Discrepancy over Possible Unlawful Detainment; Judge Sides with the Prosecution

By Gracy Joslin

WOODLAND, CA – Defense Attorney Rodney Beede last week in Yolo County Superior Court argued his client, in a co-accused case, was unlawfully detained during a traffic stop and the defense requested multiple felony firearms charges against him be dismissed.

The judge disagreed.

According to court documents, the accused, in August of 2022, were pulled over for allegedly rolling through a stop sign.

Beede drew attention to the “suspicious” fact that this was the only thing allegedly missing from the camera footage, and not consistent with testimony from the officers.

Upon search of the vehicle, a loaded firearm was located under the seat, but before this firearm discovery, officers asked the other accused, the driver, for his license, but it was suspended.

Beede said his client asked officers if he could exit the vehicle which they denied, and from that moment on, the accused was being unlawfully detained, according to PD Beede.

Beede said, “It seems obvious to me that the facts, as they were related in a preliminary hearing and two motions to suppress, show clearly that (his client) was detained without any probable cause to do so.”

He also noted that when another officer testified, he claimed to have detained him because of safety concerns, but “he should have been allowed to get out of the car and leave,” but was instead unlawfully detained for, according to his account, more than 30 minutes.

Beede cited his client’s compliance in cooperating with the police even though he technically could have walked away. He asked the court to dismiss charges against his client.

Deputy District Attorney Michelle Serafin said, to “her recollection,” the stop was only 20 minutes total and the officers were simply doing “police activities related to the traffic stop” and that the accused never explicitly asked to exit the car.

According to her, the officer asked to search the vehicle to which one of the accused agreed. This is when an officer said he found the gun under the seat. She argued the detention is reasonable under the 4th Amendment.

Beede did not find this reasonable, and charged that “it is unreasonable for DDA Serafin to argue that because my client did not ask if he could exit the car, he (still) could have exited the car… He was detained from the beginning and…did ask (the officer) if they could get out, and he said no. It’s not a requirement for my client to ask if he could leave.”

After hearing both sides, Judge Dyer said the “crux of the issue is what was the reason for the traffic stop?…and that with the facts provided, the court currently sees it was a lawful detention under the 4th Amendment.”

Beede, before confirming a date and time for the trial, asked the court if his client could at least be considered for a misdemeanor because he has a steady job, family ties, no prior criminal history, and comes to court even though he lives in the Central Valley.

In response, DDA Serafin did not like the idea of reducing charges to a misdemeanor, saying “it looks like (Beede’s client) has two options… either enter a plea to all counts against him… or he can go to trial.”

Beede argued the court actually has a third option that would not require prosecution consent which would require “him to plead to possession of a firearm and dismiss other counts in the interest of justice.”

The co-accused’s attorney, Aram Davtyan, asked to vacate the trial temporarily, which had been scheduled this week.

Beede agreed as they both had more paperwork to submit to the court before the trial could commence.

After considering all the points made, Judge Dyer said he would vacate the trial date, and informed Beede the court was not prepared to lower the felony to a misdemeanor.

After the accused officially waived their rights to a speedy trial, Judge Dyer set the next court date for April 24.

About The Author

Gracy is a 4th Year at UC Davis studying Political Science and minoring in Communications and Sociology. Post graduation plans include traveling and then eventually attending Law School.

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