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Visalia Criminal Law Blog

2 arrested on drug possession, firearms charges

On March 11, two California men were arrested on drug and weapons charges after police responded to reports of shots fired in Santa Cruz. The incident occurred around 10 p.m. on the 100 block of Myrtle Street.

After arriving at the scene, Santa Cruz police officers spoke to witnesses and obtained video footage of the alleged shooting. That information provided them with a description of the defendants' vehicle, and police conducted a traffic stop on the 2200 block of Mission Street. A search of the vehicle turned up two firearms and an illegal high-capacity ammunition magazine. Crack cocaine was also allegedly discovered.

Man sentenced to supervision in $1 million drug trafficking case

On March 12, a California man who pleaded guilty to trafficking nearly $1 million in cocaine was sentenced to five years of mandatory supervision. The 31-year-old man's co-defendant, a 30-year-old man, had pleaded guilty to the same charges and was given the same sentence in late February.

According to the report, the two men were traveling north on Interstate 15 in a 1999 Chevrolet Malibu when agents with the U.S. Border Patrol directed them to pullover at the checkpoint. A K9 team searched the vehicle and indicated that drugs may be inside. A manual search was then conducted. About 76 pounds of cocaine in 32 bundles were reportedly found in concealed spaces near the front wheel wells and bumper. The two men were taken into custody.

Marin County Man Arrested for DUI, Possession

Being charged with drunken driving is no laughing matter, even in a circumstance where a California driver was stopped for unwittingly driving down the wrong side of the road. The driver's night only got worse after he was arrested for both drunken driving and possession of cocaine.

On March 2, 2018, A Marin County patrol sergeant witnessed the defendant travel through the intersection of North San Pedro and Civic Center Drive. According to the Sheriff's Office, the defendant's vehicle twice hit the center divider before coming to rest facing the wrong direction. The officer immediately pulled the defendant over and upon making contact smelled alcohol emanating from the defendant's car. When questioned about hitting the center divider the defendant claimed his windshield had fogged up to the point where the defendant couldn't see out of it.

Actress' boyfriend facing DUI charges

A California man, better known as the boyfriend of actress Heather Locklear, was arrested in Los Angeles on Feb. 26, accused of driving under the influence. The 56-year-old man was taken into custody shortly after midnight by the California State Highway Patrol. After receiving a citation, he was released and ordered to appear in court for the charges on April 26.

The man's arrest on DUI charges came only several hours after Locklear herself was arrested. On Feb. 25, Locklear was charged with one count of felony domestic violence and three counts of misdemeanor battery of a police officer. A domestic violence call was reported at a home, and police allege that the actress had earlier battered her boyfriend at that residence before the arrival of police. Once police arrived and sought to arrest her, they allege that Locklear was uncooperative and battered three of the police officers present.

Gang allegedly used social media in drug distribution

California was one of three states in which hundreds of officers took suspects into custody in connection with the distribution of heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine. According to law enforcement, which also detained people in Oregon and Pennsylvania, the sweep followed an investigation of a massive prison and street gang operation that used social media to sell drugs.

The investigation began when officials found a cellphone that had been smuggled into a California state prison. Based on information obtained from the phone, law enforcement began wiretap surveillance of social media accounts. Defendants allegedly primarily used Snapchat but also Instagram and Facebook. Authorities say the street gang members working with gang leaders in prison who had smuggled cellphones.

Former MLB pitcher charged with drug trafficking

Former Chicago White Sox pitcher Esteban Loaiza has been arrested for allegedly dealing cocaine out of his California rental home. He was taken into custody in Imperial Beach, near the Mexican border.

According to authorities, San Diego police had been surveilling Loaiza's vehicle because they believed it may have been used to smuggle drugs. On Feb. 9, officers pulled over the vehicle for a minor traffic violation. During a search, they found a special compartment designed to hide drugs. Based on their discovery, they obtained a warrant to search Loaiza's rental home. They searched the property and found 20 kilograms of white powder suspected to be cocaine. If all the powder tests positive for cocaine, it will have an estimated street value of around $500,000. Loaiza was arrested and charged with multiple drug crimes, including possession, transport and trafficking of cocaine. He was held in jail because he could not pay the $200,000 bail.

Thousands of drug cases may be expunged in San Francisco

Legislation in California called Proposition 64 makes it legal for adults in the state to use marijuana. It also allows those convicted of a drug offense related to marijuana to petition the state for leniency. In San Francisco, the district attorney has announced that convictions dating back to 1975 will be expunged and dismissed automatically. As of September 2017, only 232 petitions had been filed in the city while 4,885 had been filed statewide.

Those who are eligible to have their cases retroactively dismissed may avoid asking for relief for many reasons. For some, it may be seen as a hassle to fill out and file paperwork. For others, it may be difficult to pay the filing fee and pay the cost of retaining legal counsel if necessary. The financial roadblock may dissuade minority and other vulnerable individuals from seeking to have their cases reviewed.

California firm accused of fraud, lying to investors

A California firm is being pursued by the Securities and Exchange Commission for allegedly engaging in fraud. The SEC's complaint accuses the management of Hoplon Financial Group, a hybrid advisory firm, of lying to investors and committing fraud in matters connected to real estate and the sale of securities.

An SEC investigation allegedly uncovered that the group and its CEO marketed memberships in a special fund that they created in order to buy, renovate and re-sell residential property. The fund, called the New Economic Opportunities Fund I, was fraudulently promoted through alleged lies and deceptions about the potential for compensation. From 2011 through 2014, the firm brought in $2.18 million and 27 investors to be part of the fund; most of the money originated from individual retirement accounts.

Impaired driver causes wrong-way accident

The California Highway Patrol said that a 28-year-old man was taken into custody after causing a wrong-way accident. According to police, the man was driving his Chevy Tahoe south in the northbound lane of the 405 Freeway when it collided with a Ford Explorer. The accident took place at about 12:30 a.m. on Jan. 15 just south of Wilshire Boulevard and involved two other vehicles.

After the Tahoe collided with the Explorer, the Explorer spun out of control and hit a Honda Accord. A Mercedes-Benz was also hit by debris. Five people had to be taken to area hospitals with serious injuries, and two people were in critical condition. The driver was among those hurt in the crash. Police said that drugs or alcohol played a role in the accident, but the crash was still under investigation.

Legal limit for alcohol could be further lowered

California motorists facing DUI charges have plenty to be concerned about, because a conviction for drunk driving can carry severe consequences, including potential incarceration. The legal standards could become even stricter in the future, as there is a call to lower the current blood alcohol legal limit for drunk driving charges. This would mean that a person could be arrested for DUI after consuming fewer drinks, and this call has received backing from a government-funded study.

The 489-page report published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine makes a series of recommendations that aim to reduce the prevalence of drunk driving in the United States. Chief among these suggestions is a call to reduce the blood alcohol concentration threshold from .08 to .05. All 50 U.S. states have a legal limit of .08 as of January 2018 . On Dec. 30, a Utah law imposing an .05 limit will go into effect. In practice, this will mean around two drinks for the average woman or from two to three drinks for most men over the course of an evening.

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