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Starbucks altercation underscores several criminal defense concerns

What happened recently in a Starbucks outlet in Philadelphia could provide a law school student and fledgling lawyer with about a week’s worth of study material to chew on.

We suspect that most of our readers across California heard about the incident. Ironically, some of them might have been clued in on the details while having a coffee at a local Starbucks shop.

Nationally splayed pictures tell the story, especially the photo leaping off the front pages of newspapers and online sites showing two handcuffed men being led out of an establishment.

They did not attempt to rob it. They were not in the coffee shop trying to create a disturbance. They were … black.

There’s the first Criminal Law 101 topical focus from the matter – racial profiling. Lack of probable cause also comes to mind.

The men were merely in the shop waiting for a third party – a white male. He happened to arrive just as the cops were leading the two men out of the establishment. Obviously, their scheduled business meeting was botched.

The matter was subsequently settled.

A byproduct of the men’s agreement with the city of Philadelphia was the dropping of a trespassing charge (the men had declined to make a purchase while waiting for the third party to arrive). Officials agreed to expunge their arrest record realized from the incident.

That expungement element of the story is important, given the negative check mark that legions of Americans must deal with permanently following adverse interactions with the criminal system. The erasure or sealing of a criminal record is a decidedly fair outcome for many individuals who would otherwise be hampered in things like job searches and attempts to secure housing. Most fundamentally, we note on our criminal defense website at the Bay Area Law Office of John W. Noonan, record sealing “provides people with peace of mind.”

Expungement is a special procedure in California that involves a court filing and close consideration surrounding the details of an individual’s arrest, conviction and sentencing particulars. An experienced defense attorney can provide information and proven representation aimed at securing the fresh start that expungement/sealing can provide.

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