Criminal Justice

In the area of criminal justice, one of the major issues that still is in the forefront is to protect children from sexual offenders. The Legislature and the Governor passed the following legislation giving law enforcement officials additional resources to more effectively monitor and prosecute registered sex offenders and sexually violent predators: SB 325 (Alquist) providing an additional protocol for an agency administering the State-Authorized Risk Assessment Tool for Sex Offenders and believing that a score does not represent the person’s true risk level to submit the case to experts, as specified, for possible override; SB 583 (Hollingsworth) requiring the Department of Justice to record the type of residence at which registered sex offenders reside and to provide the information to state agencies for investigation and law enforcement purposes. This will allow law enforcement officials, licensing authorities, and child care officials to cross-check the residence of sex offenders; SB 588 (Senate Public Safety Committee) ensuring the continued existence of the state’s Sex Offender Management Board indefinitely; SB 669 (Hollingsworth) providing that a sexually violent predator’s refusal to participate in treatment may be considered evidence in a jury trial to show that his/her condition has not changed; and AB 307 (Cook) amending existing law to require registered sex offenders to disclose their registration status to prospective employers when applying for a job where they would be working directly in an unaccompanied setting in a position that provides goods or services to minors. The issue of sex offenders will be heightened with the upcoming court trial in 2010 of Phillip and Nancy Garrido. The Garridos are accused of abducting Jaycee Lee Dugard in 1991 in Lake Tahoe , California , on a street corner while waiting for a bus. Jaycee was kept for 18 years with the Garridos and bore two children with Phillip Garrido. An astute pair of University of California , Berkeley employees broke the case by suspecting unusual behavior when Phillip Garrido and the two girls were trying to schedule an event at the campus. Ally Jacobs, the University of California , Berkeley police officer ran a background check and learned that Phillip Garrido was on parole for rape and Officer Jacobs got in touch with his parole officer. The parole officer requested the Garridos show up to an interview at the parole officer’s office, and it was discovered the young woman accompanying Phillip Garrido was Jaycee. On August 26, 2009, Phillip and Nancy Garrido were arrested by the Antioch police.

The Legislature also passed, and the Governor signed, legislation which strengthens the law and enforcement of drunk driving. These included SB 598 (Huff) allowing a repeat driving under the influence offender to apply for a restricted license, if he/she installs ignition interlock devices on all of his/her vehicles; and AB 91 (Feuer) creating a Department of Motor Vehicles pilot project mandating the installation of an ignition interlock device on every vehicle owned or operated by a first-time DUI offender in Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Tulare Counties.

Another major legislation enacted into law is AB 962 (de Leon) which is intended to keep ammunition out of the hands of criminals, gang members, and violent felons. Thirteen cities, including Los Angeles and Sacramento , have enacted ammunition recordkeeping laws. AB 962 takes these local efforts statewide starting February 1, 2011, by making it unlawful for a vendor to knowingly sell handgun ammunition to anyone prohibited from possessing a firearm and prohibits any person subject to a gang injunction from owning or possessing handgun ammunition. A violation of the law would be a misdemeanor.

Other criminal justice legislation of significance passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor included SB 18 (Oropeza) increasing the maximum fines for specified elder abuse offenses upon a second or subsequent conviction; SB 24 (Oropeza) eliminating the sunset date on cargo theft, a separately defined form of grand theft, and increasing the monetary threshold for cargo theft to $950; SB 52 (Correa) repealing and recasting the Medal of Valor Act and renaming it the “Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor Act”; SB 121 (Denham) extending the Central Coast Rural Crime Prevention Program until July 1, 2013; SB 150 (Wright) providing that where a court imposes a sentence enhancement with a lower, middle or upper term, as specified, the choice of term will be within the court’s discretion, and in imposing one of those three sentences, the court must state its reasons for its sentencing choice on the record; SB 169 (Benoit) authorizing the head of an agency that employs specified peace officers to issue identification in the form of a badge, insignia, emblem, device, label, certificate, card, or writing that clearly states that the person has honorably retired following service as a peace officer from that agency; SB 175 (Aanestad) specifying that delivery of a gun to a gunsmith for service is exempt from Federal Firearms licensing verification requirements, as specified; SB 188 (Runner) permitting educational institutions to seek a restraining order on behalf of a student, as specified; SB 197 (Pavley) authorizing conditional examination of witnesses or victims in misdemeanor and felony domestic violence prosecution where the life of the witness is in jeopardy or there is evidence that a victim or material witness has been or is being dissuaded, as provided, by any means from cooperating with the prosecution or testifying at trial, as specified; SB 226 (Alquist) expanding criminal jurisdiction for multiple offenses of identity theft to any county where one of the identity theft crimes occurred when the offenses involve the same defendant or defendants, and the same scheme or substantially similar activity; SB 239 (Pavley) creating a new alternate misdemeanor/felony for the offense of mortgage fraud; SB 314 (Calderon) directing the State Controller to deduct unpaid restitution fines from a persons income tax refund and authorizing the Victims Compensation and Government Claims Board to authorize reimbursement of more than $2,000 the maximum allowed by statute for a victim’s relocation expenses, where the additional money is necessary for the victim’s physical or emotional well-being; SB 319 (Harman) providing that, if a juror fails to respond to an initial summons, the court may issue a second summons indicating that the person failed to appear in response to a previous summons and ordering the person to appear for jury duty; SB 352 (Dutton) clarifying statutory changes related to sharing information regarding delinquent wards of the juvenile court placed in licensed community facilities when placed out of county; SB 431 (Benoit) requiring that a court transfer a person released on probation to a court in the county in which the person resides permanently, with specified exceptions; SB 432 (Runner) authorizing a county probation department, when restitution has been ordered, to provide the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation a copy of the restitution order and the victim’s contact information - pending the victim’s consent. Contact information shall remain confidential and shall not be made part of the court file or combined with any public document; SB 447 (Yee) requiring the Department of Justice to establish and maintain a confirmation program to process fingerprint-based criminal record background clearances on individuals designated by an agency as a custodian of records; SB 449 (Padilla) requiring secondhand dealers (generally pawnbrokers) to report gun transactions directly to the Department of Justice rather than to local law enforcement; SB 492 (Maldonado) creating enhanced penalties for registered gang members, as specified, to return within 72 hours after being asked to leave a school property or other public place at or near where children normally congregate; SB 678 (Leno) creating the California Community Corrections Performance Incentives Act of 2009 which would establish a system of performance-based funding to support evidence-based practices relating to the supervision of adult felony probationers; SB 748 (Leno) providing additional protections for persons participating in the California Witness Relocation and Assistance Program (WRAP - formerly known as the California Witness Protection Program); AB 14 (Fuentes) authorizing a local government entity to enact a nuisance abatement ordinance under which a vehicle used in illegal dumping or prostitution would be subject to seizure and impoundment for up to 30 days if the operator of the vehicle has a prior conviction for the same offense within the past three years, and the person was validly arrested in the current matter; AB 17 (Swanson) adding abduction or procurement for prostitution to the criminal profiteering asset forfeiture law, providing that the court may impose a fine of up to $20,000, in addition to any other fines and penalties, where the defendant has been convicted of abduction of a minor for purposes of prostitution or procurement of a minor under the age of 16 for lewd conduct; and providing that 50% of the additional fine shall be deposited in the Victim-Witness Assistance Fund for purposes of grants to community-based organizations that serve minor victims of human trafficking; AB 22 (Torres) increasing the maximum fines for those convicted of feloniously tampering, interfering, damaging, and obtaining unauthorized access to computer data and computer systems; AB 27 (Jeffries) setting the monetary loss threshold for aggravated arson at $6.5 million to reflect the effects of inflation, and including a 2014 sunset date in the law to review the effects of inflation at that time; AB 58 (Jeffries) reducing the penalty for an individual who participates in a betting pool, including a pool for a sporting event, from a misdemeanor to an infraction, punishable by a maximum fine of $250; AB 99 (de Leon) providing that a Matricula Consular, in addition to another item of identification bearing an address, can be a document which can verify the identification of a seller or pledger of property to a secondhand dealer or a coin dealer; AB 130 (Jeffries) extending the current limitations on the release and access of birth and death records to marriage records in order to prevent the unauthorized use of personal information; AB 242 (Nava) increasing the penalty for being a spectator at a dog fight from six months to one year in the county jail and the fine from $1,000 to $5,000; AB 275 (Solorio) removing the sunset of the $2 fee increase on death certificates that funds the Missing Persons DNA Data Base, a database administered by the Department of Justice; AB 297 (Solorio) requiring the Department of Justice to share information on prior criminal history searches when the background of an applicant is being requested for employment or certification as a peace officer or criminal justice employee; AB 316 (Solorio) extending the statute of limitations for malpractice actions against an attorney to two years after the plaintiff achieves post-conviction exoneration in a case in which the plaintiff is required to show factual innocence as an element of his/her malpractice claim; AB 388 (Miller) requiring that uniform vendors request verification that customers are, in fact, employees or authorized members of the fire department for which they are seeking to purchase a uniform and failure to do so would be a misdemeanor; AB 412 (Carter) making it a misdemeanor to hang a noose, knowing it to be a symbol representing a threat to life, in order to terrorize a person who owns, occupies, attends school at, is employed at, or is associated with, the property where the noose is hung; AB 428 (Fletcher) adding any foreign government to the list of entities to which the Attorney General is authorized to provide the described information, if that information is needed in conjunction with an individual’s application to adopt a minor child who is a citizen of that foreign nation; AB 524 (Bass) providing greater protection to the privacy interests of all Californians by amending existing law so that a person who sells, transmits, publishes, or broadcasts an image, recording, or physical impression of someone engaged in a personal or familial activity violates the state’s “invasion of privacy” statute; AB 561 (Carter) providing that a misdemeanor assault or battery on a highway worker, as defined, shall be subject to the same enhanced penalties, a maximum jail term of one year and a fine of up to $2,000, as an assault or battery on a Caltrans highway worker or Caltrans contractor; AB 671 (Krekorian) requiring the Governor to annually present a Golden Shield Award, of appropriate design, to the next of kin or immediate family of every public safety officer, as defined, who, while serving in any capacity under competent authority, has been killed in the line of duty in that year; AB 688 (Eng) clarifying that a peace officer may not release a person on his/her own recognizance, as specified, when arrested for a misdemeanor violation of a domestic violence protective order; AB 714 (Feuer) making the possession, manufacture, importation, or sale of composite knuckles, as defined, a misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both; AB 750 (Bass) allowing a superior court to develop and operate a deferred entry of judgment reentry program targeted at preventing recidivism among non-violent low-level drug sales offenders; AB 789 (de Leon) authorizing the issuance of a search warrant where the property or things to be seized include a firearm that is owned by, or in the possession of, or in the custody or control of, a person who is subject to the firearm prohibitions contained in protective orders, as specified; AB 870 (Huber) making it a misdemeanor to bring or possess a razor blade or box cutter onto specified school grounds; AB 1015 (Torlakson) making it a misdemeanor for a person to sell or furnish to a person under the age of 18 years a canister or device containing nitrous oxide or a chemical compound mixed with nitrous oxide; AB 1166 (Nielsen) authorizing the Board of Parole Hearings, when sitting en banc, as specified, to review a tie vote in deciding parole, to review only the record of the parole hearing rather than holding another hearing; AB 1209 (Ma) authorizing an officer to book an arrested person at the scene or at the arresting agency prior to being cited and released, as specified; AB 1363 (Davis) clarifying that any licenses issued, as specified, by a sheriff or police chief in a jurisdiction with a population under 200,000, to openly carry a loaded handgun, are valid only within the county in which they are issued; and AB 1546 (Lieu) authorizing the court to order a defendant in a criminal action to submit to examination by a prosecution-retained mental health expert whenever a defendant places his/her mental state in issue.

Vetoed criminal justice legislation of note included SB 557 (Yee) which would have provided that, upon a person being convicted of human trafficking, if real property was used to facilitate the offense, that property would be found to be a public nuisance and the remedies applicable under the nuisance or “Red Light Abatement” statutes, as specified, shall apply; AB 241 (Nava) which would have prohibited any person or business entity from owning more than 50 adult unsterilized dogs or cats for purposes of breeding them for pets; AB 243 (Nava) which would have prohibited, with specified exceptions, a person who has been convicted of specified animal abuse crimes from owning or caring for an animal for a specified period of time; AB 337 (Torres) which would have required juvenile courts and probation departments to ensure that information about the sealing and destruction of juvenile records is provided to persons with juvenile records on or after January 1, 2011, as specified; AB 362 (Miller) which would have made it a misdemeanor/infraction to take, possess, damage, reuse, or move any political sign(s) without authorization from the owner with the intent to prevent the communication of the sign; AB 504 (Furutani) which would have required the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training to create and make available to all law enforcement agencies a training component on how to recognize and interact with a person carrying a “kirpan”; AB 806 (Fuentes) which would have provided for an additional advisement when a noncitizen pleads guilty so that the person is aware that if he/she is deported and returns to the United States he/she will face harsh federal penalties for reentry; AB 1017 (Portantino) which would have required law enforcement agencies that take or process rape kit evidence to report specified information concerning the testing and destruction of that evidence to the Department of Justice; AB 1122 (Lieu) which would have prohibited the sale of live animals on any street, highway, public right-of-way, parking lot, carnival, or boardwalk; AB 1270 (Torrico) which would have required the Victims Compensation and Government Claims Board to adopt written procedures and time frames for the timely processing of claims; and AB 1439 (Solorio) which would have required the Director of the Office of Gang and Youth Violence Policy, subject to statutory limits and directives, to make recommendations to streamline existing state agency gang and youth violence grant programs with a goal toward giving priority to grant programs that employ evidence-based practices, and would have required the Director to create a working group consisting of representatives of state offices and representatives of other specified stakeholders to assist in this effort, with the Director serving as the chairperson.