Sex Registration: the Law, Termination of Registration and Megan’s Law

Articles by Carina Castañeda 25 January 2015

The general rule is that California Penal Code (PC) Section 290 requires everyone who pled no contest, guilty, or convicted of a sex-related offense to register with at least one local law enforcement agency. In California, this is a lifetime requirement for most individuals.

What is a “sex-related offense”? These offenses could be no contact or deemed “non-violent” such as public urination, streaking, and “sexting.” This also includes violent and heinous offenses such as sexual assaults or rape but for the purposes, of registration, almost all offenders are treated the same.

How long you register for, and how difficult it is to terminate registry, varies state by state. At the stricter end of the spectrum, all sex offenders in California and South Carolina must comply with registration requirements for life, regardless of the crimes committed. Compare this with the rules in Utah, where many offenders are removed from the registry after 10 years.


Assembly Bill 2124: Deferral of sentencing on misdemeanor offenses

Articles by Carina Castañeda 12 January 2015

AB 2124 authorizes a county (Los Angeles) to establish a pretrial diversion program for defendants who have been charged with a misdemeanor offense and authorizes diversion programs, including for defendants with cognitive developmental disabilities, defendants in nonviolent drug cases, and traffic violations.

On January 1, 2015, Los Angeles County established a pilot program that gives superior court judges the power to delay the entry of a defendant’s guilty plea and defer sentencing for first time misdemeanor offenses for up to one year. If the judge allows a defendant diversion, the defendant may be allowed to complete a program that may include attending a treatment program or self-courses. Once the program is complete, a defendant may return to court to have his plea withdrawn and the case dismissed.

Not all misdemeanors are eligible for the diversion program. DUI cases, sex offenses, violent offenses, crimes committed by people who have prior convictions for any offense involving force and any person who has been offered diversion in the past.


What is Family Court Services Mediation? (Conciliation Court)

Articles by Carina Castañeda 31 December 2014

Many clients are confused why they have to attend mediation prior to a hearing involving child custody and/or visitation. The Family Court Services is part of the Superior court. The staff attempts to mediate disagreements between divorcing and/or separating parents regarding the care of their children. They are not attorneys—they are court employees.

Mediation is mandatory. If there is a custody dispute, both parents must attend. The Family code requires that if there is a contested issue regarding children, the parties must first attempt to resolve the matter before it is a litigated hearing (Family Code Section 3170). Mediation is required for dissolution, paternity, and guardianship cases.

Even though there is a requirement to mediate, there is no requirement that they reach an agreement. An appointment must be made prior to the scheduled court date. For domestic violence cases and those that have restraining orders, separate sessions are available upon request.


Safeguarding Your Money if You Anticipate a Bitter Divorce

Articles by Carina Castañeda 17 December 2014

If you think your divorce will be a fight, prepare to take the steps prior to the start of your divorce. Part of the divorce process is figuring out how you will pay for things until your divorce settlement is finalized. 

Despite significant gains by women, in many marriages it is still the husband who earns the larger (or the only) income and controls family finances. I will have clients who are unaware of their spouse’s exact income, how it is invested, how much is accessible, and how many and what type of accounts they own. 

During your marriage, you and your spouse likely had a joint account(s) from which household bills were paid. Once one of you files for divorce, withdrawals from these accounts may be legally restricted through an Automatic Temporary Restraining Order (ATRO). This is a court order prohibiting either spouse from making certain financial changes once a divorce action begins.


D.U.I. Checkpoints

Articles by Carina Castañeda 15 December 2014

A new client just called me about being arrested for a DUI from a checkpoint. Yes, as we know the holidays mean festivities and parties more likely than not include alcoholic beverages. So again, checkpoints are legal but the police are required to insure that state and federal laws are followed before they institute a checkpoint.

In California and in many states, police conducting checkpoints must comply with a strict guideline that is laid out by case laws. In California, the landmark case is  Ingersoll v. Palmer.  Why are these case laws and statutes critical?  If the police do not follow the protocol described in Ingersoll, the checkpoint is not lawful, and any evidence gathered during a driving under the influence (“drunk driving”) arrest may not be admissible in court. Without the evidence collected at the scene, most cases will be dismissed.

The court established 8 factors to minimize the intrusiveness on the individual being stopped, while balancing the needs of the society to keep the “drunk” drivers off the road.


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