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When it comes to criminal convictions, society has a real need for those convictions to be just. As the saying goes, it's better to let however many guilty people free than to let one innocent person be incarcerated.

However, as the California Supreme Court recently explained, in People v. Rodas, questions of a defendant's competency to stand trial need to be handled with the utmost scrutiny. In short, simply having questions or well-founded concerns should be enough to put a stop to the proceedings until those are resolved.

While most butter knives may barely be able to qualify as knives, the California Supreme Court has just heard arguments on whether a butter knife should be considered a deadly weapon.

The In Re: B.M. case may finally, definitively answer whether a butter knife, if poorly wielded by an angry teenage girl against her own sister, can be considered a "deadly weapon." On appeal, it was held that the non-sharp butter knife, despite being used ineffectively, nevertheless qualified as deadly. After all, it's a knife.

No More Pre-Trial Bail in California, Just Jail or No Jail

California bailed on bail.

Actually, it's not that simple. After a 40-year campaign to end cash bail in the state, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill that gives judges discretion to release defendants pending trial without bail.

But reports make it sound like there's a get-out-jail free card in California. Actually, that's basically true.

While it is often difficult to blame a convicted anything for filing any appeal, the California Sixth Appellate District Court didn't waste the opportunity to tell Brock Turner that he has no one to blame but himself. The court also pointed out in the order that he only got six months in county.

On appeal, Turner was arguing that the evidence was insufficient to show he had intent to rape because he only wanted to have 'outercourse' or 'dry-hump' his victim. The court dismissed this argument by carefully explaining that it didn't matter that his evidence at trial didn't point to intent to rape because a jury had enough of a record to not believe his evidence.

Social Media Companies Must Comply With Subpoenas for User Communications

In a significant social media case, the California Supreme Court said Facebook and other social media companies must comply with subpoenas for information that users make public.

Facebook v. Superior Court of the City and County of San Francisco is actually based on a criminal case, but it reaches beyond criminal law or procedure. In the underlying matter, Derrick D. Hunter and Lee Sullivan subpoenaed social media communications of a homicide victim and a witness.

The state Supreme Court said the defendants are entitled to social media posts and messages that the users made public. The judges remanded the case to the trial court to sort out which communications were public at the time.

Police Can Be Disciplined for Racist, Homophobic Texts, Court Rules

A California appeals court cleared the way for disciplinary proceedings against San Francisco police officers for sending homophobic and racist text messages in 2012.

A trial judge had dismissed the case, saying the department filed charges after the statute of limitations period. But the First District Court of Appeal said the department was cooperating with a federal criminal investigation at the time, which extended the deadline.

The decision, holding that the statute of limitations was stayed during a criminal trial, is legally interesting. But the backstory is the stuff of police corruption movies.

New Ethics Rules: What's Changing, What's Interesting?

Somewhere in the Bible or the movies, there are Seven Deadly Sins -- not 70.

But that's how many new ethics rules will be imposed on California lawyers this year. Technically, it's only 69 but that would make the first sentence really wrong.

Actually, it would have been 70 but the state Supreme Court rejected one. It means attorneys can get away with at least one thing.

There's no doubt that a good criminal defense attorney is worth their weight in cold hard cash, payable in large lump sums, up front of course. Keeping calm in the face of a criminal prosecution is no simple task.

However, some criminal defense attorneys may need a little help when it comes to turning down the bravado. Confidence is an important part of an attorney's presentation, but in court, you need more than just words and swagger, you need evidence. Sadly, one California attorney just learned that his swagger didn't make a lasting impression on the appellate court that removed him from his client's case. Not too surprisingly, what he actually said in court will probably make you chuckle too.

News has been breaking nationwide that, thanks to DNA evidence and the persistence of investigators, law enforcement has made an arrest in the Golden State Killer cold case. The case was made infamous by a couple different true crime genre series and a book written by Michelle McNamara.

Apparently, more than 40 years after the first rape, Joseph James DeAngelo, currently 72 years old, and a former law enforcement officer, was just arrested. Investigators believe DeAngelo fits the profile for the rapists and murderers that have been dubbed the East Area Rapist, the Original Night Stalker, the Diamond Knot Killer, and as well as others, during the last four decades, throughout the state of California.

When a person is arrested for a serious crime in California, the law now definitely allows for officers to not only fingerprint and photograph the arrestee as part of the booking process, it also allows for a DNA cheek swab to be taken as well.

Even though there are clearly privacy concerns with taking a DNA sample from an arrestee, in 2004, the California electorate approved a proposition that required felony arrestees, and convicts, to provide law enforcement a DNA sample. Refusal to comply is a misdemeanor.