CALIFORNIA SEARCH AND SEIZURE LAW
Were you the Victim of an Illegal Police Arrest or Search?
The United States Supreme Court has held that a police officer
may only arrest a person without a warrant: When probable
cause exists to believe the person has committed a felony (Penal
Code §836); or when probable cause exists to believe a
misdemeanor has been committed in the officer’s presence,
(Penal Code §836); In Re Thierry S. (1977) 19 Cal. 3d 727.
In the last year the Court has handed down a landmark decision
which also changed the way the police draw blood in DUI cases.
A warrant is now needed in order to take your blood if you do not
When a detention in a criminal case exceeds the boundaries of a
permissible investigative stop, the detention becomes a de facto
arrest requiring probable cause. The determination of whether a
person was arrested or simply detained is one made by a Judge,
not a jury, in criminal cases. The situation often arises in car
stops such as DUI cases, where a police officer will arrest a
person without sufficient probable cause. A Lawyer can fight that
The California Supreme Court has held that probable cause for
arrest exists only when the facts known to the arresting officer
“would lead a man of ordinary care and prudence to believe and
conscientiously entertain an honest and strong suspicion that
the person is guilty of a crime”, People v. Price (1991) 1 Cal. 4th
324, 410. The belief by the police officer must be based on
objective facts and circumstances and not on the personal
opinions and suspicions of law enforcement. See the U.S.
Supreme Court case Schmerber vs. California (1966) 384 U.S.
Moreover, the subjective good faith of the Long Beach officer is
not enough to justify an arrest. The validity of an arrest depends
upon whether the “facts and circumstances within the officer’s
knowledge and of which they had reasonably trustworthy
information are sufficient to warrant a prudent man in believing
the petitioner had committed or was committing an offense” Beck
v. Ohio (1964) 379 U.S. 89 at 91. The probable cause must exist
at the moment of police action and not thereafter in accordance
with the United States Constitution.
In many cases, the police officer will "re-write" the facts of the
incident in his or her police report. An experienced long beach
criminal defense attorney can often expose this practice through
aggressive cross examination and investigation of the case.
While in some cases, a particularly experienced police officer
may arrest based upon observations which are meaningful only
to him due to his expertise, “it is incumbent upon the officer to
explain the nature of his expertise. . .and how it bears upon the
facts which prompted him to arrest or search.” 3 La Fave, Search
and Seizure, West (1996) §3.2 pp 41-42; Cunha v. Superior
Court (1970) 2 Cal 3d 352. Observations by the police officer are
particularly important in drunk driving cases where signs of
impairment are important in determining probable cause for the
Determining whether a Long Beach law enforcement officer had
probable cause to arrest requires two analytically distinct steps.
First, the Criminal Court must ascertain when the arrest occurred
and what the arresting officer then knew; second, the court
decides whether the officer’s knowledge at the time of the arrest
constituted adequate cause. In Re Justin B. (1999) 69 Cal App
In many cases the arrest may have been unlawful and an
Attorney is necessary to challenge the case in Court. Our Long
Beach Criminal Law Firm is very familiar with the procedures and
legal mechanisms that can lead to exposure of illegal police
practices and violations of a client's constitutional rights.
Call attorney Ruff for a discreet consultation of your specific
case. It is not necessary to simply plead guilty in a Long Beach
case when your rights were violated.
Call us Toll free 1-877-212-2090
Long Beach Law Office
444 West Ocean Avenue
Long Beach CA 90802