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Alcohol is not Required to be Charged with a DUI

| Police Blotter | April 25, 2019

Recently, a statement from the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department was released warning Santa Clarita residents not to drive under the influence of marijuana, and that it would be treated the same as any other DUI if caught. Anyone found to be driving erratically after having ingested marijuana, or prescription medications, including barbiturates, opiates, and even anti-depressants or over-the-counter cold medicine can be considered “driving under the influence” and will be held to the same standards as a drunk driver.

How Does Marijuana Impair Your Ability to Drive?

While the effects of marijuana may feel different than the effects of alcohol, there are some key similarities in the ways they affect your ability to drive. A large enough dose of THC, the psychoactive chemical found in marijuana, has been shown to affect your psycho-motor performance, and therefore your ability to drive. It can also affect your attention span, concentration, and slow your reflexes.

What Happens When You’re Caught Driving Under the Influence?

In California, DUI penalties will vary pretty dramatically, depending on a couple different things: how many DUI’s you have on your record, and whether or not anyone was injured or killed as a result of your driving under the influence.

Generally, a first-offense in which nobody was injured will result in a misdemeanor charges. However, if a person has four or more previous DUI charges, or if someone was injured or killed as a result of a first DUI, the charge could be upgraded to a felony.

DUI Punishments

As previously mentioned, a first-offense DUI charge for an incident in which nobody was injured will be charged as a misdemeanor. The possible penalties include up to six months in county jail, a fine of $390 to $1000, three or nine months of DUI school, and a possible six-month period in which the defendant must have an ignition interlock device attached to their vehicle.

A second DUI in which nobody was injured will net you 96 hours to one year in county jail, the same amount of fines as a first offense, up to one year mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device, and anywhere from 18 to 30 months worth of DUI school.

A third offense is punished by 120 days to one year in county jail, two years of using an ingnition interlock device on their car OR three years of a suspended license, and 30 months of DUI school.

If a DUI is charged as a felony, the potential penalties include 16 months to three years in California state prison, the same fines, up to five years license suspension, and 18 or 30 months of DUI school.

It should be kept in mind that the initial fine of $390 to $1,000 can be a bit misleading. While the fine itself will fall within that range, there are many additional court fees, DUI school costs, and other charges that cause DUI penalties (even those imposed for first-time offenders) to cost significantly more. It isn’t unheard of for a DUI to cost a defendant upwards of $10,000 to $14,000 dollars.

Bad Boys and Girls

| Police Blotter | April 18, 2019

A 28-year-old Canyon Country resident was arrested for forgery.

Both a 52-year-old self-employed Newhall resident and a 32-year-old secretary from Castaic were arrested for corporal injury on a former spouse/cohabitant/etc.

There were several charges of battery against a former spouse, including a 25-year-old caregiver from Valencia and a 36-year-old vet tech from Valencia.

A 57-year-old roofer from Canyon Country was booked for displaying a false disabled person placard. And a 35-year-old construction worker from Palmdale was brought up on felony charges for a fourth DUI.

DUIs with prior arrests include:

34-year-old unemployed Henderson, Nev. resident
49-year-old supervisor from Vacaville
40-year-old electrician from Tulare
25-year-old sales associate from Saugus
23-year-old unemployed Sylmar resident
23-year-old ride operator from Lancaster
27-year-old electrical contractor from Saugus
32-year-old customer accounts worker from Palmdale
34-year-old in-home services provider from Los Angeles
33-year-old pool man from Canyon Country
40-year-old Newhall resident who listed his/her occupation as “stunt mant”

Charges of possession of a controlled substance went to:

34-year-old unemployed Newhall resident
52-year-old Door Dash driver from Saugus
27-year-old unemployed Valencia resident
31-year-old unemployed La Puente resident
45-year-old unemployed Val Verde resident
49-year-old unemployed Van Nuys resident
53-year-old recycler from Newhall
38-year-old priest from Alta Dena

LAPD Ends Controversial LASER Program

| Police Blotter | April 18, 2019

Recently, the top brass at the LAPD decided to do away with a predictive policing program that residents say is rife with racial bias. The program used specific crime data to identify what law enforcement referred to as Los Angeles Strategic Extraction and Restoration (LASER) zones. The program was one of several data-driven predictive policing programs that the LAPD used to identify places where violent crimes were most likely to occur, as well as persons most likely to commit these crimes. Once a LASER zone was identified, a surge of LAPD officers would be sent to the area in an effort to deter the crimes that their data indicates would be happening there, as well as to keep tabs on individuals.

At a police commission meeting on Tuesday, April 9, LAPD Chief Michel Moore stated that the program had led to the lowest crime rates in years. Residents and skeptics of the program, however, have questioned whether or not data-driven strategies that rely on computer algorithms and other computer data to identify areas where violent crime is most likely to happen is effective at all. A recent audit found that the program itself lacked oversight, and that the data used by officers to label individuals as likely to commit violent crimes was inconsistent.

Predictive policing has been a source of contention between the police and the public since its inception. The public is highly suspicious of data-driven policing, especially residents of neighborhoods targeted by programs like LASER. Law enforcement believes that the practice has given them useful information that allows supervisors to allocate resources more efficiently. Detractors of predictive policing have been saying for a long time that the practice is focused on poor neighborhoods and areas populated primarily by people of color. According to those in the know, the data used by the predictive policing algorithm doesn’t include race or gender.

Interestingly, while LASER was the most recent predictive policing program to be shut down, it wasn’t the only one. A much more controversial segment of the program, which involved the identification and monitoring of so-called chronic offenders who are most likely to commit violent crimes, was scrapped last summer. The segment of the program involved identifying the chronic offenders, adding them to a list, and then distributing that list to officers in the area. Though the lists and database were discontinued in August, the public was only informed last month.

Ultimately, the end of the LASER program does not spell the end of predictive policing entirely – it was just one of several programs already in action. Increased oversight as well as more consistency in how the data is used may very well help quell the public outcry and increase the efficiency and effectiveness of predictive policing.

Bad Girls and Boys

| Police Blotter | April 11, 2019

Two individuals were charged with battery against a former spouse, including a 29-year-old construction worker from Los Angeles and a 29-year-old student from Canyon Country. And a 23-year-old cashier from Simi Valley was arrested for corporal injury on a spouse/cohabitant/etc.

A 42-year-old caregiver from Canyon Country was arrested for assaulting an elder adult. And a 25-year-old cleaner from Tennessee was arrested for torturing/killing a living animal.

Three Los Angeles residents were arrested for discharging a firearm in public, including a 24-year-old and a 23-year-old mover, and an unemployed 23-year-old.

A 34-year-old contractor from Newhall was arrested for embezzling less than $400.

DUIs with prior arrests include:

22-year-old teacher’s aid from Saugus
47-year-old unemployed Mojave resident
37-year-old Bakersfield resident
52-year-old unemployed Highland resident
55-year-old construction worker from Newhall
21-year-old caregiver from Granada Hills
46-year-old pool construction worker from Newhall
19-year-old Santa Clarita resident who works in production
49-year-old construction worker from San Fernando
42-year-old professor from Pine Mountain Club
21-year-old Pasadena resident who works in entertainment

Charges of possession of a controlled substance went to:

37-year-old electrician from Saugus
51-year-old mechanic from Pacoima
22-year-old cashier from Castaic
31-year-old gardener from Newhall
43-year-old mechanic from Burbank

Management May be Forced to Live in Crime-Ridden SFV Motel and Other Unusual Sentences

| Police Blotter | April 11, 2019

The Studio 6 Motel in the San Fernando Valley has long been a hotbed of criminal activity including prostitution, narcotic sales, and gang activity.

Law enforcement and community members have long tried to curb the issues stemming from the motel to no avail. For management, the gangs, prostitutes, and drug dealers were also customers, so there was little incentive to do anything about it since it affects their bottom-line.

However, in a recent twist, management may have no other choice. The Los Angeles City Attorney’s office wants a judge to force three members of the motel’s management to live on-site until they’re able to clean things up.

Not only has law enforcement’s previous efforts to clean up the property been stymied, but the criminal activity has actually gotten worse. Now, city attorneys are hoping that if management is forced to face the problem with crime every day, they’ll finally do something about it.

This isn’t the only incident where unusual sentences, court orders, or other obligations are mandated that fit squarely outside the box. Most crimes have minimum and maximum sentences mandated by the state that provide judges with guidelines along which a convicted person’s punishment may fall. However, judges are also given a great deal of leeway and freedom when it comes to sentencing and court orders. While some judges stick to the books, others prefer to get creative.

A Texas metal-plating business owner was ordered to get rid of toxic chemicals from his property but failed to comply. He was later convicted of illegally dumping chromium, after which the presiding judge chose to sentence the man to drink a glass of nasty, toxic sludge. The intent was to make the man think twice before dumping toxic chemicals in places where they can taint wildlife or the water supply.

Judge Michael Cicconetti of Ohio has garnered quite a reputation for unusual sentencing. He’s previously ordered a woman to walk 30 miles after she stiffed a cabby out of his fair for a trip of the same distance. The judge also told a man convicted of drunk driving he could avoid jail time if he instead spent time looking at car crash corpses.

Judges who recommend unusual sentences are rare, and typically reserve the practice for first-time offenders and impressionable young people. Career criminals and those convicted of serious and/or violent crimes typically face traditional sentences. Also, not every sentence handed down by a judge stands up to scrutiny, either. It’s highly unlikely the previously mentioned Texas business owner was forced to drink a cup of toxic chemicals, for example. The judge was likely attempting to make a point with the sentence rather than make the man sick.

Bad Boys and Girls

| Police Blotter | April 4, 2019

Two individuals were brought up on charges of battery against a former spouse, including a 49-year-old veteran from Valencia and a 48-year-old Valencia resident who did not list his/her occupation.

A 29-year-old “employee” from Canyon Country was arrested for obstructing/resisting an executive officer.

A 55-year-old seamstress from Palmdale was arrested for conspiracy to defraud/cheat.

A 25-year-old Newhall resident was arrested for carrying a concealed weapon in a vehicle. And a 27-year-old unemployed San Pedro resident was arrested for Manufacturing/ distributing/ transferring/etc. an assault weapon.

A 25-year-old independent contractor was charged with being a fugitive from justice.

DUIs with prior arrests include:

34-year-old security officer from Palmdale
38-year-old software developer from Santa Clarita
60-year-old electrician from Lake Hughes
47-year-old unemployed Newhall resident
26-year-old unemployed Castaic resident
23-year-old Newhall resident who works in food service

Charges of possession of a controlled substance went to:

35-year-old unemployed Santa Clarita resident
27-year-old cook from Newhall
31-year-old childcare worker from Valencia
41-year-old construction worker from Newhall
28-year-old recording engineer from Castaic
23-year-old retail worker from Canyon Country
24-year-old self-employed North Hollywood resident
49-year-old sorter from Castaic
23-year-old carpenter from Littlerock

Felony Reckless Evading – Vehicle Code 2800.2 VC

| Police Blotter | April 4, 2019

As residents of Los Angeles County, we’re no stranger to high-speed pursuits. Oddly enough, several of those pursuits find their way through or near the Santa Clarita Valley. Thanks to the SCV’s location near the 5, 14, and 210 freeways, it’s really easy to get here if you’re fleeing the police. Of course, fleeing the police isn’t the best way to see the sights of the Santa Clarita Valley.

California Vehicle Code 2800.2 VC covers the crime of felony reckless evading. It can be charged (along with 2800.1 VC – the lesser misdemeanor charge) when you evade the police in a vehicle and drive with a wanton or willful disregard for the safety of persons or property. Basically, if you flee the police in a motor vehicle and drive relatively safely while doing so, you’re likely to be charged with 2800.1 VC, if you drive like a maniac, you’re likely to be charged with 2800.2 VC.

For example, a person steals a vehicle and a police officer attempts to pull him over. Instead of complying or just continuing on as he was doing, the suspect speeds away and runs stop signs and red lights while doing so. When caught, the suspect would likely face two felony charges: grand theft auto and felony reckless evading.

One doesn’t necessarily have to be fleeing a crime to be charged with felony reckless evading. Suppose a person is driving and a police officer attempts to pull them over for not using their turn signal. Not wanting to have to talk to police, the suspect speeds off, causing surrounding cars to veer into each other to avoid hitting the suspect. The suspect in this case, if caught, would likely face charges of violating 2800.2 VC.

In order to be charged with fleeing a police officer, that officer actually has to be pursuing you. A good example of this would be someone driving on a suspended license and has a police car behind them. The officer gets a call and turns on the lights and siren so they can respond, but the driver thinks that the officer is trying to pull him over so he speeds off and runs several stop signs. If the driver is eventually caught, he will, at the very least, receive a ticket for running a stop sign and possibly for speeding, as well as being charged with driving on a suspended license. However, since the police officer wasn’t actually after the driver, they would not face charges of 2800.2 VC.

The term “felony” reckless evading is a bit misleading because the crime is actually a “wobbler” that can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. The defendant’s prior criminal history as well as the circumstances of the case will be taken under consideration by prosecutors, though more often than not, violations of 2800.2 VC result in felony charges. If charged as a misdemeanor, the penalties include misdemeanor probation, 6 months to 1 year in county jail, and/or a $1,000 fine. Felony penalties include formal probation, 16 months to 3 years in California state prison, and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

Bad Boys and Girls

| Police Blotter | March 28, 2019

There were several individuals arrested for corporal injury on spouse/cohabitant/etc, including a 27-year-old self-employed Santa Clarita resident, a 32-year-old licensed vocational nurse from Canyon Country, a 23-year-old In-N-Out employee from Canyon Country, a 31-year-old “employee” from Valencia, a 26-year-old insurance agent from Bakersfield, a 31-year-old Newhall resident and a 25-year-old unemployed Winnipeg resident.

A 27-year-old maintenance tech was charged with transporting a controlled substance. And a 34-year-old security guard from Canyon Country was arrested for battery on person.

A 23-year-old unemployed Newhall resident was arrested for shoplifting after a specified prior conviction. And a 27-year-old student from Canyon Country was brought up on charges of DUI causing injury.

DUIs with prior arrests include:

49-year-old insurance agent from Stevenson Ranch
28-year-old waiter from Canyon Country
33-year-old subcontractor from Saugus
29-year-old prop maker from Palmdale
62-year-old retired Alabama resident
26-year-old teamster from Northridge
29-year-old assembly worker from Pacoima
55-year-old dental assistant from Valencia
21-year-old landscaper who did not list his/her address
45-year-old construction worker from Arleta
63-year-old handyman from Tujunga

Charges of possession of a controlled substance went to:

31-year-old roofer from Lancaster
25-year-old unemployed Canyon Country resident
60-year-old professional organizer from Newhall
37-year-old unemployed Canyon Country resident
28-year-old unemployed Newhall resident
32-year-old artist from Castaic
49-year-old administrator from Woodland Hills
30-year-old transient from Tehachapi
45-year-old laundry clerk from Canyon Country
54-year-old self-employed Newhall resident

Keep Your Children Safe from Becoming Victims of Sexual Assault

| Police Blotter | March 28, 2019

On Tuesday, March 12, a 17-year-old girl went to authorities to report that she had been the alleged victim of sexual assault by her driving instructor. According to her report, the suspect had been hired last June to give her six driving lessons. The first four proceeded without incident, though during the final two lessons, the girl claimed to have been sexually assaulted by her instructor.

As law enforcement investigated the claim, they learned that the instructor, T.M. Lam, was a registered sex offender who, while acting as a driving instructor, had been previously arrested for annoying or molesting a minor in 2014. The suspect was arrested and booked at the LASD Walnut Station on suspicion of sexually assaulting a minor. After his arrest, he was released after posting $140,000 bail.

The suspect’s original crime, which occurred in 2014, is covered under California Penal Code 647.6 PC and is described as annoying or molesting a child under the age of 18. For the purposes of PC 647.6, the terms “annoying” and “molesting” mean the same thing, and refer to conduct which is motivated by sexual interest in a child, or children in general, and which is likely to irritate, disturb, or be observed by a child or children.
Under 647.6 PC, a suspect does not actually have to make any physical contact with a child or minor in order to be charged with a crime, and words alone may constitute annoying or molesting a child.

Minors can be victims of sexual assault no matter what their age. Knowing who should and should not be trusted around your children can be difficult, as many would-be child predators like to place themselves in positions of trust, such as clergy, school teachers, and even law enforcement.

One of the best ways to help keep your child safe from harm is to be involved in their lives. Ask your kids what they did during the day and with whom. If your child participates in sports or other activities, get to know the adults who will be around – particularly the parents of your child’s friends. When choosing caregivers, always screen them carefully. Be sure to educate your children on the grounds of what is and is not permissible behavior, and teach them to come to you if they feel something is wrong.

Finally, for parents, know the warning signs of child sexual abuse, and be aware of any changes in your child’s behavior or demeanor – no matter how small.

Bad Boys and Girls

| Police Blotter | March 21, 2019

Two individuals were charged with terrorizing/causing fear, including a 56-year-old director of photography from Valencia and 34-year-old construction worker from Newhall.

Charges of corporal injury on a spouse/cohabitant included a 21-year-old student from Canyon Country, a 35-year-old Palmdale resident, a 24-year-old HVAC specialist from Valencia and a 26-year-old paralegal from Valencia.

Both a 42-year-old self-employed Saugus resident and an unemployed 49-year-old Saugus resident were arrested for battery against a former spouse.

A 23-year-old unemployed Palmdale resident was arrested for resisting an officer.

DUIs with prior arrests include:

24-year-old Pasadena resident who listed his/her occupation as “massage”
27-year-old heat-treater from San Pablo
20-year-old student from Newhall
25-year-old student from Richmond
40-year-old unemployed Palmdale resident
26-year-old tint installer from Stevenson Ranch
23-year-old self-employed Palmdale resident
22-year-old construction worker from Littlerock
31-year-old diesel mechanic from Canyon Country

Charges of possession of a controlled substance went to:

25-year-old unemployed Van Nuys resident
45-year-old unemployed Canyon Country resident
42-year-old maintenance worker from Lancaster
49-year-old construction worker from Canyon Country
30-year-old self-employed La Puente resident
30-year-old “appetizer cook” from Newhall
48-year-old operations manager from Palmdale
31-year-old unemployed Santa Barbara resident
26-year-old unemployed Newbury park resident
39-year-old Canyon Country resident
23-year-old bagger from Castaic
49-year-old unemployed Sacramento resident
53-year-old mechanic from Sylmar
42-year-old construction worker from Northridge

Penal Code 667.61: California’s ‘One Strike’ Law

| Police Blotter | March 21, 2019

You’ve probably heard about California’s “Three-Strikes Law.” If not, then pay attention – it’s one of the harshest sentencing proposals in the country. When it was first enacted, the law stated that if a person is convicted of three felonies, they will be sent to prison for 25 years to life.

In 2012, reformers and members of the public who had long fought to change California’s “Three Strikes Law” were able to get Proposition 36 onto the ballot. Under Prop 36, “California’s Three Strikes Law” was changed so that offenders convicted of a third felony would not automatically receive a sentence of 25 years to life unless their third conviction was for a violent felony. Additionally, inmates who were sentenced under the old “Three Strikes Law” were given the opportunity to petition to have their sentences reduced, provided they were not convicted of a sex crime, a drug crime that involved a large amount of drugs, a firearm, great bodily injury, or certain other violent offenses.

California’s “One Strike Law,” covered under Penal Code 667.61, is a lot like the “Three-Strikes Law” in that it is a sentence enhancement for certain crimes. When a defendant is convicted of committing a crime under certain aggravating circumstances, PC 667.61 says that their sentence can be enhanced to include 15 years, 25 years, or life in prison.

For example, a person convicted of rape who already has a previous rape conviction on their record could face 25 years to life under PC 667.61 as opposed to 3, 6, or 8 years under Penal Code 261 – California’s rape law.

PC 667.61 does not apply to every felony. It covers a very specific set of crimes, including: rape (PC 261), spousal rape (PC 262), lewd or lascivious acts (PC 288), continuous sexual abuse of a child (PC 288.5), and a few other similar crimes. The aggravating factors that qualify one of the previously listed crimes for a sentence enhancement under California’s “One Strike Law” include: a previous conviction of one of the above listed offenses, kidnapping the victim, inflicting bodily harm on the victim, using a dangerous weapon during the commission of the crime, tying the victim up, and/or administering a controlled substance to the victim.

California imposes serious sentences for the most serious crimes. PC 667.61 applies generally to repeat, violent sex-offenders, and it is often up to a judge to determine what, if any, sentence enhancement is warranted.

Bad Girls and Boys

| Police Blotter | March 15, 2019

There were several individuals charged with corporal injury on a spouse/cohabitant/etc, including a 45-year-old sales rep from Valencia, a 47-year-old Tehachapi resident, and a 45-year-old field technician from Valencia.

A 31-year-old unemployed Santa Clarita resident was arrested for trespassing. A 58-year-old Rosamond resident was arrested for damaging property.

A 27-year-old insurance agent from Quartz Hill was arrested for false report of an emergency.

A 28-year-old Santa Clarita resident who refused to disclose his/her occupation was arrested for failing to appear after a written promise.

DUIs with prior arrests include:

27-year-old Canyon Country resident
41-year-old self-employed Ventura resident
25-year-old unemployed Palmdale resident
37-year-old housekeeper from Lancaster
63-year-old “demonstrator” from Green Valley
23-year-old Canyon Country resident
25-year-old “oil fields” worker
50-year-old unemployed North Hills worker
28-year-old medical receptionist from Santa Paula
44-year-old construction worker from Van Nuys
38-year-old machinist from Castaic
32-year-old “tech” from Canyon Country
26-year-old salesman from Saugus
28-year-old unemployed Valencia resident
46-year-old construction worker from Modesto
28-year-old mechanic from Sylmar
25-year-old line cook from Santa Clarita
22-year-old clerk from Newhall
47-year-old golf pro from Valencia

Charges of possession of a controlled substance went to:

28-year-old unemployed Pacoima resident
41-year-old shipping clerk from Palmdale
29-year-old unemployed Saugus resident
21-year-old barista from Saugus
28-year-old painter from Canyon Country

Kidnapping in California – California Penal Code 207 PC

| Police Blotter | March 14, 2019

When you hear that someone was kidnapped, what images come to mind? Do you think of a ski-mask-wearing bad guy forcing a victim into his vehicle at gunpoint? What about an adult grabbing a child off the street and speeding away? Recently, a Canyon Country man found out the hard way that kidnapping in California has a very broad definition.

On the morning of Wednesday, March 6, deputies responded to a domestic violence incident near a business on Soledad Canyon Road. According to witnesses, the incident began with a man and woman getting into an argument, and then the man allegedly grabbed the woman by the arm and forced her into his vehicle against her will. Deputies responding to the scene were able to locate the suspect relatively quickly and he was quickly arrested and on suspicion of kidnapping and domestic battery.

Kidnapping is covered under various California Penal Codes, including: 207, 208, 209, and 209.5. Each penal code deals with different situations, but in general, a person can be charged with kidnapping when they move someone else a substantial distance, without that person’s consent, and by using force, fraud or fear to do so. In the case of the Canyon Country suspect above, grabbing his girlfriend by the arm and forcing her into his vehicle likely qualified as “use of force or fear.”

It’s important to note that a person’s intent when they allegedly kidnap someone is irrelevant. A suspect doesn’t need to intend to assault, injure, ransom, or otherwise harm their victim in order to be charged with simple kidnapping. The crime occurs when the victim is moved a substantial distance against their will by the use of force, fraud, or fear. However, if an individual does kidnap someone for ransom or with other intentions in mind, it can upgrade their charge from simple kidnapping to aggravated kidnapping.

The penalties for kidnapping depend on the circumstances of the case. Simple kidnapping, for example, is a felony for which the penalties include 3, 5, or 8 years in California state prison, and/or a maximum fine of $10,000. If convicted of aggravated kidnapping and the victim was a child under 14, the prison sentence is increased to 5, 8, or 11 years in state prison. The penalty is increased to a life sentence with the possibility of parole if the kidnapping occurred with the specific intent to ransom the victim, extort them, use them in a variety of sex crimes, or carjacking.

The suspect in the Canyon Country incident is likely being charged with simple kidnapping, though the additional charge of domestic battery could end up increasing his jail time, if convicted.

Bad Boys and Girls

| Police Blotter | March 8, 2019

There were several individuals arrested for battery against a former spouse, including a 29-year-old unemployed Canyon Country resident, a 53-year-old LifeAlert dispatcher from Santa Clarita, and a 52-year-old technology worker from Canyon Country.

A 38-year-old postal worker from Northridge was arrested for terrorizing/causing fear.

A 22-year-old student from North Hollywood was brought in for opening an alcoholic beverage in a public park/place.

DUI’s with prior arrests include:

34-year-old nurse from Canyon Country
26-year-old butcher from Pacoima
33-year-old unemployed Azusa resident
36-year-old tech from Virginia
26-year-old server from Santa Fe
34-year-old mechanic from Valencia

Charges of possession of a controlled substance went to:

18-year-old painter/babysitter from Santa Clarita
21-year-old cleaner from Lancaster
32-year-old warehouse worker from Palmdale
45-year-old construction worker from Granada Hills
25-year-old unemployed Castaic resident
33-year-old unemployed Bakersfield resident
28-year-old unemployed Tarzana resident
42-year-old oilfield worker from Bakersfield
22-year-old window washer from Santa Ana
38-year-old installer from Saugus

Craigslist Emerges as Hot Spot for Fentanyl

| Police Blotter | March 7, 2019

Investigators have long trolled the pages of Craigslist looking for people looking to commit illicit activities. Whether it’s selling stolen merchandise, advertising one’s sexual services, or simply selling drugs, you may be able to find it on Craigslist – if you know where to look.

Over the past several months, Craigslist has emerged as a major hub for people looking to buy and sell the dangerous drug called Fentanyl. Fentanyl is an extremely powerful opioid that’s typically used in a medical setting to ease intense post-surgical pain in hospitalized patients, or to treat short-term conditions that are accompanied by significant pain. Fentanyl is roughly one-hundred times more powerful that morphine, most doctors’ go-to drug for pain relief, and about 50 times more powerful than heroine.

Controlled substances and other illicit chemicals have been sold on Craigslist under a variety of pseudonyms (roofing tar – heroine, clear-sealant – crystal meth, and M30 – oxycodone). Over the past year, on Los Angeles’ Craigslist pages, investigators have seen more and more ads for Fentanyl. Like other drugs, Fentanyl has its own pseudonyms, including China White Doll and White China Plates.

According to assistant U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles Ben Barron, Craigslist has proven to be an extremely effective agent in the dissemination of illegal drugs. Barron is in charge of prosecuting Los Angeles’ first Craigslist-related Fentanyl death.

The death occurred when the suspect, A. Madi, allegedly sold Fentanyl to the victim after being contacted through his post on Craigslist. The victim had just recently left drug treatment and like so many others, went right back to using. The victim originally contacted Madi via the suspect’s Craigslist ad looking for heroine. However, Madi was out of heroine at the time, and instead introduced the victim to Fentanyl. A few days later, the victim was found dead in his apartment of an apparent Fentanyl overdose; a baggy of the drug near the victim’s body.

A search of other major U.S. cities’ Craigslist sites only turned up a handful of similar ads. It’s believed that the Fentanyl market on the site is limited to Los Angeles due to the area being a prime hub for drugs out of Mexico and China – with both countries housing labs that produce a great deal of the substance.

Many believe the explosive popularity of Fentanyl is the result of several high-profile busts of heroine dealers in the Los Angeles area, who sold to addicts unable to get prescription opioids after doctors stopped over-prescribing them. That being said, it would seem the growing popularity of Fentanyl, much like heroine, is not the result of the traditional drug trade getting bolder, but the result of the pharmaceutical and medical industry’s overzealous habits in prescribing opioid painkillers.

Bad Boys and Girls

| Police Blotter | February 28, 2019

A 46-year-old driver from Santa Clarita was arrested for hit and run causing injury/death. And a 20-year-old Day Wireless employee was charged with cruelty to a child likely to produce great bodily injury or death.

A 36-year-old unemployed Canyon Country resident was brought up on charges of prostitution with prior knowledge of AIDS.

Two individuals were charged with corporal injury on a spouse/cohabitant, including a 44-year-old therapist from Stevenson Ranch and a 48-year-old unemployed Newhall resident.

DUIs with prior arrests include:

An unemployed 23-year-old Lancaster resident
24-year-old mover from Canyon Country
30-year-old assistant manager from Santa Clarita
24-year-old mechanic from Canyon Country
35-year-old gardener from Newhall
47-year-old welder from Canyon Country
29-year-old construction worker from Gardenia
24-year-old recruiter from Valencia
24-year-old lighting designer from Valencia
34-year-old mechanic from Palmdale
51-year-old self-employed Encino resident
38-year-old unemployed Los Angeles resident

Charges of possession of a controlled substance went to:

22-year-old construction worker from Palmdale
26-year-old unemployed Van Nuys resident
40-year-old unemployed Newhall transient
47-year-old painter from Val Verde
38-year-old caretaker from San Gabriel
32-year-old graphic designer from Simi Valley
61-year-old carpenter from Azusa
58-year-old nurse from El Monte
30-year-old Postmates driver from Quartz Hill
20-year-old “labor worker” from Irwindale
27-year-old security officer from Lancaster
33-year-old unemployed Palmdale resident
31-year-old mover from Bellflower
28-year-old unemployed Palmdale resident
43-year-old carpenter from Long Beach ­­

Murder vs. Manslaughter: What’s the Difference?

| Police Blotter | February 28, 2019

Murder and manslaughter are similar crimes, though they have very different penalties. Here is a description of the two, in addition to what makes them different.

Murder, covered under California Penal Code 187 PC, is described as “the unlawful killing of a human being or fetus with malice aforethought.” The term “malice aforethought” means that “the killer with wanton disregard for human life, does an act that involves a high degree of probability that it will result in death.” Basically, it means that the killer wanted to kill someone, and then performed a necessary action that had a high probability of killing someone.

Voluntary manslaughter is covered under California Penal Code 192(a) PC and is described as “the killing of another person that one commits during a sudden quarrel, in the heat of passion, or based on the honest but unreasonable belief the need to defend oneself.”

As you can see, both crimes involve one person willfully killing another. However, the key difference between murder and voluntary manslaughter is the term “malice aforethought.” To be charged with murder, a prosecutor must be able to prove “malice aforethought,” to be charged with voluntary manslaughter, they do not. Below are two scenarios intended to illustrate the difference between the two crimes.

Example 1: A wife comes home early from work to surprise her husband, but is surprised herself when she finds him with another woman. Upon seeing this, the wife is overcome with rage, picks up a lamp from the bedside table, hits her husband in the head and he dies. In this scenario, the wife did not come home with the intent of murdering her husband, so there was no malice aforethought necessary to make a murder charge stick. Instead, she would likely be found guilty of voluntary manslaughter because the killing occurred in a moment of passion.

Example 2: A wife thinks her husband is cheating on her so she hires a private investigator to watch him while she is at work. The P.I. comes back with indisputable proof that the wife is indeed being cheated on. The wife then plans to take revenge on her husband by poisoning his drink with arsenic. The husband drinks it and dies. In this case, the wife would definitely be charged with murder, since she planned to kill her husband with the arsenic (malice aforethought).

Most of the time, voluntary manslaughter isn’t charged; it’s agreed to as a plea bargain in a murder case. The penalties include 3, 6, or 11 years in California state prison, a potential strike under California’s Three Strikes Law, a maximum $10,000 fine, community service, counseling, loss of firearm privileges, and any other conditions that the court believes are relevant to the case. For murder convictions, the potential penalty includes 25 years to life in prison, life in prison without parole, or the death penalty.

Bad Boys and Girls

| Police Blotter | February 21, 2019

Four individuals were charged with battery against a former spouse, including a 47-year-old painter from Valencia, a 28-year-old unemployed Canyon Country resident, a 48-year-old engineer from Newhall and an 18-year-old full-time student from Newhall.

A 23-year-old consultant from Santa Clarita was arrested for possessing obscene matter depicting a minor.

A 31-year-old personal trainer from Palmdale was arrested for carrying a concealed weapon in a vehicle. And a 22-year-old student from Santa Clarita was arrested for carrying a loaded firearm on their person/ in a vehicle/public place.

There were several individuals charged with corporal injury on a spouse/cohabitant/etc, including a 41-year-old insurance broker from Castaic, a 63-year-old fireman from Valencia and a 28-year-old manager from Newhall.

DUI’s with prior arrests include:

37-year-old mason from Canyon Country
21-year-old caregiver from Castaic
56-year-old self-employed Newhall resident
36-year-old construction worker from Los Angeles
24-year-old workhand from Canyon Country
26-year-old paralegal from Pacoima
26-year-old server from Newhall
27-year-old manager from Saugus
53-year-old unemployed Santa Clarita resident
57-year-old construction worker from Palmdale

Charges of possession of a controlled substance went to:

26-year-old carpenter from Los Angeles
28-year-old carpenter from Los Angeles
24-year-old canyon country resident
49-year-old Santa Clarita resident
38-year-old electrician from Saugus

Armed Robber Sought by SCV Sheriff Station Deputies

| Police Blotter | February 21, 2019

Shortly after 12 p.m. on Saturday, February 16, Joe’s Liquor in Canyon Country was robbed by a masked suspect. According to reports, several calls reporting a potential robbery came in at about 12:40 p.m., and deputies rushed to the scene. Witnesses describe a man wearing a black ski mask, armed with a handgun who had a “darker skin tone” fleeing from the scene mere minutes before police arrived.

Deputies searched the area to no avail, and it’s believed that the suspect escaped with several thousand dollars. Law enforcement’s efforts to locate the victim were hamstrung by staff at the liquor store who sent the surveillance video to a third party before showing it to SCV Sheriff Station deputies. Without any information on what the suspect looked like, their build, etc. deputies were forced to search the area with inadequate identifying information on the suspect.
Robbery is covered under California Penal Code 211 PC and is described as taking personal property from someone else or their immediate presence, without their permission, through the use of force or fear. An interesting fact about PC 211 is that, in order for an action to count as robbery, the suspect must intend to deprive the owner of the property permanently or for long enough that the owner of the property would be denied a major portion of its value or enjoyment.

For example, suppose a man is playing Frisbee with his new girlfriend’s son and the Frisbee gets caught in a tree. The little boy starts to cry and the man doesn’t want his new girlfriend to think he made the boy cry, but the Frisbee is caught in the tree just out of reach.

Suddenly, the man notices a woman walking down the sidewalk with her purse and, not one to ignore opportunity when it knocks, he asks the woman if he can use her purse to knock down the Frisbee. The lady, not willing to give her purse over to a random stranger, naturally declines. The sobs of the child grow louder, and the man begins to panic because he knows the boy’s mother will hear sooner or later. So, he pulls out a knife and threatens to cut the woman if she doesn’t give him her purse. Naturally, she gives her purse to the man who uses it to knock the Frisbee out of the tree and silence the child. The man then gives the purse back to the woman.

The situation above describes a scenario in which someone takes personal property from the possession of another person against their will. However, the man in the story would probably not be charged with robbery because he didn’t intend to deprive the woman of her purse permanently. He would, however, likely be charged with another crime. Threatening people is not the way to get them to let you borrow things, even if it’s for a moment.

Robbery is divided into two separate crimes, first-degree robbery and second-degree robbery. First-degree robbery is charged if the victim is the driver or passenger of some sort of transportation for hire (taxi, bus, cable car, etc.), the robbery takes place in an inhabited dwelling, or the robbery takes place during or immediately after the victim uses an ATM. The possible penalties include felony probation, three to six years in California state prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

Second-degree robbery is defined as any robbery that does not meet the criteria for first-degree robbery. The possible penalties include: felony probation, two to five years in California state prison, and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

Since the suspect allegedly used a firearm during the robbery, the potential sentence is significantly enhanced under California’s “10-20-Life Use a Gun and You’re Done Law.” Under this law, using a gun during a robbery enhances the prison sentence to 10 years, firing a gun during a robbery enhances the prison sentence to 20 years, and 25 years to life for causing great bodily injury or death by using a gun during a robbery.

Bad Boys and Girls

| Police Blotter | February 14, 2019

A 22-year-old car washer from Santa Clarita was arrested for false imprisonment. And a 57-year-old unemployed Castaic resident was charged with attempted burglary.

Two individuals were arrested for theft of personal property, including a 35-year-old unemployed Santa Clarita resident and a 31-year-old unemployed transient.

A 40-year-old peace officer from Stevenson Ranch and a 20-year-old Santa Clarita resident who works at the Hollywood Bowl were arrested for battery against a former spouse.

A 50-year-old construction worker from Saugus was arrested for battery.

DUIs with prior arrests include:

30-year-old software technician from Canyon Country
69-year-old retiree from Valencia
49-year-old soccer coach from Valencia
40-year-old cook from Canyon Country
53-year-old “medical rec” from Canyon Country
18-year-old screen installer from Shafter
25-year-old unemployed Rosamond resident
43-year-old unemployed Canyon Country resident
25-year-old San Francisco resident who refused to state his/her occupation
32-year-old Newhall resident who works in irrigation
26-year-old technician from Los Angeles
21-year-old student from Newhall
63-year-old pharmacist from Saugus
50-year-old unemployed Newhall resident
46-year-old unemployed Anaheim resident

Charges of possession of a controlled substance went to:
52-year-old unemployed Shadow Hills resident
31-year-old unemployed Stevenson Ranch resident
28-year-old mechanic from Canyon Country
48-year-old Pasadena resident who works in movie production
29-year-old painter from Valencia

Impersonating a Police Officer – California Penal Code 538 PC

| Police Blotter | February 14, 2019

On Friday, February 8, a man was arrested by the LASD under suspicion of impersonating a police officer. The arrest came after police were sent video in January of a man wearing an LAPD T-shirt antagonizing a group of Black Lives Matter protesters. The people gathered to protest the October shooting of an unarmed black man by an LAPD officer inside a gym. In the video, the suspect can be seen wearing a T-shirt with the LAPD logo on it and chanting “white power” at the protesters. The suspect in the case is of Asian descent.

LASD deputies made the arrest when they saw the suspect wearing the same T-shirt bearing the LAPD logo on it and recognized him from the video footage. Upon being interviewed, the suspect admitted to impersonating a police officer on multiple occasions in an effort to “get respect.” After his arrest, the suspect was released from custody on $2,500 bail.

Impersonating a police officer is covered under California Penal Code 538 PC. Simply dressing like a police officer for a Halloween party, a play, or even as a joke isn’t enough to be charged with violating PC 538. You cross the line when you dress up as a police officer and fraudulently cause another person to think that you are a police officer. Additionally, PC 538 requires that anyone who sells genuine police uniforms must verify that the person to whom they are selling actually is a police officer. If not, the merchant will be charged under PC 538(d).

There are two notable exceptions to the law. When someone is wearing a police uniform for the sole purpose of a theater production or movie/television filming, or if that person has written permission from the identified law enforcement agency (in this case, the LAPD). These exemptions extend to selling, transferring, and wearing a police uniform.

Impersonating a police officer is a misdemeanor in California. The possible penalties include summary probation, up to 6 months in county jail, and/or a fine of up to $1,000.

Bad Boys and Girls

| Police Blotter | February 7, 2019

Three individuals were arrested for grand theft money/property <$400, including a 46-year-old salesman from Van Nuys, a 26-year-old customer service agent from Woodland Hills, and a 31-year-old unemployed West Hills resident.

An unemployed 18-year-old Valencia resident was charged with making criminal threats. And a 23-year-old Newhall resident was arrested for battery.

A 23-year-old Monrovia resident who refused to list his/her occupation was charged with resisting arrest.

A 31-year-old unemployed California City resident was arrested for battery against a former spouse.

DUIs with prior arrests include:

31-year-old window installer from Canyon Country
25-year-old manager from Canyon Country
45-year-old project manager from Santa Clarita
43-year-old Lancaster resident who listed their occupation as “sell cellphone”
30-year-old help desk analyst from Canyon Country
32-year-old welder from Newhall
42-year-old medical assistant from Santa Clarita
62-year-old retiree from Los Angeles
50-year-old social worker from Val Verde
25-year-old car technician from Burbank

Charges of possession of a controlled substance went to:

34-year-old unemployed Canyon Country resident
49-year-old unemployed El Monte resident
40-year-old Moreno Valley resident who listed their occupation as “warehouse”
29-year-old unemployed Newhall resident
46-year-old unemployed Valencia resident
18-year-old unemployed Castaic resident
22-year-old self-employed Castaic resident
22-year-old who listed their occupation as “casher”
44-year-old cook from Castaic
25-year-old elevator mechanic from Canyon Country
27-year-old landscaper from Littlerock

The Danger of Driving While Impaired

| Police Blotter | February 7, 2019

Over Super Bowl weekend, members of the CHP and deputies from Santa Clarita Sheriff Station arrested nine people for allegedly driving under the influence. According to law enforcement, there is an average of about 10 DUI-related arrests in the area any given weekend. The fact that Superbowl weekend only saw nine means that even though a lot of people were celebrating this weekend, it didn’t equate to more people driving drunk.

Law enforcement agencies including the LASD, LAPD, and CHP, have long been vocal about their efforts to increase their vigilance when it comes to stopping impaired motorists. DUI checkpoints are held regularly at different locations around the county and saturation patrols are conducted at various times of the year. The consequences of driving under the influence will vary from situation-to-situation. Some people get behind the wheel while intoxicated and end up arriving at their destination. Others, however, like the recently-sentenced Saugus resident K. Hussain, are not so lucky.

On February 5, 2018, Hussain was driving on McBean Parkway near Bridgeport when his truck hit a tree and severed a water main. Both he and his toddler son were taken to the hospital with injuries. A few hours later, Hussain was arrested on suspicion of felony DUI with injury. He was sentenced this month to two years in California State prison.

The penalty for a DUI depends largely on the circumstances surrounding the crime and the defendant’s prior criminal history. A first-offense misdemeanor DUI carries the penalties of up to six months in county jail, a fine of $390 to $1000, six months suspended or restricted driving privileges, three or nine months of DUI school, and other associated costs totaling upwards of several thousand dollars.

For a third-offense, the driver faces much stiffer penalties, including six months to a year in county jail, the same fine, two years mandatory ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle (or three years of having their driving privileges suspended if they do not comply), 30 months of DUI school and significantly higher associated costs and fees.

If charged as a felony, defendants face anywhere from 16 months in state prison for a first-offense to three years for subsequent felony offenses. Additionally, they face up to five years of suspended driving privileges.

Of course, the real cost to driving under the influence comes when collisions occur which involve fatalities. Alcohol-related deaths are not uncommon, and when it happens, the charges and penalties a defendant faces increase sharply and include murder.

Bad Boys and Girls

| Police Blotter | February 1, 2019

A 45-year-old unemployed Saugus resident was arrested for stalking.

A 22-year-old unemployed Castaic resident was charged with terrorizing/causing fear and a 20-year-old unemployed Newhall resident was arrested for damaging property.

Two individuals from Canyon Country were arrested for battery, including a 39-year-old massage therapist and a self-employed 32-year-old.

Charges of corporal injury on a spouse/cohabitant/etc went to a 58-year-old welder from Santa Clarita, a 24-year-old operations manager from Canyon Country, a 27-year-old driver from Stevenson Ranch and a 34-year-old Canyon Country resident who works for Oakwood Corporate Housing.

A 58-year-old self-employed Santa Clarita resident was arrested for avoiding registration compliance.

DUIs with prior arrests include:

21-year-old hair stylist from Valencia
26-year-old barber from Sylmar
29-year-old cook from Newhall
51-year-old retiree from Lancaster
52-year-old clerk from Saugus
30-year-old unemployed Los Angeles resident

Charges of possession of a controlled substance went to:

33-year-old unemployed Canyon Country resident
44-year-old retail worker from Canyon Country
34-year-old unemployed Valencia resident
30-year-old construction worker from Los Angeles
28-year-old unemployed Canyon Country resident
59-year-old unemployed Newhall resident
26-year-old construction worker from Canyon Country
51-year-old clerk from Castaic
30-year-old unemployed Saugus resident
30-year-old unemployed Newhall resident

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