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  • Juvenile

    • My Child Has Been Taken Into Custody. What Can He/She Be Charged With?

      Depending on the seriousness of the charged offense, the prosecutor can file either misdemeanor or felony charges. If a minor is convicted of a misdemeanor, he will be placed on probation, detained in a juvenile facility, such as a boot camp or a ranch, ordered to pay a fine or a combination of these punishments. If the minor is convicted of an infraction, such as a motor vehicle violation, he or she will usually be punished with a fine.

      However, the minor will face much more severe consequences if he is convicted of a felony. The court may sentence to incarceration in a state institution, such as the Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), which is the equivalent to a state prison sentence for adults. In addition to or in the alternative, the court may order house arrest (electronic monitoring), commitment in a youth center, probation, parole or undergoing treatment programs.

      There are rules and procedures that are unique to the California Juvenile Court and, therefore, make it very different from adult criminal court. For instance, juveniles are not entitled to jury trials (the theory being that, since juveniles are being rehabilitated rather than punished, they are not entitled to all protections otherwise afforded adult criminals). Juveniles also have no right to bail.

    • If My Child Is Convicted, Will The Conviction Remain On His Criminal Record?

      If you hire us, we will try to get your child’s case deviated out of the criminal justice system through deferred entry of judgement or to seek informal probation with dismissal or a dismissal after formal probation. If we can secure these as conviction/sentencing options, the offense will not go on his or her criminal record. If a plea of no contest or conviction occurs in a case, the record can be sealed after the juvenile’s 18th or 21st birthday.

    • What Kind Of Punishment Will My Child Received If She Or He Is Convicted?

      Generally, punishments fall into four different categories. First, your child may be sent home on probation. Second, the juvenile may be sent to a placement facility within the community, such as a boys’ or girls’ home. Third, the juvenile may be sent to a camp facility. The camp may be a short-term camp and last as little as four months or as long as 12 months. Finally, your child may be sent to DJJ, which is a juvenile version of an adult state penitentiary.

    • Should I Hire A Torrance Juvenile Attorney For My Child?


      The right counsel can help you avoid pitfalls that may arise in the case, such as the juvenile court’s determination that the case is serious enough (i.e., felony) to justify your child being charged and tried as an adult. If your child is tried as an adult, his or her case is moved to adult criminal court, and if convicted, may go to prison with adult offenders.

      The defense lawyers at Ernenwein & Mathes, LLP, have handled over 1,000 juvenile cases over the course of their combined 60 years of experience. We will make every possible effort to allow your child to remain in juvenile court. We can attend your child’s fitness hearing, where the court makes the decision regarding whether to try your child as an adult or a juvenile. Psychiatric reports, probation reports and legal arguments can be arranged to help convince the juvenile court to retain its jurisdiction over the minor.

      As Robert Ernenwein is a former Los Angeles deputy district attorney, the lawyers at Ernenwein & Mathes, LLP, know the criminal process inside out, giving them a distinct edge when they represent you in court. They are well-respected and well-known by Los Angeles prosecutors and judges.

      If your child has been charged in a criminal case, contact Ernenwein & Mathes, LLP, Los Angeles and Orange County criminal defense lawyers today at (310) 361-3068 for a free case review.

  • Vehicular Manslaughter

    • When An Accident Leads To Vehicular Manslaughter In California

      Car accidents happen on a daily basis in California. There are small fender benders and serious accidents that lead to death. While the possibility of an accident is not something you tend to focus on regularly, things can quickly change. If you were at fault in a car crash that led to someone’s death, you could be facing some severe charges. In fact, you might be accused of vehicular manslaughter.

      Vehicular manslaughter can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony offense. The prosecution will look at whether you were engaging in negligent actions at the time of the deadly crash. If you were drunk when the accident took place, you could be charged with vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, which falls under California Penal Code 191.5(b).

    • If You Were Drunk When The Fatal Crash Occurred

      For the prosecution to successfully convict you of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, they will have to prove that you were in fact driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. They will also need to show that you were driving in a negligent manner, which led to the other person’s death.

      What you need to understand is that if you were drunk when the accident happened, the prosecution will likely charge you with vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, even if you believe the crash was unavoidable or you were not at fault. The assumption is that since you were drunk, you are the one to blame.

    • If You Were Not Drunk When The Fatal Crash Occurred
      Even if you were not drunk when the accident took place, you could still be charged with vehicular manslaughter. The prosecution will need to show that you committed an unlawful act while driving and were grossly negligent. For example, if you were speeding or driving recklessly, it could be considered an unlawful act. Gross negligence could come into play, too, which basically means you disregarded the safety of others.
  • DUI

    • My license was taken from me and I have been given a temporary license. What do I need to do?

      Most importantly, you need to request a hearing within the first 10 days. If you do not request a hearing within this period you will lose your right to a hearing. Your lawyer can request the hearing for you. Your lawyer will obtain all the necessary documents to review your case and to advise you. Most importantly, your lawyer will represent you at the DMV hearing.

    • What happens at my DMV hearing?

      A hearing officer will receive evidence, including reports from the arresting officer, and decide what, if any, action to take. In most cases, the hearing officer will not take live testimony but will instead rely on the written reports of the officer to reach a decision. Generally, before the hearing officer can suspend a license, there must be sufficient evidence that you were driving, that you were lawfully arrested and that your blood alcohol level exceeded .08%. If there was a refusal of a chemical test or prior offenses, these issues will also be addressed at the hearing.

    • What defenses might I have at my DMV hearing?

      A careful review of the reports submitted by the police must be completed by your lawyer. If there are omissions, errors or inconsistencies in the report, this might be enough to persuade the hearing officer to not take action. Another common defense at the DMV is contesting the reason for the stop of the car. For example, arguing or presenting evidence that there was no violation of law that lead the police to stop the car. In cases where the police did not see driving such as traffic collisions or where a car is simply parked it can be argued that there is insufficient evidence of driving. Another good area for attack is the breath or blood result. In breath test cases, police must comply with a variety of technical laws including a “15-minute observation period.” The officer conducting the testing must be certified and the device must be properly calibrated. With blood testing, there must be certified documents received from the crime lab that all must be in order. Non-compliance with proper procedure is a ripe area for defense at the DMV hearing. Another very common defense at DMV hearings is the “Rising Blood Alcohol Defense” wherein it is argued that the true blood alcohol level at the time of driving was actually below .08% even if a later test registered above. At our firm, we often employ an expert witness to testify to the lack of sufficient evidence of blood alcohol level above .08% at the time of driving.

    • If I lose the DMV hearing, can I obtain a restricted license so I can keep working?

      In most cases, a person will be eligible for a restricted license at some point if the DMV rules against them at the DMV hearing. Generally, in order to obtain the restricted license the person must enroll in an alcohol education class, provide proof of insurance and pay a fee in order to obtain the license. In first offense cases, a person is generally able to get a restriction after 30 days. If a person has prior convictions there is a longer waiting period.

    • I have been given a citation to appear in court. What is going to happen in court?

      The date on your citation is your arraignment date. Generally, your attorney can appear on your behalf at the arraignment. Your attorney will retrieve the reports and continue the case and then meet with you quietly in the office to review plan a strategy for your case. In most cases, your attorney can make all the necessary court appearances for you. Your lawyer will meet with you and review all the reports and go over options and develop a strategy to defend your case. Your attorney will meet with the prosecutor at later dates and negotiate a settlement for you. In certain cases, and only if you think it is in your best interest, the case will proceed to a jury trial. The more prepared and experienced your lawyer, the better result.

    • What defenses might be available to me in my court case?

      There are a wide variety of defenses available to one charged with DUI. They include the following.

      • Insufficient evidence of “driving” or a lack of a good reason for the police to stop your car.
      • Age, obesity or physical problems that explain difficulties on the field sobriety tests.
      • An attack on the breath test or blood test that may include an argument that there was an insufficient “15-minute observation period,” that the person belched or had gastrointestinal reflux disorder causing the instrument to read high or that the accepted rate of error of +/- 10% on the breath and =/- 5% on the blood testing shows a BAC close to or below .08%. In blood cases, we often recommend an independent testing of the blood. Often our results are less than that found by the crime lab.
    • What happens if I am convicted of DUI?

      In most cases, a first offense conviction will NOT result in jail time. Don’t let anyone use scare tactics to tell you differently. A fine, an alcohol program and possibly attendance at a Mothers Against Drunk Driving are common penalties. Importantly, if you are convicted in California it will be mandatory through the DMV that you install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle for a minimum of 90 days. If you refused to take a test, were involved in an accident or have prior offenses there are more severe penalties.

    • What are common plea bargains/reduced charges that are reached in DUI cases?

      There are four common charges that are reductions from DUI related charges (23152(a) and (b)).

      23103 pursuant to 23103.5

      This reduction is commonly referred to as a “wet reckless”. The penalty is commonly an alcohol awareness class and a fine. The benefit of this reduction is that the DUI counts are dismissed. Another benefit, in LA County cases is that the DMV will NOT require an Ignition Interlock Device (IID). It is important to know, however, that this charge will count as a “prior” if a person is arrested for another DUI within 10 years.


      This reduction is commonly referred to as a “dry reckless”. The penalty is commonly an alcohol awareness class and a fine. The benefit of this reduction is that the DUI counts are dismissed. Another benefit, in LA County cases is that the DMV will NOT require an Ignition Interlock Device (IID). This charge CANNOT be alleged as a “prior offense” should you be arrested again for DUI.


      This reduction is commonly referred to as “speed exhibition”. The penalty is commonly a fine only. Another benefit, in LA County cases is that the DMV will NOT require an Ignition Interlock Device (IID). This charge CANNOT be alleged as a “prior” offense should you be arrested again for DUI.

      “Two Movers”

      Just like it sounds, this reduction involves a plea to two traffic infractions. The penalty is commonly a fine only. No ID and the convictions cannot be alleged as a prior offense.

    • Should I hire a California DUI lawyer?

      The decision to retain an attorney is an individual one. If you cannot afford an attorney you can ask the court to appoint a public defender. Abraham Lincoln is quoted as saying: “He who represents himself has a fool for a client.” Being arrested for DUI is serious. There are potential license consequences and court penalties that should be addressed carefully by a professional.

  • Sex Crimes

    • Which Sex Crimes Are Felonies in California?

      Start with the assumption that most sex crimes are felonies in California. However, some offenses that may be misdemeanors in some circumstances include molestation of a child; lewd acts in public; indecent exposure; soliciting a prostitute; prostitution; soliciting a minor; and sexual intercourse with a minor who is less than three years younger or older than the perpetrator.

    • What Crimes Require Sex Offender Registration in California?

      The short answer to this question is: Conviction for most sex crimes in California triggers a requirement of sex offender registration. For a more detailed answer relevant to charges or allegations against you, consult with a defense attorney as soon as possible.

    • How Long Do Sex Offenders Have to Register in California?

      Since January 1, 2021, California has had a three-tiered system for determining how long a sex offender must register, as follows:

      • Tier 1: At least 10 years’ registration for offenders convicted of the lowest level sex crimes such as indecent exposure
      • Tier 2: At least 20 years’ registration for offenders convicted of mid-level sex crimes, including nonforced sodomy with a minor under age 14
      • Tier 3: Lifetime registration for offenders convicted of the most serious sex offenses including rape
    • Can Sex Crimes Be Expunged in California?

      Some sex crime convictions in California may be expunged under certain criteria, but sex crimes involving children – even misdemeanors – can never be expunged in this state.

  • Weapons

    • I’m being charged with personal use of a weapon. I never once fired it.
      It’s not very hard to violate weapons statutes and laws in California. For example, state law defines “personal use” of a deadly weapon or firearm as intentionally displaying a weapon or firearm in a “menacing” manner, hitting someone with the weapon or firing it. Therefore, even if you intended just to scare someone with a firearm, even if it was a toy or imitation gun, you may still be charged with a crime. You can also be charged with assault with a deadly weapon.
    • How does the presence of a firearm in a crime enhance the penalty for it?

      The problem with the use of a firearm in the commission of a crime is that it raises the seriousness of the offense. For example, if you discharged a firearm from a vehicle, intending to kill a person outside of that vehicle, special circumstances will attach to your case by virtue of the gun use. Special circumstances can result in harsher penalties, such as the death penalty or life without the possibility of parole.

    • I was pulled over and the police found a baseball bat in my car. Why am I being charged with possession of a weapon?

      You can be charged with carrying a weapon even if it was designed for uses other than violence.

      To be convicted on a weapons possession charge, however, a defendant must know that the object is a weapon. If the alleged weapon is capable of innocent uses (in other words, the object is not a weapon “per se” or “on its face”), the prosecution must prove you possessed it “as a weapon.” In those cases, the prosecution may try to use the location of the alleged weapon (in your car, beneath the driver’s seat, on the front passenger seat, glove box, other places where it was easily reachable) to show that you possessed it to be used as a weapon. The prosecution may also show whether the object was changed from its standard form or introduce any other evidence that the object would be used for a dangerous purpose rather than a harmless one.

      Ernenwein & Mathes, LLP, continues to successfully represent defendants against weapons-related charges, including possession, shooting a firearm, personal use, firearm enhancements, assault with a deadly weapon, and cases where special circumstances apply due to the use of a weapon or firearm.

    • Do I need a Torrance gun charges attorney attorney?

      Yes! Firearms and weapons laws in California are among the most complicated laws in the state. If you have been accused of a firearm crime, you need a criminal defense attorney who is highly knowledgeable in the field of firearm and weapons law. This knowledge and experience can be essential in forming a defense in your case.

      For instance, under California Penal Code section 12301(j), a person who “reasonably believes” that his or her property is in immediate danger is permitted to carry a loaded firearm. Also, under Penal Code section 12301(l), any person is permitted to carry a loaded firearm at their place of residence, which includes “any temporary residence.” You are also generally permitted to carry a firearm from a gun shop or to and from a gun range.

      There are several other important exceptions to the firearms laws in California, and if you have been charged under these laws, it is always in your best interest to consult an experienced attorney about your rights. At Ernenwein & Mathes, LLP, your first consultation with an attorney is always free.

    • Can you help me fight these charges?
      Absolutely! Considering the severity of the penalties, which include imprisonment, substantial fines and community service, we urge you to contact us and make an appointment immediately.
  • Arson

    • Can I be found guilty of felony arson in California if I accidentally set fire to my own house?

      In California, you may be considered guilty of felony arson if you deliberately set fire to your own home to defraud an insurance company, or if the fire injured another person or their property.

    • What must a California prosecutor show to prove that I am guilty of felony arson?

      If you have been charged with felony arson, prosecutors may try to prove that the fire was not naturally caused and that you set it. If you are charged with felony arson, do not make a possibly incriminating statement to the police; call a lawyer immediately.

    • What are some common defenses to a felony arson charge?

      Torrance criminal defense lawyers use three common defenses against arson charges, including wrongful identification, insufficient direct evidence and proving that the fire was caused accidentally rather than deliberately.

    • Is an arson charge the same as unlawfully causing a fire?

      Defined by California Penal Code 452, “unlawfully causing a fire” is a less serious charge than felony arson and involves reckless rather than deliberate action.

    • What are the penalties for felony arson in California?

      The penalties for felony arson in California can range from two to nine years, although certain factors can add to the penalty, including:

      • Whether the fire injured anyone, including building inhabitants or firefighters
      • Whether the fire affected the defendant’s personal property or the property of others
      • Whether the fire affected one or multiple buildings and whether any of those buildings were inhabited
      • Whether the defendant has an arson violation on their record
  • Criminal Defense

    • What Is the Price of a SoCal Criminal Defense Attorney?

      The cost of hiring a criminal defense lawyer in Southern California will vary based on the severity of your charge, including:

      • Whether it is classified as a misdemeanor or felony
      • What your existing criminal record looks like
      • The location of the attorney’s law firm
      • The knowledge and experience that they have

      Therefore, it is critical to discuss the potential costs associated with your case, including legal fees, while consulting with your potential criminal defense lawyer.

    • After a California Arrest, Can I Speak With the Police?
      After being arrested in California, it is extremely important to remain silent and insist with law enforcement that you will not speak until you have consulted with a lawyer. If the police insist that you must speak without a lawyer present, then this is a breach of your rights. It’s important to keep in mind that anything you say to the police can be used against you later in court as evidence.
    • What Are the Penalties for a California DUI?
      In California, the potential penalties associated with your DUI charges will vary depending on the severity of the DUI and whether you have a history of DUIs on your criminal record. A first-time DUI offense can result in time in jail of up to 6 months and a maximum fine of $1,000. In comparison, committing 4 or more DUIs can lead to up to 3 years in prison and a maximum fine of $1,000. Additionally, your license can be suspended for a range of a few months to 5 years.
    • Can a Juvenile Face Jail Time for Assault in California?
      The penalties for assault charges in California are different for juveniles than for adults in the state. If convicted of assault charges, a juvenile in California can face jail time. For simple assault, a California juvenile can spend up to a maximum of 6 months in a juvenile detention center or jail, and they may have to pay up to $1,000 dollars in fines. A criminal lawyer can help you understand the potential jail time that a juvenile may be facing based on their criminal charges.
    • When Should I Hire a California Criminal Defense Attorney?
      As a general rule, if you are facing criminal charges in California, it is advised to hire a criminal defense attorney as soon as you are aware of the charges. Criminal charges, if convicted, can result in severe, life-altering consequences, such as prison time, large fines, a criminal record, and even a tarnished reputation. Therefore, criminal allegations should be handled promptly. The more time that your lawyer has to understand your case and prepare your negotiations and defense, the better your chances are of having an optimal case outcome.