District Attorneys Cannot Be Compelled To Provide Rap Sheets On Police Officers Says Appeals Court

The California Court of Appeals Ruled that DA’s are not required to provide a criminal defendant police officer rap sheets According to People vs. Coleman, here are the facts: Coleman was convicted of possession of cocaine base for sale. Prior to his trial, Coleman moved for an order pursuant to Brady v. Maryland (1963) 373 U.S. 83, Pitchess v. Superior Court (1974) 11 Cal.3d 531, and Penal Code section 1054.1 requiring the prosecution to provide discovery, including running rap sheets for all testifying prosecution witnesses. The trial court granted the motion in part and denied it in part, stating that it would not order rap sheets to be run on law enforcement officers. Coleman challenged this ruling on appeal. Held: Affirmed on this issue. Although the prosecution has a duty under Brady to learn of and disclose material impeachment information about police officer witnesses within the prosecution’s constructive possession, the prosecution cannot be forced to comply with its Brady duty to investigate in a particular manner. District attorneys have discretion to choose what mechanism will be used for ensuring that they learn of Brady material within their constructive possession. Brady does not empower a defendant to compel the prosecution to run rap sheets on police officer witnesses. However, the appellate court cautioned that prosecutors who investigate a police officer’s criminal history through mechanisms other than running rap sheets risk a future Brady challenge if favorable evidence is later discovered. The criminal trial court was also within its discretion to deny Coleman’s Pitchess motion because there was no rap sheet or criminal history in the officer’s file. Finally, section 1054.1 does not compel the prosecution to run a police officer witness’ rap sheet.

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What is “Brady” Material?

Brady material is any information which may help a Torrance criminal defendant in a case, the district attorney must turn over any material evidence that can help exonerate an accused person. The definition of “material evidence” is generally provided in the context of an appeal from a conviction. Evidence is material if there is a reasonable probability that the result of the proceeding would have been different had the evidence been disclosed. A reasonable probability of a different outcome is shown where suppression undermines confidence in the outcome. Such evidence must have a specific, plausible connection to the case, and must demonstrate more than minor inaccuracies. However, prosecutors must determine what Brady evidence there may be before trial.

Prosecutors are required to disclose to the defense evidence favorable to a defendant that is either exculpatory or impeaching and is material to either guilt or punishment. Evidence is “favorable” to the defendant if it either helps the defendant or hurts the prosecution. In Strickler v. Greene (1999) 527 U.S. 263, 280, the United States Supreme Court stated: In Brady this Court held “that the suppression by the prosecution of evidence favorable to an accused upon request violates due process where the evidence is material either to guilt or to punishment, irrespective of the good faith or bad faith of the prosecution.” Brady v. Maryland, supra, 373 U.S., at 87. We have since held that the duty to disclose such evidence is applicable even though there has been no request by the accused, (United States v. Agurs , supra, 427 U.S. at p. 107.), and that the duty encompasses impeachment evidence as well as exculpatory evidence, [United States v. Bagley (1985) 473 U.S. 667,676]. Such evidence is material “if there is a reasonable probability that had the evidence been disclosed to the defense, the result of the proceeding would have been different.”

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3 Biggest Mistakes After A DUI Arrest

Every year thousands of people are arrested for DUI in California. For many the experience can be as painless as possible if you remember to keep a cool head and make thoughtful decisions about how to proceed. The worst things to do are to panic, to bury your head in the sand or go out and drink yourself to another DUI arrest. Here are three of the biggest mistakes:

1. Forget to demand a DMV hearing. This is THE MOST important thing to do because if you fail to act your rights will be lost forever.

2. Hire the cheapest lawyer in town. Attorneys are professionals and charge based on their experience and skill level. If you hire a cheap attorney you will get what you pay for.

3. Miss your Court date. Many people believe that they will get a courtesy reminder in the mail from the Court telling them about their upcoming appearance. This in incorrect. Unlike a traffic ticket where a courtesy notice is sent, DUI cases are criminal which means you will have to look at the release paperwork you were given and be sure to attend that important arraignment unless you are told otherwise by your attorney.

Bottom line, you must keep your wits about you and think reasonably and logically, if you follow some basic guidelines you will get through this horrendous period and survive.

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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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