In 2002, our client was just 19 years old. He was not going to college like his parents wanted, much to their great disappointment. His parents had sent him from Korea to the United States to finish high school and go to college in the United States. It was a big investment in him and his future.
Instead, he spent most days at his friends houses, smoking pot and using other drugs, including psylocibin (mushrooms) and methamphetamine. He was also selling marijuana to support his drug expenses and avoid asking his parents for money.
One day in 2002, a neighbor to one of our client’s friends in Irvine called the police about loud music and the smell of marijuana. The Irvine Police Department had, according to the police report, “long suspected the renter in the condominium at issue was using drugs and perhaps selling drugs, too,” so they applied for and received a search warrant for the premises before responding to the loud noise call.
As the reader of this summary may know, police can submit a pre-prepared affidavit to a judge via e-mail now and obtain a signed search warrant within minutes.
Police arrived at the condominium and knocked loudly, announcing their identity and asking the occupants to open the door. No one answered. Police knocked again and again announced their identity. No one answered. Police were then debating whether to knock down the door to enter when someone from inside opened the door to see if the police had left the area.
Police rushed into the condominium and found about five individuals, many still sitting on a couch with lighted joints nearby and marijuana bongs with burning marijuana inside. Our client was one of those individuals.
Police found our client had about a half-pound of marijuana that he admitted was his own for selling, a pay-owe sheet and a meth pipe with meth residue on it. Police then searched his car outside, with our client’s consent supposedly, and found a baggie with about four grams of mushrooms (psylocibin). Our client, as well as the others, were arrested for being under the influence of a controlled substance (police found our client’s pupils were dilated and he had a very high pulse). Our client was also arrested for sales of marijuana, a violation of Health & Safety Code § 11359, then a felony (prior to Prop 64).
Our client was taken to the Orange County Jail, where a relative posted bail for him after he spent the night. Instead of then appearing in the Newport Beach Superior Court for his arraignment a few months later in 2002, he went straight to the airport and flew back to South Korea, intending to never return to the United States.
Once in Korea, he served his mandatory two years in the Korean military and then began working for his father and uncle. He later got married and, with his wife, had three children.
In 2021, however, he wanted to visit the United States and his relatives living here, but he was painfully aware of the likely bench warrant and how that meant he would be detained upon arriving in the United States and passing through customs.
The client then called Greg Hill & Associates and spoke to Greg. The client explained the facts of the case from 19 years earlier and what he hoped to do. Greg explained that due to Covid-19 emergency orders, judges were allowing attorneys to appear on behalf of clients instead of having the clients being required to appear in person in court (to reduce the risk of spreading the corona virus). Greg then explained that the sale of marijuana charge was now a misdemeanor due to changes in California law.
Greg therefore was optimistic that he could appear in court and have the felony bench warrant recalled and then resolve the case, perhaps even with drug diversion or for being under the influence of a controlled substance as a misdemeanor.
Greg then prepared a consent and waiver of personal appearance under Penal Code § 977(b)(2) for the client to sign and have notarized in Seoul, South Korea, which the client did.
Greg then appeared in the Santa Ana Courthouse (the Newport Beach courthouse was temporarily closed for bench warrant recalls) and was successful in having the felony bench warrant of 19 years recalled without the client coming to the United States.
After several appearances thereafter in Newport Beach, including presenting the handling prosecutor with documentation concerning our client’s “progress in life” since 2002, the prosecutor agreed to dismiss the case in exchange for our client making a $2,000 “donation” to the Newport Beach victim witness restitution fund, which our client happily made.
The client and his family were very happy to resolve this case with the dismissal.
For more information about 977(b)(2) bench warrant recalls and Prop 64 in general, please click on the following articles: