Torrance Judge Rules Police Violated “Curtilage” Of Home When Arresting DUI Suspect

Most DUI arrests take place out on the street following a stop for some traffic violation or after a collision, however, more frequently the police are entering the homes of suspects after obtaining information that the occupants may have been driving while intoxicated.

The facts in this case are as follows: PVE police responded to the home of a driver believed to be DUI after they received a 911 call. The officers saw the car in the driveway and proceeded to enter through a 6 foot high gate to enter the yard in order too contact the person or persons inside. Upon entry they saw the defendant and asked her to come outside whereupon she was given FST’s, made admissions of recent driving and arrested for DWI and taken to the station for a breath test that showed a .14 BAC. Attorney Matthew Ruff filed a motion in Torrance Court seeking a dismissal of the charges based on the fact the police entered the curtilage of the home without a warrant and arresting his client.

The Judge hearing the case agreed with the attorney and suppressed the evidence that was obtained. The “curtilage” of a home is that area surrounding the residence that is intended to be private. Matthew argued that a fence surrounding the backyard of a single-family residence is much more likely to demonstrate a reasonable expectation of privacy because yards are fairly private to the extent they’re not readily visible to the public and are not places where normal access routes are ordinarily found. As the Court of Appeal observed, “A person who surrounds his backyard with a fence and limits entry with a gate, locked or unlocked, has shown a reasonable expectation of privacy”. In this case, the PVE police should have applied for a warrant before entering the property.

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New California Law Protects Job Applicants

If you were convicted of a crime but later had it expunged you may know be protected from questions about your past according to one Torrance Criminal Defense Attorney. Beginning January 1, 2014, Labor Code section 432.7 was broadened to prohibit employers from asking job applicants about criminal records that have been expunged, sealed or dismissed. Employers are exempt from these requirements if: (1) the employer is required by law to obtain such information; (2) the job would require the applicant to possess or use a firearm; (3) an individual who has been convicted of a crime is prohibited by law from holding the position sought by the applicant, regardless of whether that crime has been judicially dismissed, expunged, statutorily eradicated or ordered sealed; or (4) the employer is prohibited by law from hiring an applicant who has been convicted of a crime.

The penalties for intentional violation of these statutory provisions are the greater of $500 or treble actual damages, reasonable attorney’s fees and costs, and a fine not to exceed $500.

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Need Treatment? Where To Go For Help

As a Torrance Criminal Defense Attorney for 20 years I have had many clients needing help for various substance abuse problems, whether it be alcohol, illicit drugs, prescription pills, you name it. Often finding help can be a challenge, particularly when financial limitations exist.

For many, a good resource is a website called SAMHSA this drug and alcohol treatment center helps connect people in need with resources, clinics, treatment providers, hospitals and counselors. In many instances a person can help there criminal case by seeking treatment early and voluntarily.

Judges and District Attorneys will respond favorably to people who sincerely recognize that they have a problem which may have led to their current predicament.

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New Case Upholds Search Of Cellphone In Torrance Case

As a local Torrance Criminal Lawyer I see many cases that cause concern for practitioners. This is one of them, in this opinion the person was unlawfully searched by Torrance cops based on new law, however, the appeals Court let the Judge rely on the old case law to deny him a dismissal of the charges.

Torrance police observed a suspect named Macabeo commit a traffic infraction while riding his bicycle. Macabeo was stopped and police performed first a patdown search and then a consent search of Macabeo’s pockets. One officer searched Macabeo’s cell phone and found child pornography, for which he was arrested. After the denial of his motion to suppress evidence in the Torrance court, Macabeo pled guilty to the charge. He appealed.

Held: Affirmed. A custodial arrest may be made for a traffic violation. An exception exists to the Fourth Amendment warrant requirement for searches incident to arrest. In People v. Diaz (2011) 51 Cal.4th 84, the court approved a warrantless search of an arrestee’s cell phone in the absence of exigent circumstances. Diaz was overruled by Riley v. California (2014) 134 S.Ct. 2473, which held that, absent exigent circumstances, an arrestee’s cell phone could not be searched without a warrant. But in Davis v. U.S. (2011) 131 S.Ct. 2419, evidence improperly seized from a car incident to arrest was not subject to exclusion where officers reasonably relied on binding appellate precedent. Here, the search was authorized by Diaz at the time it was conducted and the good faith exception applies.

This type of scenario is quite common in the criminal courts. Cases come down and change the law after the defendant is brought to Court. Here, the defendant was stuck with the old law instead of the new Supreme Court interpretation that would now yield a different result.

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Court Rules A Person’s Sexual Orientation Irrelevant In A Criminal Case

Whether a criminal defendant is gay or lesbian is of no bearing in a criminal case in Long Beach or anywhere else say the California Court of Appeals. In this current appellate opinion released this week the justices make clear these arguments intended to prejudice the jury will not be tolerated in a Court of law.
Here are the facts: Appellant Leticia Garcia was charged with continuously molesting a girl she babysat. At trial, the prosecutor attempted to show that appellant was a lesbian, including commenting on her booking photo, which showed her with short hair. The prosecutor then repeatedly urged the jury during closing argument to consider appellant’s sexual orientation in deciding the case. On appeal from her conviction, appellant argued that the trial court erred in denying her request for a mistrial and that the admission of evidence concerning her sexual orientation rendered her trial fundamentally unfair in violation of due process. Held: Reversed. Initially, the appellate court determined that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying appellant’s mistrial motions. However, although the trial court was successful in limiting the jury’s exposure to evidence regarding appellant’s sexual orientation, the prosecutor’s repeated emphasis on appellant’s sexual orientation during closing argument was misconduct.

In this criminal case, the court explained, bY linking appellant’s sexual orientation to the issue of motive, the district attorney essentially told the jury that appellant victimized the child because she is gay. But appellant’s sexual orientation was not relevant to any issue in the case because there is no evidence that gay child molesters are more likely to victimize children of their own sex rather than victims of the opposite sex. By relying on this irrelevant information in closing argument, the prosecutor validated jurors’ application of any misconceptions they may have had about the role of sexual orientation in a child molestation case. Because of this prosecutorial misconduct, appellant’s trial was fundamentally unfair and the error was not harmless. Courtesy CCAP.

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Impeaching A Witness With Prior Bad Acts

​The admissibility of any past misconduct for impeachment in a criminal case is limited at the outset by the relevance requirement. To be relevant, an uncharged offense must tend logically, naturally and by reasonable inference to prove the issue(s) on which it is offered. A key consideration for trial courts in evaluating the prejudicial nature of the uncharged acts is whether the prior bad acts resulted in criminal convictions; prior convictions minimize the risk the jury would be tempted to punish the defendant for the uncharged acts. Evidence of prior arrests that did not result in convictions was inadmissible either as proof of guilt or for impeachment. It is not competent for the prosecutor to introduce irrelevant evidence falling short of crime and designed merely to degrade and prejudice the defendant in the minds of the jury “Impeachment evidence other than felony convictions entails problems of proof, unfair surprise, and moral turpitude evaluation which felony convictions do not present. Hence, courts may and should consider with particular care whether the admission of such evidence might involve undue time, confusion, or prejudice which outweighs its probative value.” People v. Cloyd is a case that sheds light on the issue[holding that evidence of prior arrests was inadmissible because it suggested the defendant had a bad character];

​Equally availing are uncharged bad acts. Evidence of prior uncharged acts is only admissible to show a common plan or scheme. See Evid.Code, § 1101, subd. (b)), In determining whether to admit prior uncharged acts as propensity evidence, the court must balance the probative value of the evidence against its inflammatory nature, the possibility of confusion, its remoteness in time, and the amount of time involved in introducing and refuting the evidence. Many Court opinions have held that Since defendant’s intent was not at issue, [e]vidence of uncharged acts could not be admitted to prove an irrelevant matter]; See also People v. Atchley 53 Cal.2d 160, 172 (alleged forgery of rental receipts for use to deceive welfare department for which witness was never charged with or convicted of held not admissible for impeachment purposes.) Most Torrance Criminal Attorneys will try and admit this type of evidence when they can.

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Should I Hire A Lawyer For My DUI In Torrance

An arrest for drunk driving can be scary and worrisome, particularly if you have a California drivers license and need to drive for work. In today’s society employers conduct background checks for prospective applicants so it is very important to keep your record clean.

There are many factors to consider when deciding if a lawyer is your best option to fight a driving under the influence case in Torrance of anywhere in the South Bay. Handling a case of this nature can be daunting and stressful for many and even professionals can be overcome with the legal complexities of DWI.

There are four considerations that many suggest a person consider when deciding to represent themselves in court or at the DMV.

1. What is your level of education. Consider that you will be going up against an experienced DA that has legal training.
2. Do you have the time to devote to fighting the case. It often takes weeks or months to go through the court system
3. What is you tolerance for stress. These matters can wear a person down and lead to undue stress.
4. Can you afford not to hire an attorney. The auto club estimates that a DUI conviction can cost upwards of 12,000. A lawyer can run about 2500 to 3500 And this can be money well spent when you stop to consider a lawyer can often minimize the financial cost of a DUI.

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