BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                    AB 1927


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          Date of Hearing:  March 29, 2016
          Counsel:               David Billingsley


                         ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC SAFETY


                       Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer, Sr., Chair





          AB  
                      1927 (Lackey) - As Introduced  March 28, 2016




          SUMMARY:  Specifies that if the notice to appear in court  
          (citation) is being transmitted in electronic form, the copy of  
          the notice to appear issued to the arrested person need not  
          include the signature of the arrested person, unless  
          specifically requested by the arrested person. 

          EXISTING LAW:  

          1)Whenever written notice to appear has been prepared,  
            delivered, and filed by an officer or the prosecuting attorney  
            with the court pursuant to the provisions of Section 853.6 of  
            this code, an exact and legible duplicate copy of the notice  
            when filed with the magistrate, in lieu of a verified  
            complaint, shall constitute a complaint to which the defendant  
            may plead "guilty" or "nolo contendere." (Pen. Code,  853.9,  
            subd. (a).)

          2)If, however, the defendant violates his or her promise to  
            appear in court, or does not deposit lawful bail, or pleads  
            other than "guilty" or "nolo contendere" to the offense  
            charged, a complaint shall be filed which shall conform to the  
            provisions of this code and which shall be deemed to be an  
            original complaint; and thereafter proceedings shall be had as  








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            provided by law, except that a defendant may, by an agreement  
            in writing, subscribed by him or her and filed with the court,  
            waive the filing of a verified complaint and elect that the  
            prosecution may proceed upon a written notice to appear. (Pen.  
            Code,  853.9, subd. (a).)

          3)Notwithstanding the provisions of subdivision (a) of this  
            section, whenever the written notice to appear has been  
            prepared on a form approved by the Judicial Council, an exact  
            and legible duplicate copy of the notice when filed with the  
            magistrate shall constitute a complaint to which the defendant  
            may enter a plea and, if the notice to appear is verified,  
            upon which a warrant may be issued. If the notice to appear is  
            not verified, the defendant may, at the time of arraignment,  
            request that a verified complaint be filed. (Pen. Code,   
            853.9, subd. (b).)

          4)Species that when a person is arrested for misdemeanor, and  
            does not demand to be taken before a magistrate, that person  
            shall be released with a citation, as specified. (Pen. Code  
            853.6, subd. (a)(1).)

          5)States that if the person is released with a citation, the  
            officer or his or her superior shall prepare in duplicate a  
            written notice to appear in court, containing the name and  
            address of the person, the offense charged, and the time when,  
            and place where, the person shall appear in court. (Pen. Code  
            853.6, subd. (a)(1).)

          6)Specifies that unless waived by the person, the time specified  
            in the notice to appear shall be at least 10 days after arrest  
            if the duplicate notice is to be filed by the officer with the  
            judge. (Pen. Code 853.6, subd. (b)(1).)

          7)Requires the officer to deliver one copy of the notice to  
            appear to the arrested person, and the arrested person, in  
            order to secure release, shall give his or her written promise  
            to appear in court as specified in the notice by signing the  
            duplicate notice which shall be retained by the officer, and  
            the officer may require the arrested person, if he or she has  
            no satisfactory identification, to place a right thumbprint,  
            or a left thumbprint or fingerprint if the person has a  








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            missing or disfigured right thumb, on the notice to appear.  
            (Pen. Code 853.6, subd. (d).

          8)Requires the officer, as soon as practicable, to file the  
            duplicate notice, as specified. (Pen. Code 853.6, subd. (e).)

          9)States that a criminal prosecution may be commenced by filing  
            an accusatory pleading in electronic form with the judge or in  
            a court having authority to receive it. (Pen. Code,  959.1,  
            subd. (a).)

          10)Provides that a notice to appear issued on a form approved by  
            the Judicial Council may be received and filed by court in  
            electronic form, if the following conditions are met:

             a)   The notice to appear is issued and transmitted by a law  
               enforcement agency, as specified; (Pen. Code,  959.1,  
               subd. (d)(1).)

             b)   The court has all of the following:

               i)     The ability to receive the notice to appear in  
                 electronic format; (Pen. Code,  959.1, subd. (d)(2)(A).)

               ii)    The facility to electronically store an electronic  
                 copy and the data elements of the notice to appear for  
                 the statutory period of record retention; and (Pen. Code,  
                  959.1, subd. (d)(2)(b).)

               iii)   The ability to reproduce the electronic copy of the  
                 notice to appear and those data elements in printed form  
                 upon demand and payment of any costs involved. (Pen.  
                 Code,  959.1, subd. (d)(2)(C).)

             c)   The issuing agency has the ability to reproduce the  
               notice to appear in physical form upon demand. (Pen. Code,  
                959.1, subd. (d)(3).)

          11)States that if the notice to appear is transmitted in  
            electronic form, it is deemed to have been signed by the  
            defendant if it includes a digitized facsimile of the  
            defendant's signature on the notice to appear. (Pen. Code,   








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            959.1, subd. (f).) 

          12)Provides that a notice to appear filed electronically need  
            not be subscribed by the citing officer. (Pen. Code,  959.1,  
            subd. (f).)

          13)Specifies that an electronically submitted notice to appear  
            need not be verified by the citing officer with a declaration  
            under penalty of perjury if the electronic form indicates  
            which parts of the notice are verified by that declaration and  
            the name of the officer making the declaration. (Pen. Code,   
            959.1, subd. (f).)

          FISCAL EFFECT:  Unknown

          COMMENTS:  

          1)Author's Statement:  According to the author, "Conducting  
            traffic stops as a Police Officer can be a dangerous part of  
            the job. Officers need to control the stop, the violator  
            inside the vehicle, the area around them, and complete the  
            citation in a reasonable amount of time. The fewer the number  
            of contacts with a violator the safer it is for a Police  
            Officer to conduct his job and release the violator from being  
            detained in the shortest amount of time. 

          "This bill would update California Law to take into account the  
            issuing of electronic citations, so that Police Officers do  
            not have to increase the number of contacts with a violator  
            during a traffic stop. Law enforcement agencies may stop  
            issuing electronic citations or be hesitant to start the  
            process because of safety concerns. Yet electronic citations  
            are significantly more efficient than the triplicate forms  
            used today. When we encourage law enforcement agencies and our  
            courts to be more efficient, we should also balance that with  
            modern laws that reflect technological advancements while  
            maintaining officer safety."

          2)Background:   Law enforcement officers issue a citation  
            whenever they give someone a traffic ticket.  An officer also  
            issues a citation to a person if they arrest the individual on  
            a misdemeanor charge, but release that person without taking  








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            them into custody.  A citation serves as the notice to appear  
            in court for the person that has received the citation. A  
            signed copy of the citation is sent to court by the law  
            enforcement agency issuing the citation.

          When conducting traffic stops to issue citations, the officer   
            runs the information through dispatch and returns to the  
            violator's vehicle to fill out a triplicate form where one  
            signed copy goes to the violator, one to the officer and one  
            to the agency, resulting in a "two contact approach" to the  
            vehicle.  

          Again, the first contact occurs when the officer first  
            approaches the vehicle seeking the driver's license and  
            registration.  The officer then goes back to his vehicle,  
            writes up the ticket and approaches the vehicle a second time  
            to have the driver sign the citation, at which time the  
            officer gives a signed copy to the driver (two approaches).

          With new technologies, many agencies are using electronic  
            handheld devices to be more efficient when issuing citations.   
            This device resembles the machines a person signs when  
            receiving a package from FedEx or UPS.  With this device, once  
            the officer completes the citation and obtains a signature  
            (second contact), it is wirelessly sent to a printer in the  
            patrol vehicle, where, under current law, the officer must  
            retrieve it and bring the exact signed copy of the citation  
            back to the violator.  This results in a third contact.

          3)Benefits of Electronic Citations:  The use of electronic  
            citations can provide efficiencies that save money for law  
            enforcement agencies and courts.  Many paper citations the  
            courts receive contain errors due to misspelling, poor  
            handwriting, smudged copies, and inconsistencies between  
            violation codes and descriptions. Electronic citation  
            technology can eliminate many of these types of errors. 

          Electronic citation technology promises benefits from saving  
            time and reducing costs, to increasing officer efficiency. The  
            current paper system used in most jurisdictions takes an  
            average of 12 days to process a citation and send it to the  
            court. With an electronic citation, this process can now be  








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            done seamlessly within seconds.  Once the infrastructure is  
            paid for, an electronic citation system promises to be a  
            cost-effective solution since it will eliminate a great deal  
            of overhead associated with clerical tasks. (The Use of  
            Electronic Citations: A Nationwide Assessment, A Joint Report  
            by the Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice  
            Assistance and the Department of Transportation, June, 2003,  
            p. 6.) 

          4)Argument in Support:  According to The Peace Officers Research  
            Association of California, "Every time an officer pulls a  
            vehicle over, they are automatically in a dangerous situation.  
             Not only are they dealing with the threats of the roadway and  
            traffic, they are also faced with the potential danger of the  
            individual or individuals inside the vehicle that was pulled  
            over.  An officer never knows whether the violator is  
            concealing a weapon, nor do they know the mental state of that  
            person.

          "Electronic citations were initially implemented to streamline a  
            process; however, in a traffic stop, an officer typically  
            contacts the driver to collect information, and then returns  
            to their patrol vehicle to fill out the citation.  Once the  
            citation is complete, the officer will re-contact the driver  
            to obtain their signature, and then give them a copy of the  
            signed citation.  With the addition of the  electronic hand  
            device, once the device is electronically signed, the officer  
            must go back to his/her patrol vehicle to get the signed  
            citation from the printer within their vehicle and return for  
            a third time to the violator's vehicle.  Unlike the  
            traditional "two approach" traffic stop, this new  
            implementation increases the stop to three approaches;  
            therefore, increases the time and danger of a traffic stop."

          5)Argument in Opposition:  According to The California Public  
            Defenders, "AB 1927 would allow the prosecution to use an  
            unsigned electronic notice to appear both as a complaint and  
            to issue an arrest warrant if the person failed to appear.   
            The person would specifically have to elect to sign the  
            electronic promise to appear.

          "Under existing law, Penal Code section 853.9 provides that a  








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            written notice to appear may be issued to an arrestee and then  
            filed with the court.  If defendant fails to appear on the  
            written notice to appear, a warrant may be issued for the  
            defendant's arrest. 

          "This proposed procedure of deleting the signature is too  
            vulnerable to fraud. It is not uncommon for individuals to use  
            another person's identity when stopped by the police and  
            issued a notice to appear.  Historically, defense counsel has  
            been able to demonstrate that the client was not the  
            individual stopped by having the prosecutor compare the notice  
            to appear signature with the client's true signature. 

          "In this era of widespread identity theft, an unsigned notice to  
            appear is even more vulnerable to fraud.  And finally, an  
            unsigned notice to appear could be a tool of harassment in the  
            hands of some rogue law enforcement official."

          6)Prior Legislation: 

             a)   AB 2303 (Judiciary Committee), Chapter 567, Statutes of  
               2006, specified that an accusatory pleading in electronic  
               form was sufficient if it indicates it was sworn and has  
               the name of that officer.

          REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION:

          Support

          Peace Officers Research Association of California (Sponsor)
          California Police Chiefs Association 

          Opposition
          
          California Public Defenders Association
          
          Analysis Prepared  
          by:              David Billingsley / PUB. S. / (916) 319-3744












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