In other DUI contexts, our client may be stopped for speeding along a particular stretch of road. When the client tells us this, if we are familiar with the area, we may know that the stretch of road is marked by numerous traffic lights that are always sequenced so as to prevent speeding (i.e. Ocean Boulevard in Long Beach). We may also know the officer’s claim of speeding is quite problematic.
We have also had clients pulled over for an unsafe “lane straddling,” for example, which is a violation of Vehicle Code § 21658. However, if we know the area of the stop, we may immediately know that such a violation if impossible to commit if the road at issue, in that particular area, is only one lane in each direction (for example, in Manhattan Beach). This is so because to commit such a violation, there must be at least two lanes in each direction.
In the domestic violence context, knowing the community where the crime took place can be helpful. For example, if a couple is going through a nasty divorce and domestic violence is alleged, it is not uncommon for a cheating spouse to allege domestic violence to gain the upper hand in family court for child support payments or alimony. That spouse may claim that there was domestic violence and that a neighbor heard the commotion, leading to a call to local police. This recently happened in Rolling Hills, but we were well aware of the landscape of the area and how far most homes are separated. We found the claim of a neighbor calling to be suspicious, especially when the neighbor refused to identify himself and the nearest house was over 400 meters away.
This knowledge of the neighborhood helped us persuade the prosecutor to offer a dramatically better plea bargain to our client. Had our client been represented by someone unfamiliar with the local area, the call would not have been scrutinized for its credibility (we believe the bogus caller was the cheating wife’s new lover, fabricating a call to cause the Lomita Sheriffs to respond to the location).