Preparing for Immigration Reform

Articles by Carina Castañeda 24 November 2014

With the highly anticipated changes in immigration laws and policies of this country, one thing is clear, a criminal conviction(s) is something you need to fix. If you were convicted of a felony and released from state prison or other state penal institution in California by either being discharged on completion of the term for which you were sentenced, or released on parole) BEFORE 1943, you will be eligible for this relief. 

You cannot have been incarcerated in a state prison or other state penal institution or agency since having been released, and present satisfactory evidence of a three year continuous residence in California prior to the filing of the petition. (Penal Code  (PC) Section 4852.01(a)). You must demonstrate that you have lived an honest and an upright life, conducted yourself with sobriety and industry, exhibited a good moral character, and conformed to and obeyed the laws of the land since being released. (PC, Section 4852.05)

If you were convicted of a felony and confined in a state prison, institution, or agency, on MAY 13, 1943 OR AFTER, you may file for a certificate of rehabilitation (CR) and a governor’s pardon if you can show the following:

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Administrative Hearings Involving Your Professional Licenses (Part 2)

Articles by Carina Castañeda 17 November 2014

Those who hold professional licenses, such as real estate agents, nurses, contractors, lawyers or doctors have to be concerned with their licenses if they are convicted or even arrested of a criminal offense. For example, the California Board of Registered Nursing unanimously passed stringent standards that require nurses to submit fingerprints and undergo background checks when their license comes up for renewal every two years.  Registered nurses must indicate if they have been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony during the last renewal period, and the board will then review convictions on a case-by-case basis.

When a person whose profession requires a license has a criminal conviction, the respective licensing board will investigate the matter and often file an action against the licensee. It is important to clear the criminal record as soon as possible.  The key to defending a licensee being disciplined due to a prior conviction is to show that the individual has been fully rehabilitated. Termination of probation and expungement of the criminal record are two important factors that help establish rehabilitation.

Since this is an administrative hearing and not set in a courtroom setting, the licensee/applicant may be lulled into thinking it is not serious. This belief must immediately change. One’s livelihood is at stake and having an attorney present is crucial, at all stages of the proceedings. This insures that the board strictly adheres to the guidelines and enables the individual to have an effective defense attorney at his/her side prior to responding to the board’s inquiries.

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Administrative Hearings (Part 1)

Articles by Carina Castañeda 10 November 2014

Professional licensing agencies may suspend or revoke a license issued for reasons enumerated in the California Business and Professions Code (BPC). For many who have criminal convictions, whether they are doctors, nurses, contractors, they will be served and must defend against an accusation that   impacts their careers and livelihood. I had a client recently who had an underlying criminal conviction and had to defend her license in an administrative hearing.

It is critical to hire an attorney who is experienced in direct and cross-examination, gathering evidence and highly skilled in conducting hearings. In California, the Attorney General (AG) is the representative of the various professional licensing boards. Even prior to the date of the hearings, I worked with the Supervising Deputy AG in providing her mitigating evidence such as character letters and evidentiary documents lessening the culpability of my client.

Even though an early termination of probation and a criminal expungement may not be conclusive in getting the Board to withdraw the accusation, it is an important factor that enables the judge and the board to reconsider the gravity of the charges.

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Who Moves Out of the Family Home During a Divorce?

Articles by Carina Castañeda 02 November 2014

Many couples stay together after they separate, usually because it’s cheaper to live in one place with one set of bills. This is not possible for everyone, particularly if there is a high level of conflict. The questions then becomes, who moves out?  If there are children, generally the family lawyers should insure that the children’s stability is priority. Since instability will be foreseeable, all efforts of minimizing changes for the children should be the goal for both attorneys representing the clients.

Generally, it is the person who will be caring for the children that should stay in the home. However, if there are no minor children presently living with the couple, some common questions will be: Can you afford to get or rent a second home? Will either one of you be keeping the home? Can either of you afford to keep the home? If you are not married, who owns the home?

Do you risk losing your share of the property if you leave? If you have a legal right to a share in the property, you will not lose it by moving out. However, if you move out of the home while your spouse remains, it might be difficult later to convince the court that you should be allowed to return.  If there was a domestic violence issue and a restraining order has been temporarily ordered, the restrained party must comply with the court order to move out.

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Media Appearances

Atty. Castañeda: Visionary, Leader and Pioneer

As the high school student body president, Atty. Castañeda was eager to pursue leadership roles on a bigger scale. At University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), she was active in university politics, various organizations such as Samahang Pilipino and a national sorority. She graduated with honors in both History and Philosophy.

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Awards & Recognition