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A late December probation check may lead to a three-strike prison sentence for a man from Southern California. Two deputies showed up at a motel in Old Town Victorville looking for a probationer. A man that the deputies say they were not looking for ended up being charged with possession of methamphetamine.

When law enforcement arrived at the motel, there were apparently five people in the motel room. Deputies claim that a 32-year-old man, who is believed to be a Blood gang member, tried to close the door on the deputies. They say they kicked in the door. What may have happened next is also open to dispute.

Prosecutors claim that the man who had shut the door on the deputies dove onto the bed when law enforcement kicked in the door. The man accused of diving on the bed says he was pushed toward the bed as the deputies exploded through the door.

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Officials at a Southern California youth probation camp say they saw an increase in contraband entering the camp. Authorities say that conducting searches at such probation camps are not unusual, even searches of visitors who come to the camps to see probationers. However, due to the perceived increase of drugs, primarily marijuana, allegedly found in dorm rooms at the Sam Dimas area camp, authorities stepped up efforts during searches of visitors.

A 44-year-old Pomona woman who recently went to the probation camp to visit her son was arrested on suspicion of possession of illegal drugs. Authorities at Camp Glenn Rockey in San Dimas say they found bundles of marijuana and a medical marijuana card during a search of her purse. Authorities claim the marijuana card is fake.

After the alleged discovery of marijuana at the controlled juvenile facility, police arrested the woman on serious California drug possession charges. She was taken to the Century Regional Detention Facility and booked on suspicion of drug charges, and held on $35,000 bail.

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During the same week that the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision to leave eyewitness identification analysis alone, the high court threw out a murder conviction because prosecutors did not disclose that an eyewitness who testified against the defendant at trial initially told police that he could not identify the killer. For nearly 50 years, prosecutors have known that the Constitution requires that the state must turn over material evidence that prosecutors have that may be favorable to the criminal defense.

In overturning the criminal conviction, Chief Justice John Roberts writes, "We have observed that evidence impeaching an eyewitness may not be material if the state's other evidence is strong enough to sustain confidence in the verdict." Eight justices on the Supreme Court agreed in Tuesday's ruling that the prosecutor's failure to disclose the evidence in the murder case violated the defendant's rights, requiring a reversal of the conviction. Justice Clarence Thomas was alone in dissent.

The case arose from allegations surrounding a 1995 shooting. Five people were killed during an armed robbery in a New Orleans home. During the trial, an eyewitness told the jury that he had been "face to face with [the defendant] during the initial moments of the robbery." The Supreme Court says that testimony was the only evidence the prosecutors had linking the defendant to the crime.

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After she made the identification of the hand-cuffed man, law enforcement brought the woman to the police station to look at a photo-lineup. She could not identify the man. Nonetheless, the man was convicted of theft charges and sentenced prison on the East Coast. The identification procedure used was the focus of a recent U.S. Supreme Court case.

The issue of unduly suggestive police identification procedures has been argued in court rooms and law schools all across the country for years. Over the past 30 years roughly 2,000 studies have been conducted on the issue. This blog discussed the eyewitness identification issues in last August.

One law professor writes in his book, "Convicting the Innocent," that of the first 250 people who were exonerated by DNA testing after being wrongfully convicted, as many as 190 were convicted through the testimony of a mistaken eyewitness identification.

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Many Santa Cruz area residents ventured out to ring in the New Year last weekend. For many, the New Year is a time for a new beginning. New Year's Day is also often the beginning day for new laws in California, and Santa Cruz DUI defense lawyers understand that several new provisions went into effect Jan. 1 that relate to driving under the influence in California.

A significant new provision has been sitting dormant for roughly 15 months. In Sept. 2010, then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law a measure that will now allow California judges to revoke a person's driver's license for 10-years if the driver has at least three DUI convictions on his or her record.

The new DUI license revocation provision includes a process for drivers to apply for potential reinstatement of their licenses after five years if certain conditions are met. One significant condition requires the driver to install an ignition interlock device on his or her car, which can be an expensive prospect after paying installation and monthly service fees.

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The case did not originally arise in California. However, if the Supreme Court accepts the case for review, the court's decision will certainly affect whether or not law enforcement agencies in California, including along the Central Coast, can use drug-sniffing dogs outside a personal residence without a warrant.

The issue arose out of a Florida investigation into an alleged urban marijuana growing operation. Police say they received a tip of a possible marijuana cultivation operation inside a Miami home.

Law enforcement apparently put the home under surveillance and without obtaining a search warrant brought in a drug-sniffing dog. Law enforcement says the canine smelled along the base of the closed front door of the home, and sat down, indicating to law enforcement that the dog detected the scent of drugs.

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Police and prosecutors claim the man committed two California robberies and attempted a third within a four-day period beginning Dec. 5. Law enforcement says the man robbed a check cashing store in San Mateo around 11:00 a.m. Dec. 5.

The next day, police claim the same man attempted to rob a second check cashing store at the same time of day. However, police claim the clerk, who was behind bulletproof glass at the store, tripped an alarm and fled to a safe room in defeating the alleged robbery attempt.

Law enforcement says the Sacramento man turned to a pawn shop in his alleged robbery spree, stealing a laptop and getting an undisclosed amount of cash during the pawn shop robbery. Law enforcement says the Sacramento man used a handgun in each of the alleged crimes.

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Tagged in: burglary/robbery

Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies claim a Vista man stole an iPad on Christmas morning from a Westlake Village home. The resident of the home says he awoke Christmas morning and thought he saw someone near his bed. The resident claims he chased the man down the stairs, but the alleged burglary suspect got away.

Deputies claim that they pinged an iPad that the Westlake Village man says was stolen from his home. The iPad device apparently had a location-based app that deputies say led them to a nearby home. In addition to the iPad, deputies claim that Lakers season tickets, a play station and an autographed NBA jersey were taken in the burglary.

Authorities descended on the home where they believed the stolen iPad was located. Deputies arrested a 20-year-old man at that residence on suspicion of burglary. Law enforcement claims they found two flat-screen television sets, a laptop and more than 40 presents deputies say are linked to an alleged burglary in Vista on Dec. 22.

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Tagged in: burglary/robbery

California law allows prosecutors to elevate charges for driving under the influence based upon prior convictions in the past ten years. That is, prior convictions within that 10-year period can elevate new DUI charges to a higher level offense and increase potential exposure to jail or prison time. A recent case involving a Soquel man looked directly at the issue.

The 21-year-old Soquel man was accused drunk driving after a solo-vehicle car accident in November 2010. The accused suffered injuries in the crash. Police claim he had been speeding before losing control of his car. Authorities say the driver had a blood alcohol level of 0.15 percent after the crash. The man was originally charged with misdemeanor DUI after the crash. However, prosecutors sought to elevate the charge to a felony DUI based upon the Soquel man's juvenile record.

Roughly four years ago, police accused the Soquel man of crashing his car on Laurel Glen Road while traveling more than 80 miles per hour. Law enforcement claims the man lost control, and the vehicle rolled over, leaving the young man's two cousins dead.

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Tagged in: DUI Felony DUI

Typically, allegations involving drugs in news stories revolve around drug crimes. Drug possession charges and possession with intent to sell can bring serious consequences if a person is convicted of a California drug crime.

This blog recently discussed the unusual charges brought against a Northern California mother involving "implied malice" to support a second-degree murder charge against her, which involved allegations that her breast milk contained sufficient methamphetamine to cause her son's death. This blog has also previously recounted stories in DUI cases where prosecutors seek murder charges based upon implied malice. Those cases are typically referred to in California as "Watson murders" based upon prior California case-law.

Now prosecutors on the Central Coast are seeking a murder charge against a Paradise man based upon the implied malice theory. The case involves allegations that the defendant supplied methadone to an allegedly inebriated woman who later died. The Supreme Court rule some time ago that providing drugs to someone is not inherently dangerous enough to support a murder charge under the legal theory known as the "felony murder" rule.

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The 50-year-old man appeared in court last week for a preliminary hearing, where the judge found probable cause to hold the man over for trial on felony domestic violence and other charges. The man now remains in custody on a parole hold. Reports indicate the man has three strikes on his record, which could expose him to the strict sentencing provisions under California's three strikes law.

Reports indicate that the man's wife initially did not him want to stay with her, but then agreed to allow him to stay for two days. Then, according to police, the phone rang. Law enforcement claims the man's wife took the call in the bathroom, which upset the defendant. Police claim the man grew angry because the call was from another man.

Authorities accuse the man of forcing his way into the bathroom and attempting to grab her phone. Police say the woman then tried to leave and accuse the man of preventing her from doing so. Law enforcement claims the man grabbed the woman and threw her to the ground during the alleged altercation. Authorities also accuse the man of choking the woman for roughly 15 seconds.

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The Constitution guarantees that a criminal defendant receives a fair trial. One of the most important foundations of our justice system is the right to a trial by a fair and impartial jury. The California Supreme Court ruled last week that two men, who have been sitting on death row for nearly 15 years, were denied their right to a fair trial, and the state high court reversed those convictions.

The two men were accused of being involved in a gang. Prosecutors accused one of the men of ordering the second man to murder two men who prosecutors had claimed were members of a rival gang. Gang-related charges in California can carry significant penalties upon conviction, and after a jury trial the two men were convicted of the murder charges and sentenced to death row.

During deliberations, one of the jurors reportedly had misgivings about the credibility of one of the prosecution's witnesses in the trial. It is an important function of the jury to weigh the credibility of witnesses in a criminal trial. However, two jurors apparently complained to the judge during deliberations about the juror who found the witness lacked credibility. The judge dismissed the juror, finding that the panelist acted improperly by allegedly considering evidence not presented during the trial.

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Posted on in DUI

Speculation that Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman James Loney may have been driving under the influence is making its rounds in the media. The California Highway Patrol says the baseball player was involved in a series of accidents on the 101 freeway in Sherman Oaks Nov. 14.

Three drivers say that Loney sideswiped their cars in his Maserati and then came to an abrupt stop in the fast lane. The drivers say "he appeared to be unconscious" in his vehicle. The witnesses claim that Loney then woke up and "attempted to flee the scene," according to the Los Angeles Times. News reports say Loney crossed over all the lanes of traffic before hitting another car and eventually ran into the sound wall along the right shoulder.

A CHP officer claims that Loney displayed "objective symptoms of being intoxicated or being under the influence of something," after being involved in the freeway accident. The CHP officer reportedly arrested Loney on suspicion of DUI. However, law enforcement did not transport the ball player to the police station. Emergency medical personnel reportedly were concerned about the baseball player's behavior after the accident. Loney was released to a hospital to undergo testing to determine whether he was suffering from a severe medical condition.

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Police claim four people, who were arrested recently on suspicion of operating a burglary ring, used the Internet and police scanners as part of their operation. Law enforcement believes the group can be linked to 20 or more residential burglaries spanning across three Southern California communities.

Law enforcement claims that one of the accused was inside a Covina home while the residents were away on vacation. A relative of the residents stopped by to feed the pets and saw an unfamiliar vehicle in the driveway and believed the door had been forced open. That relative reportedly called 911 to report a suspected burglary.

The relative reportedly headed toward the police station and saw two Sheriff's deputies while en route. The relative spoke to the deputies who reportedly arrested a 32-year-old Pomona man after allegedly leaving the Covina residence. Officers from the Covina Police were called in and reportedly took custody of the Pomona man.

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Law enforcement claims that the Watsonville marijuana bust is one of the largest pot busts in years. Law enforcement reportedly seized dozens of bags of marijuana and $67,000 in cash at the warehouse. On Nov. 16, a 30-year-old man that law enforcement claims lived at the warehouse was taken into custody, along with a 25-year-old Santa Cruz man.

Law enforcement says the marijuana found inside the warehouse amounted to more than 130 pounds, with an estimated street value of more than $1 million. The two men have been arraigned on felony charges of possession of marijuana for sales, cultivation of marijuana and sales of marijuana. A separate arraignment was set up for the 30-year-old Watsonville man on other offenses, including driving with a suspended license.

The Santa Cruz man reportedly bailed out of custody, while the Watsonville man reportedly continues to be held on $105,000 bail.

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Prosecutors are now seeking murder charges against a Northern California woman whose son died last November due to "methamphetamine toxicity," according to a report in the Times-Standard. In July, the woman appeared in court for a preliminary hearing to defend against an involuntary manslaughter charge.

The judge reportedly ruled that the state had sufficient evidence to support the manslaughter charge. However, prosecutors recently refiled the case charging the woman with murder, claiming that the evidence presented during the preliminary hearing showed the mother acted with "implied malice" when she breast-fed her child after allegedly smoking methamphetamine.

The woman is now vigorously defending against the murder charge arguing that there is no evidence that she acted with a conscious disregard of a danger to human life. Implied malice murder charges are complicated animals under California law.

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Prosecutors are now seeking murder charges against a Northern California woman whose son died last November due to "methamphetamine toxicity," according to a report in the Times-Standard. In July, the woman appeared in court for a preliminary hearing to defend against an involuntary manslaughter charge.

The judge reportedly ruled that the state had sufficient evidence to support the manslaughter charge. However, prosecutors recently refiled the case charging the woman with murder, claiming that the evidence presented during the preliminary hearing showed the mother acted with "implied malice" when she breast-fed her child after allegedly smoking methamphetamine.

The woman is now vigorously defending against the murder charge arguing that there is no evidence that she acted with a conscious disregard of a danger to human life. Implied malice murder charges are complicated animals under California law.

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Authorities say that a law enforcement investigation into a string of California burglaries led to a number of recent arrests on a variety of charges, including allegations of gang involvement. One man was arrested on attempted burglary and conspiracy charges. Three other men reportedly were later arrested on weapons charges with allegations of gang enhancements.

Apparently, Visalia police responded to a call reporting suspicious activity. Police say the report claimed four men were attempting to break in to a backyard in Visalia. Law enforcement claims a medical marijuana grow was located on the property. News reports do not suggest the marijuana grow was illegal under California law.

A parole agent reportedly was in the same area around the same time. The parole agent claims to have seen the men drive away from the Visalia property. The parole agent claims the men stopped, but fled when the parole agent confronted the four men.

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Critics say reform to the California three strikes law is necessary as life sentences have been imposed for minor crimes, including theft crimes alleging such minor offenses as stealing a pair of socks. In February, this blog reported the story of a man facing a three strikes sentence for allegedly attempting to take a pair of gloves and some wire from a "big-box" home improvement store. That man was sentenced to a 29-years-to-life prison term for the alleged roughly $21 theft crime.

Now a group of Stanford University law professors have drafted a new proposed ballot initiative seeking to reform the harsh consequences of the sentencing law. The new proposal does not go as far as the 2004 measure that was defeated in the legislature. The new measure seeks to limit felonies triggering third strikes to serious or violent felonies for many convictions.

However, in contrast to the legislative measure narrowly defeated in 2004, the new proposal carves out an exception for so-called "hard-core" repeat offenders, that sources characterize as murderers, rapists and child molesters. In those cases the exception will allow any felony conviction, even a felony shoplifting conviction, to trigger a third strike.

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Three Gavilan College basketball players were injured in a tragic accident Sunday. Reports indicate that the driver of the car filled with the ball players and two female passengers swerved to avoid a tire in the road just prior to the crash. The car spun out and came to a stop facing the wrong direction on Highway 101. A Nissan then slammed head-on into the student's car.

Reports indicate that the group of students was at a San Francisco nightclub before the 1:30 a.m. traffic accident. Police reportedly arrested the 22-year-old student who was driving the car that initially spun out on suspicion of driving under the influence before he was released to San Francisco General Hospital, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The CHP suggests that the young man could face felony DUI charges related to the traffic accident, apparently based upon the injuries involved. California law allows prosecutors to pursue felony DUI charges, even on a first-time offense, based upon allegations that a drunk driver was involved in an accident causing injuries. The driver and two of his teammates suffered serious injuries when the car they were in was struck by the Nissan. Two women, who were passengers in the Nissan, reportedly sustained minor injuries.

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