person who is an immediate family member. Immediate family members include: (1) your spouse or domestic partner; (2) your parents, children, siblings, grandparents, and grandchildren and their spouses, including any stepparent or step grandparent; (3) your spouse’s parents, children (your stepchildren), siblings, grandparents, and grandchildren; and (4) any other person who regularly resides in the household, or who, within the last six months, regularly resided in the household. If you do not have the necessary relationship, advise a law enforcement officer of the situation. The officer may investigate and file the petition if he or she finds that the grounds exist.

You and your lawyer will have to convince the judge that the person to be restrained poses a significant danger in the near future of causing personal injury to himself, herself, or another person by having in his or her custody or control, owning, purchasing, possessing, or receiving any firearms, ammunition, or magazines. The Judge will also have to be convinced that a gun violence restraining order is needed to prevent personal injury to the person to be restrained or to another person because less restrictive alternatives either have been tried and haven’t worked, or are inadequate or inappropriate for the current circumstances.

The Judge will need to be provided specific information. (1) You should tell the judge everything that you know about the firearms, ammunition or magazines that the person to be restrained currently owns, including how many the person owns, the types, and where they are kept. (2) Then you will need to present facts to show that the person to be restrained is dangerous. This could be information about any threat of violence that the person to be restrained has made, any violent incident in which the person has been involved, or any crime of violence the person has committed. It could also be evidence that the person to be restrained has violated a protective order or abuses controlled substances or alcohol. It could also be evidence of the unlawful and reckless use, display, or brandishing of a firearm or the recent acquisition of a firearm. Or it could be evidence that the person to be restrained has been identified by a mental health provider as someone prohibited from purchasing, possessing or controlling any firearms.

The process for obtaining the Gun Violence Restraining Order is the same as for the other Restraining Orders: First the party asking for the order submits a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) request through their attorney which usually includes a statement from the party describing what is happening and why they want the Order. Generally, the Judge only looks at the Petitioner’s request for a TRO and makes a decision without a hearing and without input from the other party. However, a declaration should be submitted from the Petitioner laying out all the reasons for request. The other party does not need to be advised of the TRO request. If the court grants the TRO (and also if it denies the TRO) a hearing is held 21-25 days later. At that hearing both sides may put on witnesses or other evidence to prove/disprove the case. If a Restraining Order is granted at that later hearing it can last for 3 years or longer and be renewed with good cause by the Petitioner. The granting of a permanent Restraining Order designates the person restrained as a violent person and appears on background checks similar to a criminal conviction. Even if no criminal case is filed against the person who committed the misconduct, the court can still find there is enough evidence to grant a Gun Violence Restraining Order. Attorney Will Bruzzo has successfully represented many clients on both sides of various types of Restraining Orders and is ready to represent you and offer a free consult. Tel. (714) 547 4636

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Will Bruzzo’s Client Awarded Full Pardon from Governor for Felony Offenses

If you are convicted of a felony offense in California, the only way to truly get it removed from your record and all your rights as a citizen reinstated (firearm, voting), is through a Gubernatorial Pardon. As you might imagine, requesting the Governor of the State of California to Pardon you for an offense is a considerable undertaking. However, former Governor Jerry Brown was relatively generous about granting Pardons to deserving individuals and current California Governor Gavin Newsom seems like he will carry on that legacy.

In 2018 Will Bruzzo and the Law Offices of William W. Bruzzo represented M. Vasquez (not client’s real name) on a Pardon Application and the client received a Gubernatorial Pardon from the Governor of the State of California for felony Drug Offenses that had occurred 24 years previous. The specific offenses were: Transportation of a Controlled Substance, Health and Safety Code Section 11352 and Possession for Sale of a Controlled Substance, Health and Safety Code Section 11378. The Client was sentenced to local jail.

At the time of the offense and for sometime thereafter, the client had been subject to domestic violence and may have been drawn into committing the crime by the abusive spouse. However, the most compelling argument for causing a Pardon to be granted in Counsel’s opinion was the client’s impressive work history after the conviction. Not only did the Client work steadily after being released from jail, the client started several businesses which did very well and sold them for a profit before launching into yet another successful career in a different field. Notably, the client was a single parent raising two children without help after leaving the abusive spouse. The children went on to college and other worthwhile endeavors.

Gubernatorial Pardons are in keeping with Western Culture’s pervading belief that we can redeem ourselves even after the most deplorable conduct. Pardons are especially pertinent today because the information age within which we live, can cause our criminal history information to be generally known and may lead to loss of employment, difficulty finding employment and at a minimum, embarrassment.

The procedure for Applying for a Pardon is to first find a competent lawyer. Will Bruzzo and the Law Offices of William W. Bruzzo has helped many clients navigate the Pardon Application process. Pardon Applications are governed by Penal Code Section 4852.01 and sequential. While the code permits an individual to apply for a Pardon as early as 7 years after being released from custody or probation/parole is terminated (whichever is earlier) the Department of Corrections will often not even consider an application until 10 years has passed. For individuals who live within the state of California a Certificate of Rehabilitation must first be filed with the court of the County within which the individual currently resides regardless of where the conviction occurred. Once a Certificate of Rehabilitation is granted by the local court it becomes an automatic Pardon Application and is sent from the Court to the Governor’s Office of Legal Affairs. If the individual lives outside the state but committed a crime in California, then they are not eligible to file a Certificate of Rehabilitation and must go directly to a Gubernatorial Pardon. Contact the Law Offices of William W. Bruzzo at (714) 547 4636 for a free consultation to determine if you are eligible for a Pardon.