Long Beach Attorneys Applaud Supreme Court’s Ruling Requiring Police To Obtain Warrant Before Searching Cell Phones

Police for many years have been scrolling through cell phones of criminal suspects during an arrest without first obtaining Judicial Approval.  That changed this week when the High Court of the land ruled a warrant is required.

In two cases (one state, one federal), the Court considered whether police may conduct a warrantless search of digital information on a cell phone seized from a person under arrest. In the California case, Riley was stopped for expired registration tags and found to be driving on a suspended license. Pursuant to department policy, police impounded his car. During an inventory search, police found illegal firearms and Riley was arrested. Incident to arrest, Riley was searched. Data in his smart phone was searched and information was found which resulted in an attempted murder and other convictions. The state court affirmed, including the denial of his motion to suppress. Certiorari was granted. Held: Reversed. A search incident to arrest is an exception to the Fourth Amendment warrant requirement, although the scope of the exception has been debated. Such searches have been allowed of the person and area within the arrestee’s control (Chimel v. California (1969) 395 U.S. 752), the personal property immediately associated with the arrestee’s person (U.S. v. Robinson (1973) 414 U.S. 218), and a vehicle passenger compartment when it is reasonable to believe there may be evidence there related to the crime of arrest (Arizona v. Gant (2009) 556 U.S. 332). In deciding whether to extend the exception to cell phones, the individual’s privacy interests must be balanced against the government’s interests in conducting the search. The risks identified in Chimel, harm to officers and destruction of evidence, do not apply to cell phone data. A cell phone itself cannot be used as a weapon and officers remain free to examine the physical aspects of the phone. The phone may be seized and secured to prevent destruction of evidence while police seek a warrant. Where privacy-related concerns are substantial, such as the vast quantities of personal information contained in cell phones, a search may require a warrant notwithstanding an arrestee’s diminished expectation of privacy because cells phones differ quantitatively and qualitatively from other physical items. “With all they contain and all they may reveal, they hold for many Americans ‘the privacies of life.'” (thanks CCAP)

Criminal Attorney In Long Beach Offers Low Cost Consultations For Veterans

For those coming back from the Middle East it is hard enough to acclimate back into society.  For those arrested and charged with DUI and other criminal offenses the task can be even harder.  On attorney in the are understands this and offers low cost, or in some cases, no cost legal representation for ex military and their families.


Long Beach Criminal Attorney Discusses 3 Strikes Law

The 3 strikes law in California is often very harsh and sometimes results in very long and unjust sentences, particularly in sex cases.  Many Long Beach Criminal Defense Attorneys have argued the law is cruel and unusual therefore violating the Constitution.  Courts have shot this down in most cases.

In People v. Carmony (2005) 127 Cal.App.4th 1066 (Carmony II), the Third Appellate District concluded that a 25-year-to-life sentence under the Three Strikes law constituted cruel and/or unusual punishment as applied to a defendant whose triggering offense was the failure to update his registration within five days of his birthday. In Carmony II , the defendant had properly registered at a new address a month before his birthday, continued to reside at the same address, had remained in contact with his parole agent, and was arrested a month after his birthday after failing to re-register. The appellate court found that because the offense was the most “technical and harmless violation of the registration law we have seen,” the imposition of a 25-year-to-life sentence was grossly disproportionate to the gravity of the offense and therefore cruel and/or unusual punishment. In the present habeas proceeding, the Second Appellate District expressly disagreed with the appellate court in Carmony II and held that the punishment was constitutionally permissible. In light of the conflicting opinions, the Supreme Court granted review. The court agreed with the Second Appellate District that imposition of a 25-year-to-life sentence upon petitioner in this matter did not constitute cruel and unusual punishment. However, it also concluded that it did not need to and should not rest its holding upon a determination that Carmony II was wrongly decided. The conduct of the defendant in this case was distinguishable from the minor technical violation in Carmony II. Here, the triggering violation was neither harmless nor technical. The trial court found that the petitioner had never registered at his current address, and had intentionally refused to comply with registration requirements. Thus the conduct bore both a rational and substantial relationship to the anti-recidivist purposes of the Three Strikes law. Given that relationship in addition to the “heinous” nature of petitioner’s criminal history, the 25-year-to-life sentence did not constitute cruel and unusual punishment. (CCAP)

Red Light Camera Ticket Case Upheld

California has long allowed red light cameras to be used in order to stem the tide of accidents at intersctions.  Long Beach is not a big user of these devices but other cities do use the cameras to ticket drivers who run red lights.  The law is in favor of the city when you try and fight the ticket, this case outlines one recent decision that upholds the tickets in Court.

Here, the defendant, Goldsmith was cited for failing to stop at a red light at an intersection in violation of Vehicle Code section 21453. She was found guilty of the infraction based on evidence of several photographs and a 12-second video generated by an automatic traffic enforcement system. The conviction was affirmed by the appellate division of the superior court and the Court of Appeal. The California Supreme Court granted review to consider Goldsmith’s claim that the trial court improperly admitted the  evidence over her hearsay and inadequate foundation objections.

The appeals court upheld the conviction for running a red light.  The Court found  The police investigator’s testimony adequately established that the photographs were from the relevant intersection. The photographs depicted Goldsmith at the intersection, which supported a finding that the photos were authentic. There was no evidence that the red light camera evidence was materially altered or edited. The court declined to require a greater showing of authentication for the admissibility of digital images merely because in theory they could be manipulated. It also rejected Goldsmith’s argument that the camera evidence constituted inadmissable hearsay.

Court Defines GBI Enhancement in Criminal Cases

Following a court trial outside of Long Beach, the accused was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and three counts of furnishing a controlled substance based on evidence that he provided methadone and hydrocodone to a woman who died from an overdose of the drugs. As to two of the furnishing counts, the court also found true allegations that the defendant, Martinez,  personally inflicted GBI (Great Bodily Injury) on the homicide victim. On appeal, Martinez challenged the GBI enhancements, including the sufficiency of the evidence to support them. Here, the appellate court rejected Martinez’s argument that subdivision (g) should be broadly interpreted to mean that a GBI enhancement based on the homicide victim’s death cannot attach to other offenses when the defendant has been convicted of murder or manslaughter. This interpretation of section 12022.7, subdivision (g) is unsupported by the plain language of section 12022.7, which only prohibits a GBI enhancement from attaching to the murder or manslaughter offense, and by case law. Because Martinez waived his Penal Code section 654 rights in exchange for dismissal of a murder charge and a maximum sentence, and because there was no statutory prohibition on imposing the GBI enhancement on the furnishing charges, the trial court acted properly.

Defendant “personally inflicted” GBI by furnishing a lethal quantity of controlled substances to the homicide victim while she was intoxicated. The Criminal Defense Attorney also argued there was insufficient evidence that he “personally inflicted” great bodily harm on the victim. He conceded that the lethal combination of drugs caused the death, but claimed the relevant question was whether his act of furnishing the drugs, as opposed to the victim’s act of voluntarily ingesting them, directly caused her death. The evidence was sufficient. Although appellant did not force the victim to take the drugs, he supplied them knowing that they were more dangerous when combined with alcohol and knew the victim was drinking. The term “personally inflicts” does not necessarily imply that the defendant must be the sole cause of the injuries.  These types of enhancements are common in Long Beach Criminal cases. (Thanks CCAP)