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.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Redondo Beach Will Soon Prosecute Hermosa Beach Cases In Torrance Court

Yes, the rumors are correct. The Redondo Beach City Attorney has finalized an agreement with Hermosa to prosecute all misdemeanor offenses and code enforcement cases within its borders. The service agreement reportedly will cost Hermosa 200,000.00 per year as part of a flat fee. There is a push to persuade the Torrance Court officials to allow both cities to be located in the same division of the courthouse, now the respective cities are in separate courtrooms, division 2 and division 5 respectively.

The agreement ends a bidding process that included a number of private law firms that sought to provide legal services for criminal prosecution. The bulk of the charges filed and litigated by the city are “quality of life” crimes such as urinating in public, public intoxication, noise violations and DUI. All felony crimes are referred to the Los Angeles District Attorney.

The agreement also includes the use of TAP attorneys to prosecute cases filed by the municipality. TAP is an acronym for trial advocacy program and allows large civil law firms to volunteer their lawyers to act as prosecutors in some case. The idea is that the participants get valuable legal courtroom training and in return the city gets a free lawyer. Both Redondo and Hermosa have used this program extensively over the years.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Misdemeanor Battery Results In Firearms Ban

California has its own tough restrictions on firearms when a person is convicted of criminal acts, the federal ban is even tougher. In this case the convicted defendant sought to restore his rights to own and possess a gun in California but was denied relief even though his crime was not technically domestic violence.

Here are the pertinent facts of the case entitled James vs. California: After his arrest in 1996 for spousal battery (Pen. Code, § 273.5), James pled nolo contendere to misdemeanor battery. In 2008, James applied to be a reserve deputy sheriff and learned the State of California considered his conviction to be a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence (MCDV), rendering him ineligible. In 2011, his application to purchase a gun was denied because of the conviction. He sought mandate directing the State of California to declare him not to have suffered an MCDV, claiming a section 242 violation was not a valid categorical predicate offense for this classification. The trial court granted the petition, concluding that misdemeanor battery was not an MCDV, as it can be committed by “the slightest touching,” while the federal statute requires the violent use of force against the person of another. The State appealed. Held: Reversed. The federal Gun Control Act prohibits any person convicted of an MCDV from possessing a gun. (18 USC § 922(g)(9).) The Act defines an MCDV as an offense that (1) is a misdemeanor under state law; (2) “has, as an element, the use or attempted use of physical force, or the threatened use of a deadly weapon;” and (3) is committed by the victim’s current or former spouse. (18 USC § 922(a)(33)(A).) In Castleman the Court concluded that the requirement of “force” under section 922(a)(33)(A) is satisfied “by the degree of force that supports a common-law battery conviction,” i.e., the slightest offensive touching. Section 242 defines a battery as any willful and unlawful use of force against another person. Applying The United States Supreme Court definition of “physical force,” the California court here concluded that a violation of section 242 has, as an element, the use of physical force. CCAP.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Prosecutors May Access Police Disciplinary Records

It is well settled that the prosecution in a criminal case has duty to disclose exculpatory information to the defense. That includes acts of a police officer that may constitute moral turpitude. In this recent appeals court case, the justices ruled the DA has a much easier job getting that information in order to meet their constitutional burden in a criminal case.

Here are the facts. During prosecution of a domestic violence case, the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) informed the prosecutor that several officer witnesses had material in their personnel files that may be subject to a Brady disclosure duty. The prosecution motioned the trial court under Evidence Code sections 1043 and 1045 to conduct the initial Brady materiality review of the officers’ files, arguing that Penal Code section 832.7, subdivision (a) did not allow it direct access to the files. In response, the defense requested that the trial court either conduct the requested Brady review, or allow the prosecution to directly access the officers’ files. The trial court found the prosecution had made an insufficient showing of Brady materiality for it to review the files and ordered that the prosecution be given direct access to the files. The prosecutor and SFPD petitioned to vacate the trial court’s order.

Held: Mandate denied on this issue. The prosecution has a duty to disclose exculpatory evidence to the defense, including evidence known only to the police. Penal Code section 832.7, subdivision (a), part of the codification of Pitchess v. Superior Court (1974) 11 Cal.3d 531 (upholding defendants’ right to discover misconduct complaints in police personnel files), provides that police personnel files are confidential and may be disclosed in a criminal proceeding only pursuant to a section 1043 motion. In complying with Brady there are two stages: identification and disclosure. Section 832.7 does not prohibit prosecutorial access to police files during the identification stage—it specifies procedures for the disclosure stage. Prosecution inspection of police personnel files for a Brady review is not a breach of confidentiality under section 832.7 (disagreeing with People v. Gutierrez (2003) 112 Cal.App.4th 1463 and Abatti v. Superior Court (2003) 112 Cal.App.4th 39). This interpretation of section 832.7 avoids serious constitutional questions. Courtesy CCAP.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Search of Student’s Backpack Illegal

This case represents the principle that the police cannot stop and hold someone without cause and later search them and use the evidence they find against them. Here, the Police stopped 15-year-old J.G. and his brother D.G., for a “consensual encounter.” J.G. was carrying a backpack. They were asked for identification and D.G. produced an ID card from another country. J.G. responded he had no identification. They responded “no” when asked if they possessed anything illegal. They allowed an officer to search them; nothing was found. Other officers arrived at the scene. The brothers were asked to sit on the curb. J.G. was asked if officers could search his backpack and he agreed. A gun was found and J.G. was arrested. A Welfare and Institutions Code section 602 petition was filed alleging possession of a concealed gun and other offenses. The minor’s motion to suppress evidence was denied. The court found the gun allegation true and the minor appealed. Held: Reversed. Under the Fourth Amendment, if a warrantless search is based on consent, it must be shown the consent was freely given and not a mere submission to authority. Here, what commenced as a consensual encounter ripened into a detention as the officer’s suspicions continued without apparent reason, the encounter became more intrusive, additional police arrived, J.G. was asked if he possessed anything illegal, police ran a records check on him, and he was searched. By the time police asked J.G. to sit on the curb, a reasonable person in J.G.’s circumstances would not have felt free to leave. The fact the police asked rather than directed J.G. to sit on the curb does not prevent a detention from occurring because, under the circumstances, J.G. felt his compliance was compelled. The gun was the fruit of an illegal detention.

The court discussed whether a “reasonable juvenile” standard should be applied to the determination of whether a reasonable person would have felt free to terminate the encounter. However, it did not resolve whether such a standard was applicable in the context of a detention because it found a reasonable person, regardless of age, would not have felt free to leave. (CCAP).

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Explaining The Charges In A DUI Case

Upon release from jail a person is given a citation or booking sheet showing charges the police imposed for a DUI arrest, what do those numbers mean? This article attempts to explain the most common charges associated with a DUI arrest in Torrance or anywhere else in the South Bay.

First, you must understand that the charges that a person is arrested or are not necessarily the same charges they will face in Court. the District Attorney or city prosecutor is responsible for filing formal charges in a criminal case and that is done by way of an official complaint. With this in mind, the most common vehicle code sections written up in a drunk driving arrest are VC 23152 a and 23152 b. These charges relate to the crime that was alleged and can be broken down to their individual component parts.

The VC23152a charge is the driving under the influence statute that prohibits driving while one is impaired by the use of alcohol. The elements of the offense are 1. driving and 2. At the time of driving the person was so impaired by alcohol they could no longer drive the vehicle with the caution characteristic of a sober person under similar circumstances.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments