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Law Offices of Matthew C. Bishop, Inc.
Serving Napa, Marin and Solano Counties

Napa California Criminal Defense Law Blog

The importance of mock trials for criminal law cases

At the Law Offices of Matthew C. Bishop, Inc., we believe preparation, research and practice are among the primary elements of a fully inspected case. That is why we employ a number of strategies in the courtroom before a case even goes to trial. You might ask how that is possible. The answer is the performance mock trials. We believe these simulation sessions are an essential component of criminal defense practice.

If you are familiar with the way astronomers use computer software to simulate the behavior of distant stars, or how architects build scale models to communicate their work, then you already have an idea of how important mock trials are to lawyers. We could even offer the more direct analogy of creating a first draft of our legal briefs. Simply put, the mock trial is a rough copy of the court proceedings that is only available to members of the defense.

Seniors are vulnerable to financial abuse

Do you ever have times when you feel like no one cares enough to look out for your well-being? You may have felt that way after learning that you had fallen victim to a scam. It may be even more devastating to know that the person who perpetrated the scam was someone close to you, perhaps one of your own adult children.

You are not alone. In fact, about 90 percent of seniors who report some kind of abuse, whether physical or financial, were victims at the hands of their family members. Most seniors who lose money in financial scams do not report the fraud, and this may invite scammers to keep taking advantage of them.

The difference between compensatory and punitive damages

If you are convicted of a minor crime in California, such as property damage, the chances are you will be required to pay back damages. This amount depends on what you are in trouble for, as well as any additional amount the plaintiff is seeking against you or what the judge feels is appropriate retribution. Damages awarded to the plaintiff often take place in civil court, but they may apply to you as well in a criminal case. At the Law Offices of Matthew C. Bishop, Inc., we know that it can be helpful to understand what compensatory and punitive damages are.

Compensatory damages are primarily a civil matter. If you trespassed on someone’s property and accidentally damaged a fence, the property owner may pursue charges against you to pay him or her back for repairs on the fence. Compensatory damages can also cover someone’s medical costs for a personal injury.

Are Breathalyzers always accurate?

If authorities pull you over on suspicion of drunk driving in California, you can expect that the law enforcement official who does so will ask that you submit to a breath test using a device called a Breathalyzer. When properly used and maintained, Breathalyzers are often accurate, but there are a number of outside circumstances that can impact accuracy. Because the repercussions associated with drinking and driving are so severe, you want to be sure that there is no question about the validity of the results of your breath test.

According to AlcoholAlert.com, there can be a 15-percent variation between the blood-alcohol content reading a Breathalyzer provides and what is actually accurate. In some cases, this fluctuation is attributed to improperly calibrated Breathalyzers, as regular calibration is required to ensure that the devices are not impacted by ambient or subject temperatures, or other outside factors.

Can I sue the government when I am injured?

As a California resident, you often deal with governmental agencies. You go to the DMV to get your driver’s license and/or register your vehicle. You may need to go to the Office of Vital Records to get a certified copy of your birth certificate. Other circumstances also may necessitate your visiting a governmental agency to get needed services. But what if you slip and fall on your way in the door or while there? Can you sue the government? The answer is yes, under certain circumstances.

As reported in the Sacramento Press, under Section 814-895.8 of the California Code, governmental entities are immune from lawsuits for damages unless there is a statutory basis for their liability. In addition, they have a variety of other immunities.

Should you go to jail for abusing prescription drugs?

More than likely, it started innocently enough. You suffered an injury or illness for which your doctor prescribed you a medication that could be addictive. You took it as directed, but even after your issue resolved, you continued to take the medication. Even though you may have realized that you were on a downward spiral, you couldn't stop.

Then, something happened, and you came into contact with law enforcement officers. Perhaps an officer stopped you for weaving in traffic, suspected you of being impaired and placed you under arrest on suspicion of prescription drug charges. This raises the question of whether you should incur criminal penalties instead of getting the help you need for an addiction.

What constitutes medical malpractice in California?

In a California medical malpractice case, you are alleging that a licensed health care provider deviated from the accepted standard of care while treating you and that this deviation caused you injury. The health care provider can be a doctor, nurse, physical therapist, etc. and/or a hospital or other health care facility. The substandard care could be an act or a failure to act.

As ExpertLaw.com explains, most medical malpractice lawsuits are based on the theory of negligence, and that negligence can take many forms, including the following:

  • Failing to diagnose your illness
  • Misdiagnosing your condition
  • Performing the wrong surgery on you
  • Failing to give you appropriate treatment or failing to provide treatment in a timely manner
  • Failing to obtain your informed consent or changing a surgical procedure or course of treatment after obtaining it

What you should know about field sobriety tests

November marks the beginning of the holiday season. For you and other Californians, this time of year can include office parties and get-togethers at restaurants or bars. Whatever your occasion for celebrating, alcohol might be a part of your festivities. Our attorneys at the Law Offices of Matthew C. Bishop, Inc., feel it is important to remind you that regardless of how responsible you are about your drinking, you might find yourself facing drunk driving charges, even if you had not been drinking enough to qualify for a DUI.

One of the most commonly used tools to screen someone as a potential drunk driver is the field sobriety test, reports NBC 29 News. If you are pulled over during the holiday season, the officer might ask you to perform a number of actions that could give the officer reason to believe you are intoxicated. These include the one-leg stand, the walk-and-turn and the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. During the test, your balance, coordination and ability to understand and follow directions will be measured. The officer will also study your eye movements and pay attention to your behavior and speech patterns.

A frivolous lawsuit? The notorious McDonald's coffee spill

When the phrase “frivolous lawsuit” is mentioned, people often remember the elderly woman who spilled a hot cup of McDonald’s coffee into her lap. The incident has become engrained in the public’s opinion as that of unnecessary lawsuits run amok. However, many Californians are unaware of the truth surrounding the notorious scalding coffee case.

Treehugger explains that in 1992, the woman accidentally spilled the contents of her beverage into her lap after ordering at a McDonald’s drive-thru. When knowledge of the resulting lawsuit went public, the 79-year-old woman faced ridicule that continues to this day, as an example of someone who sued a company over something that should have been obvious – that hot beverages are indeed hot, and can cause burns.

Terry stops and drug charges: know your rights

When a California driver is stopped by a law enforcement officer for a traffic violation but then also charged with drug possession or another drug crime as part of this traffic stop, it can be a very serious complication. Depending on what the law enforcement officer did, and when and how he or she did it, to arrive at the conclusion that a drug charge was warranted, the driver’s constitutional rights may have been violated and the drug charge may not hold up in court.

For instance, a law enforcement officer does not have the automatic right to search a vehicle as part of a routine traffic stop. As the Legal Information Institute explains, that is because the U.S. Supreme Court held in the landmark 1968 case of Terry v. Ohio that a law enforcement officer cannot automatically do a stop and frisk as part of the investigation into a traffic violation. Instead, these Terry stops can only last as long as it takes the officer to investigate the traffic violation itself.

Law Offices of
Matthew C. Bishop, Inc.

1810 Jefferson Street
Napa, CA 94559
Phone: 707-266-6952
Fax: 707-255-3612
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