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Auburn California Criminal Defense Blog

Cell Phones and Search Warrants

As cell phones become an increasingly important possession in everyday life in California and across the globe, understanding their place in a criminal investigation is increasingly important. Since these serve not only as a communication device but also a computer, organizer and address book, the Supreme Court has determined that it is a violation of a citizen's rights to have his or her phone searched illegally.

As CNN reported, a ruling in 2014 confirmed that law enforcement must have a search warrant before looking through the cell phone of a person suspected of a crime. Unlike wallets and briefcases, cell phones are not subject to immediate search upon arrest without a warrant, even if there is "probable cause." Excluding phones from this initial search establishes a right to privacy for citizens, and was considered a win for privacy advocates. This ruling includes information being stored on a device, such as contact information, photos and video and text messages.

What is the three strikes law?

As a resident of California who may have gotten in trouble with the law before, it's important for you to be aware of California's three strikes law. Here at Leupp & Woodall, we strive to help you understand this law and how it can potentially have a large impact on your future, especially if you have prior felony convictions on your record. 

This law is considered one of the harshest sentencing laws in the country, as it can call for incredibly strong penalties in a select few cases. Under this law, any prior serious conviction you have could negatively impact you in a big way. For example, if you have been convicted of certain felony crimes in the past, you may find your prison sentence doubled if you are convicted again. The intent is to dissuade a person from continuing to commit crimes by upping the ante every time they do.

Senate passes two sentence enhancement reforms

As mandatory minimum sentences have once again come into favor federally, California is discussing a proposed law to repeal these requirements on some convictions. According to the Los Angeles Times, a bill recently passed the state Senate that would change state laws in regards to sentencing repeat offenders for drug convictions.

As the law currently stands, in addition to the three to five years in prison a person convicted of sale or possession for sale of drugs can receive, three years is added onto the sentence for each previous prior conviction for a similar drug offense. The bill that passed the senate with a 22-13 vote would remove that additional three-year enhancement. Those against the bill say it weakens sentencing laws available to judges. Those in favor of the bill state that creating longer sentences does not stop offenders, and that the current laws primarily single out minorities and are ineffective.

What is a felony DUI?

If you have been arrested in California for driving under the influence of alcohol, you may be facing misdemeanor or felony charges. Misdemeanors generally carry more lenient penalties than felonies because they are considered less severe crimes. According to the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps, a DUI is generally a felony if you have been convicted of driving under the influence three times before or if during the incident someone was injured or killed. This means that not all felony DUIs will involve injures or accidents.

You can be found guilty of a DUI charge if you have more than the legal limit of alcohol in your blood system. This is tested through your blood alcohol content. It cannot be over .08 percent. Even if you feel fine and do not think your driving is impaired in any way, a BAC of .08 percent or more can result in a DUI. In addition, you could also be found guilty of a DUI if you have any alcohol in your system and were pulled over by law enforcement for impaired driving. So, you do not always have to be over the legal limit to get a DUI; you simply have to exhibit signs that alcohol is affecting your ability to drive safely.

Can field sobriety tests leave you buried under a DUI charge?

Getting stopped by police under any circumstances can cause you to experience extreme stress. Even if an officer simply wants to inform you of a broken taillight or other minor issue, you may still feel easily overwhelmed. Unfortunately, this sense of anxiety may increase if the officer suspects that you have consumed alcohol before getting behind the wheel. If so, an officer may ask you to perform field sobriety tests.

Officers commonly utilize field sobriety tests in order to determine whether reasonable suspicion exists to place someone under arrest for DUI. Of course, you may not have a familiarity with such testing before having to participate in them yourself.

What may violate an ignition interlock device order?

If you have been arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence in California, you no doubt have many questions. One of the things you will want to learn about is the set of penalties you may face if you are convicted. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, this may include the use of an ignition interlock device. The length of time you must use an IID may vary based upon any prior offenses and whether or not you have been convicted of a DUI under California Vehicle Code or of a vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated offense under the California Penal Code.

If you are ultimately required to use an IID, you should know how to avoid any violations of your order. Once a device is installed in your vehicle, any signs that you have tried to circumvent or tamper with the equipment may result in a violation. Having another person provide a breath sample in order that you can start your car is also a problem. During the period for which you must use the device, you are not allowed to drive other vehicles without IIDs installed. Some exceptions for work-related driving of a company vehicle may apply.

AG reverses direction for seeking mandatory minimums

It has long been argued that we have lost the so-called “war on drugs.” Prisons are overcrowded with non-violent drug offenders; police are spending massive resources of enforcing drug laws many people consider heavy-handed; people’s families and livelihoods are destroyed with a single, non-violent drug offense.

However, in recent years, prison populations have been declining and prosecutors have had flexibility when charging people accused of crimes like drug offenses. But, that is all changing under the Trump administration. Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently announced that he is directing all federal prosecutors to pursue the most serious charges they can.

Shoplifting charges often reveal additional issues

Shoplifting may not seem like a serious crime, but every offense involving theft is taken seriously by California courts. Because of this, it can be crucial that anyone facing theft or shoplifting charges also takes the situation seriously.

Shoplifting is a crime that often involves other offenses, which means that charges can stack up quickly. It can also reveal other issues that may be involved, which can make an arrest particularly troubling for the person arrested as well as his or her family. We examine a few of these issues below.

How A DUI Could Impact Your Career

After a night out with friends, you take a chance and decide to drive yourself home. A car service would have been more expensive than you prefer, and you have definitely driven home on nights where you’ve drank more. You’re not worried. So when lights and sirens come your way, you’re surprised. When the officer tells you to take a breath test and you fail, you know what happens next.

You’ve had friends who have gotten DUIs, so when it happens to you, you’re scared, but not terrified. They survived it, and so will you. It was a mistake, and like all other mistakes, if you learn from it, it’s ok, right?

4 Things Not To Do If You're Arrested For DUI

The sound of sirens and the flashing lights behind you can be frightening enough on its own. When the officer performs a sobriety test and charges you with a DUI, it can be terrifying. You may have never even had a speeding ticket, let alone been arrested for something. Everything about it is unfamiliar and unknown, and you don't know what to do.

Even if you think "this will never happen to me," it's always smart to be prepared for the worst. Being charged with drunk driving doesn't actually mean you were driving drunk, so knowing what to do, and what not to, in the situation could save you a lot of stress, time and money.