Articles Tagged with San Diego defense attorney

In the government’s latest assault on civil rights, California Attorney General Kamala Harris has announced a new policy last month that the California Department of Justice (“CADOJ”) will only be issuing its annual reports on wiretaps as locked pdfs– which would significantly limit the public’s ability to view the information.

Every year, the CADOJ is required to compile the details on each state-level wiretap order filed by local prosecutors.  The report that is released yearly is mandated by the state legislature as a means to facilitate transparency.  See the 2014 California Electronic Interceptions Report (released last month) here.  The report for 2014 shows a massive spike (an increase of 44%) in California’s wiretaps, mostly in Riverside County as compared in 2013.  Further, on a national level, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has also showed an exponential increase in the use of wiretaps, increasing from 3,394 in 2000, to 11,681 electronic intercepts last year. DEA agents have also taken to making requests directly to state prosecutors instead of making federal requests, meaning most of the requests were never even reviewed by a federal judge.

Both the DEA and CADOJ offer little explanation regarding the massive expansion of wiretaps; they merely vaguely refer to the need to fight drug crimes.

The Supreme Court once again re-visited the topic of traffic stops (the Court held this past December that evidence obtained from a search at a traffic stop based on a mistake of law was okay).  Its most recent ruling issued on April 21 held that that police may not detain a traffic violator longer than necessary so as to allow police time to conduct a dog sniff for drugs. See Rodriguez v. United States.

On March 27, 2012, defendant Denny Rodriguez was stopped alongside a Nebraska highway for swerving in and out of lanes, by Officer Morgan Struble, who subsequently questioned him, checked his license, registration, and whether he had any outstanding arrest warrants.  He also checked the documents of Rodriguez’s passenger as well.  Twenty minutes later, the officer tried to detain Rodriguez further, to which he objected.  Rodriguez was detained while additional officers and a K-9 unit arrived at the scene.  The K-9 sniffed out a bag of amphetamines and Rodriguez was indicted for possession and intent to distribute methamphetamine and sentenced to five years in prison.  He appealed to the Supreme Court which granted certiorari, and with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg speaking for the 6-3 majority, the Court held that officers may only check a driver’s license, registration, and any outstanding warrants.  The stop becomes “unlawful if it is prolonged beyond the time reasonably required to complete the mission of issuing a warning ticket.”

What This Means

Even though it has only been a few months since Proposition 47 has made its debut, the incarceration rate throughout the state of California has dropped a noticeable degree.  As most of you may know, the controversial Proposition 47 (“Reduced Penalties for Some Crimes Initiatives”) made its way onto the ballot via the California ballot initiative process.  This means that the proposed law had garnered enough petition signatures to make it onto the ballot.  It was then voted on by California voters this past November, and was approved by the majority (59.61%) of the state’s voters.  Since it became law, the city of Los Angeles , which houses the country’s largest jail system, saw an inmate population decline from 18,601 to 17,285 by the New Year.  As such, studies have shown that it is not jail-time that is actually behind the drop in the nation’s crime rate, but rather factors such as commonsense policy reform.

What This Means for You

Specifically, Proposition 47 will reduce certain felonies into a misdemeanor, including:

Your Constitutional Rights

The Miranda warning is a verbal warning that all police officers must give a suspect before s/he is about to be taken into custody, and applies the whole time s/he is in custody.  Custody means a formal arrest or the deprivation of freedom where a reasonable person does not feel like s/he can leave.  It is the result of the famous 1996 Supreme Court case of Miranda v. Arizona, and has become part of established criminal procedure law to ensure that every American’s Fifth Amendment right against compelled self-incrimination is not violated.

In that specific case, Defendant Ernesto Miranda was arrested by the Phoenix Police Department on March 13, 1963, on suspect of kidnapping and rape.  After two hours of police interrogation, he signed a confession, and was subsequently convicted.  Miranda’s lawyer appealed his conviction on the grounds his confession was never fully voluntary and should have been excluded from his prosecution.  The Supreme Court held that due to the coercive nature of police interrogations, no confession nor statement could be admissible in court under the Fifth and Sixth Amendment right to a lawyer, unless a suspect knowingly and voluntarily waives his or her rights.

In the beginning of this month, a group of 15 young people from Lincoln Park, San Diego, who were alleged to be part of the notorious Lincoln Park gang, were charged with criminal conspiracy related to two dozen local shootings within San Diego County.  The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office (“DA”) charged the group for nine different gang-related shootings under CA Penal Code 182.5.  One of the defendants, Aaron Harvey, 26, was arrested for murder, but maintains that he is innocent.  Specifically, he was not involved in the shootings, but in this case the DA’s office claims that Harvey promoted the crimes by posting gang-related affiliations and threats on social media pages, and benefited from the ‘crime’ by gaining “street credibility.”  Another defendant, local rapper “Tiny Doo,” whose lyrics reflect gang activity, is headed to trial.

As of now, five of the 15 defendants had their charges dropped at a hearing.  There is still some confusion as to why the charges were dismissed for some defendants but not others and whether the judge can still dismiss charges for the remaining defendants.  Harvey, who has no prior criminal conviction, now faces life in prison.  He still maintains he is not part of a gang.

What is Criminal Conspiracy?