Juvenile Crimes & Court Proceedings In The North Bay

Under California law when a person under the age of 18 is alleged to have committed a crime, the judicial process under which the child is prosecuted, called a delinquency proceeding, is a civil action rather than a criminal matter.

During these proceedings, the juvenile may be found unfit for juvenile court proceedings, in which case, the juvenile will be transferred to adult criminal court.

This is mandatory where the juvenile has been charged with murder with special circumstances and for certain sex offenses and the juvenile is at least 14 years old. For other crimes it is up to the juvenile court to decide whether the juvenile case is transferred to adult criminal court.

The factors the court will consider include the gravity of the offense charged, the criminal sophistication of the crime, and the juvenile’s previous delinquent history. If the case is transferred to adult court, the juvenile is subject to the law in the same manner as an adult.

Sometimes charges against a juvenile are prosecuted directly in adult court. This is called a “direct filing” and the juvenile courts tend to rubber stamp these filings. It is an unfortunate fact that the justice system is treating more and more juveniles as adults and punishing these children as adults despite the overwhelming evidence that a teenager’s brain is not yet fully developed.

Because teenagers do not have adult developed brains and maturity they take stupid risks, are often very impulsive, and are unable to anticipate the consequences of their actions. As younger and younger children are prosecuted in adult court, it is important to remember that anyone who is charged with a crime must have a criminal mental state.

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There are many laws and cases that question whether a child has the ability to form criminal intent at all. A qualified juvenile justice attorney can make a determination about the minor’s abilities to understand the process and ability to form criminal intent in anticipation of the defense of a juvenile in adult court.

If the juvenile remains subject to the juvenile court’s jurisdiction, the juvenile is not considered a criminal in the traditional sense because rehabilitation and not punishment is the main objective of the Juvenile justice system.

Therefore the juvenile does not have some of the same due process rights afforded to an adult charged with a crime. For example, the juvenile does not have the right to a jury trial or to bail. However, the juvenile does have the right to be represented by an attorney, the right to cross-examine witnesses, and the right to assert the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination.

In a delinquency proceeding, the court determines whether the facts as charged against the juvenile are true. This is called a jurisdiction hearing. The standard of proof is, as it is in a criminal trial, “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

However, unlike an adult criminal trial, the juvenile proceedings are not designed to ascertain the guilt or innocence of the juvenile, but rather if the facts are found to be true to preserve and promote the welfare of the child, to provide care, treatment, and guidance to the child and to promote public safety.

The juvenile proceedings are intended to treat the juvenile crime as a sociological problem with a mandate to ensure wrap around resources and services for the juvenile and sometimes to the juvenile’s family too.  That is because the Juvenile justice system is dedicated to the juvenile’s rehabilitation rather than punishment. That does not mean the juvenile won’t be punished if the court finds the allegations against the juvenile are true. Depending upon the severity of the offense and the juvenile’s prior delinquent history, the court may subject the juvenile to probation, detention, incarceration, treatment, community supervision, mandate community service or a combination of many of the above.

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Parents are often surprised to discover that they can be held legally responsible for delinquent acts of their child in cases where the evidence establishes that the parent failed to provide reasonable supervision and control over their child.

If a parent “causes or tends to cause or encourage” his or her child’s delinquency (or any juvenile’s delinquency for that matter), the parent can be charged with a misdemeanor under Penal Code section 272. For example, let’s say a dad decides to have a few beers with his 16 year old son and then gives him the keys to the family car. The son then causes a collision and is also charged with driving under the influence. The father, under these circumstances, would be criminally liable for his son’s acts.

An experienced juvenile justice attorney understands the ins and outs, with all its particular intricacies, of juvenile law. Here at Fiumara & Milligan Law, PC we have successfully defended many juveniles both in front of the juvenile court and in adult court. WE are well acquainted with all of the ancillary services, resources and programs offered to juvenile offenders making a quick and effective resolution possible.  WE also take very seriously the expungement process so that the juvenile’s record gets “sealed,” once he or she successfully completes probation.  WE also have successfully gotten many of our juvenile clients into the Deferred Entry of judgment (DEOJ) program so that after they successfully complete their probationary period their records are expunged and sealed automatically without the assistance or cost of an attorney.

Our first approach is to always argue that the child should remain in the juvenile court’s jurisdiction rather than in the adult criminal court. While that is not always possible, especially when the child is charged with a serious crime, we understand the particular needs of the juvenile client and work diligently to preserve his or her future. Finding alternatives to juvenile incarceration through the community detention program and various other electronic monitoring options give the youthful offender an opportunity to prove to the Court that they are worthy of a second chance.  Just as important, Fiumara & Milligan Law, PC has worked closely with the agencies and resources that help juvenile offenders succeed while on probation such as Social Advocates for Youth, SAY, Restorative Justice, the Esperanza Program, the Tattoo Removal Program,  and various after school and apprentice/ training programs through-out the greater North Bay Area.

Contact us at any time at 707-571-8600 OR 415-492-4507 to set up a confidential consultation without charge.

We will work with you and your family to provide a fee structure that best suits your circumstances.

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“The Right Attorney Makes All the Difference”

Click here to be taken to our Juvenile Crimes page to read more info on how we can help you and your Juvenile law case.

Challenging a Breath Test & A ‘Driving Under the Influence’ Charge in The North Bay, Santa Rosa, San Rafael, Sonoma, Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Cotati, Windsor, Guerneville, Graton, Corte Madera, Novato

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1) Inadequate or broken observation period:   In order to properly read your BAC by a breath test, the testing officer must observe you continuously for at least 15 minutes before taking a sample. If you belch, vomit, or regurgitate gas in your mouth before the test, your BAC may read inaccurately high. If the officer has not observed you continuously for 15 minutes prior to measuring your BAC, it will be impossible for him to say that you did contaminate your own breath test.

2) Something in your mouth causes an inaccurate reading:  Common items such as cough drops, breath-mints, or chewing tobacco may remain in your mouth when a breath test is administered and can contaminate the results.

3) Your own personal medical history: If diagnosed prior to your arrest for DUI, several medical  conditions, such as gastric reflux disease, intestinal problems, diabetes, and respiratory problems, can be used to show the likelihood of an inaccurate BAC reading from a breath test.

4) Your own personal dental and hygiene history:  Gum disease, gingivitis, and pockets around the roots of your teeth, as well as dentures or bridgework may trap alcohol in your mouth and contaminate a breath sample.

5) Your behavior or actions do not match test results:  If there are eye-witnesses, video tape, body or CAM camera footage,  observations by officers that suggest you were not intoxicated, it may be possible to challenge the readings from a breath test.

6) Rising blood alcohol level. If your first breath sample registers slightly over the legal limit, and a second sample taken later is higher, it is clear your BAC is rising. If this is the case it may be possible to argue that, at the time you were driving, your BAC was not over the legal limit.

7) Inexperience, a lack of training or incompetence of the arresting or testing officer:   If the officer who arrested you or took your breath sample is not trained in the proper procedure or fails to follow protocol it may be possible to have the results of the improperly administered breath test thrown out.

8) Accuracy of the breath test machine:  An artificially high reading can result from interference with the circuitry of a machine due to radio interference, shared power sources, or smoking in or near the machine. Or simply put, the breath machine may not have been properly maintained or calibrated.

9) Irregular samples. Consecutive BAC readings that vary a great deal can be used to challenge the accuracy of breath samples especially when they are greater than two standard deviations apart.

10) Statutory time limit. The prosecution must prove that the breath sample was obtained within three hours of the time you were driving in order to invoke the presumption that you were intoxicated at the time you were driving.

If you or your loved one is currently facing a DUI charge in The North Bay, INCLUDING SANTA ROSA, SAN RAFAEL, SONOMA, PETALUMA, ROHNERT PARK, COTATI, WINDSOR, GUERNEVILLE, GRATON, CORTE MADERA, NOVATO OR ANYWHERE IN THE NORTH BAY, NORTH OF THE GOLDEN GATE– you must call us now to protect your driver’s license and to avoid being convicted of a DUI– at 707-571-8600 OR 415-492-4507.

You ONLY have 10 days from the date of your DUI arrest to contact the DMV to set a DMV hearing or you will lose your driver’s license on the 30th day after your arrest!—But we can avoid that!!!

We have over 40 years of combined experience defending clients and will FIGHT in the courtroom and at the Department of Motor Vehicles Administrative Hearing to get you the results you deserve.

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Don’t risk your license, job or risk going to JAIL!

Call us today for a free case evaluation and find out what over 4 decades of DUI Defense experience can do for YOU!

“The Right DUI Defense Attorney Makes All the Difference”

Getting A DUI for A Second Time in Sonoma County & the Consequences that Follow

A second DUI conviction in Sonoma County with a prior DUI in the past 10 years can carry serious consequences, including up to 5 years’ probation, a one thousand dollar find, and up to one year in Sonoma County jail.

If you face a second time DUI, the most difficult potential consequence for you may be is the loss of your California Driver License.

If you were convicted of either a standard DUI or a wet reckless, and then you get convicted of DUI again within 10 years, the new conviction triggers a two-year suspension of your California Driver License. However, if you get the new DUI charge reduced to reckless driving, exhibition of speed, or some offense other than DUI, you can avoid this court-triggered license suspension. A second DUI does not have to destroy your ability to drive.  There is a pilot program and an alternative that we would be happy to determine if it can apply to your situation.

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If you were still on probation for the first DUI when you are arrested for your second DUI, the DMV will also seek to impose its own one-year driver license suspension after your second-time DUI offense. This administrative suspension is separate from the Sonoma County court-triggered suspension. However, even if you suffer both suspensions, the total suspension period by law cannot exceed two years.

You have a right to a DMV hearing to contest the administrative suspension. At the hearing, you can challenge the suspension and can be represented by a Sonoma County DUI defense lawyer, like the skilled and experienced attorneys at Fiumara & Milligan Law, PC.

Mr. Fiumara has been practicing law in Sonoma County for nearly 25 years and knows all of the players from the District Attorneys, Judges and hearing officers at the DMV. If you win at the DMV hearing, no administrative suspension is imposed. If you lose the DMV hearing, the two-year administrative suspension is imposed.

It is important to have a skilled and highly experienced lawyer representing you at both, the criminal hearing and the DMV hearing. If you were arrested for a second time DUI, you must do two things to avoid the one or two-year suspension of your California Driver License.

First, you must avoid being convicted of DUI in court (or you must at least get the DUI charges reduced). Second, you must win your DMV hearing. If you fail either of these, the DUI will cost you your driving privileges in California.

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There are many factors that determine the outcome of a criminal case. Having a highly skilled and very experienced Sonoma County DUI Defense attorney is vital in making sure you get the best possible result in your case.

The attorneys at Fiumara & Milligan Law, PC have been helping those charged with DUIs in Sonoma County win their cases for almost a quarter of a century! Let us help you.

You can call us at 707-571-8600 OR 415-492-4507. We serve clients in Sonoma County, Marin County and the entire North Bay. The consultation is confidential, but more importantly it is free and you will leave with more knowledge than when you arrived. YOU owe this to yourself.

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Don’t delay, “We Fight for you!”

Consequences in A DUI conviction For A Minor?

California generally has a “zero tolerance” policy for juveniles who are found to be guilty of a DUI. If you are a juvenile who has been charged with a DUI, you may be charged not only for a juvenile DUI, but also a traditional DUI if your blood alcohol content is over the legal limit of 0.08%.

If you are a minor and you have been charged with a DUI, it is important that you seek an experienced DUI defense attorney to assist you through the legal process.

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California’s “Zero Tolerance” Law (California Vehicle Code 23136)

Under California Vehicle Code section 23136, it is unlawful for you to drive a vehicle if you are under the age of 21 and have a blood alcohol content of 0.01% or greater. This is commonly called California’s “Zero Tolerance” law because it does not require that you be under the influence of alcohol, just that you have some measurable amount of alcohol in your system.

What constitutes driving under the influence?

California is considered a zero-tolerance state, although unlike other zero-tolerance states, the driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) must be above .01%, in order for the driver to be cited for driving under the influence.

What are the penalties?

First DUI  Second DUI
Jail 4 days up to 6 months 10 days up to 1 year
Fine $1400 to $2600 $1800 to $2800
License Suspension 30 days to 10 months 2 years

 

If you refuse the chemical test the juvenile faces a one year minimum suspension. But see the Hardship License possibility below, second to last paragraph:

What other charges?

In addition to driving under the influence, an underage drinker may be charged with any of the following:

  • distributing alcohol to other minors (depends whether there were underage drunk passengers?),
  • minor in possession,
  • soliciting alcohol,
  • child endangerment law violations,
  • possession of false identification (was a fake ID used to purchase alcohol?), and
  • Any moving violations and/ or vehicle maintenance violations (what else did the arresting officer see?)

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California Vehicle Code section 23136 explains that the law considers you to have already consented to an alcohol screening test or blood alcohol content test if you are under the age of 21 and operating a vehicle after consuming alcohol.

If you are convicted of a DUI under California Vehicle Code section 23136, you face a misdemeanor and the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will suspend your driver’s license for up to one year.

Under 21 DUI with a BAC of 0.05% – 0.07% (California Vehicle Code 23140)

California Vehicle Code section 23140 states that it is unlawful for you to operate a vehicle if you are under the age of 21 and your blood alcohol content is between 0.05% and 0.07%. If you are found guilty under California Vehicle Code section 23140, you face a sentence of up to six months in county jail and a fine.

If you are found guilty of a second violation under California Vehicle Code section 23140 within one year, you could face a sentence of up to one year in county jail and the fine increase substantially.  The fine increases for a third offense within one year and you could face up to one year in county jail.

If you are found to have violated California Vehicle Code section 23140, you will also be in violation of California Vehicle Code section 23136, or California’s “Zero Tolerance” law. As a result, your driver’s license will be suspended for one year in addition to the penalties you face under California Vehicle section 23140. The court may also require that you attend an alcohol program before your driving privileges are reinstated.

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Traditional DUI (California Vehicle Code 23152)

If you are a minor, you may still be charged under California’s traditional DUI law, California Vehicle Code section 23152, if your blood alcohol content was 0.08% or higher while you were operating the vehicle. A conviction for violating California Vehicle Code section 23152 carries significant consequences.

Punishment for a first-time DUI offense in California may require that you serve up to six months in county jail and pay a fine up to $1,000. However, after all of the court fees, and other add-ons are calculated the fine for a first time offender usually exceeds  $2,400. We are able to get our first time offender an easy $75/month payment plan with the court.   Each County’s fine schedules and amounts  are different.

For example Sonoma County assesses a higher fine than Marin County. In addition, to the court fine, court costs, fees, penalties, attorney fees and an increase in your insurance premium can bring your total cost for a DUI conviction to nearly $16,000. In addition to the fines and fees discussed above the court will impose court probation upon the first time underage drinker for usually up to three years.

That means the underage drinker or offender has to be of good conduct and lead a law abiding life during that length of time or risk a violation of probation.  Fortunately, court probation is not as strict as supervised probation, where the offender would then have to report to a probation’s officer.

In some cases where the driving was egregious or there was an injury the Court will impose a five year probationary period upon your case, but our attorneys fight that attempt tooth and nail and are usually successful.

If you have violated California Vehicle Code section 23152, you can still be found to be in violation of California Vehicle Code section 23136 and 23140, and will be subject to the consequences associated with those offenses.

JUVENILES GET SOME LIMITED RELIEF—But ask your experienced DUI Attorney

Can I get a hardship license? In a typical Sonoma County zero-tolerance case, with no allegation of refusal, injury or other aggravating circumstances, most minors become eligible for a critical need restricted Class “C” California license following a 30-day period of suspension by the Santa Rosa DMV if certain hardships can be shown.

The most important hardship which must be demonstrated is that public transportation is inadequate to accomplish safe and practical travel to school, work or medical care of a family member.

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Call Fiumara & Milligan Law, PC Today

If you are a juvenile facing DUI charges, Fiumara & Milligan Law, PC is here to help.

We have over 40 years of combined DUI Defense experience helping clients avoid the devastating consequences of a DUI conviction and are knowledgeable about juvenile cases. Criminal charges as a juvenile can have a negative effect on your future and affect your life for years to come.

Do not hesitate to contact an experienced DUI defense attorney at Fiumara & Milligan Law, PC at 707-571-8600 OR 415-492-4507 to help you with your case.

“The Right Attorney Makes All the Difference”

Please CLICK HERE to view our DUI Defense videos

 

Don’t Ignore a Dog’s Warning Signs: How to Prevent Dog Bites!

For close to twenty-five years, Fiumara & Milligan Law, PC has handled dozens of dog bite cases; many times they are not only tragic, but they can be avoidable.  Nobody wants to believe that their beloved little cutsie dog would harm anybody, but all dogs have the potential to bite.  Hence, raising awareness of that reality is a very important part of successful dog bite prevention.

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It is important to determine what are the most common situations in which dog bites are most likely going to occur with regard to people or other animals:

  • When dogs are off of their leash and off of their own property.
  • When their owners carelessly permit dogs on extendable long leashes to roam.
  • When children and dogs are left unsupervised by their owner.

In addition to the above, there are other common situations that invite dog bites especially when unsupervised children, are permitted to enter a yard with a dog or several dogs in that yard.  Dogs which are tethered can be another problem as well as unneutered male dogs and situations where there are multiple dogs in one place.  Dogs will act as pack animals and become increasingly aggressive with more animals of the same species located in a small space.

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Here are some of the common mistakes people who are bitten by dogs make:

1. Reaching in to break up a dog fight.

2. Getting too close to a dog’s face.

3. Letting dogs approach other dogs or people without first asking permission.

Even the sweetest little dog can bite if he/she feels threatened or is even spooked by something like lightning, thunder, a bang, fireworks, a discharged gun or even a loud passing truck or vehicle, but most bites are preventable with the following ten precautions in mind:

1. Teach your dog to wait for permission before approaching people or other animals.

2. Only use a 4-6” leash instead of those extendable, very long leashes. It is often too common to allow your dog to get out of control with those extended leashes. They can injure people and pedestrians especially in a crowded urban area.

3. Be alert to your surroundings at all times so that you know if other people or animals are approaching. That means get off your Walkman, your cellphone and pay strict attention to your pet and those of others in the vicinity.

4. You need to always be ready to either control your dog or get him/her out of harm’s way if any aggressive dog or animal approaches.

5. Teach your children to ask permission before approaching any dog, especially a dog they have never seen before.

6. If you can afford it, take your dog to puppy kindergarten followed by obedience class. Look for free classes or very low cost classes through your community center. These are opportunities to work on training and socialization of your dog.

7. It is recommended to stay out of dog parks! They can become breeding grounds for canine bad behavior but there are other experts that think that dog parks are a good way to help your dog become used to other dogs and people.

8. Pay attention to your own actions. Don’t ever put your face to a dog’s face.  That’s just asking for a bite.

9. If you need to separate fighting dogs, avoid grabbing them by their head where their teeth are located. It is recommended that each owner  grab his/her own dog’s hind legs and pull the dogs away from each other.

10. It is recommended that you don’t let go since the dogs will reengage. Although it takes a bit of stamina it will be worth not having a dog mauled that can be very costly.

11. If you or your pet are ever bitten, it is recommended that you thoroughly clean the wound and seek medical or veterinarian attention at once. Please report the bite to animal control or to any other animal humane organization/ society in your area for follow up and for reporting.

12. Do not ignore or downplay aggressive behavior exhibited by your dog or someone else’s dog. Some of the signs can be as simple as lunging, pulling on the leash or growling when the dog sees other people or animals.  Nipping is a red flag also.  It is recommended that you get help or training from a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist or veterinarian behaviorist so that your pet is less likel to bite anybody.  You don’t need your insurance rates to go sky high and worse, you don’t need to be sued or to hire an attorney like our firm.  It is best to put prevention first and you will reap tons of benefits from it in the future.

A tip from Fiumara & Milligan Law, PC.  It is not all about making money but about quality of life and keeping pets and people happy. 

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Truck Accidents In California: Causes & Compensation

Common causes of interstate big-rig truck accidents are:

  1. Speeding or traveling too fast for conditions
  2. Overloading
  3. Poor vehicle maintenance
  4. Driving while tired or under the influence of amphetamines
  5. Driving trance
  6. Vehicle blind spots
  7. Reckless driving

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Why Do Big-Rig Tractor Trailers Cause Such Serious Accidents?

Interstate trucking accidents commonly cause major injuries such as broken legs and bones, spinal cord injuries, paralysis, head injuries, brain damage, and death because of the very large mass and weight of the semi-truck. The weight of an eighteen wheel truck towing a full trailer is equal to at least four or five regular vehicles. Couple that with the typical high rate of speed of a careless truck driver and this is a recipe for disaster.

Jackknife Big-Rig Truck Accidents

Jackknife tractor trailer wrecks typically happen when the driver suddenly applies his brakes causing the coupling between the big-rig cab and trailer to buckle and “jackknife.” This type of accident can also be caused by entering a curve at a high rate of speed, suddenly accelerating on a low-friction surface such as ice or on a rain-slicked surface, or downshifting while coming down a hill or grade.

In addition to a negligent truck driver, other third parties and entities may be responsible for causing your injuries.

For example, the manufacturer of your car or big-rig might be responsible due to a defect in design or even a defective part that prevented you or your loved one from avoiding the collision due to faulty brakes, steering system or any other moving part.  There may also be liability for the government entity in charge of maintaining or designing the road. Typically this means investigating the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and their possible role in the accident.

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Call Fiumara & Milligan Law, PC Today

Interstate trucking companies are governed by a complex set of federal and state laws and regulations.

Due to this complex regulatory structure, it is very important to hire an experienced California truck accident lawyer who can help you navigate these laws and apply them to your case to hold the trucking company and  ALL others responsible for the harm they have caused you and your loved ones.

That is where Fiumara & Milligan Law, PC comes in to help

Our trained vehicle accident attorneys Michael A. Fiumara, Justin O. Milligan along with our Team of personal injury attorneys together with our skilled legal staff will review your case during our free and confidential consultation and help you win by getting the justice that you deserve.  WE DON’T get paid until you do since your case will be handled on a CONTINGENCY ARRANGEMENT.  Let us explain.

Do not trust the trucking company or their insurance carrier to be fair or straight with you!

In every accident, the insurance company tries their best to delay, deny, and defend claims against their insureds.  In interstate trucking accident cases, the trucking companies are extremely difficult to work with and unreasonable. They want to scare you and your loved ones into taking a settlement that is inadequate which will not cover your medical bills, lost earnings or future medical treatment if any.

Contact us today at 707-571-8600 OR 415-492-4507 to receive the help you deserve.

We are here with you, fighting for you!  “The Right Attorney Makes All the Difference.”

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Misuse of Deadly Police Force On The Rise Across The United States and COUNTING

Michael Brown of Ferguson, Missouri;  Tamir Rice and Tanisha Anderson of Cleveland, Ohio; Eric Garner of Staten Island, New York;   and Walter Scott of North Charleston, South Carolina.

These are just five names and five cities that you may have heard in the news over the past year.  These people have one thing in common—They were killed at the hands of Law Enforcement.  Another commonality is that they were all African-American, but are we expected to believe that this is a coincidence?

YOU don’t have to go very far to feel the effects of an entire community torn apart by a police killing.  Here in our own backyard, Andy Lopez, a 13 year old Latino boy was shot to death in his Santa Rosa neighborhood by a Sonoma County Sheriff while walking on the sidewalk with a toy replica of a gun.

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The point of mentioning these names is not to reexamine the cases to determine whether any of those killings were justified (in fact, the officer who killed Walter Scott is now charged with murder).

Instead, it is to point out the sobering fact that these are just five people out of the estimated THOUSANDS killed by police officers each year in the United States alone!  Staggeringly, the figure lies between 930 and 1,240 annual deaths per year, with the exact number remaining unknown because there is no national consensus on how the figures are reported.

The lack of a consensus approach to reporting the number of killings by police is just one symptom of a larger problem in the United States that has drawn the ire of Amnesty International USA, Black Lives Matters and other Civil liberty related organizations around the country.  For example, Amnesty International USA, a non-governmental organization, dedicated to ending human rights violations around the world, released a scathing report in which it declared that law enforcement agencies in all 50 states in the U.S. are failing to comply with international standards regarding the use of deadly force.

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Falling Below International Standards

Article 3 of the United Nations Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials states in part,  “Law enforcement officials may use force only when strictly necessary and to the extent required for the performance of their duty.” The comments on the article explain that the use of a firearm by a law enforcement officer is “an extreme measure. Every effort should be made to exclude the use of firearms, especially against children. De-escalation is evidently not part of the American approach to law enforcement or these numbers would not be so high.

In general, firearms should not be used except when a suspected offender offers armed resistance or otherwise jeopardizes the lives of others and less extreme measures are not sufficient to restrain or apprehend the suspect. In every instance in which a firearm is discharged, a report should be made promptly to the proper authorities.

According to Amnesty International, not a single state in this country has a law that mirrors the language in the U.N.’s code. Furthermore, 13 states do not even have use of force laws that reflect U.S. constitutional standards, and no state has accountability standards for officer-involved killings, such as filing reports when an officer uses his or her firearm, or independent investigations into a killing by an officer.

These findings are hard to swallow when considering it was the UNITED STATES of AMERICA that spear-headed the League of Nations and eventually the UNITED NATIONS and its universal Charter on Human Rights!  The question is—WHAT HAPPENED?

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Resisting Arrest Could Cost YOU Your Life

Though the report calls upon the legislative bodies of each state to enact new standards to deal with the problem of officer-involved killings, those laws are likely many years away from becoming reality.

In the meantime, it is important for anyone who is facing arrest in California to remember that if an officer decides to arrest you, you must remain calm and patient, and make no sudden moves. While many police officers have received professional training and are able to remain calm during a confrontation any sudden movement by YOU could trigger even a veteran officer’s adverse reactive deadly force when he or she perceives you as a threat. In many cases of officer-involved killings, that instinctive reaction contributed to the death of the arrestee.

Going peacefully is difficult, especially when you feel you have done nothing wrong.  It is even more difficult to remain calm and quiet when you know the police officer involved makes overt or veiled discriminatory comments about your race, sex, sexual orientation of any other part of your being.  However, keeping your cool could save you not only from facing additional charges for resisting arrest, but also from a far worse fate.

Remember, you have a right to avail yourself of the criminal justice system, and you have the right to have an attorney fight this battle for you. Your vindication may be delayed, but allowing the process to play itself out is a far better fate than losing your life in the heat of the arrest.

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REMEMBER you have a strong ally at Fiumara & Milligan Law, PC so Contact us for help!

If you or someone you love has been arrested, you should speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney and his TEAM as soon as possible.

At Fiumara & Milligan Law, PC our skilled attorneys have been successfully defending wronged clients against all types of criminal charges for over 23 years.

We know that facing criminal charges can produce a great deal of stress and aggravation for  you and your family. WE also realize that a conviction could affect you for the rest of your life, and we are dedicated to working tirelessly on your behalf to provide you with the best defense possible.

With have two conveniently located offices in Sonoma County and Marin County, we are here to serve the entire North Bay area.

Call us today at 707-571-8600 OR 415-492-4507 for a free, confidential case evaluation and we will FIGHT this together.

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“THE RIGHT ATTORNEY MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE!”

Our Law Firm Proudly Announces a Donation of $10,000 to the Roseland University Prep High School

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Fiumara & Milligan Law, PC just donated $10,000 to Roseland University Prep School in Santa Rosa toward the construction of a brand new $16 million dollar campus.

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Roseland University Prep is a small college preparatory high school located in the heart of the Roseland Community. Roseland University Prep opened in 2004 with the purpose of giving each student the opportunity to take college prep classes which would prepare them to attend a four-year university.

The mission of Roseland University Prep is to offer students a small learning group environment with the promise to help support high school graduation and preparation for college. Their mission is driven by four basic principles: Academic Excellence, Individualized Learning, Shared Commitment, and a Small Learning Environment.

“The most important gift of giving is the gift of learning and skill building because educational opportunity is the most effective way to lift poor people out of poverty.” Since opening my Law practice almost 25 years ago Fiumara & Milligan Law, PC has been a strong voice and advocate for the Latino Community and hence the majority of our clients are Latino.

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In appreciation of the Latino Community’s love and support over all these years, I felt that it is justified to give back to the next generation of Latino students—states attorney Michael A. Fiumara, Founder and managing partner of Fiumara & Milligan Law, PC.  Further our Law Firm has a long history and tradition of direct community involvement. Our attorneys and staff are committed to serving organizations and deepening our ties to the local community, which further enhances our advocacy skills.

We are committed to the principle that legal professionals should give back to their communities. Our attorneys and staff members volunteer their time and professional expertise to assist  and volunteer at a variety of non-profit organizations,  community based organizations, sponsor events for homeless shelters, churches, food banks, youth programs, after-school programs and gladly speak to students at a number of schools in the North Bay.  We regularly support our community through donations and other community volunteer service projects.

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“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”-Nelson Mandela

Please click on the link below to see what other community events we are involved with.

http://www.fiumara.com/santa-rosa/in-the-community

When Injured in an Auto Accident in California There Are Certain Pieces of Information to Obtain From the Other Driver

If and when you are involved in a car accident in California, you should collect certain pieces of information from the other driver or drivers involved.

Most people do collect this information, but some do not.

We suggest you collect the following:

  1. Name of the other driver;
  2. Driver’s license number of the other driver.
  3. Date of birth of the other driver.
  4. Insurance information of the other driver, including the insurance company and policy number
  5. License plate of the other driver’s car.

If possible, verify all this information by requesting that the other driver produce their driver’s license and insurance card.

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If you have a phone that can take pictures, take a snapshot of the front side of all documents produced by the other driver. It is possible the other driver could lie to you and provide false information. Having pictures or copying directly from documentation will reduce the chance that the other driver could take off without giving you enough or adequate information to identify them.

Remember to always call 911 to have law enforcement come out to the scene to facilitate the exchange of information.

Many police departments write police reports, but are not required to write a report. Ask the officer if the officer intends to write a report. If he does, make sure you get the accident report number. You will be able to get that report a few weeks after the accident most times for a nominal cost.

If the officer informs you that no report will be produced and you believe you are not at fault, it is always a good idea to attempt to get the other driver to admit fault in the officer’s presence. If the officer is not writing a report, it is extremely critical that you collect the abovementioned  5  pieces of information and keep it in a safe place.

It is always safe to call a Personal Injury Law Attorney before you talk to your insurance company, especially the insurance company of the other driver.

Whatever you do, do not give anyone, whether it be your insurance or the other driver’s insurance, your recorded statement. Nothing good can come of it.

It is best to call an Auto Accident Attorney and have them represent you. This way there is a protective barrier between you and the insurance company. Remember, the insurance company makes money by paying out as little as possible on each claim. They would much prefer to NOT pay you a dime and will use your words against you to avoid paying you.

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If you or a loved one is involved in any type of ACCIDENT whether you think it is your fault or not, PLEASE Contact Fiumara & Milligan Law, PC NOW at 707-571-8600 OR 415-492-4507 for a free and confidential consultation and find out what over 40 years of combined legal experience in personal injury law can do for you!

What Is The Value Of Your Car Accident Settlement in the North Bay?

Many factors are at play in determining the value of a car accident bodily injury settlement amount.

Some of the factors are objective facts surrounding the accident and injury, while others are subjective based upon the perspective and interests of the involved parties.

Before diving into an analysis of settlement value, it is important to note that not all factors are always known and are almost certainly unknown early in the case.

Only after full discovery and only after a complete analysis by a licensed and highly experienced attorney can a true opinion on settlement be rendered by a lawyer for their client. Even then, calculating settlement value is speculative and based upon many shifting variables that may change during the course of the negotiation to arrive at the final settlement.

Remember, no one knows the future and both sides must find common ground to arrive at a settlement.  If the opposing party or their insurance carrier refuses to negotiate a fair settlement in good faith, no matter how experienced or savvy your attorney may be, your case will not settle.  At this point hard tactics litigation will be the only mechanism to force the other side to negotiate in good faith and offer a fair compensation package that covers, both the injured party’s economic and non-economic damages along with lost wages.

One common formula employs a multiplier  and your medical expenses to come up with an estimate of non-economic damages (money for your pain and suffering). Adding this figure to your economic losses (medical bills, property damage, and lost income) gives you a dollar amount from which to negotiate.

The following factors provide guidance on how to have a meaningful conversation with the firm providing representation to the injury victim.

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Factors Determining Car Accident Settlement Amounts

Fault – Where fault, also known as liability, falls on the other party without dispute, settlement value will depend mostly on the nature and extent of the injuries suffered by the plaintiff. Where fault is not clear or likely to be split equally between the two parties to the lawsuit, value will depend on the severity of the injuries plus either an offset for comparative fault or a discount on the basis that liability could go against the plaintiff.

When considering a settlement, consider whether fault is clearly against the defendant to the insurance claim or legal action. If it is, move to the next factor. If liability is clear or partially against the plaintiff, talk to the lawyer about what kind of discount must be taken on the basis of risk of losing the case outright.

Nature and Extent of Sustained Injuries – Next consider the nature and extent of the bodily injury suffered as a result of the car accident. Severe injuries that are permanent in nature and that are not relieved by cheap and/ or conservative medical treatments are generally worth more money. Consider what body part was damaged and to what extent there is objective medical evidence of injury.

If the injury victim complains of severe pain in the neck but comes out with a clean MRI, that person must face the fact that the value of their case may not be as much as someone with an objective disc herniation or fractured vertebrae. So credibility surely affects the final settlement amount.

While neck strain/pain is worth something, the cost of medical care usually (not always) drives claim value in personal injury auto collision claims. Where the harm causes an objective need for surgery, that injury is considered to be more severe. The more objective finding and the more severe the subjective pain and suffering it causes, the greater the case value. If liability is clear and the nature and extent of injury are also severe, consider it a bigger case.  BUT BEWARE the amount of the ultimate settlement  can be reduced by what is known as pre-existing medical conditions that cause the same or closely similar symptoms or pain.

Defendant’s pocketbook and net worth –One must consider whether the party at fault or offending tortfeasor has adequate insurance coverage, money, assets or resources to cover the cost of the plaintiff’s injuries. If the defendant is poor or without insurance, there is no money to collect even if liability is clear and the extent of injuries are severe.

Suing is not worthwhile if the insurance policy is minimal, non-existent or the entity that caused the accident is without an insurance policy at all, already in bankruptcy proceedings or files for bankruptcy. Your attorney  should be able to investigate the insurance policy of the defendant party at fault prior to a settlement demand to discover exactly what type of recovery is possible despite liability and extent of the harm.

Subjective Factors – Sometimes a party fights a claim extra hard for reasons beyond the understanding of the opposing party. For example, some insurance carriers decide to litigate cases despite clear liability. This means the plaintiff is going to have to prove their case in the face of what is seen as obvious. This can happen for a variety of reasons.

Sometimes the insurance carrier has limited exposure and doesn’t mind exposing its insured to the risk of a jury awarded greater than the policy limit.

In California, this could open the insurance company up to paying an amount greater than their policy. In other circumstances, the lawyers for the insurance carrier have no incentive to settle early since they want to rack up larger legal bills before conclusion of the matter.

This overbilling by insurance carrier lawyers has the effect of driving up the cost of litigation since the injured plaintiff has to expend a great deal more money and time on his/ her case than  would have been the case had the insurance carrier acted in good faith from the onset.  The delay eventually adds more costs for expensive experts,  deposition transcripts, court costs, filing fees and other incidentals.

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Free Consultation with an Experienced Attorney

Fiumara & Milligan Law, PC offers free case consultations to victims involved in motor vehicle collisions and accidents of any kind.

Once you speak with one of our skilled personal injury attorneys, you will know that we mean business AND that we care to get you the RESULTS that you deserve!

Contact us today at 707-571-8600 OR 415-492-4507 and find out what 24 years of personal injury experience can do for you!  Also check out our recent personal injury results on our website together with what over 20 people have to say about our law firm on Google +.

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“The Right Attorney Makes All The Difference, ” has been our motto driving force since we opened our doors serving the public since 1992.