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The Supreme Court agreed to hear the appeal of an East Coast nightclub owner. The man was accused of trafficking cocaine. Law enforcement agents covertly attached a GPS tracking device to the man's Jeep without first obtaining a search warrant. Law enforcement eventually seized nearly 100 kilograms of cocaine through information learned from the GPS device. A federal appeals court reversed the man's conviction, saying the extended use of the GPS tracking device during the investigation was a "search" deserving some protection under the Fourth Amendment.

A separate case, here on the West Coast, turned the other way on appeal. Police in Oregon entered a man's property and attached a GPS device to the man's vehicle. Law enforcement reportedly tracked the man to a remote property through the GPS unit and discovered a marijuana cultivation site.

The 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled the use of the GPS device was not a search and upheld the marijuana cultivation conviction. The U.S. Supreme Court did not take any action regarding the West Coast case.


In 2009, the United States Supreme Court ruled that a crime lab report was sufficiently similar to testimony. The case involved drug charges. The lab report stated the results of tests showed that a substance was cocaine. The Supreme Court ruled that prosecutors could not introduce the lab report as evidence in the criminal trial without a live witness that was competent to testify to the truth of the statements made in the report under the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution.

Thursday the Supreme Court ruled that the live witness cannot be anyone but the original lab analysts who conducted the laboratory test. Thursday's ruling involved a DUI case where prosecutors introduced a lab report showing the results of a blood test drawn after a DUI arrest. Prosecutors had a live witness testify as to the statements made in the lab report, but the live witness had not conducted the original analysis.

The prosecutor called a supervisor from the crime lab to testify regarding the results shown on the lab report. The supervisor had not personally conducted the laboratory tests. A separate lab technician had conducted the DUI blood test sample analysis and signed the lab report. The prosecutor said the original analyst was on unpaid leave, without offering any further information.


Two people have been charged with driving under the influence involving the same car after an alleged incident over the Father's Day weekend. Police allege the couple attended a party in Northridge on Saturday and consumed sufficient alcohol to raise their blood alcohol content above the legal limit in California. Each has been charged with California DUI charges and child endangerment.

Police say a Glendale woman called police to report that her boyfriend had driven off from a restaurant parking lot as she was attempting to place her daughter in the vehicle. The woman stopped to get something to eat after attending the party in Northridge. Police say the woman's boyfriend was sleeping in the car while the woman and the couple's daughter went inside to eat.

The 43-year-old Glendale man reportedly woke up in the back seat of the car and grew angry because his girlfriend was eating without him. Police say the man grabbed the car keys and drove off. Police say the woman submitted to a breath test, which returned results of .18 and .19. Police arrested the woman early Sunday on suspicion of driving under the influence and child endangerment, alleging the woman drove with her 4-year-old daughter in the car. The woman reportedly was released Sunday after posting a $100,000 bond.

Tagged in: blood-alcohol tests

California's three strikes law has been around since 1994. Since the law was passed, no inmate serving a 25 year to life three strikes sentence has received parole through a California Board of Parole hearing, until this week. Wednesday the Board of Parole Hearings granted parole to a 48-year-old man who was sentenced in 2007 to 68 years in prison under the California three strikes law after a conviction for a home invasion robbery.

The parole board approved the release of the inmate under a new California law aimed at reducing prison costs. The law allows the board to consider medical parole for inmates who are so ill that the state considers the inmates are no longer a threat to the community.

Prison officials reportedly refused to discuss to specific details about the man's health. The man is in a long term care facility. Guarding the inmate at the facility reportedly costs $750,000 a year; medical costs to cover his care are an additional expense the state seeks to save through the medical parole.


A former Orange County deputy was scheduled for sentencing Friday after pleading guilty in April to 12 felonies. Before the sentencing hearing, a court bailiff reportedly told prosecutors the 37-year-old man smelled of alcohol. The sentencing hearing was postponed and the judge increased bail from $100,000 to $250,000 in the matter.

The man pled guilty to nine felony counts for lying to doctors to obtain prescription drugs, two counts of selling fake drugs and one felony DUI charge. The man also pled guilty to a sentencing enhancement for causing great bodily harm in a March 1, 2010 DUI accident.

Police had claimed the man was involved in two separate accidents within 33 minutes. Deputies had let the man leave after the first accident without allegations of DUI arising. The man pled guilty to causing great bodily injury in the second accident. Deputies investigating the second accident arrested the man on suspicion of a California DUI.


A 50-year-old Mill Valley man was arrested on three consecutive days in three separate Bay Area cities for suspicion of DUI. The man appeared in Marin Superior Court Wednesday on two charges of DUI. The man asked for a court hearing to be scheduled on June 20. That is the day the man is scheduled to appear in San Francisco on a third California DUI charge. The DA argued against scheduling the hearing on the same day as the San Francisco hearing. The judge denied the request and scheduled the next appearance in Marin for June 21. The man had hoped to have the three cases processed on the same day.

The allegations initially arose last month when the Mill Valley man was arrested outside a San Rafael bank on suspicion of drunk driving and allegations of driving with a blood alcohol level of .01 while on probation. The very next day the man was stopped in San Francisco and again arrested on suspicion of DUI.

The third consecutive day took the man to Novato. A woman says the man was staggering near his car and asked for a ride to Burger King. The man reportedly got into his Volkswagen Beetle and drove off. A police officer says he saw the Beetle make a wide turn. The officer conducted a traffic stop. The man was arrested for DUI for the third consecutive day.

Tagged in: blood-alcohol tests

Deputies from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department first arrived at the site of the alleged attempted break-in. The deputies called the El Monte Police Department. The five people were arrested around 11:30 a.m. Saturday on suspicion of commercial burglary.

Police say one the people taken into custody said there was a marijuana cultivation operation inside the warehouse. Police believe the group of five people knew of the operation and were specifically targeting the marijuana.

El Monte Police reportedly obtained a search warrant for the building. Law enforcement says they discovered roughly 3,000 pot plants growing inside the warehouse. The street value of the marijuana reportedly is about $1 million.


Law enforcement in California set up a number of DUI checkpoints over the Memorial Day holiday. Police say three people were arrested for DUI at a checkpoint that was set up over a four hour period Monday night in Salinas.

Police reportedly stopped a total of 652 vehicles during the checkpoint operation. Seven people were subjected to field sobriety tests, with three drivers arrested on suspicion of DUI. Law enforcement agencies set up a number of DUI checkpoints all over Monterey County and Santa Cruz County throughout the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

The DUI checkpoints often result in a variety of charges related to alleged motor vehicle code violations. During the Salinas DUI checkpoint operation, a 21-year-old man was stopped for alleged traffic violations. Police say the man has previously been deported twice. Law enforcement says the man has a felony record. Police say they contacted Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and placed the 21-year-old on an immigration hold.


On Friday morning a Florida police officer believed a car was parked in an unusual spot. Police claim the officer approached the vehicle and asked the five people in the car what they were up to. The officer says the five people gave conflicting stories. She says she believes one of the occupants of the car was involved in some king of drug related activities. The officer called for backup and a K-9 handler to have the dog conduct a sniff search of the vehicle. The dog reportedly alerted during the sniff search.

As it turns out, one of the occupants in the car had an outstanding warrant from California. The 25-year-old is believed to have violated parole in California. Moreover, law enforcement in Los Angeles claims the man is wanted in a relation to charges in a number of alleged California burglaries.

Los Angeles police believe the man may be implicated in potentially hundreds of burglaries in Southern California. Police say the man, along with others would knock on the front door of residences during the daytime. If no one responded from inside the residence, police say the group would break into the home and take items, including jewelry, money and guns they found inside.


The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit overturned the murder conviction of a California woman Monday. The federal appellate court held that the woman was denied the right to a fair trial. California state courts and one federal judge previously had upheld the conviction.

The matter began with allegations in October 1993. Police claim the woman was driving a car in Long Beach on an October afternoon casing stores with friends, intending to return later that night and commit a California robbery.

The woman reportedly drove into a liquor store parking lot. Police allege two of the woman's friends got out of the car and entered the liquor store. Law enforcement claims the two came out of the store, when one went back in, robbed the store and shot the proprietor, killing him. The woman reportedly waited in the car during the alleged incident.


Overcrowding has been a large problem in California's prison system. In fact, lawsuits tracing back to 1990 challenging overcrowding issues led a district court to order the state to reduce its prison population. California took the matter to the highest court in the land. A Santa Cruz criminal defense attorney knows that individuals charged with crimes in the state have the constitutional right to challenge the state's case at trial. However, people convicted of crimes who are placed in the state's prison system also retain certain constitutional rights.

Monday the United States Supreme Court agreed that California's overcrowded prisons are a matter of constitutional importance. The Court handed down a five-to-four ruling that concludes the state has failed to correct "serious constitutional violations" in the prison system related to overcrowding.

The state prison system was designed to hold a maximum capacity of roughly 80,000 people when the federal litigation began in 1990. Two separate class-action lawsuits were filed over more than a decade in an effort to correct the constitutional flaws in the prison system. Populations in the state's prison grew to more than double the intended capacity of the system.


Prosecutors in Sacramento have filed 34 felony charges against a former Sacramento Police Officer for allegedly lying on police reports, in criminal court hearings and on driver's license suspension forms in DUI cases. In September, the District Attorney's Office dismissed 79 criminal cases in Sacramento County due to the false allegations of the police officer came to light. The current criminal charges filed against the former officer stem from 24 of the dismissed cases.

The majority of the dismissed cases involved charges brought against Californians for allegations of driving under the influence. In January 2010, the officer was placed on administrative leave after he was accused of brandishing a weapon while he was off duty. During the administrative leave, an attorney reviewed videotape of a DUI traffic stop that had been captured on the officer's squad car video camera. The footage reportedly showed different facts than those written in the officer's police report.

Reviews of other dash-cam footage showed additional discrepancies related to allegations of failed field sobriety tests that were not supported in the videotapes. Other discrepancies discovered through review of the videotapes show contradictions to what the officer wrote in police reports about witness statements and the demeanor of individuals under investigation.

Tagged in: Santa Cruz

The high court ruled Monday in an 8 to 1 decision that the police acted lawfully under exigent circumstances. The case arose in 2005 after law enforcement conducted an undercover sting operation. A person allegedly sold crack cocaine to a police informant. The suspect reportedly entered an apartment building after the alleged sale.

Police entered the building, but were unable to determine which apartment the suspect entered. They combed the halls of the apartment building until they say they smelled the odor of marijuana coming from one of the unit.

Police pounded on the door and announced their presence loudly. They then listened at the door. Police claim they heard people moving inside the locked apartment. The police announced their intent to enter the apartment and broke down the door.


The California Highway Patrol is seeking to beef up its enforcement in California DUI cases. The law enforcement agency has received a federal grant that it intends to use to reduce a backlog in outstanding California DUI cases. While checkpoints and other enforcement efforts can be expected to continue, the new initiative is focusing on cases that have already been charged. In a given year, California law enforcement agencies and prosecutors charge thousands of people with DUI. The CHP says that in 2009, more than 210,000 people were arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence in California.

The CHP recently announced the creation of a task force formed for the purpose of serving DUI warrants across the state. Currently the CHP says 330,000 misdemeanor and felony DUI arrest warrants remain outstanding.

The CHP received a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the national Highway Traffic Safety Administration and is using the grant in an effort to reduce the backlog of outstanding DUI arrest warrants in the state. The task force is expected to be serving warrants statewide. The task force will use service teams to conduct sweeps to serve the warrants.

Tagged in: Felony DUI

A 62-year-old Chico man was arrested in October 2010 after a traffic stop near Tahoma, California. Police claim they discovered 103 pounds of processed pot in the man's vehicle during the traffic stop. The man reportedly was en route to a South Lake Tahoe pot cooperative. The man argued that he was in full compliance with California's medical marijuana laws at the time of the October arrest.

Before any ruling was made in the court proceedings in El Dorado County, prosecutors reportedly dropped the charges against the accused, but that may not be for long. Officials claim the man was involved in a pot growing operation in Butte County. The El Dorado marijuana charges reportedly were dropped pending the outcome of separate charges in Butte County.

After the original arrest, El Dorado County officials say they served a search warrant at the man's residence near Chico. Law enforcement claims they seized 295 pounds of marijuana and 62 plants during the search.


DUI charges in California can bring direct consequences under California sentencing if an individual is convicted of a DUI charge. An experienced Santa Cruz DUI attorney knows that conviction for DUI can have other "collateral" consequences, beyond what the judge imposes at the time of sentencing.

So far this year, six Major League Baseball players have been arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol across the country. Pat Courtney, a spokesman for Major League Baseball says the topic of discipline for ballplayers who are convicted of DUI will be "a topic of negotiations this time around" when the league and players union sit down to hash out the next collective bargaining agreement.

The current agreement expires in December. There is no provision in the agreement related to off-field matters. The number of ballplayers charged with DUI this year has caught the eye of the league.

Tagged in: blood-alcohol tests

The two women pled not guilty to cultivation of marijuana, maintaining a house for the sale of marijuana, possession of marijuana for sale and theft of electricity. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for May 13. The women are being held on $100,000 bail.

Neighbors reportedly believed the home where the two women live was being burglarized. A neighbor called police to report the suspected burglary. Police arrived and say they could see the marijuana plants through the broken front door. Police say that nobody appeared to be home at the time they arrived.

Police obtained a search warrant. In executing the warrant, law enforcement claims they seized 800 marijuana plants and $3,000 in cash at the home. Police also claim to have found an electrical bypass in the home that they say allowed the women to tap into a Pacific Gas and Electric Co. power line.


State and federal law enforcement agents swarmed neighborhoods on Los Angeles yesterday arresting as many as 80 people. Law enforcement says the operation was the culmination of more than two years of investigations. Sixty six Californians were arrested on suspicion of California weapons and drug charges. Federal authorities took an additional 14 Californians into custody, reportedly under federal indictments.

Law enforcement says the previous investigation included the use of undercover agents who allegedly purchased as many as 90 firearms. Undercover agents reportedly also bought drugs during the investigation. Police say agents bought roughly 1.5 kilograms of cocaine, 2 kilograms of crack, 2.5 kilograms of methamphetamine, 2 kilograms of heroin and 26 pounds of marijuana during the investigation.

Police allege that the focus of the investigation was on alleged California gang members and their associates. Law enforcement says they were particularly focusing on Rancho San Pedro, a gang that currently has 600 members and 400 associates.


The original investigation centered on a 2004 shooting outside a Pico Rivera liquor store. A homicide officer reportedly was reviewing photographs of tattoos of suspected gang members when he saw a familiar depiction on the chest of the 25-year-old. The investigator says the tattoo depicted a scene similar to that involved in the 2004 liquor store shooting.

Police arrested the man on a minor charge in 2008. While the tattooed man was being held in jail on the minor charge, police say they used a jailhouse decoy to get a confession to murder from the young man.

While he was being held on the murder charge, law enforcement claims the man called his mother on two separate two occasions. The calls in the jail are monitored. Prosecutors say the phone calls include evidence of a drug conspiracy. Prosecutors claim that the man conspired with his mother and three other people to smuggle narcotics into the jail system.


Hundreds of DUI cases have been called into question in Ventura County after months of faulty readings were discovered. Deputies are required to conduct tests to confirm the accuracy of a reading. Law enforcement first noticed a faulty reading in January. As many as eight devices have shown to provide erratic readings. The breathalyzers remained in use until last week.

The breathalyzers in question were purchased in December. Last week, the county pulled all 128 devices from service. The discovery of inaccurate readings may impact a large number of DUI cases including a number of California DUI convictions in the county. The manufacturer of the Alco-Sensor V breathalyzers reportedly has acknowledged the defect in the devices and claims the problem will be fixed.

Roadside breathalyzer readings taken with the devices have no evidentiary value in court. However, some individuals arrested for DUI may have decided to plead guilty based upon the faulty breathalyzer results. The county elected to begin using the device to obtain an instant reading of breath alcohol content in suspected DUI cases.

Tagged in: breath tests
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