August 24, 2010 By Wallin & Klarich

A police officer stopped a juvenile, M, for riding a bicycle without proper lighting. The officer asked M to step away form the bike and take off his backpack. M said he would not consent to a search of the backpack. The officer believe this was a “red flag” and, concerned that M might be armed, he pat-searched M and found a loaded revolver in M’s jacket. M challenged the constitutionality of the search in the juvenile court and his challenge was denied. On appeal, the California Court of Appeal reversed the juvenile court and found that M’s refusal to consent to a search cannot, by itself provide the reasonable suspicion necessary for a lawful pat-search.

Any search conducted n the State of California without a search warrant is presumptively unconstitutional. That means that the burden of proof is on the Government to prove that the search was in fact lawful. In this case, the juvenile court held that the search in this case was lawful but that decision was overturned by the appellate court who ruled that the search in this matter violated M’s constitutional rights. It is important to know your rights and to have competent criminal defense attorney review your case if it involves a warrantless search of your person or property.

Juvenile Criminal law in California is very different in many ways from adult criminal law. If your child is facing criminal charges in California it is important to hire a law firm that is familiar with the unique procedures in juvenile criminal court. Nothing is more important than the safety and freedom of your child. Please don’t hesitate to contact the experienced and aggressive Los Angeles juvenile criminal attorneys at the law firm of Wallin & Klarich. We’ll be there when you call.

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