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Sam Worthington: photo by Eva Rinaldi.

Hollywood actor Sam Worthington was recently arrested on charges of battery after he allegedly punched photographer Sheng Li in the streets of New York City. According to eyewitness accounts, Worthington punched Li in the face after Li kicked his girlfriend. The incident occurred around 5:30 P.M. Sunday at NYC’s Greenwich Village.

Footage of NYC street brawl shows Worthington confronting a photographer for kicking his “wife” (it’s actually his girlfriend, although he refers to her as his wife in the video). Worthington approaches the photographer, Sheng Li, and proceeds to punch him in the face, knocking him down.

The official police report filed by Sam Worthington and his girlfriend Lara Bingle claims the photographer kept getting in their way and was following them for several hours. It also says that Li deliberately tried to trip them on several occasions, at which point Bingle attempted to take the Li’s camera.

Following the incident, New York City police arrested Sam Worthington on charges of assault. Sheng Li was also charged with assault, reckless endangerment and harassment.

Li’s attorney, Ronald Kuby, denies any wrongdoing on his client’s behalf. Kuby claims that Li was does nothing wrong when he was attacked by Bingle and Worthington. Kuby is standing by his client and plans to fight the charges of assault, reckless endangerment and harassment.

According to TMZ, Li failed to present press credentials and remains in custody.

Ronald Kuby, the photographer’s attorney, said the following:

Ms. Bingle was the one that attacked him. She claims that Mr. Li was following her for four hours and then runs up and kicks her in the shins. In what world does that make any sense?

Worthington is most known for his role in the 2009 blockbuster sci-fi movie Avatar, which he played a paraplegic U.S. marine named Jake Sully. Avatar went on to become the highest grossing film of all time, earning a total of $2.73 billion worldwide. Due to the success of Avatar, there are now three sequels currently in the works, the first of which is expected to his theaters in 2016. Some of Worthington’s other movie and television roles include Clash of The TitansWrath of The TitansMacbeth, RogueTerminator SalvationMan on a Ledge and Drift,. In 2009, he was named Man of The Year by GQ Australia.

What do you think about Sam Worthington’s recent altercation with the photo-snapping paparazzi?

snowball-01Snowball fights are one of the small joys offered by mother nature during this otherwise cold and unforgiving part of the year. Recently, though, this winter activity resulted in a felony battery charge when a 13-year-old unnamed boy in Chicago was accused of throwing a snowball at a local police officer.

The frosty incident occurred Wednesday afternoon when students were playing on the school’s playground, tossing snowballs at one another. That’s when a nearby police officer claims he was struck in the arm by a snowball pelted from a group of about a dozen students.  Initially, he didn’t know who was responsible for the snowball pelting incident, but through some investigative research he was able to identify the culprit.

Both the school dean and security officer identified the 13-year-old boy as the snowball thrower, at which point the police offer charged him with a felony battery charge of assaulting a peace officer.

It made me mad. He [the officer] said the snowball hit him but it hit the car, not him,” said the eighth grader who is charged with battery of a police officer.

Following the incident, the boy was placed in the backseat of the police cruiser and taken into custody on charges of felony assault on a peace officer. Since he’s under the age of 18, he was charged as a juvenile. The police later stated that the accused snowball thrower doesn’t have any gang affiliations.

To make matters worse the boy, the school also suspended him for five days. With the end of the school year coming fast approaching, five days are critical to the success of any student. However, the school was within its legal rights to suspend the boy given that both the dean and security officer identified him as the snowball-pelting culprit.

The 13-year-old boy’s mother said the following to reporters in regards to the snowball charge:

He kept trying to tell the officer that he didn’t do it but they didn’t believe him. He was standing on the corner, there was a whole crowd of kids. It’s so crazy.

Unfortunately, incidents such as this are all-too-common in today’s society. Back in 2010, a women in Washington D.C. was charged with a felony count of assault after tossing a snowball at a police officer.

What do you think about the 13-year-old boy’s felony snowball charge? Was it a bit too harsh?

twitter-logo-01Think Twitter is only useful as a social platform for sharing your thoughts and views on a particular subject in 140 characters or less? While it’s certainly become the hottest social networking site for sharing the ‘brief’ messages, the Rome police force has found a different use for it: to locate illegally parked cars, scooters or other automobiles.

Rome police have set up a Twitter accounted dedicated specifically for locating illegally parked cars. They encourage both residents and tourists to Tweet the location and details of any illegally parked vehicles to @PLRomaCapitale. Once the details are Tweeted over to the authorities, they typically respond with a time frame. Most residents who’ve used the new Tweeting system claim that Rome police respond within a couple hours.

You might be wondering why the police force decided to use Twitter to try and locate illegally parked cars. After all, how much of a problem can a couple illegally parked cars create? To put the problem into perspective, you must first look at the population of the city. The 2010 census for Rome was 2.753 million residents, half of which own private vehicles.

According to some estimates, there are approximately 70 vehicles for every 100 residents in Rome, clogging the narrow streets and historic passages. If you’ve visited Rome or other historic cities throughout Italy, you’re probably well aware of their long, windy and incredibly narrow roads. Some of these roads are hundreds of years old, so the government isn’t going to change them simply to keep up with the modernization of new automobiles. Unfortunately, this has led to many people parking their cars and vehicles wherever they choose, disregarding local traffic laws.

One of the biggest traffic problems in Rome is double parking. Drivers are allowed to park on the sides of most streets as long as they are up against the curb so cars may still pass. However, double parking occurs when a driver parks his or her car directly next to a car that’s already parked against the curb. With over 2.7 million residents packed into the Rome, drivers park their vehicles wherever they choose, compounding the problem of traffic congestion. The city’s already narrow streets become even more difficult — and oftentimes impossible — to travel when cars are double parked.

Raffaele Clemente, head of Rome’s urban police force, said the following:

Sharing, such as on social networks, is needed to fight certain patterns of illegality and rule-breaking, and also of crime.

Photoxpress_18853714DNA testing is a pivotal tool used by law enforcement agencies. If a piece of hair, skin or saliva residue is left behind at the scene of a crime, forensic pathologists can identify its DNA structure and hopefully match is with a suspect’s DNA. Currently, DNA testing takes several weeks to complete, but this could change very soon thanks to a new screening technology being developed by the Global Alliance for Rapid DNA Testing.

According to Pentagon officials and researchers close to the project, the new DNA screening technology is in the final stages
of completion. Once complete, it will allow law enforcement officials to accurately identify DNA in just an hour and half. Obviously, that’s a monumental improvement from the current 2-3 week time frame required for DNA screening.

Chris Asplen, executive director of the Global Alliance for Rapid DNA Testing said the following:

When it comes to solving crime (not proving it in court but actually using DNA to find the killer, rapist, burglar, etc.) the value of DNA as an investigative tool is directly proportional to the speed at which it can be leveraged in any given investigation.”

The 90-minute DNA screening project is called the Accelerated Nuclear DNA Equipment (ANDE). The Pentagon is aiming for a completion date by June, but this may get pushed back due to legal road blocks and technology issues.

With the time frame for DNA screening being reduced to just 90 minutes, law enforcement agencies can perform on-site tests rather than sending samples off to the lab for analysis. In addition to saving time, ANDE technology will also cut costs by eliminating the need for lab analysis.

Asplen later stated that 90-minute DNA screening would prove useful in a variety of situations beyond local law enforcement, some of which includes immigration, war crimes, human trafficking, and identifying high-profile terrorists.

But there’s one major problem that must be addressed before the 90-minute DNA testing becomes a reality. When the DNA testing laws were originally created back in the early 1990s, they specifically stated that only DNA tests done in accredited labaratory may be entered into the national DNA database. Changing the laws to include on-site testing shouldn’t be a huge challenge, but it’s still one more task that must be addressed before they can legally enter DNA into the national database.

What are your views on the new 90-minute DNA screening technology? Let us know in the comments section below!

A 40-year-old man was arrested recently in Oxnard, after police witnessed him starting a fire near a set of railroad tracks. The arresting officer noticed the man stoking a fire, but when the officer approached the man, he became argumentative and attempted to leave the area. The officer called in a K-9 unit, which subdued the suspect. The suspect was recently arrested in connection with another arson, also in Oxnard.  In addition to being charged with arson, the suspect will also face charges of resisting arrest and threatening a police officer.

The Courts treat arson charges in California seriously.  Arson and other fire-related crimes are defined under the California Penal Code in Sections 451 through 457. According to the law, a person commits arson when he (or she) “willfully and maliciously sets fire to or burns or causes to be burned or who aids, counsels, or procures the burning of, any structure, forest land, or property.”

When many people think of arson, they think of a fire set for the purpose of committing insurance fraud on a property they own.  Although those types of fires are included in the arson statutes, it is possible to be convicted of arson when the accused does not stand to receive any material benefit from having set the fire.

An arson conviction can result in a prison sentence of up to nine years, depending upon the circumstances of the fire, and whether or not the arson resulted in substantial injury to a person, involved an inhabited structure, or resulted in damage to a structure or land.  Special enhancements can be applied to persons previously convicted of arson, circumstances where firefighters or other emergency personnel were injured, multiple people were injured, multiple buildings were burned, or accelerants or delay devices were used to start or encourage the fire.

Persons convicted of arson are also required under state law to register with local law enforcement agencies, in some cases, for the rest of their lives. Courts can also require persons convicted of arson to undergo psychiatric evaluations as part of preparation for sentencing.

If you are facing an arson charge in Ventura County, you need the experience of a dedicated criminal defense attorney in Court. Robert M. Helfend is a criminal defense attorney in Ventura County, and has successfully defended clients facing California criminal charges for 30 years. Mr. Helfend provides aggressive criminal defense in Ventura County. For a consultation on your case involving arson, contact the Law Offices of Robert M. Helfend toll-free at (800) 834-6434 or locally at (805) 273-5611, (310) 456-3317, or (818) 591-2809. Robert M. Helfend is an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you!

 

Two Thousand Oaks men have each pleaded guilty to a single felony count of street terrorism and two counts second-degree robbery. The plea stems from a pair of bank robberies the trio committed in Thousand Oaks in early- and mid-2013. The two men admitted to robbing the same Citibank branch in Thousand Oaks twice within four months.

Because both male defendants have admitted to prior felonies and have special enhancements related to the robberies, they are expected to receive a prison term of twelve years. A third person, a 21-year old female, served as the getaway driver for both robberies and is currently serving a five-year sentence for one count each of street terrorism and robbery.

What is “street terrorism” and when is this charge applied?  The California Street Terrorism Enforcement and Prevention (STEP) Act of 1988 introduced the crime of “street terrorism.” The Act was designed to curb crimes committed in support of gang activities in California. The Act is defined under the California Penal Code Section 186.2, and makes it a crime to be a member of a street gang and assist in criminal activities designed to support the gang or its members.

Participation in a street gang can be punished by detention in the county jail for a period of not more than one year, or by prison terms ranging from 16 months to three years, depending upon the circumstances surrounding the crime. Most STEP enhancements can extend prison sentences by as much as 15 years. For certain convictions, STEP enhancements can extend a prison sentence by 25 years to life in prison! Street terrorism sentences are served consecutively with any other sentences applied by a Judge, meaning that they are served in addition to any other sentences.

You do not need to be a member of a street gang to be charged with a STEP offense. If you merely aid a gang member in the commission of a gang-related felony, you can be convicted under the STEP Act. The seriousness of a STEP Act charge and the accompanying prison terms mean that you need the help of a competent criminal defense.

Robert M. Helfend is a criminal defense attorney in Ventura County, and has successfully defended clients facing California criminal charges for 30 years. Mr. Helfend provides aggressive criminal defense in Ventura County. For a consultation on your case involving STEP Act violations, contact the Law Offices of Robert M. Helfend toll-free at (800) 834-6434 or locally at (805) 273-5611, (310) 456-3317, or (818) 591-2809. Robert M. Helfend is an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you!