Articles Posted in Criminal Defense

There are restrictions issued to law enforcement officers on when and how they can execute a California search warrant. Nonetheless, mistakes and errors can and do occur during the execution of warrants. Unless a search is authorized by you, incident to a lawful arrest, or some other exception provided by law, a valid search warrant must be obtained before the search is conducted. Any violation of these rules may result in a reduction in your criminal charges, dismissal of the evidence unlawfully obtained, and even dismissal of your criminal charges.

A search warrant allows the police to search you, your home, your car, and your place of business. The police can even search an area suspected of containing evidence of illegal activity so long as it is specified in the search warrant.

Storming into homes with guns, protective armor, lights, dogs, and law enforcement personnel, usually during the early dawn hours, catches everyone in the home off guard and leads to avoidable deaths, unnecessary injuries, and costly legal settlements with survivors.

In a December no-knock drug raid in Houston, two suspects were shot and killed and five police officers were injured. Even the family pet was shot in the crossfire. The pet survived, but both of his owners died. The results of the raid were so bad that the Houston Police Department no longer conducts no-knock raids during low-level criminal investigations of a nonviolent nature.  

No-Knock Warrants

A no-knock warrant is issued by a judge and gives police permission to enter a property by force without prior notification to its occupants or requesting their permission. These types of warrants are often precipitated by a tip from an informant. The informant is the person who cooperates with the police and provides information about the people or companies under criminal investigation. The use of informants is common in criminal investigations, especially those involving illegal drug sales and distribution. So long as the informant’s information is reliable, it will satisfy a low threshold to support a finding of probable cause to issue the search warrant. The judge may inquire about the identity of the informant, examine past instances when the informant assisted law enforcement and the results of such cooperation. The police will also be called in to testify and corroborate the informant’s testimony.   Continue reading

Absent the distinctive scent associated with smoking marijuana, how can the police determine if you are driving your vehicle under the influence of marijuana? Marijuana use for personal consumption is legal in California. It is illegal, however, to drive under the influence of marijuana in California.

Field Sobriety Testing

When the police stop a driver under suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, including marijuana, but cannot readily observe marijuana use, they may request that the driver participate in field sobriety tests to determine if he or she is impaired by alcohol or drugs.

Generally, a suspected impaired driver may be asked to perform a series of the following tests:

  • The one-legged test requires you to stand on one leg for a period of time. If you are able to do so, you pass this test.
  • The walk and turn test requires you to walk in a straight line. You are evaluated for balance, staying on the line, walking and stopping, and following directions. If you are able to remain on the line walking as instructed, you pass this test.
  • The horizontal gaze nystagmus test, also known as the HGN test, requires you to follow the gaze of the police officer’s finger or an object in the police’s hand. You are evaluated for compliance with the instructions and the nature of your eye movements. If you are able to follow the gaze as instructed, you pass the test.

If you fail the field sobriety tests, the police have probable cause to arrest you under suspicion of driving under the influence of marijuana.

Chemical Tests

Every time you drive on California’s roadways, you have already consented to submit to a chemical test if asked to participate in one by law enforcement. Once in police custody, law enforcement may require you provide samples of your blood, breath, or urine to conduct chemical tests. With respect to marijuana use, the tests would measure the presence of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana to support the DUI (marijuana) element of the charge. As of the Spring of 2019, there is no breath technology that can measure THC in a person’s breath in use by San Diego’s Police Department. All three tests are less able to measure THC as time passes.

Cotton Swab Tests

In San Diego, police at DUI checkpoints may use a cotton swab to collect a saliva sample from a driver. The cotton swab test can detect the presence of THC as well as crystal meth, methadone, cocaine, and some prescription drugs.

Charged with illegal use or possession of marijuana or driving under the influence of marijuana in San Diego? Hire a knowledgeable and experienced San Diego criminal defense lawyer to help you resolve your case. Continue reading

With Memorial Day in our rear-view, we have entered what law enforcement calls the 100 dangerous days of summer on the roads. According to California Highway Patrol (CHP), there were 1,099 DUI arrests made in California this past Memorial Day weekend, averaging 14 arrests per hour. This is a 4% increase from last year.

In an article by Times of San Diego, the CHP reports that while DUI arrests are down from last year, it is still a huge safety concern for California residents throughout the summer. Now that you are aware of the statistics, let us take some time to explore what a DUI is and what California law says about DUIs.

DUI and California Law

DUI is the acronym for driving under the influence. A DUI is simply the act of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. California Law states it is unlawful for a person to operate a vehicle if he or she is:

  • Under the influence of any alcoholic beverage.
  • Addicted to the use of any drug.
  • Under the influence of any drug.
  • Under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug.

If you were recently cited for DUI, this can be a frightening time. With help from Boertje and Associates, you can avoid three mistakes people usually make when they receive a DUI citation.

Speaking Up at the Wrong Time

Being cited for DUI can be overwhelming. During this time, you may be upset. Naturally, you will want to speak up for yourself and tell the officer your side of the story about what happened.  At this point, you are so shaken up that you may have forgotten about your constitutional rights. You do have the right to remain silent, remember? Save yourself a headache and do not make the mistake of speaking up for yourself at the wrong time.

Ignoring the DUI and Wishing it Away

Whether this is your first DUI offense or not, ignoring it and wishing the DUI away will not do you any good. This is not the time to sit and twiddle your thumbs as if the DUI does not exist.

If you continue to ignore the DUI, your driving privileges will be in jeopardy. As a result, your license can be suspended or even revoked. You can also face jail time, receive hefty fines and costs, and be required to do community service. If this piece of information is not enough to get you moving, as of January 2019, the State of California requires anyone arrested for DUI to install an ignition interlock device (IID) in his or her vehicle after the arrest.

Waiting Until the Last Minute to Hire an Attorney

You should never attempt to pursue a DUI case on your own. Now is the time to hire an attorney to represent you in your criminal matter. An experienced, qualified DUI defense attorney is a great resource to assist you with your DUI defense. If you want to obtain favorable results, do not wait until the last minute. The sooner you hire an attorney, the sooner your attorney can begin planning a defense strategy for your case. Continue reading

Three teenage friends, two girls and one boy, regularly shared videos by group text message to each other on their mobile devices. Through the bond of their friendship, there was an unspoken assumption that whatever was shared among them would remain private. There was an element to their video sharing practice of trying to outdo each other with each video posted and shared. This assumption was put to the test when one sensitive video did not stay among them.

The 16-year-old maker and sender of the video made a sexually explicit video of herself and sent it to the other teens on the group chat chain. The male teen, 17 at the time, shared a copy of the video with his school resource officer from the county sheriff’s office. The other female teen, who was 16 at the time, shared the video with other students. Before long, the video was widely distributed throughout the school. The maker of the video remained home from school for 30 days unwilling to return to school because of the backlash she was experiencing from the other students.

The only person charged with a crime for this incident, in juvenile court, was the 16-year-old maker and sender of the video. Possession and distribution of child pornography is a crime in the teen’s jurisdiction, the State of Maryland. It is also a crime in California.

Self-produced child pornography is a touchy subject. While on the one hand, the teen in this case was immature and an argument can be made that she did not appreciate the consequences of making a sexually explicit video of herself, she consented to sharing the video with her friends because she made the post herself and released it to them. She did not, however, consent to its release to the entire student body. On the other hand, child pornography is the trade of videos and photographs which depict children engaging in sexual acts. Outside of the school, this video may be on someone else’s electronic device and as such, it is being used to exploit children. The only way to combat its use is by banning possession of it strictly, as would be the case in almost all U.S. states.   Continue reading

There is a great deal of information and misinformation about CBD in food and the legality of CBD in food. In 2018, California legalized recreational use of marijuana. Despite its legalization, many uses of marijuana are still illegal.

Consider the source: Is the article you are reading or video you are watching discussing the law in California?

If you answered ‘no’ to the question posed above, do not accept the use of legalized marijuana discussed in the article or video as true in California. While recreational use and possession of marijuana is legal in 10 states, including California and the western states of the country, use or possession of recreational marijuana is illegal, under federal law, in all 50 states. Moreover, in states where marijuana use and consumption are legal, there are many different laws about which use or possession is permissible. What is legal in Colorado will not be what is legal in California.   

Can I add CBD to my food?

According to Project CBD, cannabidiol (CBD) is a naturally occurring compound found in cannabis, a plant. It is just one of the hundreds of compounds unique to the plant. The other compound that receives a great deal of attention is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which is the ingredient in the plant that causes the high – making the user feel “stoned” or intoxicated.

Hemp CBD has become a nation-wide health craze. There are many positive health benefits to the use of CBD to alleviate aches and pains associated with debilitating chronic conditions like cancer, AIDS, severe chronic pain, and other ailments. California legalized the use of medical marijuana in 1996.

Buying food with CBD is illegal in California. Last summer, the California public health regulators published guidelines explicitly stating that they will not consider CBD to be an approved food additive or dietary supplement until federal or state regulators approve it. Thus, Californians cannot buy food that includes CBD as a food additive or dietary supplement. Continue reading

We are close to the one-and-a-half-year mark of the legalization of the use and possession of recreational marijuana in California. There is a tremendous amount of misinformation on what is the permissible use and possession of recreational marijuana. The following post will tackle some of these misconceptions.

Use and Possession of Marijuana is Only Legal in 10 states, Including California

When reading about legal marijuana, it is important to focus on the source. More importantly, the state the author is referencing in an article or video is a critical factor. Recreational marijuana is only legal in 10 states. They are California, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Alaska, Colorado, Michigan, Maine, Vermont, and Massachusetts. Each state defines legal recreational marijuana use and possession differently. Use or possession of recreational marijuana is illegal, under federal law, in all 50 states.  

Legal Marijuana can Only be Transported in a Closed Container in the Trunk of a Car

Even though use and possession of recreational marijuana is legal in California, certain uses and types of possession remain illegal and will result in an arrest and charge if detected by police. For example, drivers can possess marijuana in their vehicles so long as it is in a container in the trunk. Even though the driver purchased marijuana legally and possesses a legalized amount, if it is in an open container, in a purse, in a glove-compartment, or on the back seat, an arrest will follow. This law is similar to the open container rule relating to alcohol possession in a car. You would not drive around with an open beer bottle; you cannot drive around with a rolled-up joint on your dashboard. Both types of possession of the legal substance, alcohol or marijuana, will result in a criminal conviction for illegal possession of marijuana or alcohol.

Public Consumption of Marijuana is Illegal in California

Additionally, public consumption of marijuana is illegal in California. While there may be businesses that are licensed for on-site marijuana consumption in California, these businesses may not serve alcohol or allow tobacco use on their premises. This means that bars and clubs cannot allow marijuana consumption on their premises because they serve alcohol. Continue reading

Many arrests are initiated by the victim of the alleged crime calling the police. A victim can also go to the police precinct and file a criminal complaint against the perpetrator in person. Whether in person or on the phone, the police open an investigation as soon as the victim starts talking.

The police will listen to the victim’s complaint and interview him or her for details about the event. Evidence of the alleged crime is collected and identifying characteristics of the potential defendant is gathered. At some point, the details from the investigation are written in a statement, that after being reviewed by the victim, is sworn to and signed. This statement forms the basis of the criminal complaint.

Sometimes, however, these police reports are not entirely truthful. When a victim lies and files a criminal complaint against someone, it is a crime in California. With the help of artificial intelligence, the police are actively cracking down on these fake police reports.

Artificial Intelligence in Criminal Investigations

Since the 2000s, law enforcement and artificial intelligence have been working closely to develop science and technological tools that would enable law enforcement to do their job better. Take, for example, the use of DNA collected at crime scenes in rape investigations. When used correctly, unique DNA markers can be isolated and used to identify the suspect and eliminate with almost 100% certainty all other potential suspects.

The next wave of tools to be developed will assist law enforcement with specific criminal investigations. Take, for example, robbery investigations. In California, robbery is a felony with a prison sentence of over a year in state prison. A robbery charge means a suspect took personal property in possession of another person from his or her immediate presence, against his or her will, by using force or fear. California Penal Code Section 211.

When the police are called to investigate the robbery, the victim will be asked questions to elicit a criminal complaint. What happened, how did it happen, was the victim hurt, what was taken, and who did it, are basic questions the victim will be asked. The victim will also be asked for a written statement of the robbery and the events and details described.

VeriPol can Detect Lies in Robbery Reports

VeriPol is software used in robbery investigations to identify false robbery reports. It was developed by computer scientists in Spain and used by the National Police to identify false robbery reports. The software analyzes the victim’s written statement to identify false reports. 83% of the software-identified fake reports were closed after the victim faced further questioning and resulted in no robbery charges being filed.

By analyzing the fake reports, conclusions were drawn to make robbery investigations in the future better. False robbery reports tend to be shorter, focused on the stolen property rather than the robbery itself, few details were provided about the attacker or robbery, and there was an absence of witnesses. This is just one example of how artificial intelligence is transforming criminal investigations and being used by law enforcement to go after the correct defendants. Continue reading

A Whittier man, Dealio Lockhart, was recently sentenced to 22 years and four months in state prison for his role in the 2016 street race that caused a multi-vehicle pileup on the Golden State Freeway in Commerce. Three people died and four were seriously injured. An investigation by the City Prosecutor determined that Lockhart was driving 127 miles per hour just two and a half seconds before the fatal impact. The three dead included a UPS driver whose truck immediately burst into flames, burning him to death. Two young adults returning from a trip to Disneyland were also killed in the crash.

Illegal Street Racing is Dangerous

NBC News reported that a group from Orange County known as CDK are car enthusiasts that use parking lots and surrounding streets to perform sideshows or street racing. In mid-March the San Diego Police Department responded in full force to an announcement by the group, which is comprised of members of the Car Show Addicts, Dos Madres, and King Fresh car clubs, that they were going to meet in San Diego.

Strong Street Racing Culture

Southern California has long attracted car enthusiasts. The City of San Diego and San Diego County in particular, have been battling illegal street racing for decades. One program that achieved great success was launched in 1998 and was called www.racelegal.com. The goal of the program was to directly address illegal street racing activity and its accompanying public menace of death and injury by providing a safe and controlled racing environment at the SDUCC Stadium.

At the height of the program in 2003, there was a 99% reduction in organized illegal street racing activity in San Diego; and a 79% improvement in illegal street racing involved in crash deaths from bystanders or drivers. The nonprofit however, ran out of money and ceased operations in March. The group is trying to restart with new funding but faces opposition from the city because the SDUCC stadium site is being sold to San Diego State University.

Penalties for Illegal Street Racing Conviction

Individuals convicted of illegal street racing in San Diego face penalties that may include three months in jail, $1000 in fines, and having their vehicle impounded for 30 days. Continue reading

Criminal law has entered the digital age. Every day, the privacy of innocent people is compromised as law enforcement officials scoop up information about them while executing routine search warrants involving someone else. Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a warrant was required for law enforcement to be able to access historical data about an accused person’s cell phone location over several weeks. This ruling, however, does not address the use of geo-fence warrants by law enforcement officials when seeking to identify the perpetrators or witnesses to a crime.

Geo-Fence Warrant in Action

The police department in a suburb of Phoenix obtained a search warrant to identify the perpetrators and witnesses to a crime. They asked Google to provide information about any and all devices it recorded near the crime site to identify suspects and witnesses. Independent video surveillance showed the vehicle of interest was a white Honda Civic. The video did not capture an image of the driver or license plate number.  

Google’s Sensorvault

Sensorvault is a global database maintained by Google to capture and record personal information about its users. Where you go with your friends, what you read, eat, listen to, and watch, and when these activities happen are all recorded.

For years, technology companies have responded to court orders and search warrant to reveal specific user information. That is and remains legal. Under the geo-warrants, a single warrant can collect location information on dozens or hundreds of devices at or near the area of interest.

Geo-fence warrants are just one of the technological advancements that have improved criminal investigations in California and North Carolina, Florida, Minnesota, and Washington, other states that routinely use these types of warrants during criminal investigations.

Apple states that it is not able to perform these types of searches involving their iOS devices. However, Google software is the culprit, and that software can be downloaded onto an iPhone. The software, not the device, tracks user’s location and other data.

Review and Understand Your Privacy Settings

Selling you location data is a lucrative business for Google and companies that track your information to share with themselves or others. To protect yourself against intrusion, understand the location history setting on your mobile devices and portable computers. If you routinely travel with your smartphone and tablet, the feature must be disabled on all devices to avoid being tracked. The location history setting enables users to see what information is being tracked and recorded. Users can opt to delete their location and account history permanently, but future information must also be purged or it will remain on their website in perpetuity. Continue reading

We are preparing for summer holiday travel by familiarizing ourselves with the security process for clearing airport checkpoints. In our last post we examined property or personal belongings searches. In this post we will spotlight body searches.

Can I Refuse a Body Screen?

Most airports have full-body scanners that use millimeter waves, MMW, to screen the body for contraband. Here, a prohibited item would be a cigarette lighter. If the scan identifies a cigarette lighter in your pocket, you will be asked to discard it to clear the body search portion of the scan. If the TSO cannot identify the item, he or she will refer you to an enhanced pat-down search.

When an enhanced pat-down search is ordered, the passenger may request the search be performed by a specific gendered TSO. A passenger may also request that instead of a full-body scan using MMW, an enhanced pat-down be performed and choose the gender of the TSO.  

There are many reasons people refuse a full-body scan that have nothing to do with carrying prohibited items or contraband. A person with a pacemaker cannot withstand the body scan. An individual with a concern about receiving radiation may refuse to provide MMW screening.

If the item detected in the full-body scan is contraband, like cocaine pellets in the passenger’s stomach, the passenger will be detained and referred to law enforcement for criminal investigation and arrest.

You May Request a Private Screening

A private screening means that an enhanced pat-down is conducted out of public view. The passenger may request a travel companion be present and the gender of the TSO. Again, passengers in these scenarios seek privacy and wish to protect it.

You do Not Have to Disrobe

During a TSA search, you will not be asked to disrobe or reveal a private area of your body. A cavity search can only be done by law enforcement personnel, not the TSA. Accommodations for religious clothing, like a hijab or turbans, may be requested and granted.

Be Respectful

The TSOs are screening thousands of passengers. Everyone’s clock is ticking. If any of your rights are violated during your airport screening, remind the TSO that it is your right to request an accommodation to the process. For more information on banned items you cannot carry onto an airplane, visit the TSA website or click here.

People Get Arrested at Airports All the Time

If you are in possession of contraband at an airport, you will be referred to law enforcement for an immediate arrest. If you or someone you know is charged with a crime in San Diego, contact a qualified San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney who can help mitigate penalties today and explain your legal rights and responsibilities. Available 24/7, the Boertje Law Firm represents clients at any stage of the criminal case and for any crime charged. Continue reading