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California's Police Transparency Law Enacted

On September 30, 2018, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law legislation on Police Transparency. The new law, which went into effect on January 1, 2019, requires police departments to release all unedited reports, videos, and statements of bad officer behavior.

California police departments must now open to the public information regarding police shooting and misconduct investigations, which includes using unreasonable force, falsifying evidence, lying, violating civilians’ rights, committing sexual assault, or any other form of wrongdoing while on the job.

The public has a right to know about instances of serious police misconduct and that law enforcement agencies have thoroughly investigated these injustices. Citizens depend on peace officers to uphold the law, which includes the officers themselves obeying the laws of the U.S. Constitution and the state of California. Misusing their authority can lead to constitutional violations and “harms to liberty and the inherent sanctity of human life” – not to mention significant public unrest that could result if officers violate the law.

Six California police unions opposed the new law, asking that the requirements not apply to instances that occurred before January 1, 2019. The court denied their request and said that the public will be allowed access to all records of serious police misconduct.

Recently, the Fremont Police Department released edited documents relating to 6 police shooting incidents. However, in doing so, they failed to comply with SB 1421 §832.7 and §832.8 of the California Penal Code (as amended), which require the release of raw video and internal police documents. The department should disclose information in a way that fulfills the requirements of the new law.

Another Tool for Defense Attorneys

Under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment, a defendant has the right to a fair trial and to present a complete defense, including the right to dispute the reliability of redacted evidence presented against them by the state. Under the new transparency law, the defendant can present officer personnel files to impeach the credibility of police allegations and the prosecution’s witnesses. The Police Transparency law should help facilitate due process by enhancing a defendant’s ability to defend against tampered evidence and improper witness testimony.

Choose the Law Office of Ivan O.B. Morse to Protect Your Rights

Our attorneys at the Law Office of Ivan O.B. Morse are committed to helping individuals who were arrested or are facing an investigation for a criminal offense. Together we have 30 years of experience fighting aggressively against charges. When you work with us, you can be confident we will conduct a thorough review of your case to uncover evidence that challenges the prosecution’s accusations.

For a free consultation, call us at (888) 865-0741 or contact us online.