Thursday, June 7, 2012
Suppressed Evidence May Be Used to Revoke Probation—C.A.
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Previously suppressed evidence may be used to revoke or modify probation, the First District Court of Appeal ruled yesterday.
Pre-1982 cases to the contrary are no longer controlling, in light of the “Truth-in-Evidence” amendment to the state Constitution contained in Proposition 8, Justice Terrence Bruniers wrote for Div. Five.
The panel affirmed Marin Superior Court Judge Paul Haakenson’s order modifying probation terms for Cerina V. Lazlo, who had previously pled guilty to burglary and drug charges.
Evidence at the probation hearing showed that Lazlo was found in a motel room in Novato where police were undertaking a parole search directed at another person. When asked for identification, officers testified, Lazlo pointed at her purse, which an officer opened.
The officer found a driver’s license in someone else’s name, but with Lazlo’s photo. The search of the room produced counterfeit bills, methamphetamine, and financial information for various people.
Lazlo was charged with several crimes, including possession of a forged license and possession of methamphetamine, and a parole revocation petition was filed. Haakenson subsequently ruled that the search was illegal, since it was not incident to arrest, pursuant to a probation or parole waiver, or supported by consent.
The judge, however, denied the defendant’s motion to dismiss the petition to revoke probation. He ruled that a 1979 Court of Appeal decision holding that evidence that was illegally seized and suppressed by the court could not be admitted at a probation hearing was superseded by Proposition 8.
Under the Truth-in-Evidence provision of that 1982 initiative, illegally seized evidence is admissible in a California criminal proceeding unless exclusion is mandated by the U.S. Constitution, or by a post-Proposition 8 statute. Since there is no federal constitutional bar to using illegally seized evidence at a probation hearing, unless the circumstances of the seizure “shock the conscience,” the judge ruled, the evidence was admissible.
Haakenson modified the terms of probation by requiring that Lazlo serve 210 days in jail—with credit for time served—and that she avoid contact with the other people who were in the motel room and not possess checks or identification documents that were not hers.
Bruniers, writing for the Court of Appeal, said the judge was correct.
A post-1982 case holding that the Legislature had superseded the Truth-in-Evidence provision with respect to probation hearings when it amended Penal Code Sec. 1538.5 was wrongly decided and has since been rejected, the justice explained.
The case is People v. Lazlo, A131741.
Copyright 2012, Metropolitan News Company