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In an emergency, do YOU really want to call 911?

When you call 911 usually the police arrive.  Lately it has become painfully apparent that the police are not good at de-escalating a potentially violent or dangerous situation especially if it involves anyone suffering from mental health issues. Unfortunately the North Bay especially Sonoma  and Napa Counties have been wracked by a number of police brutality lawsuits and internal investigations questioning  why the police needed to use such heavy-handed tactics to subdue and or even kill those inflicted with mental health issues.

 

Hence, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, referred to as NAMI, has come up with a script for 911 emergency calls-particularly with regard to the new 211 emergency/mental health  hotline for patients and/or family members  who placed a call to help their loved one, not to have them shot or brutally beaten! The officers who are most likely to respond to these calls have had special mental health police training so they should be more sensitive.

 

It is strongly recommended that the well-meaning caller regardless whether the call is placed to 911 or 211 unambiguously state upfront that there is no weapon and the loved one, or family member, is suffering from mental distress, trauma and or erratic behavior.  Here are some concrete suggestions to tell the dispatcher:

 

  1. State your name calmly, clearly and slowly and identify your familial relationship with the person.
  2. State the specific location/address and make sure to tell the officer that you may greet the first responder.
  3. Identify your family member or loved one by name and state emphatically and up front that he/she has a mental health condition and was diagnosed with the name of the mental illness.
  4. Make it real clear that you are requesting a mobile support team and requesting a psychology trained officer.
  5. Make it really clear that this person is not a danger to himself or to others if that’s the case.
  6. Make certain to state that this person is not armed and again, is not dangerous to anyone if that’s the case.

911

It is imperative that you state that this person/individual does not have a weapon and is not threatening others but that there is something definitely wrong because of the specific behaviors that you need to describe.  You might even mention that the person has been on or off medications for a specific time period if that’s the case and/or that the person is struggling with drug and alcohol use since you want to inform the officers that there are multiple layers and self-medication if that is also the case.

The most important advice is for YOU, the caller is to FOLLOW dispatch’s instructions and be as polite and professional as possible even if the dispatch personnel or paramedics are rude and abrupt.

Please note that it is best if you call 911 from home whenever possible.  If you are on a cellphone, then you can call any of the numbers on the Sonoma County emergency list but the two best numbers to call would be  (707) 528-5222 and (707) 565-2121 and, again, the 211 mental health line if applicable. But, if out of habit you decide to call 911 following some if not all of the six (6) tips below may help to save a life.

 

If any of your family members are injured, or killed as a result of an emergency call that is made on their behalf, you may have a right to compensation through legal action/ wrongful death lawsuit.  Please  feel free to consult with us at any time to discuss your options.  We can be reached 24/7 at 707-571-8600 in Santa Rosa and in San Rafael at 415-492-4507.

The Reality of What It Takes for Drug Court Success

There is a concern that Proposition 47 may be undermining Sonoma County’s Drug Court Program.  See the link to the Press Democrat article from Sunday, March 15, 2015, entitled, ‘Sonoma County Drug Court Facing New Reality.’

(http://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/3658654-181/sonoma-county-drug-court-facing.)

 

The established Drug Court Program is a process authorized by the Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act of 2000.  In Sonoma County this process involves a collaborative approach by the DA, the court, probation department, and  (Treatment Alternatives to Street Crimes), TASC to provide drug treatment for non-violent drug offenders.  As a side note, one category of people who qualify for drug court are third strike offenders who could otherwise face life in prison!  So this program really was designed to provide a chance for people who are committing crimes as a result of  their drug addiction but the Court is designed for the defendant to avoid the standard consequences of their crimes as long as they actively participate in drug treatment.  Personally for me and for the other members of the Firm, it is a heart-warming program. Sure, there are the cold hard facts of the offense, which often  involves offensive or bad behavior or misconduct.   There are numerous examples—individuals passed out unconscious in the street with their pants  pulled down or other defendants trying to swallow their ½ gram of methamphetamine to avoid detection and to get that one last high from their ‘drug of choice’ instead of seeing it seized and placed into evidence.  Can you imagine being that desperate that you would resort to swallowing a ½ gram of meth?  Instead, these people need help and Drug Court can work for them!

 

Our Law Firm is committed to ‘Alternatives to Jail’ [ www.alternativesToJail.com] and we have represented many individuals facing long jail or prison sentences who have successfully completed and graduated from Drug Court.  It is a good program, but you better be ready for sobriety if you want to successfully participate and graduate!   It is a 12 month program that includes intensive counseling and drug testing and appearances in court for weekly, then monthly, then less often reviews.

 

I have been present when clients have successfully completed the Program.  It can be really amazing because the judge calls people who have “graduated” Drug Court first when the proceedings begin in the morning.  The court will call the defendant up to the front of the Court and sincerely congratulate and extoll their successes which Probation and Defense Counsel (us) conveyed to the Court.  These acalades will consist of  great progress reports, clean test results, and other positive achievements and even all of the obstacles the defendant had to endure to successfully graduate from Drug Court. The Court will often personalize the experience(s) of the graduate telling a crowded courtroom how the defendant has found suitable living space, is gainfully employed if that is the case, and how the defendant is participating in the community and if applicable, how the defendant has made other positive changes, i.e. found God, become spiritual or now has a meaningful relationship with another person.

 

It is so rewarding to see experience the entire process in Drug Court especially the final step in the defendant’s process when the court (the sitting Judge) is seen congratulating the defendant clapping and smiling along with the public who are in attendance.  If you have never experienced this it can bring tears to your eyes.  You realize the amount of hardship this person has been through. They have passed a sort of test by the probation department, the court, the district attorney and even their own defense attorney, not to mention their friends and family, and they have proven themselves!

 

It would be sad if proposition 47 was somehow taking away from that.  The idea is that because Proposition 47 reduced the seriousness of personal drug related offenses, defendants are now less motivated to participate and  then later successfully complete Drug Court because they no longer face or fear being  convicted of a felony.  I have to question that concern.  I think it is fantastic that offenses covering personal drug use, such as possession of a ½ gram of cocaine are now misdemeanors.  For first-time offenders a misdemeanor makes far more sense than charging first-time offenders with ‘straight-up’ felonies having life-long sentences and draconian consequences.  A misdemeanor conviction allows the defendant to expunge his/her conviction and ‘clean’ their record so they may again be employed gainfully and move on with life.  If you are convicted of a felony you are forever prohibited from possessing a firearm and you are forever labeled a felon not able to even vote and precluded from holding many different licenses and jobs.

 

The concern of the Press Democrat article is understandable, but I believe that it really comes down to the defendant/person; do they really want to change their lives?  That is the question.  If they don’t then those are the people who will not successfully complete Drug Court anyway.  They are the ones who will arrive in court early on a Monday morning and have their names called, stand up, and appear before the court, be told by the court that they tested positive for methamphetamine and be summarily arrested, their handcuffs checked for tightness and double locked.  OUR LAW FIRM and I will fight our hardest for people with addictions and want to change their lives for the better.   Our Law Firm has a proven track record of doing just that.  I think the people who want to change and are ready for positive change will do the things necessary to complete Drug Court; and we are here to help! When addicted defendants hit rock bottom and want to change, for the better, it does not really matter whether Proposition 47 is in existence or not, human nature will prevail and they will make the necessary changes to successfully complete Drug Court.

Why you need MedPay in car insurance

Highlights

MedPay in car insurance is also known as medical payments coverage.

MedPay can pay for expenses that health insurance won’t cover.

The premium for MedPay coverage is often a minuscule amount.

When searching for ways to lower your car insurance premium, you may be tempted to drop medical payments coverage, aka MedPay, from your policy. After all, it may not be required in your state, and sounds redundant to your health insurance.

But you’d be mistaken to write off MedPay as unnecessary. In fact, the very limitations of most health insurance policies, combined with the glacial pace of insurance settlements and the risks you can offload with this often-misunderstood optional coverage, argue strongly in favor of retaining, if not increasing, your MedPay.

In a nutshell, MedPay makes good on medical bills up to your coverage limit for you, your family and others riding in your vehicle in case of an accident, regardless of who’s at fault. Your medical payments coverage moves with you (walking, riding with a friend or on public transportation, in-state or out), as well as with your insured vehicles, regardless of who’s driving. It carries no deductible or co-pay.

Medpay-Coverage

If you’re injured in an accident that another insured driver caused, it can take months for their car insurance company to pay your medical bills. Sure, your health insurance may pay, but increasingly many of us carry high deductibles and co-pays that can stretch our finances to the breaking point before the insurance settlement with the other driver closes.

The beauty of MedPay is it kicks in before the hubcaps stop spinning to pay your medical bills, heath insurance deductible and co-pays. It covers myriad other out-of-pocket costs that your health policy probably won’t touch, including ambulance fees, chiropractic, dental, prosthetics and, in a worst-case scenario, funeral expenses.

In the 12 “no-fault” states (Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and Utah), MedPay can even pick up the co-pay on the personal injury protection, or PIP, portion of your car insurance or kick in seamlessly with 100 percent coverage after you’ve exhausted your PIP.

The premium for MedPay is so miniscule — often less than $20 per year for up to $10,000 in coverage — that the benefits you’d receive on just one claim could pay for decades of peace of mind.

“For example, if your health insurance has a $1,000 deductible, a 20 percent co-pay and you have a $5,000 medical claim from an accident, with your health insurance you would typically pay $1,800 out of pocket,” says Christy Moulton Perry, director of product management for Great Northwest Insurance Co. “But with your MedPay, you would pay zero out of pocket. That’s a big difference.”

MedPay can be especially important for drivers without health insurance. But forget about using it as a stand-alone substitute. You must carry auto liability coverage in order to purchase MedPay, and you’d have to be injured in an auto-related accident to use it.

Unlike liability coverage, MedPay policy limits do not refer to the total available coverage, but instead to the amount available to each covered injured individual. That means if you, your spouse and your two children were injured in an auto accident, each of you could collect the limit amount on your $5,000 MedPay coverage for a total of $20,000. However, your insurer won’t pay the same bills under both your MedPay and liability coverage.

THE NINTH CIRCUIT EXPOSES SERIOUS PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT—YOUR CLIENT CAN FALL VICTIM TO THIS ABUSE…

This author, Mr. Fiumara who has been practicing criminal defense law for almost a quarter of a century, comments on  the candid comments made by the Chief Judge of the Ninth Circuit.  The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has taken a giant step toward doing something about prosecutorial misconduct including “naming names” if the California Attorney General  (Kamala Harris) does not ACT within a short period of time.  In an unusual move, the court  strongly recommended that the line prosecutor himself who knowingly provided false testimony from an informant in a murder trial  be prosecuted for perjury.  The entire video of the oral argument is available to view on our law firm’s website and is  also available on our Law Firm’s Facebook or you may click here,http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/media/view_video.php?pk_vid=0000006910

http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/media/view_video.php?pk_vid=0000006910

 

The Baca v. Adams Appeal is illustrative of a clear violation of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Napue case, where the Court held that prosecutors cannot put on perjured testimony, much less lie themselves.  Judge Alex Kozinski, Chief of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, takes this one step further when he strongly opines that prosecutorial misconduct happens far too often when it should never happen at all!  Further, this outspoken judge is quoted to state that the entire program of “cooperation” (between the Prosecution and Defense Counsel)  is rife with problems.  Prosecutors often put extraordinary pressure on the worst criminals, threatening not only them but their families.  After testifying, the person who knows he will go to prison no matter what (because he really is guilty), the prosecutor then offers life-saving benefits, often secretly, in exchange for testimony against many less culpable “targets” of the government’s investigation.  In other words, the prosecutors will do anything, including committing bribery and perjury, to win a prosecution and secure a guilty verdict.  This does not constitute, “Justice” and this is what is partially responsible for the overwhelming number of innocent victims of the” justice system” who end up spending dozens of years in prison who are not guilty.

The Baca v. Adams case audio and video highlights to what degree the prosecution will go to in order to “win.” YOU may watch the tough questions pelted at the State’s attorney trying to defend the prosecutor’s misconduct and perjury with the link that we provided above you can be the “Judge” of the seriousness of this problem identified by one of the most important high Courts in the land!  This is a very scary proposition for our clients.  If you have any questions or concerns about your case, Brady evidence and/ or, prosecutorial misconduct, please contact our office anytime at:  (707) 571-8600 in Santa Rosa and (415) 492-4507 in San Rafael.

When is Self Defense in a Home Invasion Justified? How can we help?

You may have recently read in the Press Democrat about the recent death of one of three men who attempted a home invasion robbery.(http://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/3637007-181/alleged-santa-rosa-home-invader-recovering.)   One of the occupants of the home began shooting and apparently killed one of the robbers.  According to California Law, the shooter was justified if the following conditions were met: (1) it was apparently necessary to shoot based on an honest and reasonable belief of an imminent threat to his life, (2) the force used was reasonable under the circumstances, and (3) the threat to him was unlawful.  To prove that first condition, the defendant must show that he was in fear of his life or serious bodily injury and that the conduct of the robbers was such  that it was reasonable to be in such a state of fear.  (People v. Sonier (1952) 113 Cal.App.2d 277, 278.)  It should be fairly obvious that it is was reasonable to be in fear of his life when armed men tried to break into his house.

Was the force reasonable?  Firing a gun at someone is considered to be the use of deadly force.  Deadly force is justified only when the apparent peril is great and imminent.  (People v. Anderson (1922) 57 Cal.App. 721, 727.)  For instance, it is generally unjustifiable to use deadly force in response to a person trying to punch you.  Deadly force may become justified if the person is beating you to death or the attacker is a known deadly assassin.  Regarding the home invasion robbery, deadly force was certainly justified. The shooter was faced with unknown assailants trying to break in at night and whose motives could only be considered nefarious under the circumstances.

Finally, the last condition is also met since the threat the shooter (occupant)  perceived was “unlawful” because the intruders were trying to rob him.  Likely, the occupant who shot the robber will assert a successful self-defense and the killing will be found justified.  However, that justification does not transfer to the decedent’s cohorts in crime who are being charged with murder pursuant to the felony-murder rule.

hms12

That rule states that if a co-conspirator is killed during the commission of the conspiracy, the other members of that conspiracy can be charged with that person’s murder even though killed by someone else in this case by the occupant.  Further, the fact that the occupant of the home was justified in shooting the robber does not absolve him of the crime of unlawful cultivation of marijuana.  Apparently, the robbers were after the shooter’s illegal marijuana grow.  Nor does the justified shooting absolve that person of creating a dangerous environment for the children who lived at the home.  He is now charged with child endangerment.

However, our Law Firm is prepared to defend the occupant of all charges including the lessor included offense of child endangerment or creating a dangerous environment or nuisance.  Please feel free to contact Fiumara & Milligan Law, PC for a free and confidential consultation in either Santa Rosa or San Rafael by calling us at:  (855) 247-3190.

Santa Rosa Criminal Defense & Personal Injury Law Blog

Sonoma County Workers Compensation Laws

At Fiumara & Milligan Law, PC we have worked with numerous clients throughout the North Bay who have been seriously injured on the job.

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North Bay Possession and Sales of a Controlled Substance Law

By Michael A. Fiumara of Fiumara & Milligan Law, PC posted in Criminal Law on Thursday, January 29, 2015.
Possession of a controlled substance is a crime in California. However, possession with intent to sell is a much more serious crime with more severe consequences. It is unfortunate, but most people who are arrested for drug related charges are typically addicts who require some sort of treatment for their addiction.
Continue reading North Bay Possession and Sales of a Controlled Substance Law…
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Sonoma County Grand Theft Charges

Theft is the unlawful taking of another’s property, without their consent, with the intent to steal that property. The laws in California make a distinction between petty theft and grand theft.

Tags: marin county criminal attorney, san rafael criminal attorney, san rafael theft attorney, san rafael theft crimes attorney, santa rosa criminal attorney, santa rosa theft attorney, santa rosa theft crimes attorney, sonoma county criminal attorney

Your Santa Rosa Car Accident Claim & Medical Care

By Michael A. Fiumara of Fiumara & Milligan Law, PC posted in Injuries on Wednesday, January 21, 2015.
Your medical treatment after a car accident in Santa Rosa will play a huge factor in the value of your Santa Rosa accident claim. Therefore, you should always seek medical treatment after a serious accident, even if you think your injuries are minor. Some injuries will take days or even a week to flare up, and if you delay treatment, you may cast doubt on your injuries.
Continue reading Your Santa Rosa Car Accident Claim & Medical Care…
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Sonoma County Juvenile Sex Crime Charges

Given the proliferation in use of high-tech portable electronic devices as well as wider access to the Internet, it probably does not surprise many that a number of teens and even children experiment with sexuality at a much younger age.

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