In 1989, a 19-year-old man was caught having sex with his 17-year-old girlfriend. It was entirely voluntary and consensual, and indeed the couple married and have been man and wife for 24 years now. Strictly speaking, however, the sex was statutory rape. He agreed to plead guilty to a count of oral copulation with a minor, thinking to minimize the consequences. It didn’t work.
The chief judge of the 9th Circuit court of appeals just issued a stinging rebuke to members of his own court, assistant U.S. attorney who tried the case before them, and federal prosecutors across the nation. His comments were part of his dissent in a federal weapons case in which the prosecutor appeared to have held back evidence he had been legally and ethically bound to deliver to a defendant facing federal weapons charges.
Sometimes prosecutors demonstrate a somewhat over-abundance of vigilance when making the decision to prosecute an alleged sex crime. Unfortunately, that sometimes means attempting to put someone behind bars for perfectly ordinary behavior. Luckily, a San Francisco Superior Court jury acted just as one might hope -- as an appropriate check on prosecutorial excess.
In 2003, a San Diego college student wrote a computer program called “Loverspy” or “Email Pi” and sold it online for $89 a copy. Meant to help buyers catch lovers suspected of cheating, it self-installed virtually undetectable software that could capture every email or instant message sent by the infected computer. It could even operate the computer’s webcam remotely. All the suspicious lover had to do was send their lover an electronic greeting card. If they opened it, the software would be installed.
This week, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is holding a rare re-hearing on the constitutionality of collecting the DNA profiles of arrestees into databases intended to solve future crimes. The appellate court has heard the case before but decided to rehear it in light of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on a similar Maryland law this June.
The federal courts in the Central District of California, which includes LA and surrounding counties, has been running an exciting pilot program to give low-level federal criminal offenders a chance for a new life. Through the Conviction and Sentence Alternatives, or CASA, program participants can avoid prison and, in some cases, have their cases dismissed.
In late 2011, a registered sex offender was found murdered in San Clemente. The perpetrator, just recently convicted of murder, told police “I like to try and protect my family.” There is no evidence the deceased ever had any contact with the perpetrator or his family.
In a highly unusual move last year, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Central District of California filed a civil forfeiture action against an Anaheim man who hadn’t committed any crime.
A 29-year-old San Francisco resident was taken into custody on Tuesday in the science fiction section of the Glen Park Branch Library. Federal prosecutors accuse the man of masterminding an online drug marketplace called “Silk Road,” where buyers and sellers of illegal drugs could make their exchanges in an atmosphere much like that of eBay.
Most of us are disgusted when people post explicit photos of ex-lovers online in order to express their scorn and humiliate them. This practice, called “revenge porn,” is not only hurtful, but it can also have destructive consequences for its victims, mostly young women. Strangers make catcalls after recognizing the victims. Family relationships are strained. Professional reputations are destroyed and jobs are lost.