Juvenile Justice: What is “Juvie”?

In California, while the dependency system is governed by Welfare and Institutions Code Section 300, the juvenile delinquency system is governed by Welfare and Institutions Code Section 600. California has greatly reformed its juvenile system, such that many cases can be resolved by a form of diversion. A teenager – called a “minor” in the system -- is allowed to make an admission to the petition (the equivalent of Read More

Cannabis And The Cole Memos

What does the latest move by U.S. Attorney General Sessions concerning marijuana really mean? In simple terms, not much. But in more complicated terms, a lot. I’ll just focus on California, since that is my state. In 1996, with Proposition 215, California became the first state to legalize, in some form, marijuana for medical use. That voter initiative didn’t legalize marijuana, as people normally think of Read More

What Are Field Sobriety Tests?

You’re out a little late and you’ve had a few drinks. You’re stopped by a police officer and told to get out of the car to do “Field Sobriety Tests” (FST’s.) Don’t panic, but take it seriously. Actually, it’s likely the officer’s already done one test. They’ve asked you to follow an object with your eyes, a test called “horizontal gaze nystagmus.” This test can indicate the presence of alcohol. Your eyes can lag Read More


One of the most common problems we see with our clients at The Nieves Law Firm, is that they have violated a law without realizing it.  There are many small violations that can lead to a traffic stop, which can then lead to bigger problems if you are not in compliance the law. Some of these laws can seem like common sense, but when we find ourselves in violation, we may not realize that we are actually committing a Read More

How Much Can I Drink And Be Safe To Drive?

As with every legal question, the answer is simple, and complicated, at the same time. The holidays are coming, with the food, the drink, the parties, and the need to get home. Football games seem almost to be mandatory drinking sessions, as do after work get-togethers. Those TV commercials show happy, laughing, bright faces, having beer and wine at parties. They even tell you to “drink responsibly,” but they never Read More

How Did I End Up Being Investigated for a DUI?

This month we are providing you with a general breakdown of what a typical DUI investigation consists of and we will follow up with a detailed explanation of the Field Sobriety tests in the coming months. Reason for the Stop Typically the officer will say in his report that he made a decision to pull you over because he observed some sort of moving violation like failing to stop at a stop sign, running a red Read More

When are You Eligible to Apply for a Dismissal on Your Case (1203.4 petition)?

A criminal conviction can impact your life in many ways, from your career to your education to your personal life. If you have been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony crime in the past, California state law offers a solution to help you get a fresh start: you may be able to have the case dismissed from your criminal record under section 1203.4 of the Penal Code. That said, you can only have your case dismissed Read More

What’s the Difference Between an Infraction, Misdemeanor, and Felony?

California Penal Code allows for three main categories of punishable offenses—infraction, misdemeanor, and felony—as well as a fourth category called a “wobbler” which can be charged either as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances. For those facing a conviction, the difference between an infraction, misdemeanor, and felony are significant. An infraction, the least serious offense, has less Read More

5 Key Safety Tips for Police Encounters

Mistrust between minority communities and the police force is not a new thing. From the Jim Crow era, to the unrest following the beating of Rodney King in 1992, to recent high-profile cases of police using seemingly unnecessary deadly force against minorities and the rise of Black Lives Matters—minorities have been given plenty of reason to fear their encounters with the police. And though police encounters Read More

Understanding California Criminal Record Expungement Eligibility

There are few things in life that can haunt you as long as a criminal record. One mistake can wreak havoc on your life for years to come. In California, residents who have been convicted of certain crimes may be able to move past their crime through a petition for dismissal -- this process is commonly referred to as an expungement. Not all convictions are eligible for expungement; but if you do have a charge that Read More