November 3rd, 2013
The federal Criminal Justice Act allows a defendant with little money to receive a defense attorney appointed by the court. Many of the cases in federal court have more than one defendant so each defendant receives a separate court appointed attorney.
There are downsides though to receiving a federal appointed attorney. First, a defendant cannot choose the lawyer. Some lawyers on the panel are much more qualified than others. Second, the court apponted attorneys often are time pressured by the court and limited in the amount of resources they can spend on the case. They have to apply to the court to receive money for investigation after a very low minimum amount has been made.
Finally, in the United States Southern District, the panel is selected by the judges of the district. This varies from other districts where the panel is administered by federal criminal defense attorneys. The CJA attorneys in the Southern District at times may feel pressure to please the judges more than their clients. Since the panel selection process is secret, a judge may have a defendant removed for almost any reason and without explanation.
Attorney Russell Babcock learned federal law by being on the panel for more than twenty years. But now, the law firm is one of the few in the city that remains completely free of panel membership. Many criminal lawyers in San Diego accept both federal appointments through the CJA panel and private clients.
The philosophy of our firm is to always serve the client, not the judiciary. Our constitutional obligations are to fight as hard as we can for every client. Not all judges like this approach to the practice of the law, but the most respected judges in San Diego respect us for our high ethics, which always include zealous representations of a client.
Your best choice as a defendant or for your family member is to hire a private attorney who works for you and does not have to answer in any way to the court. If you are unable to afford a private attorney, your next choice is to try to establish the best rapport you can with your court appointed attorney keeping in mind how busy they may be and the atmosphere in which they must operate. Do not hire an attorney who is unqualified for too little money because they will only harm your case.
At our office we limit the number of cases we work on to best serve you. We always have at least two attorneys available on call to serve you and we work with a team approach. Finally, we are completely independent and work only for you. We enjoy giving the extra time and attention to the cases in our law firm. That is what has shaped our practice, helped us to be so successful in our results, and distinguished us from the many other criminal defense lawyers in San Diego.
October 17th, 2013
Many individuals are confused with the procedure for federal criminal cases in the United States District Court in El Centro.
There are enough arrests, primarily for methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, and marijuana offenses, as well as money laundering and unlawful entry into the United States that the federal government decided to construct a courthouse in El Centro. The only problem is that while many defendants are arraigned here, there is only one judge, a magistrate judge, who is not empowered to sentence defendants for felony crimes. (For a further explanation, see the difference between a federal magistrate and district court judge.)
What this means is that all the El Centro felonies will eventually be transferred to San Diego for trial or sentencing. The transferring of serious drug cases, alien smuggling, and unlawful entry cases between El Centro and San Diego can be confusing and stressful. Attorney Russell Babcock has more than fifteen years of experience handling cases that orginate in El Centro and eventually come to the downtown San Diego federal court.
Call today for your free consultation. Sometimes we describe ourselves as “tour guides” to help get you through the complex maze of federal criminal laws and procedure. We are the preeminent criminal defense lawyers in defense of all cases in the Imperial Valley area including Calexico and Mexicali.
October 16th, 2013
On October 15, 2013, San Diego criminal defense lawyer Ryan Mardock, Chief Associate Attorney in the Law Office of Russell Babcock, was invited into the studios of Univision in San Diego to give a commentary on the guilty pleas of former San Diego Mayor, Bob Filner. On the same day as Mr. Mardock’s appearance, Mr. Filner pled guilty to felony and misdemeanor criminal charges, including battery and false imprisonment, for his misconduct with several female associates. ( To listen to Ryan’s insightful commentary in Spanish, please click here.) The law office routinely does commentary for Univision in important criminal cases, including border drug cases involving blind mules, sex cases, and other major felonies.
It was very wise of District Attorney, Bonnie Dumanis to recuse herself from Mr. Filner’s criminal prosecution because she ran against him in the primary election. If her office, instead of the Attorney General had prosecuted Mr. Filner, she would have put herself in the “no-win” situation of being criticized by some for being too tough on him and others for being too lenient.
What is unusual about the Filner plea agreement is that he pled to charges that do not allege sexual misconduct when the common denominator of all the complaints made by his female victims was sexual misconduct. In California, even for misdemeanor charges involving sexual misconduct, sexual registration is mandatory for life. So, obviously that is what is behind the Filner plea deal was about–avoiding having to register as a sex offender. Also it is highly unusual for the prosecutor to recommend house arrest for any charges involving sexual misconduct.
I will leave it to the readers to decide if justice was served by having Mr. Filner plead to criminal charges, including a felony, or if justice was thwarted by the plea to charges not requiring sexual registration or jail time.
Everyone is entitled to a fair defense. And at our law offices, we fight hard to achieve the best results for all of our clients. Regardless of how you feel about the Filner criminal case, the prosecution of Mr. Filner reaffirms the legal maxim that no one is above the law.
October 8th, 2013
Criminal attorneys Russell Babcock and Ryan Mardock have now expanded their practice to the East as well covering the Calexico-Mexicali areas and the United States District Court in El Centro. With the heavy enforcement and new technology for drug screening at the San Ysidro, and Otay Mesa Ports of Entry, there are many more federal arrests for methamphetamine, cocaine, marijuana and heroin cases taking place at the old and new ports of entry in Calexico.
Many lawyers don’t like making the drive to El Centro from San Diego but Russell and Ryan will go where they are needed. Many serious cases with ten year mandatory minimum sentences are now being filed every week in the El Centro Office.
Russell and Ryan are both fluent Spanish speakers and look forward to handling more cases involving drugs and narcotics, money laundering, and illegal immigration in the El Centro area.
Don’t feel that you cannot obtain a good defense attorney simply because the case is filed in the Imperial Valley. Call the law firm today to schedule a consultation for you or a loved one.
September 23rd, 2013
Unfortunately, many people mistakenly think that they should not spend money on a criminal defense attorney if they are guilty. Nothing could be further from the truth. Many times there is an available defense, even when a crime was committed. Also, the government may not be able to prove the commission of a crime.
When a person pleads guilty, there is usually a great range of punishment available to the court. Many criminal attorneys stop working on a case after a guilty verdict or a guilty plea. That is when our work often begins.
We have saved many clients five, ten or more years of jail by preparing thoroughly for sentencing.
We will advise you and help you make the decision whether you should plead guilty after considering the weight of the evidence against you and the possible defenses. But we will never pressure you to plead guilty if you wish to have a jury decide your case. At the Law Offices of Russell Babcock, we are experienced in defending the criminal case from start to finish.
September 14th, 2013
Many less experienced criminal defense attorneys attempt to arrange bail for non-U.S. citizens. Most often this turns out to be a disaster.
The general rule is that for most federal felonies, if convicted any non-United states citizen will be deported.
If bail is granted by the federal criminal court, for instance, in a serious drug case, generally an ICE (Immigrations and Customs Enforcement) hold has already been placed on the client. That means that the client will be taken from the criminal jail to the immigration jail and not given credit toward the criminal case for any days of custody.
As you can see, arranging bail in federal cases, is especially complicated. At the Law Offices of Russell S. Babcock, we are experts in securing your liberty. Do not trust your future to non-criminal law specialists. In the Law Offices, we have more than thirty years of experience helping you secure the best result possible in your San Diego federal criminal case.
September 9th, 2013
Many individuals confuse immigration attorneys with criminal attorneys. An immigration attorney will help you if you are trying to obtain permission to come to the United States, to remain in the United States, or to avoid deportation. A criminal attorney will help you if you are charged with breaking the laws of the United States or the federal government.
The confusion arises when a person has an immigration problem and commits a criminal offense at the same time such as entering into the United States illegally. That can lead to both deportation and jail time. Also, criminal convictions for serious drug offenses such as methamphetamine and cocaine smuggling can lead to immediate deportation and a lifetime ban from returning to the United States.
In the Law Offices of Russell Babcock, we will help you figure it out. We will help you devise a strategy that will help protect your immigration status. We are criminal lawyers , but when necessary can refer you to very good immigration specialist when necessary. Getting the best outcome on your criminal charges will help you protect your immigration status
August 31st, 2013
Many individuals wonder why there are two types of federal judges and what the difference is between them.
A magistrate judge is appointed by the District court judges to serve a renewable term of ten years. They are much more limited in the matters that they can handle. They cannot try or sentence a person on a felony case. More than 95% of the charges filed in the Southern District of California are felony charges so the magistrate can only handle the initial court hearings such as arraignment, the bail hearing, and take the change of plea, which is later reviewed by a District Court Judge.
In the El Centro Courthouse, there is only one magistrate judge. That is the reason why all felony cases that originate in El Centro come to San Diego several weeks after an arrest is made.
The United States District Court Judge is appointed by the President of the United States and is tenured for life. Most important, this judge presides over felony trials and sentencing.
Including the magistrate judge in El Centro, Peter Lewis, and the Senior District Court Judges, who are semi-retired, there are currently 17 District Court Judges and 12 magistrates serving in the Southern District of California, which includes all San Diego and Imperial County. I have personally appeared in front of every one of these judges except the one newest magistrate judge.
It is important that the criminal defense attorney who represents you or a loved one have a very intimate knowledge of all of the assigned judges. Unlike the State court, a defendant has no right to change judges. Of course, all of the judges are human beings with their own biases and points of view. Some judges genuinely care about the family circumstances of a defendant whereas others are more analytical and focus more on the aspects of the case. At the Law Offices of Russell Babcock, we feel it is very important to know the background of each judge so we can make the most effective presentation for our clients.
August 25th, 2013
There are many attorneys that call themselves ”criminal law specialists” but few of them really are.
In order for an attorney in California to become certified as a criminal law specialist, the attorney must take and pass an intensive written examination demonstrating exceptional knowledge in the area of criminal law. The attorney must also demonstrate a high level of experience in the practice of criminal law and been favorably evaluated by other defense attorneys, prosecutors and judges familiar with their work. The attorney must also fulfill ongoing educational requirements in the field of criminal law.
To date there are only approximately 350 certified criminal law specialists in the State of California. There are over 220,000 lawyers, licensed to practice law in the State of California. So that means that only one out of six hundred attorneys is a criminal specialist.
Founder and owner of the firm, Russell S. Babcock has been a criminal law specialist for almost twenty years. He became a specialist when there were fewer than twenty in San Diego County.
If you are charged with a felony, a drug or cyber crime, a sexual assault, or any serious crime, only trust your future to the best. If you had to have heart surgery, you would certainly want a heart specialist. The same is certainly true with being charged with a crime—don’t settle for less than a California State Certified Criminal Law specialist.
August 25th, 2013
It makes you wonder what took the Obama administration five years to wake up.
Attorney General Eric Holder announced this week that he will ask his Assistant United States Attorneys ( prosecutors) to not specify the amount of drugs in drug charges for low level drug dealers who are not connected with cartels. The idea is that by not alleging the weight of the drugs, the defendants will not be subject to mandatory sentences of five or ten years.
Mr. Holder apparently realized that since former President Richard Nixon declared the “war on drugs” in 1971, US prison numbers have soared to account for 25% of all the world’s prisoners even though it has only 5% of the world’s population.
Mark Mauer, executive director of The Sentencing Project, an advocacy group for reform, described Holders proposals as a “significant development” which he hoped would stimulate debate and effect real change.
Around half of the 200,000 people in federal prisons are locked up for drug offenses and about 60% are sentenced under mandatory sentencing provisions, according to Mauer. Around 45% of the 25,000 people incarcerated every year for drug offenses are lower level offenders such as street level dealers and couriers.
In San Diego and Calexico most of the federal drug crimes involve mules who cross the drugs from Mexico to the United States, and sometimes, “blind mules”, those who unknowingly cross drugs into this country.
To date I have not seen any whole scale implementation of the Holder policy. But I have used the Holder statement as negotiating tool in my many San Diego drug cases.
At the Law Offices of Russell Babcock, the lawyers remain up to date on all developments in federal drug cases. As the pre-eminent San Diego criminal defense lawyers of drug and narcotic cases, we will fight for you to help you achieve your goals.