After January 1, 2019, many Defendants convicted of murder in California under the felony murder rule or the natural and probable consequence theory will have the opportunity, regardless of age of their conviction, to petition the trial court to vacate their murder conviction. This applied to many individuals serving life for in prison for a murder they did not intend. California Senate Bill 1437, effective January 1, 2018, will provide, pursuant to California Penal Code Section 1437 a means of vacating the conviction and then re-sentencing a defendant when a complaint, information, or indictment was filed against the defendant that allowed the prosecution to proceed under a theory of first degree felony murder or murder under the natural and probable consequences doctrine.
The purpose of Senate Bill 1437 signed by Gov. Jerry Brown is to amend the century old legal status of California’s felony murder rule. Existing law holds people liable for first degree murder under various broad-scope conditions. Some of these include felony acts, like robberies, where the individual did not have the intent to kill or aid in a killing, despite it occuring.
The bill is meant to ensure that murder liability, or essentially being an accomplice to murder, is not imposed on someone who wasn’t the actual killer, wasn’t a major participant in the underlying felony, as well as not acting with an intent kill or reckless indifference for life. Those persons who may have killed without these pretense or conditions, ought not be charged for murder to the same degree of which someone who willfully killed or participated in the killing in a major role. To conflate an intentional, malicious act to take life is surely different than an incidental killing.
Another important aspect of this bill is that law enforcement will have a better position to prosecute the actual killer, since any co-defendants who did not intend to kill nor had reckless indifference to human life will not fear felony first degree murder prosecution and can thereby be incentivized to talk truthfully about what took place.
If you or a loved one has been charged and convicted of murder where the prosecution relied on the felony murder rule or the natural and probable consequence theory, give us a call today at (714) 973-2024 to discuss the case and the opportunities for reversing the conviction.
Attorney Ferrentino Represented Rodrigo Martinez Post-conviction at Habeas Corpus Proceeding, with his Appellate Attorney, and Won a New Trial for Martinez.
In late February 2018, Rodrigo Martinez was added to the National Registry of Exonerations. After he was convicted of murder and sentenced to 25 year to life, Ferrentino, along with his appellate attorney, worked to reverse his conviction, and at re-trial Ferrentino obtained an acquittal on all charges. Martinez was freed 𝘢𝘧𝘵𝘦𝘳 9 𝘺𝘦𝘢𝘳𝘴 𝘪𝘯 𝘱𝘳𝘪𝘴𝘰𝘯 .
Speak with Ferrentino & Associates today to find out how we can help you.
The Case of Rodrigo Martinez
In September 2005, Rodrigo Martinez of Garden Grove, California, was carrying his girlfriend’s 7-month-old daughter, Diana. He tripped, fell, and twisted his ankle while holding her, but Diana did not appear injured from the fall. The landlady saw Martinez after he had fallen and noticed that he was holding the baby tightly. She reported that the baby did not appear abnormal and was not crying.
Several days later, Martinez woke the landlady and her husband, to tell them that Diana was sick. They called the paramedics and Martinez left to go pick up Diana’s mother, his girlfriend Alma, from work. The two then went to the hospital. The next morning at the hospital Diana died.
After visiting the hospital to see Rodrigo and Alma, the landlord drove Martinez home to “get rid of” something, later reporting that he saw Martinez toss a gun from the car as they were driving back to the hospital. Gutierrez later found the gun and turned it in to law enforcement.
The doctor who performed Diana’s autopsy, Dr. Anthony Juguilon, reported Diana died as a result of blunt trauma and a forceful blow to the head. He testified Diana had a rib fracture and various other brain injuries, some recent and others weeks old at the point of death. Upon hearing that Martinez had tried to get rid a gunl, Dr. Juguilon said Diana’s injuries could have easily been the result of blunt force involving a gun.
Police interviewed Martinez again, and he changed his story several times over the course of the investigation regarding the cause of Diana’s death, leading to an appearance of guilt.
Martinez’ family members, who were out of the country at the time all this was occurring, hired an attorney they had never met to represent him at trial. The attorney failed to present any of the expert medical evidence regarding Diana’s actual cause of death and time of injury and Martinez was convicted and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.
Attorney Ferrentino Obtains Exoneration for Rodrigo Martinez
Martinez’s attorney failed to effectively make Martinez’ case, and as a result Martinez was sent to prison.. Martinez appealed his case, this time represented by Attorney Marleigh Kopas, who found Doctor’s reports in the trial attorney’s file which concluded that Diana’s head injured had happened at least 7-10 days before she died, putting Martinez’ guilt in question.
Attorney Correen Ferrentino represented Martinez at his evidentiary hearing in the habeas corpus proceeding and brought in an expert witness to testify that Diana’s injuries were inflicted 7-10 days before her death and that there was no real evidence that she had been hit with a pistol, leading the court to conclude that Martinez’s attorney provided ineffective assistance of counsel and he was denied a fair trial. After a 12-day hearing, Martinez’ conviction was vacated.
Attorney Ferrentino Represents Martinez at Re-Trial and Secured his Acquittal after Jury Trial, Exonerating him after 9 Years in Prison
But the prosecution retried Martinez for murder. Ferrentino represented Martinez at rre-trial and presented multiple forensic experts regarding the time and cause of Diana’s fatal injury. She also presented character evidence about how careful and caring martinez was with Diana. After three weeks of trial, the jury unanimously voted Not Guilty and Martinez was released from custody after 9 years in prison. He is now married with a child of his own and visits Ferrentino & Associates when in town.
Rodrigo Martinez is now a free man and you can learn more about his case by checking out The National Registry of Exonerations.
Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys in Southern California
Attorney Ferrentino and our entire team at Ferrentino & Associates are proud to have served Martinez and help him regain his freedom. We are also proud to serve many others like him and we will continue to use our time, talents, and collective experience to help wrongly convicted persons achieve justice. If you or someone you loved has been unfairly tried or unfairly convicted of a crime and subsequently punished, we can help.
Call (714) 973-2024 today or contact us online to schedule your free case review with a member of our legal team today.
PC 851.91 Who is Eligible for Sealing Arrest Records?
The law allowing individuals to petition the court to seal their criminal arrest records has been revised by California legislature. The new statute, Penal Code section 851.91, addresses the unfortunate social stigma from being arrested, especially in the case where the charges are dismissed or you are found not guilty. It is now possible to seal and destroy your arrest record without proving to the court you are factually innocent, a difficult standard to meet.
The new law applies to you if the statute of limitations for the prosecutor to charge you has passed, (one year for a misdemeanor and usually three years for a felony), or you were charged in court, but the case was later dismissed or you were found not guilty after trial. There are some exceptions when dealing with a government agency, but for most purposes, after the court orders the sealing and destruction of the records, you can affirmatively declare you have not been arrested in that case. For those who were never convicted but have been arrested, PC 851.91 recognizes the non-conviction and thus the issue of an arrest record negatively affecting the life of an individual who cannot be charged for the alleged crime.
How to Seal Arrest Records?
There is only one way to seal your arrest record; obtain an order from a judge in the jurisdiction where the arrest took place or where the case was filed. A hearing must be held to determine the specifics of your case/arrest and the eligibility for sealing the records.
Eligibility Requirements for Sealing Arrest Records Under PC 851.91 –
Not just anyone can seal their arrest records–and in some instances it is very difficult.
Eligible individuals are not necessarily guaranteed their records will be sealed. In some circumstances it is in the judge’s power and discretion to grant or deny your petition. These instances pertain to domestic violence and patterns of either child or elder abuse. These sorts of crimes involve vulnerable groups that often are family members and live together. It’s fitting that the court is bestowed the task of identifying a pattern of arrests around domestic abuse charges so that she or he does not seal a record, which may, in conjunction with many similar arrest records, point to a pattern of misconduct by the individual. Additionally, the judge must consider prior criminal records, evidence regarding the arrest, evidence regarding individual’s good moral character and any hardships caused by the arrest. This is the kind of comprehensive evaluation of your arrest and circumstances the attorneys at Ferrentino & Associates, Inc. develops to present the most compelling argument that you deserve relief, no matter your charges.
Contact us today if you are interested in clearing up your arrest record.
There has been much discussion and debate about the new bill AB1810 which was recently signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in June regarding a wide range of budget and health issues. The bill will provide numerous health safeguards for the public, such as specific protections for persons suffering from mental illness who find themselves in the criminal justice system. allows, under specific circumstances, for a defendant charged with a crime, misdemeanor or felony, to be diverted to mental health treatment for up to two years instead of facing a conviction, jail and prison. Yet the most obvious concern is that mentally competent people will use this as a means to escape prosecution. But what criteria must be met for diversion to take place? Let’s look.
First, the defendant must show that he or she suffers from a mental disorder. Second, this mental disorder must have played a significant role in the commission of the charged crime. Finally, a a mental health expert must then hold the opinion that the defendant’s symptoms motivating the criminal behavior would respond to mental health treatment. If the court is convinced of all three criteria, it can divert the defendant to treatment, and if successful, the defendant’s case will be dismissed.
Those opposing the new law are concerned about public safety. However, the bill also addresses this in the sense the court must deem the individual not posing any unreasonable risk to public safety (as well as to themselves). The true safety net to this bill is an extensive part of the section which primarily addresses the time while the defendant is in the program. They can be easily removed from the program for several reason; if they are charged with an additional misdemeanor or felony, if they are engaged in criminal conduct, if a qualified mental health expert deems they are performing unsatisfactory in program, or if the defendant is gravely disabled.
Another concern voiced by opponents of the law is that these records are completely erased and that there is no way to know who has participated in a diversion program. This is clearly not the case based on the following section of the bill;
(2) An order to seal records pertaining to an arrest made pursuant to this section has no effect on a criminal justice agency’s ability to access and use those sealed records and information regarding sealed arrests, as described in Section 851.92.
In all, it seems that AB1810 allows for the court to further consider the effect of a person’s mental health in relation to criminal activity, helping to address a deeply rooted tie between mental health and crime. And it also moves those suffering from mental illness out of prisons and into treatment facilities. Not only will this provide more humane treatment to ill individuals, it will save taxpayers a tremendous amount of money because prisons are simply not equipped to address the many needs of those suffering from mental illnesses.
If you have a loved one who is charged with a crime, contact Ferrentino & Associates today to see what alternatives to prosecution and jail are available for your loved one.