California Criminal Law News - California Case Law
California Case Law - The FindLaw California Supreme Court and Courts of Appeal Opinion Summaries Blog

Recently in Criminal Law Category

Megan's Law Registrants Sue California

A pair of registered sex offenders have sued the state of California, claiming that the state's online offender database puts them at danger. They currently seek an injunction compelling the state to update the state's online sex offender registry information.

To buttress the claim, the plaintiff's complaint also cites four other homicides of registered sex offenders at the hands of vigilantes -- homicides the plaintiffs have called "reprisal killings."

Scottish Trader Missing After Causing Stock Price Crash

A Scottish trader has just been charged with securities fraud in the United States in a California federal court. According to the DOJ, James Craig, a trader from Dungarit, Scotland, set up phony social media accounts that mimicked famous market research firms and starting spreading false rumors of two companies.

In another interesting twist in this story, Mr. Craig cannot be found and it's not known if he's retained the services of a lawyer.

Right-To-Die Lawsuit Rejected by California Appeals Court

The Associated Press reported yesterday that a California appeals court rejected a lawsuit brought by Christy O'Donnell and two other terminally ill patients who sought to legalize the procedure for doctors to prescribe them fatal medication.

The court ruled that current law would criminalize physicians who helped patients commit suicide. The news comes as a blow to the patients in light of this month's signing of the California's physician-assisted suicide law. This is ironic because O'Donnell's face has become synonymous with California's freshly legalized right to drug-assisted suicide.

Ticket App 'Fixed' Is Banned in Major California Cities

For those who suffer from a phobia of parking tickets, the app Fixed, which will "fix" your tickets, is something of a miracle. Considering the realities of faded curb paint, signs written in triple negatives, and ambiguous driveways, it's no wonder that drivers could use some help fixing tickets.

Not so fast, says three California cities. Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Oakland have now banned the ticket-fix app.

It's been six years since a federal three-judge court ordered California to drastically reduce its prison population and four years since the Supreme Court affirmed that ruling. At the time, the order brought cries that there would be "blood in the streets" if state prison populations were reduced.

Of course, California didn't just open the prison gates and let inmates walk free. Instead, it instituted a realignment program, moving prisoners from state to local jails, and adopted changes to "tough on crime" laws. Since then, a new report shows, crime has continued to drop, while 18,000 inmates have been removed from California prisons.

The Navarro, Arceo and Garcia families had a tough May in 2007. Not only did their Mother's Day end up in a brawl, a child's birthday party ended up as a stabbing party. That lead to the conviction of three relatives for murder.

Those convictions were upheld on Tuesday, when the state's 4th Appellate Court upheld their convictions in full, despite claims of 'legally impossible' jury instructions.

Maile Mae Hampton, a young African American woman, attended a Black Lives Matter protest in Sacramento last January to speak out against police violence against minorities -- and ended up being charged with felony lynching. Hampton is accused of pulling a fellow protestor away from police, which prosecutors felt met the definition of lynching in California: "the taking by means of a riot of any person from the lawful custody of a peace officer."

Perhaps realizing that the charge was in poor judgment -- or perhaps just poor P.R. -- Sacramento's chief deputy district attorney amended the complaint. Instead of lynching, Hampton now faces a single charge of misdemeanor interference with an officer.

In a move that surprised many, the California's Supreme Court declined to revisit a controversial January ruling on mandatory registration for certain offenders. The case the court declined to rehear, Johnson v. Department of Justice, revived a mandatory registration law that many argued was homophobic and unjustly subjected gay and lesbian defendants to greater punishments than their straight counterparts.

The Johnson decision received a strong dissent from two Justices. Court observers had expected Governor Brown's recent appointees to push the court more to the left and to rehear the case. The decision this week is one sign that those predictions may have been misguided.

California's three strikes law can lead to some complicated baseball. In general, the law is supposed to be fairly straightforward. Your second felony, or "strike," results in twice the term it would get if you didn't have a prior felony. If that second strike is for a serious felony, then five more years are added on. Thus, for second strikers, the court determines the base sentence, doubles it and adds on five more years.

Of course, real life isn't always that simple. In many cases, the second strike is a conviction for several offenses, with multiple terms. Does the serious felony enhancement apply to each term, meaning your five extra years can pile up to become extra decades? Not according a state Supreme Court decision last Thursday which held that the serious felony enhancement may be added only once as part of a second-strike sentence.

DUI Can Be Established With Circumstantial Evidence: Cal. Sup. Ct.

Can a court use circumstantial evidence, along with blood and breath tests, to conclude that a driver was above the legal limit for alcohol intoxication?

That's the question the California Supreme Court answered earlier this month, and it answered in the affirmative after Ashley Coffey challenged her driver's license suspension following a DUI arrest.