Understanding Investor Fraud in the Wake of the Theranos InvestigationPublished on April 25, 2018
She was seen as the next Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, but it turns out that Elizabeth Holmes and the $9 billion blood testing startup she founded at the age of 19 were little more than smoke and mirrors. Theranos raised over $700 million from investors eager to cash in on the promise of technology that would revolutionize blood testing. The only hitch was that their blood testing device was unable to perform as well as they hoped. Holmes continued to attract investors with false promises, effectively committing investor fraud.
Fraud charges are serious, and they bring with them harsh penalties. If you or a loved one are facing such charges, contact a Los Angeles fraud attorney or staff member from Spolin Law P.C. at (310) 424-5816 to schedule a free case consultation.
What Will Happen to the Theranos CEO?
Unlike Bernie Madoff or Martin Shkreli, who received criminal sentences for defrauding their investors, Holmes has so far escaped criminal prosecution. This March, she settled a complaint with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which accused her and Theranos of fraud. Neither she nor the company admitted to any wrongdoing. In exchange, Holmes has agreed to:
- Pay a $500,000 fine.
- Not serve as director or officer of a publicly traded company for 10 years
- Return 18.9 million shares of Theranos stock.
- Give up her majority voting control of the company by swapping from Class A to Class B Common shares.
These penalties are not particularly harsh. Theranos is not a publicly-traded company, so Holmes can and will continue to serve as the CEO of the company she founded in 2003. Furthermore, Holmes will avoid costly litigation with defrauded investors, because most of them agreed to not sue her after she offered them shares in Theranos’ new preferred stock.
Holmes Targeted Gullible Investors and Board Members Who Looked Past Technical Details
Few people with a solid science background backed Theranos or served on its board of directors. Instead, Holmes wooed top a-list board members such as former secretaries of state George Schultz and Henry Kissinger with grandiose promises of revolutionizing the blood testing process. Holmes’ strength was in confidently selling the future impact of her device on multiple industry sectors, from health care to defense.
Holmes said her company was able to conduct a complete battery of tests from just one drop of blood, whereas traditional testing would require several vials. But when pressed for technical details, Holmes remained elusive, saying, “a chemistry is performed so that a chemical reaction occurs and generates a signal from the chemical interaction with the sample, which is translated into a result, which is then reviewed by certified laboratory personnel.”
Theranos Will Likely not Survive After Fraud Allegations
Theranos has struggled since a 2015 Wall Street Journal article revealed that its blood testing technology was not performing as well as Holmes claimed. While she and Theranos never admitted to lying about their technological prowess, investors began to panic. Her combative television appearances became increasingly bizarre as more and more evidence of the investor fraud emerged.
Walgreens, Theranos’ partner in a blood testing business, jumped ship, which leaves the company without broad access to customers. The lack of demand prompted Theranos to shut down some of its labs and lay off almost half of its employees. Yet, Theranos is still in business, and Holmes is still its CEO. The firm is now developing a new “mini-lab” blood testing apparatus. But in all likelihood, the taint of Holmes’ monumental fraud will keep Theranos from ever attaining its prophesied status.
Will Holmes Get Charged with a Crime?
Investor fraud may result in civil lawsuits from the victims, criminal prosecution from the government, and civil action from the SEC. So far, Holmes has faced only charges from the SEC, which she promptly settled. She was able to ward off civil lawsuits with investors through a share swap. But it’s hard to believe that the suspected perpetrator of a $700 million fraud will escape criminal charges.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Francisco is investigating Holmes, but has not shared any information with the press. According to former SEC Enforcement Division lawyer and legal head of the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SGTARP), “the fact that the alleged fraud was not just financial but also presented a potential harm to public safety is a further factor that could motivate DOJ to investigate.”
Facing Fraud Charges? Call Spolin Law P.C. for Help
To convict you of investor fraud, a prosecutor must show beyond a reasonable doubt that you knowingly lied to investors with the intent of convincing them to give you money. In these circumstances, the assistance of an experienced Los Angeles fraud attorney from Spolin Law P.C. is essential. If you believe you are under investigation for fraud, now is the time to get legal help.
Elements the Prosecution Must Prove in an Embezzlement CasePublished on April 11, 2018
Although most people have heard of embezzlement, few know exactly what this offense entails. Generally, we think of embezzlement as a sophisticated, white-collar crime that occurs in the higher ranks of government and business. But in reality, just about anyone could commit embezzlement, because, at its core, the crime simply involves fraudulently using or taking someone else’s property after it’s been entrusted to you.
Are you facing charges for embezzlement? If so, call a Los Angeles embezzlement attorney or staff member from Spolin Law P.C. at (310) 424-5816, or reach out through the online form to schedule a free and confidential case consultation.
Prosecutors Must Prove Every Element of Embezzlement Beyond a Reasonable Doubt
The elements of embezzlement are laid out in Section 503 of the California Penal Code. A conviction for embezzlement should only occur if a prosecutor has proven every one of these elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
The property owner entrusted their property to you.
The primary distinction between theft and embezzlement is that, the victim willfully gives the property to the perpetrator in embezzlement. This transfer of the property can happen directly, or through someone intervening. To prove this element, the prosecutor must present evidence that the victim actually owned the property in question, and that they willfully conveyed it to you.
The owner did so because they trusted you.
In addition to showing that the victim gave their property to you, the prosecutor must provide evidence of how this happened. Embezzlement charges only apply to situations where the owner gives you the property because they trusted you. Thus, if the victim gave you the property because of a mistake, embezzlement would not be an appropriate charge.
You fraudulently took or used that property for your own benefit.
This element requires a proof of fraud. You commit fraud when you make a misrepresentation of an important fact to the owner, who then relies on this fact to their detriment – and to your benefit. This misrepresentation may occur through a statement, or an intentional omission of a fact. Furthermore, the prosecutor needs to show that you took or used the property for your personal benefit, even if only for a short period of time.
You intended to deprive the owner of the use of their property.
As with most crimes, a prosecutor must prove that you acted with criminal intent. In the case of embezzlement, the criminal intent is the desire to take someone’s property as your own. This protects people from being convicted after acting unintentionally.
These elements can be satisfied by a vast array of circumstances. Whether you are an entrepreneur, a government employee, an officer in a nonprofit, or a repair person who frequently takes temporary possession of clients’ property, you are in a position to commit embezzlement. Even if you acted unintentionally, the prosecutor may be able to present evidence that you intended to take the property from the victim. Evidence of intent is often circumstantial. If you are heavily in debt, for example, the prosecutor may present this as proof of your intent to take money or valuables from other people.
How a California Embezzlement Defense Attorney Can Help
If you have been charged with embezzlement, or even if you suspect that you are being investigated, you should seek legal counsel immediately. Do not speak with investigators or the alleged victims, even if it’s to deny that you committed any crime. Anything you say can be turned around and used to prove one of the elements of embezzlement.
When you hire a lawyer from Spolin Law P.C., they will act as an intermediary between you and the authorities. Your legal team will analyze the prosecutor’s case and determine the best defense strategy. Depending on the circumstances, there could be several defenses available to you, so do not accept a plea deal before consulting with a lawyer. To speak with a Los Angeles embezzlement attorney or staff member from our firm, contact us today at (310) 424-5816.
Activists Demand Answers About Secretive LAPD Program: What Is Operation LASER?Published on March 28, 2018
An alliance of activist groups is suing the city of Los Angeles because the city has allegedly refused to respond to a public records request. The request concerns Operation LASER, a computer program used to identify criminals and potential criminals as well as areas where crime is likely to occur. Activists groups led by the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition have asked the city to give details on the factors they use to operate LASER.
If you have questions about Operation LASER or are facing criminal charges in the Los Angeles area, contact a criminal defense attorney or staff member from Spolin Law P.C. at (310) 424-5816 to schedule a free case consultation.
How LASER Works
LASER, which is an acronym for Los Angeles Strategic Extraction and Restoration, tells police officers where they can locate both ex-criminals and persons whom they believe will be likely to commit crimes. LASER uses tools such as cell phone trackers and license plate scanners to search for these people, and combines this information with other data and CIA-created technology to pinpoint precise locations.
The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has praised the program for its “predictive policing” abilities, saying it helps reduce the amount of violent crimes committed in the city. Officers claim that Operation LASER has been a tremendous help in diminishing crime in the most dangerous neighborhoods and areas where gang violence is prevalent.
The Problems with LASER
While Operation LASER sounds like a great tool in theory, activist groups aren’t convinced. The fact that the LAPD is reluctant to provide public records on LASER, including the data collected and used to pinpoint criminals, has raised some concerns. They claim the program targets people using secretive tactics, and officers don’t actually inform these people that they are being observed as potential criminals. Peter Bibring, a lawyer for the ACLU, pointed out that once police intensify their observance of you, your chances of being wrongly accused of a crime often increase exponentially.
Groups are concerned about the police choosing to trail ex-criminals as well, saying it’s an unjustified move that keeps people under constant suspicion despite the fact that they have already paid their debt to society.
Another issue surrounding LASER is the data that’s used. What factors does the LAPD consider while pinpointing potential criminals? Groups fear the police are coming by this data in a dishonest manner, using information that is not regulated or made transparent to the public. While officers are encouraged to conduct reviews of their lists every six months, eliminating suspects who haven’t committed crimes in that time, there’s no actual requirement that they do so.
Contact a California Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you are charged with a crime, it’s important that you remember your rights must still be observed. One way you can ensure you are treated fairly is by hiring a criminal defense lawyer. At Spolin Law P.C., we focus on building the best defense for your case, and we scrutinize treatment from the police and the courts to safeguard your rights as a citizen. To speak to one of our lawyers or staff members, contact us today at (310) 424-5816 to schedule a consultation.
Most Common Mistakes to Avoid If You’re Charged with a CrimePublished on March 7, 2018
Being charged with a criminal offense can put you in a difficult situation. Once you are charged, your mind likely goes in a million different directions at once, and you look for anyone who can help you make sense of what is happening. Unfortunately, others may take advantage of your worry and use it against you. It’s important to review some common mistakes to avoid if you’re charged with a crime. By doing so, you can be prepared and protect yourself.
Five Common Mistakes People Make When Charged with a Crime
There are a number of steps you should take after being charged with a crime, and there are a number of mistakes you could potentially make if you find yourself facing criminal charges. These slip-ups include:
- Waiting to hire a lawyer.
People who have been charged with a crime may wait to hire a lawyer until after they have been formally charged with a crime. In reality, you should find an attorney as soon as possible. You can take the time to interview a couple of criminal defense attorneys and find the right one for your case, but be sure to have representation as soon as you can. Having a lawyer on your side ensures your rights are protected throughout your entire case.
- Voluntarily making a statement to the police.
When police officers are investigating a crime and they believe you committed it, they will do what they can to get you to confess. Often this means they’ll act very friendly. They will tell you that they are on your side, and they need your help to catch the “bad guy.” They may tell you that you don’t need a lawyer present because this is just an informal meeting.
It’s important to remember that no matter how kind and understanding they seem, the police are trying to catch you. They want to earn your trust so you’ll talk to them. They’ll carefully go over your verbal and written statements to find any evidence to charge you. Remember that you have a right to remain silent, and you should absolutely exercise that right. Do not say a single thing until your lawyer is present.
- Submitting to tests without express permission or a court order.
The police may ask you to submit to a blood, breath, or DNA test when they first bring detain you. You do not need to agree, unless your lawyer says it’s okay or you are presented with a court order. If the police are asking you to take a test while you are being questioned but they don’t have a warrant, they cannot force you to agree.
- Withholding information from your lawyer.
Your lawyer is on your side. When you don’t tell them the whole story, you are making their job more difficult. If they don’t have all the facts, they are unable to give you the best representation. Even if you’re embarrassed or ashamed, you have to tell them everything. They are not there to judge you, they are there to help you.
- Resisting arrest.
Just because you’re not legally obligated to talk to the police, you aren’t allowed to act however you want. Resisting arrest, yelling, or getting physical with a police officer will only end badly. You could be hit with even more charges, or worse, they can use physical force to bring you in. This could lead to serious injuries.
Talk to a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you have been charged with a crime, you’re likely confused and concerned. Luckily, you can get answers and have some of your concerns addressed when you hire a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer. At Spolin Law P.C., we take the time to answer your questions, explain the process, and give you some ideas of the outcomes you may face. We will also inform you about mistakes to avoid if you’re charged with a crime so that you can protect yourself in the future. Our extensive experience with the criminal justice system gives us the ability to fight for your rights and build the best defense.
Homicides Decrease in Los Angeles, but Violent Crime Rises AgainPublished on February 23, 2018
According to crime statistics compiled by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), property crimes and violent crimes increased during 2017. Yet the number of homicides and instances of gun violence decreased during that period, a development that the LAPD attributes to its computer statistics and community-focused policing strategy.
Known as COMPSTAT, the LAPD’s policing model is supposed to “put police officers back in the business of actually proactively fighting crime rather than just reacting to it,” according to the department’s website. Another cornerstone of this strategy is to hold police managers “directly accountable for combating the crime in their assigned area,” while giving them the autonomy to develop their own, local tactics.
Has a New LAPD Strategy Helped Curb the Murder Rate?
Last year’s six percent decline in the murder rate was welcome news, since the rate was on the rise during 2015 and 2016. But since 2010, murder rates across Los Angeles — and in most other parts of California — have remained generally stable according to research by the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice.
Murder rates in LA began steadily decreasing after the 1990s, when the yearly murder rate could reach past 1,000. The decrease continued until around 2010, when the murder rate stabilized between 200 and 300 yearly victims. The number of murders has remained stable despite many reforms to the California criminal justice system and law enforcement strategies over the last seven years.
Against this backdrop, there were significant local variations in crime rates. Communities of color tended to fare worse — especially when it comes to murders. For example, blacks make up only eight percent of Los Angeles citizens, but accounted for 36 percent of its murder victims in 2017.
According to Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice research fellow Mike Males, these facts show that law and order reforms may not cause significant changes to crime rates. Instead, long-term trends, as well as local or short-term variations, might result from socio-economic factors and the local activities of gangs.
Property Crimes and Violent Crimes Are Still on the Rise Despite New Strategy
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck stated that COMPSTAT, with its “data-driven community-focused strategies, expanding community trust, and relentless follow-up,” was partly responsible for the decrease in shootings and homicides. The LAPD now relies on data to predict where crimes might occur, and focus their resources in those areas.
But if this new policing strategy is succeeding, why have property crimes increased for three years in a row? In 2017, the LAPD recorded 95,495 property crimes – 6,007 more than in 2015. As for violent crime, it’s been increasing for four years now. There were 28,481 incidents of violent crime in 2017, versus 24,596 in 2015. Robberies and aggravated assaults led the increase – although this could be due to efforts by the LAPD to more accurately report these crimes.
Charged with a Crime? Contact a Criminal Defense Lawyer Today
Los Angeles criminal defense attorney Aaron Spolin is a former prosecutor who knows how the criminal justice system works. If you are facing criminal charges, his experience and advocacy can help you get the best outcome possible under your circumstances. Contact Spolin Law P.C. today at (310) 424-5816 for a free consultation about how we might defend your case.
Common Types of Internet FraudPublished on February 9, 2018
Internet fraud is a broad term that encompasses many different offenses, some of which may be prosecuted under either California or federal law. Fundamentally, fraud consists in using deception to get someone else to give you something of value. So any time you use the internet to complete such a scheme, you have committed internet fraud.
Internet fraud is a growing problem in the United States and the state of California. As the amount of business conducted over the internet increases, so does the amount of fraud. The problem reached such proportions that in 2011, the California Attorney General created an “eCrime Unit” dedicated to the investigation and prosecution of internet fraud and other cybercrimes.
If you are being investigated by the eCrime Unit or another law enforcement agency, you need an experienced fraud attorney on your side. Call Spolin Law P.C. today at (310) 424-5816 to find out how we can help you.
Internet Fraud Can Take Many Forms
New fraud schemes are constantly emerging as our technology and habits evolve. Some of the more established forms of internet fraud include:
- Phishing — When you impersonate a company or bank employee over email to get a customer to give up account details, you have committed phishing. Phishing is usually a form of identity theft punishable by fines and/or one to three years behind bars under California Penal Code section 530.5.
- Spam — Most spam is just junk mail. But some messages may contain links to harmful malware that can enable thieves to access your computer. Messages that contain viruses tend to offer free credit report checks, low-interest loans, free dating services, and sweepstakes winnings. When the malware is used to obtain credit card numbers and personal identifying information, this type of fraud is also prosecuted under California Penal Code section 530.5.
- Credit card fraud — Reputable online retailers do not save your data unless you give them your permission. But untrustworthy retail websites may save your credit card number and billing address, and then make charges to your account. Credit card fraud might also be achieved through phishing, such as when a person pretending to be an employee of your credit card company asks for you to confirm your PIN and account number. Credit card fraud may be charged under California Penal Code section 484e, which calls for fines and/or prison terms of between one and three years.
- Hacking — California Penal Code section 502 prohibits many forms of accessing computers and their data without the owner’s permission. Depending on the circumstances, the offense is punishable by fines alone or by up to three years in prison. In many cases, hacking is facilitated by deception. For example, the hacker may obtain passwords through phishing, or may even gain physical access to the target computer. These actions may entail further criminal penalties.
- Non-delivery of merchandise — On auction websites like eBay, you may encounter scams where a seller fails to deliver the product you paid for. Your efforts to contact the seller will fail, and you may be unable to get your money back. Alternatively, you may receive a product of lower value, or a counterfeit item, which is punishable under California Penal Code section 350.
The Penalties for Internet Fraud Under Federal Law Are Harsher
In general, the cost of defending against federal charges — and the potential penalties — are higher than with state charges. Federal laws against internet fraud are different than California laws because in many cases, you do not have to actually complete the fraudulent scheme to be convicted. A mere attempt to commit internet fraud may be sufficient for you to face crippling fines, and the possibility of prison sentences ranging up to 20 years in the most serious cases.
Contact a Los Angeles Internet Fraud Attorney Today
As a former prosecutor, Los Angeles fraud defense attorney Aaron Spolin is well-positioned to help you counter your internet fraud charges. Do not plead guilty to your charges before speaking with a lawyer, as there may be evidence to show that you acted without criminal intent. Call Spolin Law P.C. today at (310) 424-5816 for a free consultation about the possible defenses that may apply to your case.
What Are the Most Common White Collar Crimes?Published on January 31, 2018
White-collar crimes, in general, are non-violent crimes committed with the purpose of achieving financial gain. Although they are non-violent, they can result in serious penalties. If you are being investigated for or charged with a white-collar crime, contact our experienced criminal defense attorneys or staff members at Spolin Law P.C. today. Call us at (310) 424-5816 to find out how we can help you.
Some of the most common white-collar crimes include…
Fraud is essentially committing a deceitful act for money. There are different types of fraud, including:
- Securities fraud — Securities fraud includes insider trading, which is where a person uses confidential information about a brand or company to buy or sell stock in the stock market. Corporations can also commit securities fraud if they knowingly issue false or misleading public statements about the company’s financial health and prospects in order to attract investors.
- Insurance fraud — Insurance fraud is a scheme to collect on an insurance policy. When committing insurance fraud, you may end up committing another crime alongside it. For example, burning down a building for the insurance money would add an arson charge to insurance fraud.
- Business or corporate fraud — Business fraud is different from securities fraud because these businesses aren’t just making false statements; they’re doctoring financial documents as well. Falsified financial statements usually swell profits and hide losses, and they can be used to hide illegal transactions as well. Business fraud can also be used to describe illegal kickbacks to executives or misuse of company funds or property.
- Ponzi Schemes — By now, most people are familiar with Bernie Madoff, the executive who orchestrated the largest Ponzi scheme in history. A Ponzi scheme is spearheaded by a fake enterprise used to attract investors. The business promises to pay their investors back with funds the business earns. In reality, it does pay back some early investors, using the money collected from newer investors. Mr. Madoff spent nearly 20 years relieving thousands of people of tens of billions of dollars.
Embezzlement is taking money from a person or company where you are employed. Employees figure out a way to tap into the company’s funds and direct some of that money to their own bank accounts.
Embezzlement is also a white-collar crime often committed by politicians. It seems like every election the public hears of those in political offices using campaign funds to pay for their own personal expenses like mortgage payments or gifts for their spouses.
Tax evasion, or avoiding paying taxes owed, can be accomplished in a number of ways. Sometimes a company falsifies their tax returns, or they hide property or assets to make it look like they have less taxable obligations. Sometimes, they simply decide not to pay any taxes owed.
Money laundering takes money earned from a disreputable source and makes it look like it has a legitimate background. Chances are you’re already committed a crime by acquiring “dirty money” in the first place. Laundering money helps people avoid paying taxes or facing criminal prosecution for the funds.
How a White Collar Crimes Lawyer Can Help
White-collar crimes don’t typically end in bloodshed, but the court does not see them as victimless crimes. On the contrary, because these crimes have the ability to take an entire business down, causing hard-working employees to lose their jobs and pensions, they are taken very seriously. If you’re facing charges for a white-collar crime, it may be in your best interest to get help from a criminal defense lawyer. The attorneys at Spolin Law P.C. have extensive experience representing people who have been hit with criminal charges. We give your case undivided attention and fight for your best possible outcome.
Understanding California’s Three Strikes LawPublished on January 17, 2018
California’s Three Strikes Law was introduced in 1994 as a way of dealing with certain repeat felony offenders. The state’s criminal justice system considers repeat offenders to be challenging to deal with, since they can be difficult to reform. The Three Strikes Law significantly extends prison terms with the idea that offenders will work to modify their behavior to avoid spending so much time behind bars.
“Strikers,” as these offenders are known, are also taken off the streets for a longer period of time, which puts citizens at ease.
The California Three Strikes law only applies to certain offenders, but it can be significantly higher penalties. If you’ve been charged with a crime and are concerned about getting a strike, contact Spolin Law P.C. today at (310) 424-5816.
Composition of the Three Strikes Law
The Three Strikes Law is so named because its core regulation puts three-time offenders already convicted of multiple serious felonies in prison for a minimum of 25 years to life. Not every felony has to be serious; for example, if you were convicted previously of a serious and a non-serious felony, and you’re sentenced for a third, serious felony, your prison term may still be dictated by the Three Strikes Law.
But there’s more to the law than just “three strikes and you’re out.” Other important factors to keep in mind include:
- “Two Strikes.” If you have previously been convicted of a serious felony offense, and you are sentenced for a second felony (whether serious or not), your sentence may be twice as long as the legal timeframe for the new conviction.
- Consecutive sentences required. The law requires that sentences for multiple felony offenses run consecutively, instead of concurrently. The number of felony convictions that can be added to a consecutive sentence is limitless.
- Time period between felonies not considered. It doesn’t matter if your previous felony conviction is a year old or 25 years old. The amount of time that has passed in between felony convictions is not taken into consideration.
- No probation, no suspension. You will not be eligible for probation, nor will you be able to receive a suspended sentence.
- A limit on credits. Anyone serving under the Three Strikes Law may only reduce their time in prison by one-fifth through work or education credits, whereas other prisoners may reduce time by up to one-half.
- Proposition 36. In 2012, California voters amended the Three Strikes Law in two ways. (1) The third strike must be a violent or serious felony (previously, offenders could be sentenced under the law even if their new felony was not serious). (2) Strikers could petition to have their sentence downgraded to Two Strikes if they qualify under the amendment.
What Is Considered a “Serious Felony”?
It’s important to understand what is considered a violent or serious felony offense, since these felonies affect strikers. Examples of these offenses include:
- Violent Felony Offenses — Murder, robbery, rape, other types of violent sexual assault.
- Serious Felony Offense — Serious felonies include all the same offenses under violent felonies, but also include a whole host of other crimes, such as assault with the intent to commit robbery or attempted murder.
Contact a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer
Even with the amendments, the Three Strikes Law can spell serious trouble for anyone who is facing multiple felony charges. If you are in need of help with your felony charges, you should contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys or staff members at Spolin Law P.C.. Our team of highly qualified attorneys work hard to provide the best defense for our clients. Contact us today at (310) 424-5816.
Spolin Law P.C. Gets Two Cases Dismissed in One Day for ClientPublished on December 20, 2017
Earlier today Spolin Law P.C. secured the dismissals of two separate cases in Van Nuys Courthouse.
The client had been charged with two drug-related crimes in 2014. At that time she had pled guilty on both cases, was granted probation, and had agreed to come back to court regularly for court-ordered updates. However, she then left the state of California without the court’s permission, seeking a better life for herself in Nevada. Because she had left California and did not show up in court on her check-in dates, the court had ordered a bench warrant for her arrest. A bench warrant is a warrant seeking a person’s arrest due to a failure to come to court.
Since that time — and despite the warrants — the client had rebuilt her life in Nevada. She opened a successful business and started a halfway house to help others recovering from drug addiction. She had turned her life around; nonetheless, she still worried about the open warrants.
The client hired Spolin Law P.C. to represent her on these cases. While the client remained in Nevada, attorney Aaron Spolin represented her in Van Nuys Superior Court. Mr. Spolin presented to the judge a number of documents showing the client’s successful rehabilitation and argued for the judge to not only remove the warrants but also to dismiss the two underlying cases. This client had proven that she overcame her addiction and deserved the chance to start over with a clean criminal record.
After considering the documents presented and hearing the arguments, the judge granted Mr. Spolin’s request. He “quashed” the warrants and dismissed both cases. Under the law used for the dismissals, the former convictions will now be completely removed from the client’s record. As Penal Code section 1210.1(e)(1) states: “the arrest and the conviction shall be deemed never to have occurred.”
The client, who remained outside of California throughout Spolin Law P.C.’s representation, is now free of these former convictions and associated bench warrants.
Benjamin Carew-Gonzales Wins 2017 Spolin Law P.C. ScholarshipPublished on October 31, 2017
Benjamin Carew-Gonzales has won the 2017 Spolin Law P.C. Civil Rights and Criminal Law Scholarship. Mr. Carew-Gonzales is a student at Austin Community College in Austin, Texas. As a result of his selection, Spolin Law P.C. will pay $1,000 towards his college tuition and fees.
Mr. Carew-Gonzales was selected based on his essay, academic achievement, and personal background of continuing his family’s commitment to service. Mr. Carew-Gonzales is an example of the type of person whose personal goals involve the protection of others. As he notes in his essay, one of Mr. Carew-Gonzales’s earliest memories was that of his father instructing him to “defend those who cannot defend themselves, speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.”
Four other students were selected as honorable mentions in recognition of their outstanding essays and personal achievements. Below is a list of all those recognized in this year’s scholarship season:
- Winner: Benjamin Carew-Gonzales (Austin Community College; Austin, Texas)
- Honorable Mention: Courtney Smith (Augustana College; Rock Island, Illinois)
- Honorable Mention: Jeremiah Taylor (Louisiana Tech University; Ruston, Louisiana)
- Honorable Mention: Stefan Pinkston (University of Scranton; Scranton, Pennsylvania)
- Honorable Mention: Amber Banks (Alabama A&M University; Huntsville, Alabama)
Spolin Law P.C. would like to thank everyone who applied this season. For those interested in applying for next year’s scholarship, the application deadline is October 1, 2018.
Mr. Carew-Gonzales’s winning essay submission is posted below:
The Constitution means me everything to me and my family. I will give a little background to my family life and then you will see how things have shaped my life.
I guess I should start from the beginning. I was born and raised in a small affluent town in the inner city of San Antonio where my family was far from affluent. I come from a family that values an education and effort put forth to be greater than any expectations set. My grandfather barely completed the second grade, while his wife, my grandmother started over with nothing after her family was run out of Mexico by Emiliano Zapata in the early 1900’s and was forced to work in the fields as a little girl. My mother’s parents barely completed high school. These figures in my parent’s life influenced them to at all costs graduate with a college degree. They did. They didn’t stop there, they understood the value of an education so well they planned for the future by buying a small two bedroom one bath house in Alamo Heights School District so that my brother and I would be prepared for college when the time came. Following the purchase of a house, my parents applied for the drawing of the Spanish Immersion Program at Alamo Heights Elementary School. Luckily, we were selected. This monumental moment in my life has bettered my education and life experience by giving me the ability to speak another language fluently and communicate with a wide variety of people, as well the ability to immerse myself in another heritage and culture.
My parents instilled the mindset of hard work and determination into my life at a very young age. To be myself and not to be afraid to go against the crowd if I know that’s what is right. That perseverance, knowledge, and a little bit of sweat can go a long way. To respect my elders and always reply with yes/no ma’am, yes/no sir no matter the situation. To hold my ground and not only defend myself, but also protect those who cannot protect themselves. To love and be loved and not to be afraid to show your emotions at times. Tell the truth no matter the circumstance and before bed each night thank God for the opportunity and blessing of another day.
One of my first memories was my father telling me “You’re going to be a leader of men someday, defend those who cannot defend themselves, speak for those who cannot speak for themselves, and be a person that others will turn to for guidance and direction” being so young it was hard to comprehend, but it is something that has shaped me into the man I am today. Throughout my years my father’s words have rung true. I have led a diverse group of men and women, from the football field on Friday night to 6AM ROTC land navigation and PT (Physical Training) in college. Then this past summer where I worked at a Christian summer camp (Laity Lodge Youth Camp) and led a large group of men, women, and children in high ropes activities, as well as worship where I encouraged these individuals to go outside their comfort zones and become vulnerable to trust. My second language of Spanish has also only helped me with that leadership and ability to communicate and help those who cannot communicate with others.
With all of this being said you can start to get the idea that my family was very grateful to come to the United States back in early 1900’s and to start over. My grandparents as well as my parents have always instilled what it means to be proud to be an American and what the Constitution allows every American the basic freedoms. We respect the Constitution, the American flag and our Country.
My family also has a sense of duty to preserve our Constitution and defend it. My father served our country in the United States Army for 8 years. I have enrolled into ROTC to follow in my father’s footsteps. My younger brother just enlisted into the Marine Corp and will ship out at the end of the year. We take pride in our Constitution and what it means to live in a country where we are free.
With this past weekend’s events with the President and the NFL controversy just shows that our country’s Constitution allows for freedom of expression. It does not matter your political views or if you see the protest as right or wrong – it just shows that we as Americans have the privilege to express our views freely. For this we all should be grateful for our Constitution.
Our founding fathers had amazing insight to allow us to live protected with certain fundamental rights. When I think of the Constitution I think of the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial branches. These branches mean that there will be laws to protect our citizens. The checks and balances mean that no one person will take over the county. The Constitution along with the Bill of Rights protect us in many ways that most do not truly appreciate.
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