No private attorney in California handles more criminal cases on Catalina Island than John W. Bussman. Many other lawyers claim to serve Catalina Island, but most of them simply take your money, then hire another local attorney to make the actual court appearances. John W. Bussman personally appears in court on behalf of every client. Since he appears in Catalina so regularly, he does not charge his clients for travel expenses. John has an excellent relationship with the local court staff and he knows "how the game is played" in Avalon. He also makes "special appearances" for other attorneys who are unavailable to appear on behalf of their own clients at the Catalina courthouse.
The town of Avalon is home to the tiny Catalina Courthouse. The one-room "justice complex" is part of the Los Angeles County Superior Court system. It hears infractions, misdemeanors, and occasional restraining orders. Felonies and more complex matters arising on the island are heard in Long Beach. The Los Angeles Sheriff's Department, Harbor Patrol and wardens from the California Department of Fish & Wildlife (formerly "Fish & Game") share responsibility for law enforcement on Catalina Island and in the surrounding waters.
Appearing in court on Catalina Island is a major inconvenience for most people. Aside from the usual headaches associated with going to court, the Catalina courthouse offers visitors a unique set of complications. Transportation to Avalon and accommodations on the island can be expensive. Keep in mind that most misdemeanor cases are not simply resolved at the first court appearance. If you want to fight your case or negotiate a reasonable plea deal, you should be prepared to make several trips. To make matters even less convenient, the courthouse is only open on alternating Fridays, weather permitting. Ferries and helicopters to and from the island often stop running during rain storms.
Luckily, California law allows private attorneys to appear in court on your behalf in most misdemeanor cases. If you have a lawyer, he or she can attend your court dates so that you don't have to make the trip.
Don't waste your time, money and effort traveling to and from Catalina for a series of routine court dates -- have an experienced, local attorney appear for you.
The most common criminal issues that arise on Catalina Island involve fishing violations (possession of undersized fish and lobster, catching lobster out of season, possession of undersized fish, possession of unidentifiable fish, commercial fishing violations, and fishing within designated marine preserves), domestic violence, theft, and other alcohol-related matters -- disturbing the peace, fighting, assault, battery, being drunk in public, and operating a boat or a golf cart while under the influence of alcohol. Yes, golf carts count as "motor vehicles" under California law. If you drive a golf cart or any other motorized vehicle on Catalina Island after you've been drinking, you will be arrested and charged with DUI.
As an avid fisherman, John understands the complicated laws that pertain to angling in the waters between Long Beach and San Clemente Island. The area is home to 50 different "Marine Protected Areas", including "State Marine Reserves", "State Marine Conservation Areas" and "Special Closures". These protected areas now encompass approximately 355 square miles of Southern California ocean waters. If you fail to properly program and closely monitor your boat's GPS, you are virtually guaranteed to drift through one of these enforcement hot spots. Wardens with the California Department of Fish & Wildlife are not in the business of handing out warnings -- they write tickets. Fishing in a protected area is a misdemeanor, punishable by possible fines, probation and even jail time. Wardens can also confiscate your expensive fishing and SCUBA gear.
As your lawyer, John Bussman will appear in court so that you don't have to. He will gather the police reports and "discovery" (evidence that the prosecutor plans to use against you). John will take the time to review that discovery with you so that you understand the nature of the charges and any possible defenses. He will negotiate with the District Attorney to resolve your case under the most favorable terms possible. Most importantly, John Bussman will stand by your side to ensure that your rights are protected through the entire process.
If you've been cited or arrested while visiting Catalina Island, call The Law Offices of John W. Bussman, Inc. for a free attorney consultation.