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Manhattan Beach Criminal Defense Blog

Drunk driving risks professional reputation

As police officers know, a criminal charge changes how people look at you. While there are many different types of crimes, the common link is always a criminal record. DUI is one of the most common arrests in California and it affects all walks of life, from officers to civilians. A DUI on your record can influence your job prospects, your right to drive and many more elements of your personal and professional life.

The public has high standards of conduct for law enforcement. Any time an officer is accused of violating a law there is additional scrutiny.

Should you have counsel during an IA investigation?

Because of today’s political climate, it is more likely for an officer involved in a fatal shooting or an encounter that results in a significant injury to be charged with a crime. Even more challenging is the possibility of an internal affairs investigation.

Indeed, being found guilty of a crime can be the death knell to an officer’s career, but an internal affairs investigation could be just as troubling. Even though it may not result in criminal charges, it is important to have legal counsel at this time. This post will explain why. 

Why felony charges are critical in a police officer's career

As a police officer, you may have a good idea on how a felony charge may impact the lives of the people you arrest. After all, you are tasked with upholding the law, and this means holding people accountable for their actions.

But when you are charged with a felony offense, the stakes can be just as high. A felony offense can be a death knell to your law enforcement career considering the difficulties police academy applicants with felonies experience trying to find a job with a department. 

SFPD officer charged with child porn possession

Sex crimes are universally despised in our society. Those accused of those crimes are reviled in a way that they essentially must prove themselves innocent instead of the state proving them guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Despite how infamous these crimes may be, the constitutional protections applicable to anyone accused of a crime still apply. This is especially important when a police officer is accused of a sex crime.

The story of a San Francisco Police Department veteran accused of possessing child pornography exemplifies this notion. The officer was arrested last week and placed on suspension without pay after the arrest became public. The department has not released much information on the matter, but an LATimes.com report highlighted that the child porn incident was the latest in a series of issues affecting the department.

What do domestic violence charges mean for a police officer?

Few jobs carry as heavy a burden as police work. Whether dealing with daily tasks or high profile and dangerous cases, officers need to be able to manage stress and to handle adversity. The job requires the ability to keep one's cool in the heat of the moment, on or off-duty. A violent criminal offense can kill a career.

Domestic violence is one of the most common charges in the country. The physical or emotional abuse of one's partner is a serious criminal act. Besides being a widespread issue, it's also a common false accusation made to defame an ex. Domestic violence is a serious charge for anyone, but for officers of the law, it comes with major implications for your career. Domestic violence charges can cost your right to carry a firearm which, in turn, costs your job as a police officer.

How to defend against manslaughter charges

A criminal charge can be life changing for those tasked to enforce the law. Yet, without the correct use of force, a dangerous situation can turn deadly. Where is the balance within the law? When prosecutors believe an officer has overstepped his or her boundaries, they may bring up charges of murder or manslaughter.

On-duty officers have used deadly force against civilians approximately 1,000 times per year since 2005. These incidents have resulted in just 77 charges of murder or manslaughter and 26 convictions as of September 2016. This means a conviction happens in less than one-third of one percent of all confrontations resulting in deadly force.

Could a therapist help officers accused of domestic violence?

Generally speaking, police officers understand that crimes don’t simply happen in a vacuum. There may be external pressures that lead people to commit crimes, such as economic calamities, lack of emotional support or even inadequate coping skills. It is ironic that these same pressures can affect police officers and even lead to them to commit domestic violence.

We highlighted in a past post how one police department is close to implementing an early warning system of sorts that evaluates unusual officer behavior. We opined that this may be helpful in addressing officers’ issues before they become intractable actions. 

LAPD officer accused of sex with cadet now faces weapons charges

In a prior post, we highlighted the arrest of a LAPD officer who was accused of having a sexual relationship with a teen cadet and how important it would be for officers accused of sex crimes or inappropriate sexual relationships to have experienced legal counsel. Essentially, the legal system can be particularly unforgiving to officers accused of crimes despite the stories of officers having relationships with district attorneys, investigators and judges.

Since that post, the officer’s potential criminal jeopardy has expanded. A search of the officer’s home stemming from the sex crime revealed additional evidence and information that led to more criminal charges. The LA Times reports that investigators recovered more than 100 weapons from his Rancho Cucamonga home. 

Could an early warning system help or hurt accused officers

To some it may be obvious; but for others, it may not be common knowledge that the work of a police officer can be stressful. It may also be unnoticed that different police officers handle the stressors of the job differently. Some find healthy, useful outlets while others may turn to dangerous, nefarious habits. Whatever the reaction or treatment of stress, it is important for it not to manifest itself in domestic violence.

A number of police departments have instituted procedures meant to identify perilous behavior that may lead to misconduct, so that an at-risk officer may receive help before acts are committed that could irreparably affect his or her career. The San Diego Police Department recently implemented such a system after a federal review found flaws in the department’s method of identifying problem officers. 

Will I be able to claim self-defense?

As a police officer, you know that there are two sides to every story. This is especially true if you've been accused of domestic violence.

The reality is that innocent people are charged with domestic assault on a regular basis. One reason they're indicted in the first place is that they acted in self-defense.

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