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Concealed Weapons (Who should be allowed to carry)

I grew up I’m an environment that was gun neutral. My parents were not pro – or – anti guns. Therefore I never developed strong personal feelings about the issue.
Once I became a Deputy District Attorney several of my colleagues obtained their concealed weapons permit and I contemplated getting one as well. However, after several trips to the gun store I opted not to carry a firearm. Although I was slightly enamored with the sig sauer 45 caliber hand gun. I was often asked by people why I did not carry a firearm as a Deputy District Attorney and many people suggested that I should at least get the permit just in case I ever felt threatened. I ultimately decided that I did not want that responsibility, yet I always respected the rights of others to carry and conceal if permitted.
Earlier this year the 9th Circuit Court of appeals ruled that the San Diego County requirement that required a citizen applying for a concealed weapon permit show “good cause” was an unconstitutional infringement on the 2nd amendment.
Since this court decision many people have asked me my opinion regarding the relatively strict requirements of obtaining such a permit in this county. Honestly I have mixed views. As a former prosecutor and a concerned citizen I have seen the devastation that fire arms in the wrong hands can cause. However,  we do need a reasonable system that allows law abiding citizens to protect themselves if they are threatened and concerned for their safety. So what should be done?

Well I think that the good cause standard should be revised and a system that focuses more on gun safety and mental stability should be established. Most gun crimes do not involve people who have a concealed weapons permit. Therefore let’s focus on evaluating the individual and not arbitrarily denying the permit. Oh and I still do not want to carry a gun.

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http://www.dontewyatt.com/weapons-charge.html

The Good, the Bad and I guess that makes me the Ugly .. . .

I haven’t blogged for a while. I have been busy with work, life etc. Actually, I had been meaning or rather wanting to blog about one of the most disappointing moments in my legal career. It was a moment in which I was confronted with something that I knew existed but had not had to deal with directly on any of my cases. I thought long and hard about posting the incident, but ultimately decided that I should couple the negative story with something positive, hence the name of this thread the good, the bad and the ugly.

As some of you know I am a former prosecutor and I generally hold law enforcement and prosecutors in reasonably high regard. Do I believe officers and prosecutors make mistakes? Yes they are people! Do I think reports can be written and evidence can be reviewed with a presumed conclusion of guilt? It happens. But I think most people in those jobs are trying to do the right thing and enter the profession for the right reason.

However, there is one flaw that I think is pervasive in the system. I call it ” pass-the-buck-itis”. This is a highly pervasive disease that you see in the criminal justice and criminal court systems. I am sure as a young prosecutor I probably suffered from it on an occasion or two, but I know when I had the opportunity and authority I never hesitated to do what I thought was right. But officers often submit cases to the prosecutor so that the prosecutor can make the the decision to not issue versus writing a report that concludes that no charges should be filed. Prosecutors will often put decisions in the hand of the court when they have the authority to act. Preliminary hearing judges will state on the record that a charge should be reduced yet not exercise their authority to reduce the charge. All of these individual have the power and authority and some would say an obligation to make the decision that is in front of them.

Although this “itis” is pervasive there are people that have conviction and fortitude and do what they believe is right. Recently I had a case that deserved to be dismissed. I thought that it was going to be a long and hard battle to get to that result. Contrary to my prediction, early in the case the file was handed to a prosecutor who has no problem making decisions and they were prepared to and in fact did dismiss the charges. Now this prosecutor is actually a hard nosed, aggressive prosecutor, but he is ethical and decisive. The kind of prosecutor you do not want on your case because he will leave no rock unturned, he knows the law well and he is aggressive. But he does what he thinks is right, and he has the fortitude to stand by his decisions. It was a breath of fresh air.

Now the bad . . . . . .
I perivously had a case where a search warrant was lawfully executed. My client was arrested and charged with a felony. Now my client was allegedly engaged in a criminal enterprise, but had no prior criminal record. It took several months to resolve the case and during this time i got to know my client pretty well. I pierced his many defensive layers and got to know him. His fears, his frustrations even his aspirations. During these several months my client actually began to turn his life around. By the end of the case he was beginning to start progressing towards a new career.

As we were beginning to close the case out we were going over all of the evidence logs and the receipt and inventory. He had asked about the siezed monies before and I explained that if law enforcement wanted to forfiet the funds he would be mailed a notice and we would have to contest the forfeiture. The forfieture letter never came. As we reexamined every piece of evidence we noticed that the amount of money that was listed was different then what my client indicated was taken. Normally I would have concluded that might client was mistaken, lying or exaggerating, however after spending so much time with my client I knew he wasn’t lying. I remember looking into his eyes and seeing the disbelief in his face after he realized that the reports were not consistent with what he knew was seized.

I then explained to him that we can file a complaint and allege that money was missing and not accounted for in the reports. He next asked what would happen if he in fact filed the complaint. I told him the complaint would go in the person’s file and there maybe an investigation, but it will probably not lead to him getting any of the money back. He sat there for a moment apparently contemplating the situation. Then he surprised me with what he said next. “Well I have moved on with my life, that money was part of my old life they can keep it I am a new man now. I am not going to waist my time or your time filing a complaint. They know what they did” I was astounded. I was proud of the growth of my client, yet heart broken by the system I dedicated many years of my life too. I was angry and wanted to fight, but knew the fight would be symbolic only because it is not likely that anything would be done with out additional evidence corroborating my clients statements.

As far as the ugly . . . Well the truth that my client’s word and the truth would likely be meaningless is an ugly part of the system.

Now I still know or believe that this is unusual and most officers are hard working, honest and they are doing the best that they can and are assets and an important and critical part of our society.

http://www.dontewyatt.com

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Year Two

This past year has been quite a learning experience. The world of criminal defense and running my own business has been challenging and rewarding simultaneously. Helping people when they are at a difficult stage in there life has been quite fulfilling. However. I have learned a great deal about myself and the people I have worked vigorously to defend. I learned that some people will lie to you about facts even after you explain the concept of attorney client privilege and how important it is to be honest with your attorney at all times. I learned that the business side of law can be as challenging as the practice of law itself. It is difficult balancing the desire to help people with the financial realities of living in a capitalist society. I further learned that some people will never be satisfied with the results, even after you accomplish more than what they asked for in the initial consultation. I have also watched as people expect the world from me while they are failing to fulfill there financial obligations. But overall the experience has been great. I have been able to help people get back on track with their life and even find new directions and accomplish goals that seem insurmountable when we first met. All in all the first year has been a success, and I look forward to many more years in the service of others.

 

San Diego Criminal Attorney

Priors

Prior convictions have a dramatic impact on the sentence and treatment of many people in the criminal justice system, and there are many different types of priors. Most people have heard of strike priors, but there are also theft priors, narcotics priors, prison priors and nickel or serious felony priors. Most priors can be dismissed or stricken by the court or prosecutor or in some situations not filed at all. However, there are some priors that can not be stricken or dismissed once charged.

In the criminal justice system today priors play a vital roll in how the court and the prosecutor views a person charged with a crime. Is it always fair? When it is not fair who’s responsibility is it to step up and insure that the system does not improperly over punish a person for who they used to be? The easy answer is the criminal defense attorney. He or she is the person in the system that has the greatest access to the person charged with a crime. He or she is required to represent the interest of the person charged. However, does the court, the prosecutor and probation share an equal responsibility in advocating for the person charged or at least being reasonable and keeping the person’s history in perspective. As a criminal defense attorney you constantly fight (a sometimes uphill battle) to have the person charged and sentenced based on who he is today versus some interpretation of who he is based on his past. As a former prosecutor I used to have to help make those decisions and it was always a difficult task, because many people will say whatever they think will help lower their sentence. However, simply because a task is difficult does not mean it is not a worthwhile endeavor.

When I was a prosecutor I use to often surprise people when they started to ask me what my primary responsibility was as a prosecutor. Most people would say my job was to send people to jail. Others who were more contemplative would say I was responsible for holding people accountable for their criminal conduct or to enforce the law. However, my answer was always much different. As a prosecutor the answer to the question was always simple and consistent through out my decade in the office. I would always say my primary responsibility was to do “Justice”. That could include sending someone to prison, just as it could include dismissing a case or deciding not to file charges. Now my perspective as a prosecutor was not my own extrapolation it was what I was taught as a young prosecutor by several prosecutors that I held in high esteem. Most prosecutors would agree with that definition to some extent even if they feel the need to add on other worthy interpretations such as protecting the community and enforcing the law etc.

I have never been a judge, however based on my years in the criminal justice system I would believe or at least hope that some if not all judges believe that justice is their core responsibility or among their core responsibilities. Alternatively, the criminal defense attorney is primarily charged with representing the interest of their client and insuring that their client’s rights are protected. Therefore based on my interpretation of the primary and or a major component of each groups prime objective the issue of priors should be of a particular concern for all parties. Would any group contend that a person should be judged based on who they used to be or who they are today and their future prospects for criminality? I would hope not. However, as I used to say as a prosecutor, although my primary objective is to do justice it is sometimes difficult to get people to agree as to what justice demands. Similarly, the parties in the criminal justice system may not always agree as to whether the prior history of a defendant is reflective of who they used to be versus who they are today. 

If Justice is the mandate or part of the mandate of a party it should be part of the decision to charge or dismiss priors when the law grants discretion.

An Attorney You Can Trust

Ethics?

I recently had a situation where I found myself being asked to do something that I was not sure was in the person’s best interest. The person had every right to pursue the path. There was nothing ethically wrong with me assisting them in the pursuit, however the probability of the outcome being in the person’s best interest was low. I explained the probabilities to the person and they still wanted to pursue the path. I would note that the person was very emotional about the situation and it was hard to tell if their thinking was primarily driven by emotion or reason.

I reviewed the situation with a close friend that I often discuss business with. He is not an attorney, but he is a pure capitalist of the Vanderbilt vein. He often gives me blunt and straight forward business advice. So I speak to my friend about the situation. I give him general information in the form of an analogy so that he can have enough information to ascertain the positions and dilemma in the quandary, but not enough information for him to know the entire story or to compromise the attorney client privilege.

Mr. Capitalist was straight forward in his responses. “Does the client have the money to pay for your services?”

I responded “yes”.

He continued “Does the client fully understand the possible negative consequences?”

I respond “I explained it to him on at least two occasions and he appears to understand the risk”.

He next asked “Is there any ethical or legal prohibition preventing you from doing what he is asking?”

I respond “No”.

Then he concludes “Well take the money and get to work before he realizes that he is making a grave error!”

I paused. Then I responded, “I just do not feel as if this is the most prudent path.”

Mr. Capitalist appeared somewhat frustrated and exhorted ” Well you are not in business to feel good. Business is about making money.”

We moved on to other topics, however the subject and Mr. Capitalist’s statements stayed in the forefront of my mind.

Ultimately, I talked to the client one additional time and further explained my concerns about his chosen path and although he was ready to proceed and the funds were available for payment I told him to think it over for a couple of days. I then proceeded to prepare a retainer agreement and a corresponding addendum (disclaimer) for him to sign indicating that I fully explained to him all of the possible negative consequences and the probability of one or more of those negative consequences resulting from the clients desired path.

The entire ordeal made me think a lot about my new vocation as a criminal defense attorney. I fully understand that I have transitioned from an employee to a business man (a “Business Man” in the business of law). So how do I prioritize the need and desire to make money with ultimate desire to feel as if I am helping people? This question is easily answered when a client is asking me to engage in unethical or illegal conduct the answer is simply “NO”. However, how do you balance these competing interest when the client is just making a questionable decision. If I owned a restaurant and someone came in and ordered something that would be disgusting to most of the world and may turn their stomach, I can easily say “Well that is what they ordered.” However, I am not a restaurateur and I work in a field where people can lose their liberty for a long period of time. Therefore, simply saying “Well that is what they ordered” does not cut it.

Just a few random thoughts on ethics.

The Grind

The practice of law reflects the same ups and downs as any other business. However in the practice of law as a solo practitioner you are obligated to maintain your effectiveness as an attorney all while trying to make good sound business decisions to allow your practice to grow. The first thing I noticed after leaving the District Attorney’s Office after ten years of service was that empty feeling I felt when I looked at the calendar and it had finally sunk in that those every other Fridays when money magically appeared into my account (direct deposit) were over. Actually, I still teach so I do receive some money in that fashion, but my primary income has to be found and earned.

Now after I realized that the biweekly contributions the county once made to my bank account had ceased, I next wondered, well where do I get money from now. From that point on I began to think (or at least try to think) like a business man. I actually went to some chamber of commerce events, and other business networking events in an attempt to help change my mindset from public employee to self employed (in the business of Law) Lawyer. These early seminars did help some I had never thought much about overhead (the county just handed me supplies and anything I needed there was a form or invoice to fill out), Marketing, or building stronger relationship in your community to increase your referrals. I further learned about the importance of Internet Marketing, Google AdWords, SEO and something called the Google Algorithm. I had to quickly adapt and discovery the meaning of all of these terms because they have a critical effect on how I am going to progress and grow my practice. No I have not mastered these ideas or terms, I just have enough of a working knowledge of these terms to have a superficial conversation, and to know when a marketing sales man is full of $hit. In addition, to learning about marketing and running a business I also received a few referrals from these meetings. The referrals I received alone made the experience worth my time. In addition, I crossed paths with several people in the community that I had known in my past, but I had lost touch with do to the complications of life.

So Why do I say “Grind”, well my new life requires me to think about generating income every chance I get, and as a practicing attorney I do not have a lot of time between meeting with clients preparing for court and going to court. However all the work and clients I have are based on past efforts and if I do not keep “grinding” I will look up and I will be out of work, which means out of income. I have been blessed thus far, and with the help of several people in the legal community, and several friends and associates I have been able to stay productive and busy. However, I am slowly realizing that I will have to be on my “grind” for a while. I had a month were I had several new clients all sign up in the first two weeks of the month. I was happy and thought I had reached some new milestone, gotten over some hump and things were about to become steady and consistent. I started diligently working on those cases and I stopped doing the things that ultimately led those clients to my door step. After a few weeks I noticed that I had not had a new client in a while. I went back through my books and confirmed it, at that point I realized that I have a long way to go and a lot more “grinding” to do.

Being on the “Grind”, is fun, scary, exciting and liberating all in one. You spend several weeks working and it appears there is no yield in sight. Then you have a week when you do not have enough time to answer all of the calls and schedule all of the meetings. That can easily be followed by a week of no new business. I am learning to weather the storms, and to enjoy the sunshine a little, but not to much because there will always be another storm when you are on the “Grind”.

photo of Donte

Donte T Wyatt

Law Offices of Donte T Wyatt

2550 5th Ave

San Diego, CA, 92103

6198079505
Criminal Attorney, DUI, Narcotics

CCW (Carry Concealed Weapons) Permit

An Attorney You Can Trust

I know I haven’t blogged in a while, however I am now back and I have considered several additional issues that deserve addressing. Among the new issues I have considered was the CCW (Carry Concealed Weapon) permit process in the county of San Diego. In every county the sheriff is responsible for determining the issuance of such permits. It is generally rumored that the larger counties are more critical (and issue less licenses) than the smaller counties. Although, I have often heard this contention I have never personally investigated the statistics for such a proposition. Therefore, I will state that many people have that perception (myself included), but I will refrain from further exploration of that issue because it truly is not germane to the issue here, “how does one obtain a CCW”.

The first concern I would like to actually address is the “why” concern. Why would a person seek to obtain a CCW, and then we will proceed to the “how” does a person obtain such a permit. So why would a person want such a permit? When I first joined the District Attorney’s Office I personally considered obtaining a CCW, permit. Several of my classmates (people who joined the District Attorney’s Office with me) also considered obtaining such permits. I went as far as learning about the process and even going to a gun store and window shopping for a gun. Ultimately, I decided against obtaining the permit.

First, I have to say that I am not anti or pro gun. I am not an extremist in any measure when it comes to gun laws. I do not believe or argue that the Second Amendment should allow for unfettered access to guns for all law abiding citizens. Nor do I advocate for prohibitive gun laws that would prevent otherwise law abiding citizens, who have good cause from obtaining a “CCW” permit. So what does that mean? Well I believe that there should be some checks and balances to insure that unstable individuals are not permitted by the government to carry weapons concealed on their person. If a person has a history of making threats or being psychologically unstable the government should be very critical of their application. However, the majority of people in society do not fall into those two categories.
So why do people seek CCW permits? Some people seek them simply because they like guns and they feel it is their constitutional right to be able to carry a gun. Others seek out permits because they are business owners or are responsible for transporting cash as part of their employment. Some people want to obtain the permit out of fear for their personal safety. They may have been threatened, or live or work in an area where they believe they may be confronted by individuals who will seek to rob or harm them.

The San Diego Sheriffs Department will require an applicant to fall within several categories in order to have a CCW permit issued. The categories include: Protected Law Enforcement, Personal Protection ( with documented threats), Security and Business. These are the general categories of individuals that will be considered for the issuance of a permit. In addition, to falling into one of these categories the Sheriffs department will further consider if the applicant is of (1) good moral character; if the applicant can demonstrate (2) good cause for the issuance of the permit; and (3) proof of residency in the county of San Diego. In addition to meeting these requirements (submitted in your application with documentation), an applicant will further be required to go through an interview process and to successfully complete and pass a class.

What happens if a person decides to carry a concealed weapon without a permit? The carrying of a concealed weapon on your person without a permit is a misdemeanor in the state of California. However, if you have been previously convicted of a felony it is a felony for you to possess a gun concealed on your person or otherwise.

Police Corruption?

As many of you know I spent ten (10) years of my life working as a Deputy District Attorney. When I was a Deputy District Attorney I worked closely with many officers. In addition, I formed long lasting relationships with several officers and I count them as some of my closest friends. Therefore this topic “Police Corruption” causes me great concern. I believe that most police officers and law enforcement officers in general are honest and hardworking people who became officers for the right reasons. They became officers because they wanted to help people and serve their community.

In addition, when I worked as a prosecutor I remember Defense Attorneys throwing around the terms “corruption” and “misconduct” as if they were required to use the terms so many times a day or be faced with some unspeakable evil. Generally when i evaluated the situations the attorneys were screaming about there was nothing to warrant the accusations by the attorney.

I know corruption existed when i was working as a prosecutor I had access to newspapers, internet and television, but i was lucky enough to never have to confront those issues on a case I was personally handling. Now I did have cases were officers had complaints in their files and other incidents that I was required to turn over pursuant to my obligations as a prosecutor. I even had cases where an officer’s credibility was called into question. But I never had an incident were I believed an officer stole money or planted evidence.

Recently, i was confronted with a situation, that I will not discuss in detail, but I was left with the feeling some malfeasance was committed by an officer. The malfeasance was minor in the grand scheme of things, but the incident left me wondering about all the times the defense attorneys came to me screaming those two words “corruption” and “misconduct”. Was I blinded because I did not want to believe that the people I worked with could engage in such conduct? Was I defensive because I wanted to protect the integrity of the case that I was prosecuting? Was I so desensitized by all of the false accusations that I was predisposed not to listen to the ones that may have had merit? Today I can’t answer those questions and deep down inside I still believe the majority of officers are hard working and honest, but I can’t help but be more critical.

An Attorney You Can Trust

Urban Skittles?

Urban Kittles? I just read an article about a teenage prank that originated in England, and like the pilgrims and the puritans has migrated to the “new world”. Now even though I have not been a teenager in a couple of years I do not think that I am a prude, atleast not yet. However, this prank seems quite foolish and potentially dangerous.

When I was a kid we used to play ding-dong-ditch, where you would ring your neighbor’s door bell and run. We often targeted our older neighbors for a number of reasons. First, they would normally be home during the summer days (presumably retired) while all of our parents were at work. In addition, they would often be more frustrated because the chore of answering the door was a significantly greater hassle for them. We further chose our older neighbors because they were not as likely to attempt to pursue us, and if they did attempt to pursue us we believed we could easily evade capture. So on many summer days I played this prank along with many of the other neighborhoods kids. I know looking back now (hindsight is 20/20) this was not a nice thing to do and today I would probably be charged with some form of elder abuse. However, the summers were long and we had to occupy ourselves somehow!

Now for the urban skittles prank. In this prank several teenager go into a store or restaurant and begin to scream that it is a robbery and for everyone to get down. The key is to see how many people actually get down. The group of kids count out the amount of people that actually get down and then they run off laughing. This is a far cry from ding-dong-ditch, and I hope they don’t start doing this in Texas, Arizona or even Florida. I can see an over zealous Good Samaritan shooting one of these kids before they realize it was all just a joke. Why can’t kids just ring door bells and run away anymore???

urban skittles

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