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The threshold for conducting a traffic stop is fairly low for police in Santa Cruz, like anywhere in California. Law enforcement needs only a reasonable suspicion that some violation occurred for a court to determine the officer's decision to conduct a traffic stop was reasonable. During a traffic stop police often seek to find evidence to support a suspicion of potentially more serious offenses.

Many Californians have read stories of DUI arrests that include the narrative of odors of alcohol, glassy eyes and slurred speech. Odors are a common basis that police try to rely upon to expand the scope of an investigation during a traffic stop. An alleged strong odor of marijuana is part of the allegations of police that led to the arrest of a Eureka man after a traffic stop Tuesday.

An officer claims he saw a car make an abrupt lane change on southbound Highway 101 Tuesday evening. The officer says the driver cut off another vehicle during the lane change. The California Highway Patrol reports the officer conducted a traffic stop due to the observations.

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This blog reported the story of the arrest last week, and that another person originally arrested related to the Dodger Stadium incident has been exonerated. Now, police and prosecutors have released more details about the new arrests as two men have been charged in the matter.

The 29 and 30-year-old men appeared in court on charges of assault and mayhem. Mayhem involves serious allegations. Under California law, a charge of mayhem involves allegations of serious injury of another person. The 29-year-old man is also accused of battery related to allegations arising inside the stadium, during the opening day game.

At the time the two men were arrested, a 31-year-old woman was also taken into custody on suspicion of being an accessory after the fact. The woman was later released and not charged. Police say the woman is the sister of the 29-year-old and engaged to the other man accused of beating Santa Cruz resident Brian Stow after the game. Law enforcement says the woman has implicated the two men in the incident.

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Tagged in: assault and battery

Matt Szabo, senior aide to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa says, "Obviously, we're going to need to get an explanation." Police say the original arrest stemmed from suspicions raised by a parole agent that the original 31-year-old suspect may have been involved in the Dodger Stadium attack. The parole agent reportedly grew suspicious that the man may have been involved. Police had claimed multiple witnesses identified the original detainee, based upon photo lineups.

Police took the 31-year-old man into custody in a raid on May 22. A news conference the flowing day proclaimed the man was captured and taken into custody.

However, after reviewing surveillance videos, phone and financial records and hundreds of tips, police were never able to tie the arrested man to the beating. No charges were ever filed against the man. Nonetheless, law enforcement held the man in custody on an alleged probation violation. In June, the 31-year-old was sent to prison for 10-months on the probation violation.

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Tagged in: assault and battery

Over the long holiday weekend, many government offices across the country were closed down in observance of our nation's independence. At the same time, at least one courthouse drew national media attention as the murder trial of Casey Anthony wrapped up and the jury began deliberations.

Santa Cruz criminal defense attorneys know that the constitutional principles that guarantee a defendant the right to a fair trial include the right to a fair and impartial jury. To that end, the judge in the Anthony murder trial sequestered the jury early on. The trial concluded over the holiday weekend and the jury began its deliberations on the Fourth of July. Tuesday, after roughly 11 hours of deliberations the jury let the judge in the case know that a unanimous verdict was reached.

Casey Anthony was accused of murder in the June 16, 2008 death of her 2-year-old daughter. She faced a number of other serious charges in related to the 2008 incident. At trial, she chose not to testify in her own defense.

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In March, a California appeals court overturned the murder conviction of a man based upon the trial judge's jury instructions. A seasoned Santa Cruz criminal defense attorney knows that misleading jury instructions in a criminal case can deny a defendant the right to a fair trial.

The First District Court of Appeal overturned the murder conviction of a San Francisco man, concluding the definition of the lesser offense of manslaughter at trial may have misled the jury. The California Supreme Court will now weigh the matter. The high court recently agreed to review the appellate court ruling.

Prosecutors had claimed the man stabbed a 28-year-old woman to death in front of her children in October, 2000. The man was charged with murder and the case went to trial before a jury in 2008. The man argued to the jury the allegations could only support a charge of voluntary manslaughter. A conviction for voluntary manslaughter would have only exposed the accused to a sentence of three to eleven years. The man ultimately was convicted of murder and sentenced to 16 years to life in prison.

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