Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ecstasy qualifies as a controlled substance under Health & Safety Code section 11377

The California 4th District Court of Appeal held that because Ecstasy contains methamphetamine, it qualifies as a controlled substance or an analog to a controlled substance for purposes of Health and Safety Code section 11377. In this case, Appellant was convicted of possession of Ecstasy. He argued insufficient evidence supported the conviction because the drug is neither a controlled substance, nor an analog of any controlled substance for purposes of the statute. Section 11377 prohibits possession of controlled substances which are specified in several other statutes. Ecstasy, also known as MDMA or methyldioxy methamphetamine, is not listed in any of these statutes. But, one of the statutes enumerated in section 11377, namely section 11055, subdivision (d), includes, inter alia, "stimulants" containing any quantity of methamphetamine. In this case, the officer testified Ecstasy includes methamphetamine and has a stimulating effect similar to it. Based on this testimony, the jury reasonably concluded that Ecstasy is either a controlled substance or an analog of methamphetamine for purposes of the crime.

The case is: People v. Becker, District: 4 DCA, Division: 2, Case #: E047898

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Vehicle Impound and Search after DUI Upheld

The California First Appellate District held that a CHP Officer who impounded a vehicle for safekeeping that belonged to a defendant who was arrested for DUI acted reasonable when searching the vehicle pursuant to an "inventory search." A large amount of cash and several bags of marijuana were seized from the vehicle. The defendant argued that such an impound and search was improper becasue the vehicle could have been left parked on the street, and cited CHP manual policies. The Court disagreed and found that the determination to impound or remove a vehicle pursaunt to the community caretaking function was reasonable under the circumstances of the case.

The case is: People v. Shafrir, C.A. 1st, March 29, 2010; A125880; 10 C.D.O.S. 4701

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Temporary Exclusion of Defendant's Family Members from Courtroom Does not Violate Right to Public Trial

The California First Appellate District held that the brief exclusion of a defendant's family members from the courtroom during jury voire dire did not violate his constitutional right to a public trial. Mr. Bui was charged with multiple felonies, and had a jury trial. His family members came to courtroom during jury selection and seated themselves among the spectators, in close proximity to the prospective jurors. The court ordered them removed.

The Court affirmed the judgment, finding that the family members were only excluded for 40 minutes, and thus, this brief exclusion was "de minimus."

The case is People v. Bui, April 6, 2010, A119404