Yolo Judge Shoots Down Search Warrant for Being Too General in Child Abuse Case

By Tiffany Devlin

WOODLAND – Judge David Rosenberg shot down Deputy District Attorney Frits Van der Hoek’s request for a general search warrant Monday, in effect calling it too general, and noting the warrant for defendant Amanda Caldera “doesn’t specify what is to be searched.”

At the beginning of the hearing, Deputy Public Defender Lisa Lance requested the court to set fines and fees to the statutory minimum, at the rate of $25 per month for Caldera. While she was also sentenced to 180 days in county jail, Lance requested for that time to be served through electronic monitoring.

On May 8, 2019, Caldera and her son were passengers involved in a car crash, according to The Legal Advocate. The driver died at the scene while Caldera and her son suffered injuries. Caldera was charged with child abuse and infliction of great bodily injury.

Caldera is an IHSS (In-Home Supportive Services) worker, and provides 24-hour care for her son. Defense counsel indicated that Caldera was low-income, and lives with her aunt who provides shelter for Caldera and her child. On top of the fines and fees that Caldera must pay, she must also pay for the 52-week parenting class indicated in her terms and conditions.

Not only does Caldera need to provide 24-hour care for her son, but she must provide shopping services for her blind older sister as well. Electronic monitoring was requested by the defense counsel so that she is able to meet the needs of both her son and her sister.

Lance proceeded with concern about a request for a general search warrant.

“I’m not certain what the connection to this conduct is about the search warrant, and I’m not sure what they were searching for here. They’re asking for a general search clause; there were no drugs, no alcohol. I don’t know what they were searching for,” the defense counsel explained.

DDA Van der Hoek argued that “this is a matter of child welfare. We have a case here where the driver of the car had been drinking and using marijuana, and there was some negligence as well on the part of the defendant in caring for the child. I think ensuring that there’s suitable conditions and that the defendant is not engaging in those types of activities is essential to rehabilitation here. I think that the search clause is appropriate, as all those things need to have the ability to be looked into.”

Judge Rosenberg, after a second of silence, asked, “search for what?”

Van der Hoek described that the search was appropriate for anything that could affect the “welfare of the child, so drugs, alcohol, and living conditions.”

Judge Rosenberg confirmed that nobody checked off the terms for “abstain from the use or possession of alcohol” or “abstain from the use or possession of illegal drugs.”

Van der Hoek backed up his claim by stating that the concern was not for the use of drugs or alcohol by the defendant, but rather for the use of these substances by the person who was driving the vehicle.

“It’s not necessarily the defendant’s use, but the environment that the child is in containing those elements, and being exposed to the risk by others using those (drugs or alcohol) rather than the defendant herself,” Van der Hoek argued.

In response, Judge Rosenberg stated that he is concerned with a search clause that does not specify what is to be searched, unless it was obvious.

Van der Hoek suggested that if probation is able to check on whether or not the conditions for the child have changed, they need the ability to further investigate the matter. “They can’t do that from the doorway, they need to be able to know what’s going on,” he continued.

Judge Rosenberg shot back at Van der Hoek, asking, “Is that probation’s job to act like CPS?”

While Van der Hoek attempted to explain that probation is responsible for checking on the defendant’s rehabilitation and whether or not they are committing any violations, Judge Rosenberg gave the floor back to the defense counsel.

Ms. Lance claimed that while the driver of the vehicle, unbeknownst to Caldera, may have been under the influence of alcohol, the defendant has not indicated any abuse nor history of abuse of alcohol or drugs. “There’s no reports whatsoever of any kind of alcohol or drug use in the house,” she concluded.

Judge Rosenberg decided to put Caldera on a grant of probation. He ordered the court clerk to strike the general search term, concluding that the request for a general search was too vague.

Judge Rosenberg also stayed Caldera’s fines and fees until January 2021, when she can start payments of $25 per month. Caldera must either report to the jail to serve her sentence on Oct. 20, or work out alternative arrangements before that date.

If there are no other violations after Caldera completes the 52-week parenting classes, her charge will be reduced to a misdemeanor. The review date will take place September 27, 2021.

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About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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