Driver Takes Passed-out Passenger to a Motel: Was His Arrest a Rush to Judgment?

July 23, 2014,

Recently, a San Fernando Valley-based independent driver for the rideshare service Uber was arrested after being suspected of criminal activity involving a woman too drunk to tell him where she wanted to go.


Frederick Dencer, 32, of Encino, was charged on suspicion of kidnapping with intent to commit sexual assault, according to LAPD Lt. Paul Vernon. 1

The driver was held in custody after the woman called 911 to complain that she had awoken in a motel room in Panorama City early in the morning following a night of bar-hopping. The woman was alarmed to discover she was lying next to a shirtless man. She told police investigators she didn't know how she got there.

An Uber spokesman said the company learned of the incident through the media and has suspended the driver's account. According to an Uber spokesman, Dencer was not logged in to operate as an Uber driver at the time of the incident. 2

Not Enough Evidence to Prosecute the Driver, D.A.’s Office Says

The alleged incident unfolded after a valet employee at a West Hollywood nightclub told Dencer to drive the 26-year-old woman home, police said. According to police reports, the woman was so intoxicated, she could not tell the driver where she lived. The driver never collected a fare from the drunken woman and instead drove her to the motel. She told police she woke up about 6 a.m. Monday to find Dencer next to her. 3

Surveillance footage from the motel confirmed that the driver carried the passed-out woman into the room. However, there was nothing in the video to prove he sexually assaulted her. Although he invited her to stay with him, according to the woman’s statement, there was no evidence that the driver attempted to restrain her from leaving.

Prosecutors dropped the charges against Dencer after determining there was not enough evidence to charge him with kidnapping or sexually assaulting the woman. 4

Was This a Rush to Judgment?

Unfortunately, this situation presented the driver with an awkward choice of what to do with a passenger who was too intoxicated to tell him where to take her. What was he supposed to do with her? Leave her out on the streets?

Perhaps he should have just refused the fare and left the passenger to the next driver. But then, someone had to take responsibility for her since she was unable to care for herself. Who should that be? The bar management? After all, bartenders served her to the point where she eventually passed out.

Law enforcement’s reaction of arresting the driver for serious criminal charges without supporting evidence was inappropriate. More in- depth investigation was needed in this case to determine all of the facts. The LAPD simply failed to do a professional job to distinguish an awkward situation from an alleged crime.

What Does Wallin & Klarich Think?

Law enforcement agencies in this country have a tough job to do. Protecting the public is their professional responsibility and we are dependent on the police for our safety. Yet, we as individuals are concerned with remaining free from unreasonable arrest. Law enforcement agencies sometimes ignore this fundamental right in the course of their duties.
Just being accused of a crime is more than enough to give you a bad stigma. Sadly, this is a reality that our attorneys see all too often, which is why we urge you to remain silent and contact a lawyer if you are suspected of a crime.

We must hold police more accountable for affording due process prior to making an arrest. In the present case involving the Uber driver, the police got it wrong. Fortunately, prosecutors recognized this and dropped the charges, but not before the man spent a few days locked up while the matter was sorted out.

Contact Wallin & Klarich Today Before You Speak to the Police

If you or someone you love is suspected in a criminal matter, we strongly recommend that you contact our experienced criminal defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich right away.

Our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have been protecting the constitutional rights of our clients for over 30 years. If you are ever contacted for questioning by the police, we urge you to politely invoke your right to remain silent and let our knowledgeable attorneys do the talking for you. In a criminal investigation, you are not obligated to answer any questions without legal representation.

With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, our experienced criminal defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to provide you with knowledgeabl legal representation. We will help you get the best possible result in your case.

Call us today at (888) 280-6839 for a free telephone consultation. We will get through this together.

1. [Los Angeles Times: “Uber driver accused of kidnapping clubgoer, taking her to motel”;]
2. [Id.]
3. [Id.]
4. [Los Angeles Times: “Uber driver not charged in alleged kidnap but still barred from job”;]
5. ["Uberlogo" by Kobolen - Own work. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons]

Lawsuit Alleges Mistreatment of OC Student Expelled for Cheating Scandal

July 21, 2014,

Corona del Mar (CdM) High School is reacting to a lawsuit filed by the family of a student who was expelled in a recent cheating scandal. Filed on May 9, the lawsuit alleges that school officials illegally threatened and intimidated the student into making coerced statements. canstockphoto0322598.jpg

Eleven students were forced into signing expulsion agreements in January prohibiting their return to CdM High this year. By signing the agreements, the students waived their right to appeal the expulsion, according to the school district.

The family alleges the student’s agreement was obtained under duress after illegally harassing and intimidating the student into agreeing to be expelled.

According to the lawsuit, the school’s resource officer pulled the junior from class into a closet-sized supply room and demanded the student’s cellphone and password. The officer proceeded to interrogate the student over his involvement with a local tutor. The tutor is accused of providing students with access to school computers through unlawfully obtained logins and passwords. The access was allegedly used to alter grades and obtain exams.

The student alleges in the lawsuit that he was denied his parents’ presence during questioning. He further alleges that he was denied adequate medication for attention deficit disorder, and food and water over a period of several hours.

Attorneys for Newport-Mesa Unified School District refuted the family's claims that district officials violated the student's rights.

Was This a Kidnapping? (California Penal Code Section 207)

Did the resource officer commit a crime? On one hand, keeping a person confined against his will is a tort (a civil wrong against a person) of false imprisonment. However, false imprisonment is not a crime unless it meets the definition of kidnapping.

Kidnapping in California is defined under Penal Code Section 207 as “forcibly, or by any other means of instilling fear, steals or takes, or holds, detains, or arrests any person in this state, and carries the person into another country, state, or county, or into another part of the same county.”

The student never left the school, so it is not likely that a kidnapping occurred. Moreover, unless the student was threatened with the immediate prospect of a crime leading to serious bodily injury or death, he was not criminally threatened pursuant to Penal Code section 422.

Did Authorities Deny the Student His Rights by Forcing Him to Admit to Cheating?

In this case, the student claims he requested his parents’ presence while being questioned but was denied. However, California Education Code, beginning with Section 48900, permits school districts to set their own policies when it comes to informing parents during student disciplinary actions (Education Code section 48914).

What is troublesome is that this student was not just being compelled to answer whether he cheated, but perhaps was being coerced into admitting he committed a crime. Like anyone else, he maintained a Fifth Amendment constitutional right to remain silent, and should have invoked this right.

Knowingly receiving stolen school property or private property is grounds for expulsion pursuant to California Education Code section 48900. For the purposes of this code, “school property” includes electronic files and databases.

More importantly, this student may have implicated himself under Penal Code section 502(c), California’s anti-computer hacking law. Under this law, it is a crime to knowingly access and without permission a computer for the purposes of altering, damaging, deleting, destroying, using, copying or obtaining any data.

You violate this law if you either:

  • Devise or execute a scheme to defraud, deceive or extort; or
  • Wrongfully control or obtain money, property or data.

Generally, a conviction under Penal Code section 502(c) is punishable as either a misdemeanor or a felony, making it a California “wobbler” offense. If convicted of a misdemeanor violation of computer hacking, you face as much as one year in jail, a $5,000 fine, or both. If you are convicted of a felony, you could be sentenced to as much as three years in jail, ordered to pay a maximum $10,000 fine, or both.

Frivolous Lawsuit or Legitimate Complaint?

It is alleged that after several hours of questioning, the student wrote a statement for school officials, providing information about his involvement in the cheating. canstockphoto5801121.jpg

In the written statement, the student outlined his involvement in the cheating, which included requesting that the tutor boost his grades by 1% to 3%.

However, the student later retracted his written statements, instead saying that the tutor changed the grades without his knowledge. When the student became angry and asked him to change them back, the tutor made him vow not to disclose what was going on.

It may appear that the student has a legitimate grievance. However, it is hard to ignore the fact that he changed his story and, six months later, filed suit complaining denial of food, water and medication. This seems a little far-fetched.

Moreover, the suit appears to be connected with a denial of a court request that the student be allowed to attend the prom. Under the terms of the stipulated expulsion agreement, the student is forbidden from attending extracurricular or school activities.

What Do We Learn From This Case?

School and law enforcement authorities may question a student absent parental consent, but this does not mean the student must answer, either orally or in writing.

Invoking a Fifth Amendment right to remain silent must be expressly communicated. Asking for a parent’s presence doesn't trigger this right, so students should be polite but clear if they intend to refuse to answer questions. This is particularly true if police officers suspect the student of criminal activity.

It is important that you exercise your right to remain silent and speak to an attorney before answering any questions that may incriminate you.

Wallin & Klarich Can Help Protect Your Constitutional Rights

If you or someone you love has been the victim of a forced confession to a crime, you should speak with one of our experienced criminal defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich right away.

At Wallin & Klarich, our attorneys have over 30 years of experience successfully representing our clients who have been denied their basic constitutional rights.

Wallin & Klarich has offices conveniently located in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville. Our priority is to help you receive the best possible outcome in your case.

Call us today at (888) 280-6839 for a free telephone consultation. We will get through this together.

California Death Penalty Ruled Unconstitutional

July 18, 2014,

A federal judge in Orange County has ruled that California’s death penalty is unconstitutional because it violates a person’s right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. bail%202.png

In a 29-page ruling, Santa Ana-based U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney vacated the death sentence of Ernest D. Jones, who was sentenced to death nearly two decades ago. 1

This decision will be viewed as a major legal victory for those aiming to eliminate the death penalty in California. A smaller victory occurred eight years ago when all executions were stopped.

Jones’ Journey to the Death Penalty

In 1995, Jones was convicted of raping and murdering his girlfriend’s mother, Julia Miller. He had already spent time in prison after he was convicted of raping a previous girlfriend’s mother, according to court records. He was sentenced to death.

According to CNN, witnesses at his trial said that Jones had told them he was hearing voices and experiencing flashbacks dating as far back as a year before the incident. Jones said Miller confronted him regarding his girlfriend and pulled a gun on him. This caused Jones, who grew up in a violent home, to experience a flashback, to which he responded by raping and killing her. 2

Jones’ appeal reached the California Supreme Court in 2003, and his conviction on first-degree murder and rape charges was upheld.

Is California’s Death Penalty Unconstitutional?

The Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects against cruel and unusual punishment. In his ruling, Carney said California’s death penalty system is so dysfunctional that the uncertainty and delay violated Jones’ Eighth Amendment rights. 3

Carney pointed out that more than 900 convicted criminals in California have been given the death penalty since 1978 but only 13 of those convicts have been executed.

The state’s last execution occurred in January 2006. There have been no executions carried out in California since a 2006 moratorium was put on the death penalty. A 2010 execution of a man who raped and killed a 15-year-old girl was blocked by state and federal courts due to concerns about lethal injections. 4

California currently has 748 inmates on death row, the most of any state. About 40 percent of those inmates have been on death row for more than 19 years. 5

According to Carney, this has resulted in a sentence that is not the same as the death penalty, but should instead be considered “life in prison, with the remote possibility of death,” a sentence that no jury or legislature should be able to impose. 6

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris is reviewing the decision. It is expected to be appealed.

What Do You Think about the Decision?

The ruling should be considered a victory for Jones, any inmate currently on death row, and any person facing the death penalty. However, this is likely not the final court decision regarding this very controversial topic. Wallin & Klarich will keep you posted with any updates that occur in the future.

What do you think about Carney’s ruling? Is California’s death penalty system broken? Should the death penalty be considered cruel and unusual punishment? Should California spend the money necessary to develop a system to execute those that receive the death penalty that is not considered “cruel and unusal?” Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

1. []
2. []
3. []
4. [Id.]
5. [Id.]
6. [Id.]

Appeals Court Rules Fourth Amendment Protects Cell Site Location Privacy (U.S. v. Davis)

July 16, 2014,

When you are making phone calls on your cellphone, should you expect your identity to be private? The U.S. Supreme Court doesn’t think so. However, what happens when your cellphone records are used not to determine who you’ve been in contact with, but where you were at the time?

A federal appeals court was asked to answer that question recently in a case involving a suspect convicted in part upon evidence collected as a result of a warrantless search of his cellphone records used to place him at the scene of several armed robberies.

The government was permitted to collect the defendant’s cell records under court order but without a warrant, according to a federal law known as the Stored Communications Act (SCA), codified at 18 U.S.C. sections 2701–2712. The law addresses voluntary and compelled disclosure of “stored wire and electronic communications and transactional records” held by third-party internet service providers (ISPs).

The issue before the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals was whether use of a cellphone constitutes “voluntary” disclosure of your location and whether a search of your records is exempt from Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.

The federal court’s decision should have a lasting impact on what information law enforcement is permitted to collect absent a warrant regarding your cell phone usage.

United States v. Davis (No. 12-12928, Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, June 11, 2014)

Defendant Quartavius Davis and five co-defendants were indicted on 17 counts of robbery, conspiracy and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence. A jury returned guilty verdicts on all counts and Davis was sentenced to nearly 162 years in prison.

During his trial, prosecutors submitted evidence obtained without a warrant of cellphone calls made and received by the defendants near several commercial establishments where the robberies took place.

Under authority of the Stored Communications Act (SCA), the government can obtain records of subscriber services when officials have obtained a warrant (which shows probable cause that a crime has been committed), a subpoena or, as occurred in this case, a court order (which requires mere suspicion).

Under the SCA, all that the government is required to show is “that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the… records or other information sought, are relevant and material to an ongoing criminal investigation” (18 U.S.C. § 2703(d)).

The evidence obtained under the order and presented against Davis in the district court consisted of “cell site location information.” That location information includes a record of calls made by the providers’ customer, in this case Davis, and reveals which cell tower carried the call to or from the customer. The cell tower in use will normally be the cell tower closest to the customer. The cell site location information will also reflect the direction of the user from the tower. Therefore, it is possible to determine the location of the cellphone user at the time and date reflected in the call record.

Davis appealed on several grounds, primarily arguing that the court admitted stored cell site location information obtained without a warrant as evidence.

How Did the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals Rule?

The court ruled for the first time that cellphone location data enjoys the same reasonable expectation of privacy under the Fourth Amendment as other information already included under that provision of the Bill of Rights.Federal%20Crimes%20vs.%20State%20Crimes%20-%20California%20Federal%20Attorney.jpg

The court reasoned that, unlike decisions handed down in similar cases of warrantless cellphone tracking, “Davis has not voluntarily disclosed his cell site location information to the provider.”

The ruling turns on what constitutes “voluntary” disclosure. The U.S. Supreme Court held in a case called Smith v. Maryland that “a person has no legitimate expectation of privacy in information he voluntarily turns over to third parties.”

However, the 11th Circuit was concerned that “the exposure of the cell site location information can convert what would otherwise be a private event into a public one. When one’s whereabouts are not public, then one may have a reasonable expectation of privacy in those whereabouts.”

The court concluded that a person’s location is personal in nature and thus protected by the Fourth Amendment. Not only could this information reveal whether the defendant was near the location of a crime, but it could also reveal other private information, such as whether the defendant is “near the home of a lover, or a dispensary of medication, or a place of worship, or a house of ill repute.”

Because cellphone data location can be used to determine an individual’s location, these records constitute a “search” of one’s private movements that a person does not voluntarily waive. In this case, the Fourth Amendment protects an individual’s reasonable expectation of privacy.

What Does Wallin & Klarich Think?

This decision is a clear victory for individual expectation of privacy in an era when the government has systematically chipped away at our Fourth Amendment guarantee against unreasonable searches and seizures.

This is probably best illustrated by whistleblower Edward Snowden’s exposure of the NSA’s long-arm tactics in seizing the cellphone records of millions of consumers who had never been suspected of committing a crime.

While this case doesn’t directly impact the NSA’s warrantless collection of private communications, it could have long-lasting implications in upholding the Fourth Amendment when and if a case against the U.S. government for spying on its citizens is brought before a federal court.

Furthermore, this decision sends a direct message to law enforcement that courts may require that search warrants be obtained in future cases concerning cellphone data location.

Did Donald Sterling Threaten Witnesses?

July 14, 2014,

The on-going saga of Donald Sterling’s public meltdown took another bizarre twist recently when his estranged wife, Shelly Sterling, sought a court order against the disgraced owner of the Los Angeles Clippers after he allegedly threatened witnesses in connection with the contested sale of the team.canstockphoto1070874.jpg

Shelly Sterling had sought an emergency protective order after Donald Sterling had left hostile voicemails for the two doctors who had found him mentally incompetent. Donald Sterling was also accused of threatening Ms. Sterling’s attorney.

The doctors’ opinions give Ms. Sterling sole authority to negotiate the sale of the Clippers to former Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer for $2 billion, according to the provisions of the Sterling Family Trust.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Levanas presided over a hearing whether or not to grant Ms. Sterling’s request for a protective order based on voicemails Donald Sterling had left for the doctors and Ms. Sterling’s attorney. During the hearing, the judge recommended that the parties “tone down the pre-trial communication” between each other. 1

What Did Donald Sterling Say This Time?

Shelly Sterling’s attorney, Pierce O’Donnell, presented voice recordings attributed to Donald Sterling made on June 9. In one of the voicemails, Sterling lashes out at Dr. Meril Sue Platzer: “What a horrible woman you are….Your nothing but a fraud and a liar and a cheat.” He then threatens to sue her for conspiracy, stating “I’m going to see that you lose your license. ”2

That same day, Sterling left a profanity-laced voicemail for Dr. James Edward Spar, stating “I’m not incompetent. You're [&*%!] incompetent…I'll show you what I think of you when I see you in court.” 3

Sterling then continues his tirade by threatening the doctor’s employment: “I'm gonna get you fired from UCLA because you're nothing but a tramp. How dare you let someone use you that way...You know, you rely on doctors. You think that they'll be above it all. But obviously you're not. You'll sell yourself for nothing. How dare you? How dare you give my records to a lawyer for the purposes of using it against me?” 4

Sterling was reacting to the fact that medical records of his reported incompetency had been made publicly known.

Sterling also is said to have threatened Shelly Sterling's attorney in a call on June 9. According to O'Donnell's court statement, Sterling reportedly said to O’Donnell, "I’m going to take you out, O'Donnell" and "sue everybody." O’Donnell told reporters outside the courtroom where the hearing took place that he took Sterling’s statement as a “death threat.” 5

However, the judge disagreed, denying Ms. Sterling’s request for a protective order because he did not believe that the voicemails rose to a “level of great and irreparable injury.” 6

What Effect Does the Judge’s Decision Have on the Sale of the Clippers?

It is unclear what effect, if any, the judge’s decision will have on Donald Sterling’s attempt to block the sale of the Clippers. Donald Sterling has a reputation for making outrageous statements which lead many to believe that he is mentally unstable. Regardless of whether the judge had granted Shelly Sterling’s request for a protective order, he continues to publicly alienate himself, making the NBA’s move to force the sale of the Clippers seem like a wise and necessary decision.

However, his statements could also be viewed as an abrupt, but understandable reaction to a no-win situation. He appears to be obviously frustrated at the prospect of losing his franchise, which only recently became successful. His hostility isn’t excusable, but it is explainable.

A court may issue a protective order whenever a threatened person can show grounds that his or her life would be danger absent the court’s intervention. That the judge felt that one was unnecessary at this point is a minor victory for Donald Sterling.

Yet, in the end, it may be insignificant.

This week, the same judge that declined to issue a protective order said in a probate hearing that he found a provision of the Sterling Family Trust “unambiguous” in allowing the removal of a trustee who has been declared incapacitated by two experts. 7

The judge said the provision in the trust was included expressly to allow disqualification of a trustee without having to go to court.

Unless Sterling is able to successfully challenge the medical opinion of two neurologists that he suffers from a form of dementia consistent with Alzheimer’s disease and is therefore incapacitated in his position as a co-trustee, the terms of the Sterling Family Trust indicate that Shelly Sterling is permitted to sell the Clippers with or without Donald Sterling’s approval.

Give Us Your Feedback

At Wallin and Klarich, we welcome feedback from both our readers and our clients. What do you think? Could Donald Sterling’s calls and voicemails have been reasonably seen as “death threats?” Should Shelly Sterling’s request for a protective order have been denied? Please share your thoughts.

1. [ESPN Los Angeles: “Donald Sterling left hostile messages”;]
2. [Id.]
3. [Id.]
4. [Id.]
5. [CBS News: “Shelly Sterling lawyer alleges Clippers owner made death threat”;]
6. [Id.]
7. [Los Angeles Times: “Judge expresses confidence Sterling family trust provision is legal”;]

Should Police Need a Warrant to Put a GPS Tracking Device in a Person’s Car?

July 11, 2014,

The U.S. Court of Appeals is currently deciding whether the police need a warrant to put a GPS tracking device in a person's car.

The case under review stems from a series of pharmacy robberies investigated by Philadelphia police in 2010. After pulling over electrician Harry Katzin, the police found tools, gloves and a ski mask in his van. After Katzin said they were his work tools, he was let go.


However, the police and the FBI then put a GPS tracking device under the bumper of Katzin’s van. After another robbery, the police tracked down the van. They found Katzin and his brothers, Mark and Michael, inside with a large stash of cash, pills and other store property.

At trial, the evidence found in the van was thrown out because the trial judge determined that the warrantless use of a GPS tracking device constituted an illegal search.

A three-judge 3rd Circuit panel heard the case in 2013 and stated that warrants are needed to use a GPS tracking device unless there is an imminent danger found.

The government appealed the decision to the U.S. appeals court. A decision from the appeals court has yet to be made. Meanwhile, the Katzins have pleaded not guilty and remain free on bail.

Why Warrants Should be Needed for GPS Tracking Devices

The Katzin case shows yet another example of the government infringing on our civil liberties. The FBI’s use of the GPS traffic device without a warrant equates to the unconstitutional surveillance of citizens of this country. Without warrants, government agencies would be able to spy on anyone they please for an unlimited period of time. This is an abuse of power that goes beyond their limits and wastes time and expensive resources.

Although warrantless GPS surveillance may seem reasonable in this case to some, a decision to allow this type of activity would allow government agencies too much power that could be abused in other situations.

If government agencies are not held in check, innocent people can be caught in the middle of unwarranted surveillance and unnecessary investigations.

In this case, the FBI did not follow proper procedure and knew that they were infringing on Katzin’s rights. It is noted that before putting the GPS device in Katzin’s van, the FBI sought advice from a federal prosecutor, but not the neutral view of a judge whose job it is to issue search warrants. The FBI likely knew that what they were doing was not within their jurisdiction from the beginning. If the original decision in this case is overturned, the FBI and other government agencies would be allowed to further abuse their power.

Do you think warrants should be needed for GPS tracking devices? Should government agencies be able to use GPS tracking devices in cases other than those that involve “imminent danger?” Feel free to share your opinion with us.

Call the Criminal Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today

If you or a loved one was arrested without a warrant and are facing criminal charges, it is critical that you speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. At Wallin & Klarich, our attorneys have over 30 years of experience in defending persons charged with crimes due to unlawful police misconduct during the investigation and arrest process. Our attorneys will fight to get you the best possible outcome in your case and protect your constitutional rights.

With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich Southern California criminal defense attorney near you no matter where you work or live.

Call us today at (888) 280-6839 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.

California Police Involved in On-Duty Shootings Must Now Be Identified

July 9, 2014,

Recently, the California Supreme Court ruled that police departments must give the names of officers involved in on-duty shootings.

The case stems from the fatal shooting of a man holding a garden hose by two Long Beach police officers. The Los Angeles Times filed a Public Records Act request for the names of the two officers involved. The names were later released in a police report clearing the officers of any wrongdoing. However, a federal jury ordered the city to pay the victim's family $6.5 million after finding that the officers acted recklessly.


In a 6-1 ruling, the California Supreme Court rejected the overall ban on the names of officers involved in on-duty shootings. The ruling allows for certain exceptions to be made to keep undercover officers’ names private in case of credible threats against them.

Justice Joyce Kennard, who voted with the majority, stated that the ruling would help hold police officers accountable for their actions and would not jeopardize the safety of officers.

The police union asked the court to block the release of the names citing unspecified safety threats to officers. Justice Ming Chen, the lone dissenting judge, argued that the officers’ names could be used to easily track their home addresses and other personal information online, subjecting them to harassment and other safety issues.1

The Impact of the Ruling

The California Supreme Court’s decision is a victory for the public and a warning to law enforcement not to abuse their power. The public has the right to know what is happening in the community and the right to a certain degree of transparency from government agencies. Police departments are not separate, secret entities; they are a part of society. We deserve to know who is protecting us.

The ruling makes it more likely for police officers to follow proper procedure and to not act recklessly in serious situations. Some officers may feel threatened by the ruling, but they should not be worried if they are doing their jobs the right way.

With the release of police officers’ names, the public can be certain that officers are held accountable for their actions. Attorneys in these cases can use this new information to investigate officers for any past indiscretions or disciplinary actions.

Instead of entire police departments or the police in general getting a bad reputation for police brutality or abuse of power, individual officers will face responsibility for their actions. Sometimes, it is not the system as a whole that is the problem, but certain people who corrupt it.

What Do You Think?

At Wallin & Klarich, we have seen many instances of police misconduct result in false allegations against our clients. We are glad to see the Supreme Court’s ruling to identify officers involved in on-duty shootings.

What do you think? Do you agree with the Supreme Court’s decision? Do you have a different solution? Should there be more exceptions to this rule? Feel free to leave your comments or follow the discussion on Facebook.

1. [Court: Police must ID involved in shootings, May 29, 2014,]

“Theftie” is the New “Selfie” – How You Can Incriminate Yourself if You Steal a Smartphone

July 7, 2014,

Most of us have done it. With smartphone cameras’ ability to take forward-facing pictures, we’ve snapped one or two (or several) portrait shots of ourselves to see how we look. “Selfies” may be vain, but they don’t hurt anybody. But as a recent case in Florida demonstrates, it can hurt you if you stole the phone you were using to take the selfie.


In Tampa, Fla., police are searching for a white male who stole a Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone from a gas station while the victim was pumping gas. Luckily for the victim, the phone was password protected, which prevented the man from accessing the phone’s apps.

One of the apps, a security program called Lookout, automatically took two selfies after the suspect incorrectly entered the password too many times. The app was able to capture a clear photo of the suspect and sent the photos to the victim’s email address. The victim gave the photos to Tampa police, who have released the photos to try to find the man.

The Lookout app also sends a one-time GPS location. In the Tampa theft case, the GPS location tracker traced the phone to a nearby apartment complex, but neither the suspect nor the phone could be found. The Lookout app is similar to the “Find my iPhone” app for iPhones, iPads and other Mac devices, which continually traces a stolen Mac product’s location through GPS tracking.1

Can Evidence from a Smartphone Be Used in Criminal Theft Cases?

In the state of California, apps like Lookout and Find My iPhone can be used as evidence in theft cases.

In 2011, a Los Angeles woman was held at gunpoint and robbed of her purse, where she was storing her iPhone. The victim immediately went to the police, who used a computer to track the stolen iPhone through the Find My iPhone app.

After tracking the iPhone to a particular street, the police arrested a man who fit the suspect’s description. Officers dialed the woman’s cell phone number, which caused an iPhone in the suspect’s pocket to ring. The police eventually recovered the woman’s purse and the firearm used in the robbery. The suspect was arrested and charged with armed robbery.2

Call the Criminal Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today

If you or a loved one is facing theft charges, it is critical that you speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. At Wallin & Klarich, our attorneys have over 30 years of experience defending persons accused of theft crimes. Our attorneys will fight to get you the best possible outcome in your case.

With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney near you no matter where you work or live.

Call us today at (888) 280-6839 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.

1. [App snaps photos of alleged smartphone thief, June 3, 2014,]
2. ['Find My Phone' iPhone app leads police to armed robbery suspect, November 22, 2011,]

Could Carson’s Anti-Bullying Law Be Shot Down?

July 2, 2014,

The city of Carson has proposed a ground-breaking city ordinance that would impose much stricter punishments on school bullies and cyberbullies. Unfortunately, the ordinance was defeated during their City Council meeting by a vote of 3 to 2.1


Following the defeat, the ordinance was given another shot in a subsequent City Council vote. Members of Carson’s City Council approved funding an anti-bullying campaign. This would allow the city to draft a new plan for limiting school bullying and cyberbullying.2

Carson’s ordinance defines bullying as, “a willful course of conduct which involves harassment.”3 This includes causing a person to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, or threatened. Violators would receive steep fines and be charged with a misdemeanor under this ordinance. This is the first major legal stance taken against our school’s bullies and cyberbullies.

Unfortunately, the new ordinance may have more difficulty remaining under law. Although it clearly takes an innovative and beneficial stand against a major issue in Carson’s community, if it conflicts with any existing state laws, it may be considered constitutionally invalid.

Similar city ordinances have previously been ruled void by the various California Courts of Appeal on other complex issues. In 2014, an Orange County ordinance that banned all registered sex offenders from city parks was struck down because it conflicted with state laws. Because the state had already established laws pertaining to sex offenders, the ordinance in Orange County was ruled unenforceable.

Does Carson’s Ordinance Interfere with any State Laws?

Similar to the Court of Appeals’s decision in the Orange County sex offender matter, Carson’s bullying ordinance can be struck down if it interferes with any existing state laws. Although no federal law specifically applies to bullying, some criminal and juvenile laws in California do.

California Education Code Sections 32261, 32262, 32265, 32270, and 48900 cover issues such as bullying and cyberbullying. California Education Code Section 48900 prohibits any physical or verbal conduct that may cause fear or mental distress of another student.4 These laws penalize harassment in schools or on the Internet towards specific groups such as:

  • Disabled people;
  • A particular gender;
  • Nationality;
  • Race or ethnicity;
  • Religion; and
  • Sexual orientation.5

Current state law also defines bullying as causing or threatening to cause physical injury to another student and willfully using violence or force upon another student. The law specifies certain electronic devices that cannot be used to commit this form of harassment:

  • Text messages;
  • Social networks;
  • Voice messages;
  • Images; or
  • Other wireless communication devices.6

Call the Attorneys at Wallin and Klarich Today

If your child is facing allegations of bullying, the consequences may have an impact on their future. Being expelled or suspended can hurt your child’s chances of attending the college of his or her choice. Moreover, no child should have to face life-damaging criminal charges. While you may not think you need to hire an attorney for a school suspension or expulsion hearing, having a skilled lawyer present will show the school that you are serious about fighting the charges. More importantly, an experienced attorney will be able to aggressively defend your child if he or she is criminally charged, and will work diligently to help you reach the best possible outcome. The attorneys at Wallin and Klarich have been guiding our clients through school expulsion hearings and misdemeanor charges for over 30 years.

With offices located in Orange County, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, Torrance, Riverside, West Covina, Victorville, Ventura, San Diego and Sherman Oaks, our attorneys at Wallin and Klarich are available to help you no matter where you live.

Call us at (888) 280-6839 to discuss your case. We will get through this together.

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2. [Id.]
3. [Id.]
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6. [Id.]

Can Google Street View Images Be Used as Evidence in Criminal Cases?

June 30, 2014,


An elaborate hoax in Scotland involving Google Street View has highlighted the use of third-party satellite images in criminal cases.

Google’s Street View is a popular feature of the Google Maps online application. While searching for directions via Google Maps, Street View gives people the option to see turn-by-turn directions with real images showing actual streets instead of illustrated maps. Google obtains these images by strapping a 360-degree camera to a car that drives around streets while the camera continuously takes pictures. You may have seen one in your neighborhood or while driving around.

In Edinburgh, Scotland in 2012, two mechanics, Dan Thompson and Gary Kerr, saw one of Google’s cars driving around the streets where Thompson’s garage was located. Thompson and Kerr decided to play a prank when the car drove past their street. As the car drove past Thompson’s shop, the camera snapped pictures of Thompson’s “lifeless” body on the ground with Kerr hovering over Thompson holding a hammer. Though Thompson and Kerr’s faces are blurred in the images, they can both be seen with smiles on their faces upon closer examiniation.

Google didn’t upload the images until months later and it took over a year for the images to be reported to the police, who then started an investigation. Thompson stated the police took the matter very seriously at first, but eventually had a laugh upon discovering the hoax and didn’t continue with the investigation upon learning the full story from Thompson and Kerr. Google declined to comment on the matter.1

Google Street View Images As Evidence

Though Thompson and Kerr’s prank did not result in any serious criminal charges, Google Street View images have already been used as evidence in criminal cases in the Untied States for several years. In a case from New York in 2010, the NYPD used Street View images of drug sales in front of a Brooklyn bodega as evidence to arrest and indict seven people accused of being in a heroin-selling ring.2

Most of Google’s Street View images are about one to three years old, although Google tries to update the images regularly. Some images have raised privacy concerns, though Google says its technology automatically blurs people’s faces and license plates. It also allows users to request that certain images be removed or report any offensive imagery. Therefore, if a Google Maps Street View Car were to capture a crime occurring and you found the images of the crime and reported the images to the police, the police would have to investigate.3

Call Wallin & Klarich Today

If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime, it is critical that you speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. At Wallin & Klarich, our attorneys have over 30 years of experience in defending persons charged with crimes in California. Our attorneys will fight to get you the best possible outcome in your case.

With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney near you no matter where you work or live.

Call us today at (888) 280-6839 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.

Information retrieved from:

1. Murder on Google Street View?, June 3, 2014,]
2. NYPD uses Google Street View images as evidence in heroin-dealing case, November 11, 2010,
3. Google To Remove Killed California Teen From Google Maps, November 18, 2013,

Image retrieved from

Should California Adopt a Gun Violence Restraining Order Law?

June 27, 2014,

Prompted by the recent shooting rampage that claimed the lives of seven residents of Isla Vista near the campus of UC Santa Barbara, lawmakers in Sacramento are considering whether to adopt a statewide measure to temporarily restrict the gun rights of individuals who pose a potential risk of violence.Brandishing%20a%20Weapon%20-%20California%20Gun%20Laws%20-%20PC%20417.jpg

The family of Elliot Rodger, the young man suspected in the Isla Vista killings, had notified the police about his mental state. However, sheriff’s deputies took no action even after paying Rodger a visit during a welfare check in April.

Rodger would go on to post a YouTube video entitled “Elliot Rodger’s Retribution,” in which he described in detail his intent to seek vengeance against women whom he felt had rejected him sexually. On May 23, Rodger carried out his threats, stabbing his three college roommates to death before going on a drive-by shooting spree throughout the student community of Isla Vista. He shot and killed three others before crashing his car during an officer-involved shootout, ultimately committing suicide.

Assembly Bill 1014, co-authored by Assemblymember Nancy Skinner, is a firearms bill that would create a “gun violence restraining order” using the same process as domestic violence restraining orders. The bill would allow a person to petition the courts to impose an order prohibiting gun ownership and purchases of firearms to individuals suspected of posing a threat to themselves or others.

Skinner says the recent tragedy illustrates a disconnect between California’s gun control laws and state policy regarding the mentally ill. “Here we had a situation where a mother was aware that her son was a danger to himself and others. She tried to intervene," Skinner said.

What Would the New Law Do?

According to the California Legislative Counsel’s Digest, the bill would “establish a procedure to obtain a gun violence restraining order and, when applicable, a firearm seizure warrant, when a person poses a significant risk of personal injury to himself or herself or others by possessing a firearm.”

If the bill is passed, grounds the court would need to consider when deciding whether to impose a gun violence restraining order against you include:

  • A recent threat or act of violence;
  • A recent violation of a California protective order; and
  • A conviction for certain crimes of violence listed under Penal Code section 29805.
  • Other factors a judge could consider when deciding whether to impose a gun violence restraining order against you include:
  • You recklessly use, display, or brandish a firearm;
  • You have a history of threats or physical force against others;
  • Your prior felony arrests;
  • Evidence of your alcohol and/or drug abuse; and
  • Evidence of your recent acquisition of firearms or other deadly weapons.

The state would be required to produce clear and convincing evidence that you pose a significant risk of injury to yourself or another person by owning or possessing a firearm.

If ordered, a gun violence restraining order could require law enforcement to seize the firearm within 14 days of executing the restraining order, for a period up to one year.

Additionally, the law would make ownership, possession, purchase or receipt of a firearm a misdemeanor crime. The court would also be required to notify the Department of Justice of the imposed order.

Why Does California Need a Gun Violence Restraining Order?

Our country has suffered through too many mass killing sprees involving dangerous weapons in the hands of mentally disturbed individuals. Adopting a gun violence restraining order in California will help protect the public from future tragedies by allowing law enforcement to step in and take affirmative action when notified that a person may pose a risk of serious harm to himself or others.

We have laws on the books prohibiting individuals accused of committing acts of domestic violence and other violent crimes from possessing a gun while under a protective or restraining order. We should extend these protections so that potential future acts of violence can be avoided.

We need to be able to prevent those we suspect of suffering from mental illness from acting out irrationally. Getting the guns out of the hands of the mentally ill is a step in the right direction.

What’s Wrong with This Proposal?

The problem with the proposed legislation concerning a gun violence restraining order is that it is vague and over broad. As written, the new law would add section 18101 to the California Penal Code, which would permit “any person” to apply for a court order.
All that is required for the court to issue a gun violence restraining order is “an affidavit, signed by the applicant under oath, and any additional information” which satisfies the court that the named person “poses a significant risk of personal injury to himself or herself or others by possessing firearms.” (AB 1014). The affidavit needs only to provide facts “tending to establish the grounds of the application, or probable cause for believing that they exist.”

The proposed legislation contains no requirement that the person (or his or her family members) seeking application for the gun violence restraining order has been personally threatened or was subject to an act of violence by the named person.

All a person has to do to apply for a gun violence restraining order is to swear he or she suspects that a named person is dangerous. The court may consider circumstantial evidence and the state’s burden of proof is less than that required for a criminal conviction. Essentially, a named person can be found guilty of potentially posing a risk of committing a future violent crime.

This is a dangerous precedent to our concept of due process and may start a slide down a slippery slope towards further erosion of an individual’s constitutional rights.

Moreover, state and federal laws already prohibit persons convicted of any felony from owning, possessing, or purchasing a gun. Additionally, in California, Penal Code section 29805 imposes a 10-year firearm ban on any person convicted of specified misdemeanors involving abuse or violence.

The proposal, although well-intentioned, simply over reaches.

What Does Wallin & Klarich Think?

Our attorneys emphasize with the families of the victims recently slain in Santa Barbara, as we do with the loved ones of those who have been violently attacked or brutally murdered in the past at the hands of mentally unstable killers.

We believe that public policy must pay more attention to the plight of the mentally ill, which should include increased funding for treatment and violence prevention. Unfortunately, this bill provides little consideration of the underlying problem that the mentally ill are simply being ignored in our society.

We certainly don’t want guns to fall into the hands of unstable people prone to violence. However, this measure, currently only offers a temporary fix to a long term problem.

More worrisome, the proposed legislation may violate the rights of individuals who have yet to commit any crime.

Should the Police be Allowed to Coerce Minors into Confession?

June 25, 2014,

In Modesto, the family of a mentally challenged teen filed a federal lawsuit against the Modesto Police Department for coercing the teen into a false confession. 1canstockphoto0322598.jpg

In 2012, the teen, Anthony Nunez, was arrested as a suspect in a drive-by shooting. 2 On the night of his arrest, the police were informed that Nunez was mentally challenged and could not fully comprehend police interrogations. 3 Nonetheless, the police interrogated Nunez for several hours and denied him access to his mother and deprived him of food and water until he confessed to the crime. 4 At trial, Nunez was found not guilty after the judge ruled his confession was inadmissible because it was coerced. 5

The Nunez family is now seeking compensation from the Modesto Police Department for taking advantage of their son’s diminished mental capacity. 6

Minors and Police Interrogations – What You Need to Know

The case of Anthony Nunez serves as an example of the police abusing their power to extract false confessions. According to the California Innocence Project, the two most vulnerable groups susceptible to making false confessions are minors under the age of 14 and those with mental illness or low IQ. 7

The longer a person is interrogated, the more likely he/she is to falsely admit guilt. 8 A review of 125 wrongful conviction cases showed that 84% of false confessions occurred after more than six hours of questioning. 9

If your child is suspected of a crime or arrested by the police, it is important to tell your child to not speak to police without a parent or an attorney present. A common interrogation technique used by police is the “Reid Technique.” 10 If a police officer believes that a suspect is innocent, the officer will only ask non-accusatory questions. 11 If an officer believes the suspect is guilty, then the officer will conduct an accusatory interrogation with the goal of getting the suspect to admit guilt. 12 An officer’s judgment in determining the guilt of a suspect can be flat-out wrong and officer’s discretion in an interrogation gives him/her great power that can be abused. 13

Interrogations of Minors in Homicide Cases Must be Videotaped in California

In the state of California, interrogations of underage suspects in homicide cases must be videotaped. With the concern that certain interrogation tactics prey upon the innocence or naivety of minors, the videotaping of police interrogation of minors is intended to protect minors’ rights and expose any illegal tactics used by the police. This law should also improve the credibility and reliability of genuine confessions extracted by the police. Videotaping confessions ensures accuracy, gives parties a clear record of the suspect’s statements, and allows the court to conduct a better review of all the evidence. Thus, this interrogation method should not be limited only to homicide cases. Rather, it should be expanded to all other types of serious crimes.

Call Wallin & Klarich Today

If you or a loved one has a child accused of a crime, it is critical that you speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. At Wallin & Klarich, our attorneys have over 30 years of experience in successfully defending minors charged with crimes in Southern California. Our attorneys will fight to get you the best possible outcome in your case.

With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich Southern California criminal defense attorney near you no matter where you work or live.

Call us today at (888) 280-6839 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.

1. [Parents sue Calif. police, say son's confession was coerced, May 7, 2014,]
2. [Id. 1]
3. [Id. 1]
4. [Id. 1]
5. [Id. 1]
6. [Id. 1]
7. [ False Confessions,]
8. [Ibid. 7]
9. [Ibid. 7]
10. [Ibid. 7]
11. [Ibid. 7]
12. [Ibid. 7]
13. [Ibid. 7]