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Visalia Criminal Law Blog

2 charged with possession of meth for sale

Two California men were taken into police custody on Sept. 7 after they were accused of selling methamphetamine and other associated drug crimes. The two men, ages 38 and 39, were arrested after an officer conducted a traffic stop on their vehicle in Watsonville.

The officer pulled over the vehicle for a traffic violation at about 11:13 p.m. in the area of Main Street and Freedom Boulevard. The officer reportedly found that the two vehicle occupants both had outstanding warrants, so they were taken into custody. Investigators then searched the vehicle and recovered methamphetamine and a loaded firearm. Authorities also searched one of the accused individual's residence, where more meth and another firearm were discovered. In total, authorities said that they seized two pounds of meth.

Pre-trial motions set boundaries for trials

Pre-trial motions are an expected part of most criminal cases that go far in court. In California, pre-trial motions are typically filed after the preliminary hearing but before the case goes to trial. Usually, the defense attorney and the prosecutor appear in criminal court and make arguments that the case should be dismissed or that certain testimony or evidence should not be admitted at trial.

Most criminal cases are settled by means of a plea bargain, a dismissal or another order; therefore, they do not make it to pre-trial motions. In these cases, the preliminary hearing or arraignment is the last time the defendant will be in court.

2 charged with drug trafficking

Two California residents were taken into custody on Sept. 1 while deputies were searching for a third person. Initially it was thought that the third person was still in the residence, though it was later determined that the man had already fled.

Deputies reportedly found a vehicle thought to be associated with the third person parked on Oak Knoll Road in Orcutt. While they were observing the vehicle, a 29-year-old individual who lived in a nearby residence got into it. The deputies then conducted a search on the vehicle and reportedly recovered about one pound of methamphetamine. When the deputies went to the residence, they observed a 28-year-old Santa Maria woman attempting to flee from the back of the residence. She was also taken into police custody. During a search of the residence, two firearms and high capacity magazines were taken.

Police seize 17 pounds of meth during drug bust

One of the largest meth busts in the Santa Clara's history took place on Aug. 23. The meth bust resulted in two men being taken into custody and the seizure of about 17 pounds of meth, more than $28,000 in cash and a handgun.

According to Santa Clara police, the bust began after a man who had outstanding felony warrants was seen entering a hotel room. A second man entered the hotel room after some time. Both men then exited the hotel room with a white shopping bag. The police then moved in and took both men into custody. About 13.8 pounds of meth was found in the hotel room while the remainder was found in one of the men's vehicles. Drug paraphernalia and a loaded handgun were also recovered.

District court shuts down federal case against pot growers

In early August, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California barred federal prosecutors from pursuing a drug case against two California weed growers. The decision could have a major impact on state marijuana industries across the country.

The case before the court involved two marijuana cultivators who were raided by federal authorities in 2012. During the raid of their property, officers seized 312 marijuana plants, over $400,000 in cash and some guns. The pair were charged with conspiracy to manufacture marijuana and possession with intent to distribute marijuana. However, the U.S. District Court judge ruled that defendants were carefully complying with California laws regulating the growth and sale of medical marijuana and are, therefore, shielded from federal prosecution.

Four indicted on multiple charges

On Aug. 3, a federal grand jury indicted three men and one woman on a variety of charges connected to the murder of a man in Oakland in March 2016. Authorities say that the defendants were part of a criminal enterprise that ran marijuana from California to Texas and Louisiana where two of the defendants were from. It is alleged that the three men worked together to commit the murder. Two of the defendants had been indicted on a charge of conspiracy to distribute marijuana in February 2017.

According to the superseding indictment, all four were charged with conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute marijuana. The three men were charged with murder in connection with a continuing criminal enterprise. The woman was charged with VICAR conspiracy to murder while the men were charged with VICAR murder. Furthermore, all of the males indicted by the jury were charged with racketeering conspiracy and use of a firearm to commit murder.

Relief for drivers who can't afford traffic fines

Some California drivers who face fines for traffic violations might soon have another alternative to forking over the money. Advocates for motorists in Solano County have reached a settlement with the Superior Court that would allow people who owe fines for traffic tickets they can't afford to pay to pay in installments or request community service instead of a fine.

A state law that became effective on July 1 prohibits courts from suspending the driver's license of anyone who cannot afford to pay a fine. The Solano County settlement means that now, drivers in the county will be informed in writing of affordable alternatives. In order to qualify for an alternative, proof must be given of an inability to pay.

Authorities accuse 8 people of smuggling drugs into jail

An effort that included two California state agencies led to the arrest of eight people in Watsonville, Moss Landing and Santa Cruz County. After an investigation that spanned months, law enforcement suspected the people of belonging to a gang and conspiring to smuggle pot, tobacco and cocaine into the Santa Cruz County Jail.

A representative from the Watsonville Police Department said that the agencies obtained search warrants for multiple homes and conducted raids. Searches by law enforcement resulted in the confiscation of three handguns, a shotgun and a rifle. Police said that they also found numerous items that they labeled as related to gang activities.

California man sentenced to 15 years for fatal DUI crash

A 27-year-old California man was sentenced to a prison term of 15 years on July 21 for his role in a fatal 2016 drunk driving accident. The man last appeared in court in May when he pleaded no contest to a charge of gross vehicular manslaughter. The Visalia resident was serving probation for an earlier DUI conviction when he was involved in a crash that claimed the life of a 42-year-old woman and left her five passengers injured.

The judge learned that the man had failed to live up to other conditions of his 2014 drunk driving conviction. Prosecutors said that he did not attend mandatory DUI classes and failed to have an ignition interlock device fitted to his vehicle despite being ordered to do so by a court. Police reports suggest that the man had a blood alcohol level of .09 percent when his pickup truck struck an oncoming van on Highway 65 in the vicinity of Lindsay. Prosecutors claim that subsequent toxicology tests also discovered traces of methamphetamine in the man's system.

NHTSA study suggests growing marijuana impairment problem

The number of marijuana-impaired drivers on the roads of California and other U.S. states has increased by a worrying 50 percent in just seven years according to a report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The agency's most recent National Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers also reveals that THC, which is the chemical compound in marijuana that gives the drug its intoxicating properties, was found in the blood or oral fluid samples collected from 13 percent of the nighttime drivers who took part in the study and 9 percent of the drivers who were tested during daylight hours.

NHTSA began conducting National Roadside Studies in the 1970s to help lawmakers and police departments better understand and combat drunk driving. While NHTSA figures indicate that the number of drivers impaired by alcohol has fallen by 77 percent since 1973, marijuana use by motorists is on the rise according to the federal road safety watchdog. Experts believe that laws passed in states like California that permit the use of marijuana for recreational or medical purposes may be contributing to the problem.

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