horse-statue-01Police have arrested a man from Near West Side, Chicago for allegedly vandalizing a police memorial statue on Michigan Avenue in Streeterville. 25-year-old Darius Moss was charged with three counts of criminal damage to property.

Authorities were notified of the vandalism late Friday night, when a witness called in to report the incident. The witness told the 911 operator that a person had climbed atop the police horse statue and was damaging it. When police arrived, Moss was still on one of the horse statues. Officers took him into custody without incident, charging him with the three counts previously mentioned.

Moss allegedly broke off the two wings connected to each side of the fiberglass horse. According to the police report, the police memorial statues have signs clearly marked which prohibit trespassing and climbing. Moss told investigators that he climbed on the horse to take pictures, and that any damage done to the horse was accidental. Police obtained video surveillance footage of the memorial site for evidence. It’s unknown at this time whether or not Moss was caught on tape vandalizing the horse statue.

The damaged horse is one of 29 in the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation’s “Horses for Honor” campaign. The life-size horses honor officers who were killed or critically injured in the line of duty, with the recently vandalized horse honoring  Lt. Patrick McGann, who was killed on July 13, 1977 when responding to a burglary report. The Chicago Police Memorial Foundation plans to auction off the horse statues at the end of the exhibit.

Throughout the duration of the memorial exhibit, police will be selling sponsorships for the various horses. To learn more about the Horses for Honor campaign and how you can sponsor one, visit The campaign will end this December, at which point all of the horses will be auctioned off.

The Horses of Honor is a public art installation in Chicago benefiting the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation. This project features lifesize statues of Chicago’s Police Horses that are artistically and individually produced and designed by local Chicago artists. From September until November 2014 these public art pieces will be on display in prominent locations throughout the City, such as Michigan Avenue and the airports, to honor the lives of our fallen heroes of the Chicago Police Department,” wrote the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation on its website.

Police records indicate that Moss’ first court hearing is Monday.

AMC Theater photo courtesy of Wally Gobetz via Flickr Creative Commons.

Authorities have arrested 20-year-old Manuel Joyne of Bowie Maryland for allegedly setting off half a dozen so-called “bottle bombs” at half a dozen movie theaters in Maryland and Virginia.

A bottle bomb is exactly what it sounds like: an improvised explosive device that consists of an acid and a base liquid stored inside a sealed container. When the two liquids are combined, it creates pressure that gradually builds up to the point where the plastic bottle can no longer sustain it; thus, creating an explosion that sends bits and pieces of plastic shrapnel and chemicals flying into the air.

Over a two-month period, Joyner allegedly placed bottle bombs at 5 different theaters on 6 occasions, resulting in costly evacuations that prompted local police and fire departments. Authorities captured whom they believe is a “person of interest” on one of the theater’s video surveillance cameras. It’s unknown if the person was Joyner.

Joyner was arrested in his home state of Maryland and charged with the manufacturing, possession and detonation of an explosive device. If convicted, Joyner faces a maximum 25-year prison sentence. A PG County judge had initially set Joyner’s bond for $50 million. At a later hearing, however, the judge denied bail altogether.

Following his arrest in Maryland, Joyner was arrested and charged by Virginia authorities for a string of bottle bombs which occurred in movie theaters throughout Va. One of the incidents occurred on May 18, when the remains of two bottles were discovered, both of which contained acid and metal.

When we come to these places, you think about being safe and you don’t think about stuff happening like that,” said Bruce Le, of Largo.

In a statement to the press, authorities said that Joyner had admitted to setting off the bottle bombs in all six movie theater incidents. There’s been no word yet on a motive behind the attack or whether or not Joyner has sought legal representation.

He admitted to his responsibility and involvement in all six incidents,” said Brian Radinsky, PG County fire marshal.

Authorities have also searched Joyner’s home, confiscating evidence which they believe is relevant to the case; however, they did not reveal exactly what was taken during the search. There’s still some belief that Joyner may have been working with an accomplice, so authorities aren’t ruling out the possibility of further arrests being made in connection with the theater bottle bombing incidents.

Vandalism is defined under the California Penal Code Section 594 and covers a wide range of offenses. Normally, vandalism is prosecuted as a misdemeanor, but depending upon the circumstances, some actions may be prosecuted as felonies.  Generally, a vandalism misdemeanor involves criminal activity punishable by no more than one year in a county detention facility. Because vandalism (specifically graffiti) can involve tens of thousands of dollars in damage, the fines levied by the Courts can be very stiff.

To prove a charge of vandalism, a prosecutor must demonstrate that the defendant defaced, damaged or destroyed the real property of another person by painting, marking, etching or chemically altering property belonging to someone else. Public property is also included in the definition and includes “real property, vehicles, signs, fixtures, furnishings, or property belonging to any public entity…”

Acts of vandalism that result in damage less than $400 can be punished by fines of up to $1,000, detention in a county jail facility of not more than 1 year, or both. Repeated acts of vandalism less than $400 can incur the same jail term, fines of up to $5,000 or both.

More serious acts of vandalism – those in which the damage exceeds $400 but does not exceed $10,000 can lead to a detention term of up to one year in a county facility and a fine of up to $10,000.  If the damage exceeds $10,000 the fine can be increased to as much as $50,000.

In addition to the potential detention and fines, those convicted of vandalism can also be required by the Court to clean, repair, replace or restore the damaged property. Defendants can also be required to maintain damaged property for as much as a year following sentencing, meaning that the defendant can be required to clean new vandalism that occurs to a damaged property, even if the defendant did not cause the subsequent acts of vandalism. Parents and guardians can also be required to participate in restitution requirements if a minor under their care is convicted of vandalism charges.

Felony charges can be applied in vandalism cases if the act of vandalism is directed toward a church, synagogue, mosque, temple or other building owned or used by religious organizations and the vandalism is found to be a hate crime committed for the purpose of deterring people from exercising their religious beliefs or freedoms.

Although most vandalism charges will be prosecuted as misdemeanors, the law allows for felony charges under some circumstances, and enhancements to vandalism charges may allow a Judge to apply longer sentences to defendants convicted under this section of the California Penal Code. The fines for acts of vandalism can be intense, and parents can face significant financial risk if one of their children is convicted of a vandalism charge.

Defendants who are facing vandalism charges need the help of a skilled criminal defense attorney. 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 vandalism in Ventura County, 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!

The New Year, the Fourth of July and other holidays might provide an opportunity for a little celebration, but celebrations should never include firearms. Celebrating the holidays with a firearm might trigger sanctions for firearms violations in Ventura County. Negligent discharge of a firearm, described in California Penal Code Section 246.3, can result in an incarceration in a county jail for up to one year.

The Penal Code defines negligent discharge of a firearm as the willful discharge of a firearm “in a grossly negligent manner which could result in injury or death to a person.” Celebratory gunfire would fall under this statute, if the prosecutor can prove that a defendant’s actions meet the legal definition of gross negligence. In California, juries are instructed to use the following definition when determining whether a defendant’s actions can be considered “grossly” negligent.

“A person acts with gross negligence when: [1] He or she acts in a reckless way that creates a high risk of death or great bodily injury. AND [2] A reasonable person would have known that acting in that way would create such a risk. In other words, a person acts with gross negligence when the way he or she acts is so different from the way an ordinarily careful person would act in the same situation that his or her act amounts to disregard for human life or indifference to the consequences of that act.”

The prosecutor is not required to prove that personal injury or death did occur as the result of the firearm discharge, but instead, only that the defendant’s actions created a high risk of death or injury. If the firearm discharge occurs in an area that is occupied by other people, or where other people are in close proximity (such as at a party, or in a populated area), the prosecutor can easily meet this burden. If, in the worst case, the negligent discharge of a firearm did result in personal injury or death, and the shooter is identified, far more serious felony charges would be applied.

Firearms violations in California are serious, and people who are facing firearms violations need the help of a competent California criminal defense attorney. 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 negligent discharge of a firearm, 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!