California prosecutors who are found withholding or falsifying evidence can be charged with a felony and be sentenced to prison time owing to Assembly Bill 1909. Prosecutors who are found guilty can be sentenced to 16 months to two or three years in prison. We wrote about this subject in October 2016.
The legislation came about when it was discovered that prosecutors and law enforcement were withholding evidence from defendants and their legal representation. On a similar note, it would seem that Orange County Sheriff’s Department may not have gotten the memo.
It was recently revealed that an audit was initiated in January 2018 after the department discovered instances when deputies were not booking evidence according to policy, The Orange County Register reports. The review found numerous examples of misconduct.
Orange County Deputies Fired, No Charges Filed
The nearly two-year audit resulted in the firing of four Orange County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD) deputies; seven deputies were disciplined, and four cases are pending, according to the article. All told, 15 deputies were criminally investigated throughout the process; although, the Orange County District Attorney’s office has not filed any criminal charges.
It’s OCSD policy that all evidence be booked at the end of a deputy’s shift. However, the audit found that nearly one-third of the evidence collected from February 2016 to February 2018 was booked late. In some cases, it could take a month or longer for evidence to be booked.
The revelations could affect thousands of cases, and Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer is looking into the matter. DA Spitzer said he only first learned of the audit this month. Assistant Public Defender Scott Sanders, whose allegations of prosecutorial and law enforcement misconduct played a role in the drafting of AB 1909, was angered that the audit’s findings only came to light when the Southern California News Group made an inquiry.
“Defendants had the right to know that this audit concluded that nearly all of the deputies in the field and jails during those two years kept … evidence in their cars, homes, desks or wherever else they wanted to store rather than booking it,” Sanders said. “God only knows how much evidence has been lost, mixed into other cases, kept, given to informants or concealed because it helped the defendant.”
Key findings of the audit include:
- Nearly 85 percent of the evidence was booked within five days.
- 418 pieces of evidence were booked after 20 to 30 days.
- 296 pieces of evidence were booked after 31 days.
- 27 percent of the deputies had held onto evidence for 31 days or more.
Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney
Please reach out to The Law Office of Ronald G. Brower if you require criminal legal assistance in the State of California. Attorney Brower has the experience to successfully advocate on your behalf and work to bring about a favorable outcome.