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While murder and manslaughter are different charges, some people may not understand what exactly makes them different from one another. In addition, murder charges are usually defined as first or second-degree depending on the severity of the crime. Manslaughter, on the other hand, can be voluntary or involuntary. The main difference between these two charges will be dependent on the state of mind of the person when they committed the violent action.

Voluntary and Involuntary Manslaughter

Manslaughter is the unlawful killing of another person that does not involve the intent to seriously harm or kill. Further, it usually involves less moral blame than murder. There are two types of manslaughter you could potentially be charged with will be either voluntary or involuntary. Voluntary manslaughter, also called a heat of passion crime, happens when a person is strongly provoked and kills someone in the heat of passion because they were provoked. Heat of passion exists only if the provoked party does not have time to cool off. Due to this emotional context, moral blameworthiness is reduced for people who kill in the heat of passion. Involuntary manslaughter, on the other hand, is the unintentional killing of another person due to criminally negligent or reckless behavior. This can be confused with second-degree murder, since extremely reckless behavior that leads to the death of another can be charged as second-degree murder.

First and Second-Degree Murder

First-degree murder is the unlawful killing of another person with the intent to seriously harm or kill. First-degree murder is also planned and committed in a cruel way under special circumstances. Other                                              offenses that can also be included in this charge:

  • Kidnapping
  • Hijacking
  • Robbery
  • Assault
  • Torture

Second-degree murder occurs when criminal negligence leads to the unlawful death of another person. It is also defined as a premeditated murder committed without special circumstances. Second-degree murder is slightly less grave than first-degree murder. Second-degree murder can also be similar to involuntary manslaughter and the extremity of the criminal negligence or reckless behavior may decide which charge will be given.

If you’re facing criminal charges for murder, contact an attorney as soon as you can. The criminal defense attorneys at the Law Office of Louis J. Goodman have years of experienced handling murder and manslaughter cases. Call us to schedule a free consultation today.

When a witness is brought in for questioning, they may be asked to provide evidence that could potentially incriminate them. The Fifth Amendment, however, protects witnesses from sharing incriminating information against themselves should it be invoked, and the witness refuses to answer any more questions. However, it is possible for an investigator to push past this privilege and obtain the information they require. By offering the witness immunity, the witness could avoid prosecution in exchange for a testimony.

The broadest type of immunity that is usually granted is transactional immunity. Also known as “total” or “blanket” immunity, transactional immunity offers complete protection from future prosecution for anything mentioned in the witness’ testimony. Keep in mind, however, that transactional immunity does not protect against prosecution for unrelated crimes mentioned in the testimony. Further, transactional immunity is not offered by the federal system, so it may not be offered as readily as one might think.

Used by both federal and state systems, use and derivative use immunity is a common but narrower type of immunity that could be offered to the witness.  This immunity stops the prosecution from using the witness’ statements or the evidence derived from those statements against the witness. Use and derivative use immunity does not protect against additional investigation, on the part of the prosecution, into crimes mentioned by the witness. Charges could be brought against the witness for their mentioned crime only if independent evidence is provided proving the crime. If independent evidence separate from the testimony is not provided, the judge could block the use of the immunized testimony.

A witness can also waive immunity if they wish. Immunity can be waived using a written statement, testifying before immunity is granted, or by not asking for immunity in a timely manner. When a witness waives immunity, the previously immunized testimony can be used in the case. However, before you consider waiving immunity, meet with criminal defense lawyer beforehand. Our team at the Law Office of Louis J. Goodman can protect your rights and interests as a witness.

A marijuana breathalyzer developed by Hound Labs in collaboration with the University of California, Berkeley finished field testing in California. The breathalyzer, which detects concentrations of THC in a person’s breath, is the latest in cannabis detecting technology to stop drivers from driving high. The device works like the alcohol breathalyzer test. The suspected driver blows air into the device, which then records the concentration of THC in his or her breath. However, it has not yet been decided what amount of marijuana detected in the driver’s breath can be used to establish impairment. The current law states the amount an alcohol breathalyzer can detect before being considered impaired, but not for marijuana. Further, the current blood and urine tests being used reveal whether there is some marijuana in your system. Not how much marijuana is sufficient to impair one’s ability to drive.

Working with California law enforcement, Hound Labs tested the device on driver’s suspected of driving while high. Officers would pull over the suspect and, if the driver failed their field sobriety tests, he or she would then be asked if they would voluntarily blow into the prototype breathalyzer. After recording the driver’s breath, the information would then be relayed to the research team to collect and compare with other results. According to Hound Labs, the device performed well, and they did find a correlation in the amount of THC recorded in comparison to how recently the driver has smoked marijuana. The drivers who failed their sobriety tests were not arrested but rather educated in the dangers of driving high. The drivers were also found alternative transportation to make it home safely.

Due to the promising results, Hound Labs now focuses on improving the size and durability of their breathalyzer. They hope these improvements will make the device easier to handle. At this time, the marijuana breathalyzer is not in use by California police officers. However, this does not mean officers are not on the lookout for driver who may be driving under the influence of cannabis. If you have been charged with a marijuana DUI, the Law Office at Louis G. Goodman can help. Our lawyers have years of experience handling Californian’s changing marijuana laws. We can help protect your rights and defend yourself to the fullest extent of the law.

marijuana DUIIn many cases, people are accused of stalking even though under the definition of the law, they did not commit any acts that would be considered stalking in California.

Definition of Stalking in California

CA.gov features a page on stalking in California. The page has a section on it regarding behaviors that are defined as stalking. These behaviors include the following:

  • Spying – This can include cyberstalking, literally hiding and spying or showing up at an event and keeping watch.
  • Threatening – Making threats that cause the victim fear or apprehension, such as threatening to enter the victim’s home.
  • Monitoring – Keeping track of the victim’s activities by following them online through their social media pages, using a GPS device or questioning the victim’s friends and family about the victim’s activities and whereabouts.
  • Harassing – Making several calls to the victim that are harassing in their frequency or due to their content.

There are several defenses that can be used if you have been accused of stalking. To learn more about what happens if you are accused of stalking in California and what you should do about it, call the Law Office of Louis J. Goodman. Criminal defense lawyer Louis J. Goodman has been successfully protecting the rights of people charged with stalking. Contact our office today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your situation with him.

Please use a designated driver for HalloweenWant to do something really scary for Halloween? How about sitting with your hands cuffed behind your back in the hard plastic seat of a police car?

So if you’re a ghost or goblin who is planning on a few social alcoholic treats for Halloween, or maybe just working up the courage to be seen in public in that costume, best to plan on a designated driver, taxi, Lyft, or Uber to get you home.

My office sees far too many holiday arrests. Plan on not being one of them.

At the Law Office of Louis J. Goodman, we passionately defend the constitutional rights of our clients.

Just because you failed a blood, breath or urine test does not necessarily mean a criminal defense attorney cannot get a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) or Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) charge reduced or even overturned.

How to Challenge DUI and DWI Blood, Breath and Urine Test Results

It is illegal to drive a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher. When police pull drivers over under the suspicion of DUI or DWI, they use chemical tests to check the BAC level in the driver’s saliva, blood, breath or urine. If the results of these tests show that a driver has a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher, then the prosecution will use it as a key piece of evidence to pursue a DUI or DWI conviction. However, if the defense can challenge the accuracy of these tests, then they can sometimes prevent the prosecution from being able to use the results in the case against a DWI or DUI suspect. A few of the ways the defense can challenge a chemical DUI test includes:

  • Failure to warn – In some states, refusing to take a chemical test will result in your driver’s license being suspended. If the police fail to warn you that your license will be suspended if you refuse a chemical test, you may be able to prevent the results of the test from being admitted as evidence. In addition, many states allow you to have a choice as to which chemical test you would prefer to take. If the arresting officers do not offer you a choice about which chemical test you would like to take, it may make the results of the test inadmissible.
  • Improper administration – If the device used to administer the test was faulty or not calibrated properly and you can prove it, you may be able to ensure the results of the test cannot not be admitted as evidence. Similarly, if the technician administering the test does not follow the required steps for administering the test, the results of the test may be inadmissible.

These are just a couple of the defenses that can be used to challenge the results of DUI and DWI blood, breath, saliva and urine tests. For more information about DWI and DUI defenses, contact the Law Office of Louis J. Goodman. Criminal defense attorney Louis J. Goodman has years of experience successfully defending the rights of people charged with DWI, DUI as well as other charges. He is tough, professional and respected. Call now to set up a free consultation to discuss your situation with him.

Although medical marijuana is now legal in California, it’s still illegal to drive under the influence of any drug or alcohol. For alcohol cases, this is usually a simple question. A person is either over the legal limit of a .08, or they’re not. Although a person can be charged when alcohol influences their ability to drive when they’re under a .08 blood alcohol content, this rarely happens.

No legal limit for Marijuana

For marijuana DUI, the line isn’t so bright. The State of California doesn’t have a legal limit for marijuana. They also don’t have a way to test a person’s marijuana levels on the side of the road.

Alcohol is measurable in a person’s breath, so law enforcement can test a person’s alcohol levels using a breathalyzer test. However, marijuana doesn’t appear in the breath, so law enforcement has no way to test your marijuana levels without drawing your blood. For now, a marijuana DUI is hard to detect, and it’s even harder for law enforcement to prove your guilt to the satisfaction of a jury.

Promising New Research

Researchers in California are working on trying to establish a legal limit for driving under the influence of marijuana. To do this, they’re having volunteers smoke marijuana and then use a driving simulator. They’re testing the participants at different strengths of marijuana use and at different intervals between smoking and driving. They’re also having participants take other cognitive tests to determine their ability to think and reason after smoking.

As marijuana use continues to grow, this research becomes more important than ever. Early research shows that drivers aren’t much more likely to be in an accident if they have only moderate levels of marijuana in their system. Ultimately, researchers hope to establish a legal limit for marijuana DUI. They hope that this legal limit, in turn, helps law enforcement create new techniques for detecting drugged driving and fairly enforcing California laws.

We Can Help

If you’re facing a marijuana DUI, the Law Office of Louis J. Goodman can help. Their team of legal professionals has years of experience helping clients navigate California’s complex and changing marijuana and drunk driving laws. If you’re facing any kind of marijuana or drunk driving charge, you should contact our office as soon as possible. The Law Office of Louis J. Goodman can help you protect your rights and defend yourself to the fullest extent of the law.

federal charges for online crimes is a reality. here is an image that depicts a hacker.Many people do not realize that the Internet is a public place and every transaction that takes place has a backlink thread. In many situations communications are transmitted from one state to another or from one nation to another, making any criminal activity committed online a federal offense. In addition, the federal statutes specifically describe certain activity that is unlawful and federal law will be used to prosecute the case. This can be a real problem for those who are accused because federal offenses are much more serious than typical in-state offenses. Sentencing guidelines for federal crimes are very strict and harsher than state sentencing. That is why it is vital for anyone facing federal charges for online offenses to retain an aggressive criminal defense attorney who understands how federal charges are prosecuted.

Pretrial Hearing

When a defendant is arraigned on federal charges for online offenses the judge will assess bond arrangements, just as in a state case. In many instances, the arraignment also becomes the pretrial detention hearing as well, but the criminal defense attorney can request a continuance. This is usually no more than five days. The pretrial hearing will consist of the U.S. Attorney submitting the articles of evidence against the defendant, often with a federal agent present for cross-examination by the criminal defense attorney. This serves the same purpose as discovery in a state case, and it is normally the only chance at questioning an agent for the defending counsel before the actual trial. The actual trial will be scheduled by the judge at the end of the pretrial hearing.

Burden of Proof

The burden of proof in a case for federal charges for online offenses is the same as other cases, as the federal government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the crime was committed. A defendant can also be responsible for paying restitution and damages for any funds that have been stolen by illegal transfer or identity theft, but these cases are proven by a preponderance of the evidence, which is a much lower standard. Even if a defendant does escape a conviction for federal charges for online offenses, the defendant can still be sued for compensatory or punitive damages, depending on the nature of the charges.

Federal defendants should have an attorney when being prosecuted because all federal charges normally carry significant jail time. A convicted defendant must also serve 80% of any federal sentencing term, so it is never a good decision to settle for a public defender. Always choose an experienced federal case attorney like legal professional Louis J. Goodman who understands how to craft a solid defense against the U.S. Justice Department.

Word is that police arrested Tiger Woods for suspected DUI. News reports say that police smelled a strong odor of alcohol. The police say that Mr. Woods refused a chemical test and was “arrogant.” Tiger says he fell asleep because of prescription drugs he took for back pain.

As with most criminal incidents, there is a difference of opinion as to the facts and as to those facts ought to be viewed. I would respectfully note that there were also allegations of drug/alcohol use in the incident a few years ago when Tiger crashed his SUV into a fire hydrant and his then wife came out swinging with a golf club. There was no arrest in that circumstance but it led to a heap of family law trouble. (more…)

Spring break is a time to forget about school and enjoy being with friends and family. That fun can sometimes get a little too wild with you doing things that might end up with you being arrested. Each state has its own regulations about what you can and can’t do at local beaches or in state parks, but for the most part, there are a few common things that people do to get arrested during spring break. (more…)