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Law Office of Ronald G. Brower Blog

 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

SCOTUS Rules Cell Phone Searches Require Warrants

Law enforcement officials across Orange County began adjusting to new search limits on Wednesday, hours after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled officers need warrants to look through the cellphones of people they arrest.

Until Wednesday, the court’s long-standing view was that police were free to search someone who was stopped on the street or in his car and put under arrest. Known as the search incident to arrest rule, officers could check a suspect’s pockets and examine his possessions, including a wallet, purse and pockets with the intention of allowing police to protect themselves by finding weapons. However, police were also free to collect other evidence within this search.

The Surpreme Court ruled unanimously Wednesday in Riley v. California, that police may not search a smartphone or similar device without a warrant from a judge. This decision is likely to put a significant check on the government’s ability to search electronic devices such as phones, laptops, and tablets, limiting the government’s ability to search through intimate details of our private lives.


Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. was quoted as saying that because digital devices have transformed how people live, they must also transform the law on privacy. “Modern cellphones are not just another technological device,” he said. “With all they contain and all they may reveal, they hold for many Americans the ‘privacies of life.’” Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.

The Supreme Court decision on cell phone searches suggests an evolution within the Court that recognizes the way advances in technology have changed the Fourth Amendment. This ruling has set case law that a cell phone is not an object anymore but a carrier of information to which a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy. 

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

OC Rental Listing Firm Raided, Accused of Scamming

First Step Rentals, an Orange County rental listing company, was raided by the Santa Ana police after being accused of scamming people out of hundreds of dollars.

Police seized computers and files after at least 50 people would be tenants filed complaints with Santa Ana police, claiming they paid hundreds of dollars to the company for a list of rentals that never materialized. Investigators had been tracking the firm since getting their first complaint in May 2013 and the department launched an investigation October.

First Step Rentals, believed to be operating out of Santa Ana’s Lincoln Pacific Plaza since October 2012 as a prepaid rental listing service. The company is accused of luring prospective tenants into its business, charging $200 for weekly listings, but providing listings for units that either were already rented or weren’t homes but businesses. 

Raymond Fuentes, 43, is suspected of owning First Step Rentals, which opened in 2012, police said. State records alleged that Fuentes’ partner in First Step, Richard Anthony Rodriguez, had been tied to illegal rental listing services dating back to 1996.


Last March, the state issued an order demanding the company to stop operating because it wasn't licensed. The state has shut down two other rental-listing firms run by Fuentes over the past decade, identified as Sea Side in Huntington Beach and Casas Grandes, a rental business in South El Monte.

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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

OC Dance Company Worker Faces Federal Child Pornography Charges

A Long Beach man faces federal child pornography charges after the Orange County District Attorney’s Office agreed to dismiss existing charges in order to facilitate a federal prosecution.
Paul Michael Barbour, 33, is accused of using a hidden camera to secretly record young girls in a Cypress College dressing room.
Barbour, who worked for Cypress-based Kids Artistic Review, a dance competition company, was arrested in June after a digital video camera belonging to him was discovered in a dressing room used by teenage girls taking part in a contest at Cypress College. A woman had found a small black camera on the ground in a dressing room in the college’s Theater Arts building the day before detectives with the Cypress Police Department arrested Barbour on June 1.
Upon being interviewed by police, Barbour admitted putting the concealed camera in the dressing room so he could record young girls undressing, police said in a court filing.
Barbour admitted regularly using computers at home to view and download child pornography, police said. In a search of Barbour’s home, police seized computers and hard drives containing photos and videos of children engaging in sexually explicit conduct. There is no evidence currently indicating Barbour produced any of the material, according to investigators. Police also seized drugs, including LSD, meth, and mushrooms.

Though the Orange County District Attorney’s office dismissed the charges, the District Attorney’s office may file new state charges against Barbour if an investigation leads to the identification of any Orange County victims. Conviction of the charge carries a sentence of up to 10 years in federal prison, more than the maximum seven-year term under state law.

Charges of criminal conduct should be taken seriously, and traversed with the help of experienced criminal defense attorneys. If you or a loved one has been charged with criminal conduct, contact the experienced and aggressive criminal defense attorneys at Brower & Associates.

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