The Applegate Law Office focuses on efficient, effective representation. I provide my clients with exactly the help that they need. I founded the Applegate Law Office in June 2009. I have been practicing law in California since 2003, and I have spent most of those years practicing law in the North Bay. As an attorney for years in Santa Rosa and a former prosecutor in Ukiah and Willits, I am familiar with Sonoma and Mendocino county's courts. My office is centrally located in Santa Rosa and serves all of the North Bay - Mendocino, Sonoma, Lake, Napa, and Marin counties.

A criminal arrest is a serious problem. From domestic violence to drugs to DUI, fraud to firearm or weapons charges, sex crimes to shoplifting, the Applegate Law Office is ready to handle your criminal case. Any criminal matter that could lead to a misdemeanor, a felony, or a parole or probation violation is a problem that matters to you.

If a problem is big enough to matter to you, it is big enough to matter to me - and no problem is too big for me to tackle. Whether you're trying to keep your license or stay out of prison, I can help. And with a free consultation and a wide range of payment options, you can let your needs, not your budget, make the decision for you. Call so I can start protecting your rights and your freedom now.


The Guy Who Came In From The Cold

September 19, 2013

It's not surprising that mental health issues and substance abuse problems are major contributors to crime in California. What is surprising is how few attorneys seem to know how to have a meaningful discussion with their clients about these issues.


Some of my clients suffer from profound mental illness; they're hard to talk to. If someone is too ill, it is impossible to communicate clearly and have them to aid in their own defense. In those instances, Penal Code 1367 allows the court to stop the case dead in its tracks and have the defendant seen by a doctor, evaluated, and treated. If it works, life in (and out) of court starts up all over again. If it doesn't, the defendant either gets released after being locked up for the equivalent of a full sentence (in a misdemeanor) or sent to a state hospital for treatment (in a felony).

Continue reading "The Guy Who Came In From The Cold" »

Show Your Work

September 3, 2013

A lot of people who call to ask about representation after a DUI arrest ask me what I can do for them. It's a good question for you to ask of a lawyer, and the answer depends on what you mean by "What can I do?"
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If the question is "What can I accomplish?" the answer is "I don't and can't know until I get police reports and other discovery from the prosecution." That's frustrating, I know - but it's honest, too. IF the police and the prosecution have all the evidence they need; and IF it turns out that they managed to collect, document, and preserve all of that evidence perfectly; and IF they can present it all properly at trial, THEN what I can accomplish is primarily to explain what's going on and why and to negotiate the best possible sentence - things I'm good at, by the way.

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Good Cops, Bad Cops

August 31, 2013

They're not all liars. They don't all cheat, and they're not all ill-trained thugs or thieves. Some of them are, though - enough to make any encounter with them frightening even if you haven't done anything wrong. And even though the majority aren't corrupt bullies, almost every single one of them will unquestioningly side with and support his or her fellow police officers over anyone else.

A 'good German' was a World War II-era German who chose to ignore the horrors that Hitler and the Nazis were perpetrating. 'Good' Germans turned blind eyes to the misdeeds and atrocities of their leaders and willfully refused to see the Holocaust
occurring before their eyes. They didn't actively participate, so they could pretend that they were not to blame for allowing Hitler to persecute the Jews and others, There are a lot of terrifying police in the country, but the vast majority of modern American police officers aren't actively evil. They're just good Germans who ignore the crimes and abuses that some of their fellow officers commit and help to cover up their brothers' 'mistakes' and 'indiscretions.'

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Prisoners of Second-Hand Stupidity

July 16, 2013

A while ago, I suggested that that the State of California seems to want prisoners to die. Maybe I was too harsh; maybe the State of California, as a governing entity, is just so cripplingly stupid that it can't help but kill off prisoners, like Lenny with his little bunny rabbits.


Last time round it was people with susceptible to Valley Fever
who were going to die of second-hand stupid. Somehow, Jerry Brown's journey toward octogenarianism led him (either by way of the Age of Aquarius, or a likely unpleasant meeting with his own Attorney General) to relent and belatedly decide that letting people die of airborne diseases was, well, a bad idea.

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Frankly, Defendant, They Don't Give A Damn -- Better Hire An Attorney Who DOES!

May 9, 2013

Why do you need to hire the best lawyer you can find? Because when it comes to your health and well-being, I almost suspect that the state of California doesn't give a damn whether you live or die.

Wait -- that's not true. Based on the way that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and Governor Jerry Brown behave, the state of California more than gives a damn. They actually want prisoners to die, and they're working hard to make it happen.

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Medical care in California prisons -- all of the California prisons -- is atrocious. It's so atrocious that a federal court, citing the "depravity" of the system, ordered it into receivership in 2005. A receivership, in essence, is what you create when your 4-year-old kid wants to make breakfast in bed for Mother's Day -- you nod and smile, fish the egg shells out of the pancake batter, put out a couple small fires on the stove, and let the kid carry the tray into the bedroom. Congratulations, California -- you've achieved "adorable moppet" status on the Competency Scale!

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The Long, Fumbling, And Arbitrary Arm Of The Law (Just Hung Up On You)

April 11, 2013

As we all know (myself from expensive personal experience), it is illegal to talk on the phone while driving a car. And as all of us -- well, all of us except the California Supreme Court -- also know, a modern 'smart' phone is a lot more than a telephone.
A smart phone can make calls, hands-free or otherwise. More importantly, a smart phone can play music through a car stereo and provide turn-by-turn directions for the driver. What it can't do is play music through a car stereo or provide turn-by-turn directions for the driver (or anything else) if the driver touches the phone.

According to the Appellate Division charged with reining in Fresno County, if you use your hand to use your cellphone for directions or music or anything at all while you're driving, you're breaking the law. Per the court, "[o]ur review of the statute's plain language leads us to conclude that the primary evil sought to be avoided is the distraction the driver faces when using his or her hands to operate the phone. That distraction would be present whether the wireless telephone was being used as a telephone, a GPS navigator, a clock or a device for sending and receiving text messages and emails."

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What Is A Safe Amount To Drink If You Drive?

April 2, 2013

This is a common-enough question, and it's also intelligent, reasonable, and responsible. And like many similar questions, the answer is surprising.


The answer is 'Nothing - nothing at all.' If you listen to your lawyer -- and you should -- you'll understand that there is no such thing as a safe level of blood alcohol in a driver.

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My Love Is Like An Arrest-Me-Red Rose

March 14, 2013

My love is like a red, red rose
That's newly sprung in June;
My love is like the ... handcuffs' click?
Because I ... loosed balloons?

Unfair art thou, Florida cop,
And Florida law as well!
Five years in prison? For balloons?!
I must ask "What the HELL?!?

Five years upstate for sending off
A dozen red balloons?
I've got to say, that law's an ass
In need of several prunes."

When Law's an ass, and Justice blind
I'm there to Represent
The Spirit (not the Letter, mind)
Of the laws they claim you bent.

Every once in a while, a law enforcement travesty comes along that just begs for special treatment. The Florida Highway Patrol's reaction to Anthony Brasfield's big romance was, well, special - and not in the rather touching way that Mr. Brasfield's "crime" was special.

Continue reading "My Love Is Like An Arrest-Me-Red Rose" »

What To Do With Guns If You're A 'Prohibited Person'

March 7, 2013

Constitutional arguments notwithstanding, not everyone is allowed to own or possess a gun. For instance, people under a certain age (16 or 18 -- it depends) may not own firearms at all, and people under 21 may not own handguns. In California, there is an additional legal class of 'prohibited people' who cannot own or possess guns either.

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You are a 'prohibited person' if you have been convicted of any felony or a violent misdemeanor. You are also a prohibited person if you are the subject of a domestic violence restraining order or have been deemed 'mentally unstable.' Those prohibitions aren't necessarily a bad thing -- no one could argue that the world is a better place because Adam Lanza or James Holmes had access to guns.
What IS a bad thing, is getting caught with a firearm if you're a prohibited person. A bad thing, as in 'convicted of a felony and incarcerated for years.' It used to be that it was fairly hard to get caught, since the police weren't exactly going door-to-door and searching for prohibited persons with guns.

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The CLETS TRO -OR- The Monster Under the (Burning) Bed

February 5, 2013

In California, the first step in a domestic violence case is often the alleged victim's filing an application for a 'CLETS TRO.' TRO stands for Temporary Restraining Order; 'temporary' means between one and five years, renewable indefinitely. A CLETS TRO is one that is entered into law enforcement databases and shows up whenever the restrained party's name is run for identification.


There is a right to a hearing on a CLETS TRO, but it is a limited right. Because the scope of the hearing is limited, it is much easier to have someone restrained under a TRO than it is to convict someone of a crime. Why? Because ...

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Why We Settle Sometimes -OR- Taking It To The Box

February 1, 2013

Almost every case, criminal or civil, will end up settling before it goes to a jury trial. That's not necessarily a bad thing; the legal system is perilous, trials are expensive, and juries (like some dogs) can turn on you. But why? Why would my lawyer ever advise me to plead?

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January 7, 2013

Sometimes a news story comes along that leaves me damn near speechless. This is one of those times. A little background first:

Paragould (official motto: "A City as Unique as Its Name!") is a small town in the northeastern corner of Arkansas. With 22,000 people living there, Paragould's population is a little smaller than Windsor's. Apparently, though, Paragould's population is a heck of a lot more unruly than Windsor's - either that, or Mayor Mike Gaskill and Police Chief Todd Stovall have just lost their minds.


Here are a few quotes from Chief Stovall that just make my brain hurt:

Continue reading "YES - YOU ARE A CRIMINAL!" »

The War on 'Weapons'

December 31, 2012

Stick 'em up, stick 'em up
Concealed Weapons
The most dangerous you ever saw
Stick 'em up, Concealed Weapons
Concealed Weapons
They oughta be against the law

- The J. Geils Band


With apologies to Peter Wolf and the rest of the J. Geils Band (I love you guys - Worcester is right down the road from where I went to school!), California's obsessive desire to outlaw 'weapons' (concealed and otherwise) is ridiculous, counterproductive, obnoxious, and just plain stupid. Why? Because just about anything can be used as a weapon. Making all weapons illegal makes everything illegal, and that begins to make life ridiculous.

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The Long Leash of the Law

December 3, 2012

Police dogs have been commonplace in America for well over 100 years. Just like the police, some of these dogs have performed near-miracles while assisting victims of crime - and these dogs have sometimes been used as tools of oppression, violence, and terror against the citizenry. Not surprisingly, as American policing has developed and changed, the use and abuse of police dogs has changed as well.

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Police dogs are most commonly thought of as drug-sniffing dogs these days, but that wasn't always the case. There are two U.S. Supreme Court cases on the docket that look like interesting dog cases; both concern privacy rights. Florida v. Jardines was argued on Halloween (here's hoping the decision doesn't scare us all to death) and asks whether the police violated the Fourth Amendment by taking a dog that had been trained to smell for drugs to the door of a house where they suspected that marijuana was being grown.

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A Letter To The Undocumented

October 2, 2012

The United States of America is a great country, and a land of great opportunity. Millions and millions of people have come here during the last 500 years to find better jobs, better wages, and better lives with more safety and more freedom. Most of us (or our parents, or our great-great grandparents) found some, if not all, of what we came here to find.

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It is a great country, but it is not necessarily a fair country. What do I mean by that? To put it simply, I mean that not everyone who lives here actually gets treated the same way. This shouldn't be news to anyone who knows their American history.

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