Is SB 1187 Retroactive for Competency Commitments?

Senate Bill 1187, which reduces the time for a civil commitment from three years to two years following a finding of incompetency to stand trial (usually after a defense attorney declares a doubt under Penal Code § 1368), is not retroactive. In a recent appellate court opinion, the Fifth Appellate District evaluated the argument that it was retroactive and disagreed on several grounds. To read a short summary of the opinion, please click on the following link –

Before Using an Ignition Interlock Device (IID), Read This.

An ignition interlock device often does not work as expected. It can fail and lock someone out of his or her car starting at the worst times. However, there are certain “tricks” to making it work smoother and with less hiccups. To read these tips, please click on the following link –

What is Sexual Battery (Penal Code § 243.4(e)(1))?

Sexual battery, as our office has commonly seen it alleged, usually involves a drunk person touching a member of the opposite sex, over clothes, at an “intimate body part.” It is a scary thing for the victim because he or she does not know if something much more serious will follow. The crime is a wobbler, but even if it is charged as a misdemeanor, the client faces registration as a sex offender for life (SB 384 will modify this as of January 1, 2022). To read more about this offense, please click on the following link –

LWOP or Death Penalty OK If Defendant Knows Guns Involved?

In a petition for resentencing under Penal Code § 1170.95 (SB 1437), the judge must evaluate a conviction for murder under the new felony murder rule that narrows the scope of who can be so convicted in a felony that turns into a murder. What if an aider and abettor provides the actual killer with a gun to use in a grocery store robbery and cases the store the day before with the shooter? Is such conduct enough to make the defendant a major participant acting with reckless indifference later when the killing takes place? To read a summary of a recent 1437 petition on these facts and issues, please click on the following link –

Commercial Burglary vs Shoplifting and Prop 47?

After Proposition 47 was passed, the distinction between shoplifting and commercial burglary became focused on whether the value of the items stolen were less than or more than $950, plus whether the crime took place during normal business hours. In the following case summary, the prosecution failed to present and evidence of any value of the intended trade-in defendant sought with the victim store, so there was no conviction for shoplifting or commercial burglary and the conviction was reversed. To read more about this case, please click on the following link –

Fourth Amendment Warrant Exception Gone for Driver ID Search?

In the following summary of a recent California Supreme Court ruling, the widely-used (some might say abused) warrant exception for police to search a car’s interior for a driver’s license may have been eliminated. Our caution in characterizing this development is because each case is fact specific and future opinions may seek to whittle away at this opinion by factually distinguishing it from a further case addressing the same issue. However, to read this rather important (we think) opinion, please click on the following link –

Can a Judge Act under SB 1393 if Case Plea Bargained?

Senate Bill 1393 permits a judge to exercise his or her discretion to strike a five-year sentence enhancement for a prior serious felony conviction imposed under Penal Code § 667(a)(1). The courts of appeal in California are split (in disagreement) over whether a judge can act under SB 1393 when there is a negotiated disposition and the judge has no active role in sentencing. In the following case out of the Second Appellate District covering Los Angeles County cases, the appellate court said a judge cannot act when a case is resolved via a plea bargain. To read more about this case, please click on the following link –