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Criminal defense, drunk driving, military law - Orange County California

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Criminal Defense | Drunk Driving | Military Law

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Active Duty Service Member Retained at Administrative Separation Board

There are three different methods of disciplining people in the military: By Court-Martial, Non-Judicial Punishment and/or Administrative Separation. Administrative Separations will be the topic of this discussion.

An Administrative Separation is not judicial in nature. There is no judge or rules of evidence which apply in courts-martial. Instead all evidence, both documentary and testimonial is admitted for consideration. Three individuals, usually two officers and one senior enlisted person become the Administrative Separation Board. It is they who hear the evidence and decide two things: (1) whether the person should be retained in the military or discharged; (2) if they decide that the person should be discharged then they must decide what type of discharge the person should get. The options for discharge at an Administrative Separation are: Honorable; General Under Honorable Conditions and Other then Honorable. Notably, any discharge categorization which is less then Honorable will cause the person to lose all benefits to include the GI Montgomery Bill. So General Under Honorable Conditions or Other Then Honorable Discharge causes a loss of all benefits. However, the individual may still be able to apply for benefits for health issues resulting from military service through the VA, regardless of the type of discharge they received.

Most commonly Administrative Separations come about when the individual has received two or more negative counseling entries or Non-judicial punishments (NJP) (Article 15). In these cases the grounds for discharge fall under the category of a “Pattern of Misconduct.” An Administrative Separation may also occur after a conviction at a court-martial where the jury (members) declined to discharge the person or after a conviction on a criminal matter in civilian court. The grounds for this discharge would fall under the category of “Commission of a Serious Offense.” In the case of a positive urinalysis on a random drug test processing for an Administrative Separation is mandatory. That is, any person who comes up positive on a urinalysis test MUST be sent to an Administrative Board Hearing if not sent to a court-martial.

In a recent Administrative Board Hearing Attorney Will Bruzzo represented an individual who had only been in the military a few months when he came up positive on a urinalysis for a controlled substance. The individual accepted NJP (not recommended!) although he denied intentional use at the NJP (Article 15) hearing. Mr. Bruzzo had the military member testify under oath and cross examined the Drug Lab employee/expert who testified on behalf of the Government. Two officers and a senior enlisted person heard all the evidence which included information that the Drug Lab had been found responsible for contaminating samples and reporting a false positive about a year previous. Mr. Bruzzo also brought to the attention of the board that to discharge the individual the use of the drug had to be intentional, it could not be by mistake or accident.

The members of the board then deliberated and returned with a finding that NO MISCONDUCT HAD OCCURRED. As a result the individual was retained in the military despite coming up positive on a urinalysis and being subject to NJP. This was a significant victory with difficult facts. Notably Mr. Bruzzo has been practicing military law for over 20 years. View testimonials on Military Law cases here and other matters. 
 
Criminal Law Updates by the Law Offices of Criminal Defense Lawyer William W. Bruzzo (714) 547-4636.
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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Orange County Drunk Driving Cases May Be Affected By Inaccurate Blood Tests Results

The District Attorney’s Office of Orange County informed several people who were charged and convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol that there may have been blood alcohol level inaccuracies in their test. The Orange County Crime Lab recognized an error in their blood alcohol testing procedure effecting about 2,200 driving under the influence cases. 900 of those cases resulted in convictions. The issue comes down to a 0.003 percentage difference in alcohol level, which according to the LA Times would affect about 200 cases, with only about 20 cases having a blood alcohol content level drop below 0.08%. The discrepancies were attributed to human error in the calibration of the devices used. The lab runs blood samples twice then averages the results. Two devices are used to do the tests; one of them had a calibration point entered incorrectly.

ABC Eyewitness News Channel 7 provided an update on this story on November 23, 2013


If you are having trouble viewing the video, you can see it here.

Contact the Law Offices of Orange County Defense Lawyer William W. Bruzzo at (714) 547-4636 to inquire about this matter.
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Monday, December 9, 2013

LAPD Effort To Limit Auto Impounds Is Voided By Judge

Mike Feuer
Mike Feuer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer will appeal a judge’s ruling against the police department’s vehicle impound policy. Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck had developed a policy, Special Order 7, regarding vehicle impounds for unlicensed drivers. If the unlicensed driver has insurance, a valid identification card and no record for unlicensed driving, then the vehicle will not be impounded. Those representing the police officers had sued against the policy, explaining that it attempted to override California Law. Police Chief Beck explained on October 27, that officers were told to disregard Special Order 7.

According to the L.A. Times, City Attorney Feuer was going to ask an appeals court to set aside the judge’s ruling while the appeal process takes place. The L.A. Times also reported October 3, 2013, that Governor Brown has signed a bill granting undocumented immigrants a driver’s license. The license will give a person a driving privilege but would not be acceptable for federal use, employment or to receive “public benefits.”

Criminal Law Updates by the Law Offices of Orange County Criminal Defense Lawyer William W. Bruzzo (714) 547-4636.
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Friday, December 6, 2013

Mexican Mafia Operating In Orange County

Mexican Mafia gang symbol, known as "La e...
Mexican Mafia gang symbol, known as "La eMe" which stands for the spanish letter "M". (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In a combined effort with three agencies, several alleged members of the Mexican Mafia and other gangs were arrested and charged in September of 2013 in Orange County according to the Los Angeles Times.

A two and a half year long investigation by FBI agents, Orange County Sheriff’s detectives, Santa Ana police department and the Orange County district attorney’s office resulted in federal and state indictments of 129 people.

There were 55 arrests along with seizures of weapons and drugs. The charges were for extortion, racketeering, and drug dealing. Officials released some details regarding the type of criminal activities the gang members were supposedly involved in. Some were said to have been dealing drugs in the jail or involved in beatings of gang member inmates.

The district attorney’s offices explained that these crimes were ordered by the Mexican Mafia. In the streets of Orange County, the Mexican Mafia ordered gangs to be taxed in order to operate in neighborhoods. The investigation, called Operation Smokin’ Aces, uncovered communications dealings with heroin trafficking and orders for beatings.

Criminal Law Updates by the Law Offices of Criminal Defense Attorney William W. Bruzzo (714) 547-4636
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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Woman Kills Her Two Children Then Attempts Suicide In Orange County

The arraignment for Marilyn Edge was to occur on October 25 2013; however, in court on October 25th the arraignment was delayed until Dec. 13, 2013. She is being charged with two counts of murder for the deaths of her children, 10 year old Faith and 13 year old Jaelen. She is being held without bail. At her original arraignment hearing on September 17, 2013, when asked by the judge in court if she would agree to have her arraignment continued, Edge responded by requesting the death penalty.

The children’s bodies were found in a Santa Ana motel after she had told police where to find their bodies. Edge had crashed her car into metal posts in Costa Mesa in an attempt to kill herself. Police found a propane tank in her car; Edge had wanted to blow up the car with a crash. When the crash did not end her life, she tried strangling herself with electrical wires. Once she was taken out of the car she told police about the children. According to the LA Times the children’s father had full custody and lives in Georgia, while Edge lived in Scottsdale, Arizona. She had brought the kids to California on the pretense of taking them to Disneyland.

NBC 4 Southern California reports on this case...



If you are having trouble viewing the video, you can see it here.

Criminal Law Updates by Law Offices of Orange County Defense Attorney William W. Bruzzo (714) 547-4636

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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Governor Gives Reprieve to Juvenile Offenders Serving Life Sentences

English: Photo of California Attorney General ...
English: Photo of California Attorney General (and former California Governor) Jerry Brown (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Just before the end of California’s last legislative session, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill that would allow the possibility of parole for minors tried as adults. According to the LA Times, about 6,000 inmates could go before a parole board. Their sentences could be reduced and they could be placed on parole after serving 15 years of their sentence. This means that an inmate sentenced in his mid teens would get out in his early thirties. Many were sentenced to life without parole for various types of charges including violent crimes or being an accomplice. One group lobbied for bill SB260 in order to change the approach the system takes on inmate youth.

Governor Brown referenced the signed bill in his request for an extension of time to reduce the states prison population. He explained that this bill would decrease the amount of inmates in state prisons. A federal panel of judges has given California until December 31, 2013 to reduce the numbers by around 8,000 inmates according to Reuters. Some legislators and groups would like to see the state fund rehabilitation programs in order to reduce the prison population. Families of victims have a different perspective on the issue and some believe that whether they were minors or not at the time of commission of the offense, they should serve their entire sentence.

Criminal Law Updates by the Law Offices of Orange County Defense Attorney William W. Bruzzo (714) 547-4636.
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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

New Courthouse Opens - Long Beach, California

On Monday September 9, 2013, the new Governor George Deukmejian Courthouse in Long Beach had its first day on the record. The new courthouse is 65% bigger than the previous facility down the street. It has 24 courtrooms, six elevators, escalators, stairs cases and a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. If there is a need for more courtrooms, it can add six more. It also added wireless internet access in the building.

The previous location had a set of problems that could no longer be ignored. The old location was no longer adequate to meet the demands of the community of Long Beach. Lines would extend outside the building; there were issues of overcrowding, rodent and cockroach infestations, as well as security concerns.

According to the spokesperson for the state Administrative Office of the Courts, the financial backing for this courthouse was met from a combination of private and public funding. This new approach for private and public funding for public projects was started by former governor Schwarzenegger. The plan is that the developer paid for the construction of the building upfront, in turn the state of California will repay that amount plus interest over a 35 year period.

Here is a video of the new courthouse provided courtesy of Gazettes.com


If you are having trouble viewing the video, you can see it here.

Criminal Law Updates by the Law Offices of Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney William W. Bruzzo (714) 547-4636.
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I represent criminal clients accused of everything from domestic violence and drunk driving to murder. I will not close a case until I believe that I have exhausted every possibility, whether it is a misdemeanor or a felony. If the facts support it I will take any case to trial; if the facts do not support going to trial, I will use all the relationships and knowledge I have developed with over  20 years of practice to negotiate the best result possible. I have managed to get "hopeless" cases dismissed just based on my knowledge of the local players (District Attorneys and Judges). An attorney's familiarity with the local system is invaluable to clients. I am that person in Orange County.

After practicing law for over 10 years I established my own firm in 2004 in Santa Ana, California. I am still in the same location.

Example cases

• People v. Arney (2011). I filed a motion to dismiss when the magistrate in the lower court kept out evidence over my objection. My motion was granted and the case was dismissed.

• People v. Willson (2010) I negotiated a dismissal of hit and run charges by getting the District Attorney to agree to dismiss the charges if the victim also agreed. The victim ultimately agreed and the case was dismissed.

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