Traffic Stop OK if Registered Owner’s License Revoked?

The United States Supreme Court recently ruled in a case arising out of Kansas City that a traffic stop is legal if the police, while driving behind a truck, investigate the license plate to identify the registered owner and then discover the registered owner has a revoked license. The astute reader will recognize that officers, in making the traffic stop, must assume that the registered owner is driving the truck. Does such an assumption violate any standard of reasonableness in making such a detention? No, held the U.S. Supreme Court. To read a summary of this rather startling opinion, please click on the following link –

What is Soliciting or Engaging in Lewd Acts in Public?

The stereotype of one charged with soliciting or engaging in lewd acts in public is a gay man arrested in a public restroom sting involving undercover police officers arresting dozens of unsuspecting people, often embarrassed wealthy, married men who have families and prominent positions in the community. Yet what kind of conduct is required to be convicted of soliciting on engaging in lewd acts in public, Penal Code § 647(a)? What are the defenses? What is the punishment? To read more about this crime, please click on the following link –

Convictions Reversed When Prosecutor Misstates Law

In closing arguments, there is an unwritten rule that one, as an officer of the court and a gentleman, should not object to the arguments of opposing counsel as a matter of professional courtesy. However, there are a few exceptions that one must keep in mind. One is to object to evidence described by opposing counsel that was never admitted and second, it to object if opposing counsel misstates the law. In the following case summary, a conviction was reversed because the prosecutor misstated the law on great bodily injury. To read about this unusual case, please click on the following link –

Trial Court Judge Can Decide if Parole or PRCS Proper.

It is quite common for those released from prison to be placed on parole, and supervised by a parole officer, when the person was told that he or she would be placed on PRCS (post-release community supervision) and supervised by a less vigilant probation officer. When we received phone calls about this, we often think that a judge cannot change this because it was a CDCR decision, but this can be wrong, as the following summary explains –

Sanchez and Testimony About Predicate Offenses.

The 2016 published decision in People v. Sanchez (2016) 63 Cal.4th 665 was a welcome victory for criminal defense attorneys fighting with prosecutors and judges combatting decades of “gang experts” testifying about what other police reports described and what such reports stated about what witnesses, including defendant, stated in prior out-of-court police encounters with supposed gang members. However, this welcome victory against hearsay must be understood in its application, as the following summary explains –

Ineffective Assistance of Counsel if CRC-Unqualified?

It is extremely difficult to establish ineffective assistance of counsel (IAC), as the following summary of a murder case shows. The defense attorney had only been practicing for two years by the time the trial started. However, the legal standard for effective assistance of counsel has no mention of experience. Instead, petitioner must show that counsel’s performance fell below an objective standard of reasonableness under prevailing professional norms and that but for such performance, the outcome of the trial would have been different. To read more about this tough standard, please click on the following link

Gang Enhancements Reversed When Crawford Violation

Most criminal defense attorneys are readily familiar with what is called a “Crawford violation” when meaningful testimony is offered without giving defendant the opportunity to cross-examine the testifying witness. This can be especially damaging when testimony supports a ten-year sentence enhancement for committing a crime to further, promote or assist a criminal street gang. To read a case addressing when such a sentence enhancement was imposed based on testimony violating Crawford, please click on the following link –

When Is Gang Expert’s Testimony OK for Motive?

In the context of a prosecutor’s “gang expert,” that expert’s testimony is often used to smuggle in evidence that the prosecution should have, but could not, introduce properly. Defense counsel therefore must be careful to object to testimony from such an expert that is no longer expert testimony to help jurors understand “gang culture” and instead crosses into being percipient witness testimony that constitutes evidence supporting proof of or rebuttal to a disputed fact or defense. Such an expert must be “watched” closely and defense counsel must object to such testimony. To read a case summary that epitomizes this push-pull, mischievous nature of testimony from a gang expert purportedly for defendant’s motive, please click on the following link –

Writ of Habeas Corpus Granted When DA Says Issue Moot.

The following summary of a recent Fourth Appellate Court ruling is rich with lessons for defense counsel and the prosecution, as well as perhaps anyone who is released with a promise to come back to court to surrender for serving time. Some might call it a comedy of errors, but such a characterization would minimize the impact on defendant, who it should not be overlooked “created the problem.” If a judge sets an evidentiary hearing, it is good to prepare a party’s response, rather than wait for the hearing, the prosecutor learned the hard way. To read more about this crazy case, please click on the following link –

Is There an Attempted Estes Robbery under P.C. § 663?

If a person shoplifts an item, is then confronted by a police officer, loss prevention or a store employee and uses force to get away, and does get away for a while, is this an attempted Estes robbery or a completed Estes robbery? We like the answer that it is an attempted crime for expungement purposes perhaps, although one can see the logic to both answers. To read more about this “riddle” posed to the appellate court, click on the following link –