When Is a Search of a Student at a Public School OK?

In light of the string of recent shootings at schools nationwide, the public is understandably aware of the school’s obligation to provide a safe learning environment for all students and staff. Yet where does the Fourth Amendment’s guarantee to be free from unreasonable search and seizure stand? Is it disregarded? Obviously, there is a balance between the obligation for safety and the privacy of an individual. To read a recent case addressing this issue, in the case of a student found with a handgun, click on the following link.


How Is Prop 47 Applied to Having Counterfeit Money?

The recent published decision of People v. Beatrice Aguirre by the First Appellate District is the first reported decision on how a court should apply Prop 47 to the possession of counterfeit money. Ms. Aguirre did have more than $950 in such money, which would seem to make the decision rather easy, but there is more to the analysis and this decision addresses how a court should rule when the amount is under $950. To read a short summary of the decision, click on the following link.


Can a Judge Halt Trial Part Way If Defendant Acts Odd?

Judges are faced with many tough decisions to make with consequences that can last forever. If a defendant has the right to understand the nature and consequences of charges against him and to participate in his defense, is this right violated if defendant acts so weird that his ability to participate in his defense is doubtful? At what point must the judge halt trial? To read about a case that exemplified this situation, click on the following link.


Certificate of Rehabilitation for Parolees & Probationers

The hurdles faced by probationers seeking a certificate of rehabilitation, especially after the probationer received relief under Penal Code § 1203.4 (expungement) but later was imprisoned on another offense, can seem unfair. However, one can see the reasoning behind the legislative intent in Penal Code § 4852.01 once one examines the statute more closely. To read a short article about how parolees and probationers face different requirements in seeking 4852 relief, click on the following link.


What Is the Community Caretaker Exception to a Warrant?

There seems to be an unlimited number of exceptions to the warrant requirement under the Fourth Amendment. The following case summary describes the “community caretaker” exception, which most readers would agree makes sense out of concern for public safety, but seems ripe for misuse by aggressive police officers fixated on securing convictions. To read about this exception, which must be narrowly construed and closely limited to certain circumstances such as those described in this case, click on the following link.


What Is the Law on Brass Knuckles? Punishment? Defenses?

Brass knuckles are often purchased by someone as a novelty item while one is on vacation. They may be intended for use as a paperweight and not a weapon. However, possessing such an item is a crime under most circumstances. While it is a wobbler, it can still be charged as a felony. To read more about possession of brass knuckles, a violation of Penal Code § 21810, click on the following link.


When & Why Can a Court Reduce Good Time Credits to 15%?

There is a general expectation or even assumption (albeit mistaken) that once a judge awards presentence credits for time served in a local facility (county jail) that such credits cannot be reduced or lost. This general expectation is misplaced when a person on probation commits a serious of violent felony that constitutes a probation violation. When this type of probation violation takes place and the person is sent off to state prison, rather than county jail, presentence credits are reduced from 4-for-2 (50% credit) to 8-for-7 (15% credit). This can be a big shock to most people. To read about an actual case where this took place and was challenged, click on the following link.


In a DUI, When Can Someone Be Convicted of Murder?

As many people convicted of DUI know, if one has been convicted of DUI and is involved in a second DUI wherein one dies, that driver can be charged with murder. But this certainly does not happen in all cases when someone dies. So when can a jury convict one of murder in a DUI? What must the jury find? To read a short article about this issue, click on the following link.


Probable Cause and the Totality of the Circumstances

The totality of the circumstances is often what judges explain was considered in finding probable cause for an arrest. What exactly can be considered in this regard? Since no two cases are exactly alike based on the facts, it is tough to analogize cases unless the facts are close to matching. In the most recent U.S. Supreme Court decision on this issue in 2018, Justice Clarence Thomas discusses the right of police
to make “reasonable inferences” and “common sense conclusions about human behavior.” To read a short summary about this recent opinion, which we do not like because it seems to empower police far too much for making arrests, click on the following link.