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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Los Angeles, California, United States
    Posts
    3

    Default Open Alcohol Container Inside a Vehicle Trunk

    My question involves criminal law for the state of: California, Los Angeles.

    Me and a friend were hanging out in the backseat of the vehicle. We got caught up in a deep conversation, didn't even notice the cops patrolling the paid parking lot we were in. Neither of us were drinking alcohol at the time, we had done so before however, at a friends when pre-partying. When the cops shined the light on us, there was no alcohol bottle or drinking caught at all, however since we were close to some bars/clubs they decided to ask us to step out of the car for questioning. They asked to search the car, since we knew we hadn't we let them. They found a old bottle cap of a alcohol bottle on the ground, and decided to search the car more thoroughly.

    The car is a Lexus IS 250, so in the middle compartment of the back seat, there's an opening to the trunk. The cop opened it and searched around with his hand and pulled out a half full bottle of 750ml tequila. This is capped with a different cap by the way. The two cops decide to write up both me and friend for open container's as a misdemeanor and I will have an appearance in court on August 13 at 8:30am.

    My question is, should i take the fine if they reduce the misdemeanor to an infraction, as I have been reading? ($100 with court fees so roughly 240) I found out that it's harder to represent yourself in a criminal court, and I don't really have the finances to pay for an attorney. Should I try that anyways? What do you guys advise?

    Thank you for your time, also I have never gotten anything other than the occasional speeding ticket.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    California
    Posts
    20,594

    Default Re: Open Alcohol Container (Inside Trunk)

    What code section was cited?

    Chances are it will be filed as an infraction and you will be arraigned into Traffic Court and not Criminal Court.
    **********
    Retired Cal Cop Sergeant & Teacher

    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkM-gDcmJeM

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Los Angeles, California, United States
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: Open Alcohol Container (Inside Trunk)

    California Code 25620, will they be sending me a letter before the court date to let me know it is an infraction if it is?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    California
    Posts
    20,594

    Default Re: Open Alcohol Container (Inside Trunk)

    Quote Quoting kelpjuice
    View Post
    California Code 25620, will they be sending me a letter before the court date to let me know it is an infraction if it is?
    That would be Business and Professions Code (B&P) 25620:

    25620. (a) Any person possessing any can, bottle, or other
    receptacle containing any alcoholic beverage that has been opened, or
    a seal broken, or the contents of which have been partially removed,
    in any city, county, or city and county owned park or other city,
    county, or city and county owned public place, or any recreation and
    park district, or any regional park or open-space district shall be
    guilty of an infraction if the city, county, or city and county has
    enacted an ordinance that prohibits the possession of those
    containers in those areas or the consumption of alcoholic beverages
    in those areas.
    (b) This section does not apply where the possession is within
    premises located in a park or other public place for which a license
    has been issued pursuant to this division.
    (c) This section does not apply when an individual is in
    possession of an alcoholic beverage container for the purpose of
    recycling or other related activity.

    You might get a courtesy notice ... you might not. Unless you receive something else in writing, appear at the location on the citation at the date and time indicated. These are almost always handled as infractions. Handling these as misdemeanors simply is NOT cost effective, so most are taken care of in Traffic Court.
    **********
    Retired Cal Cop Sergeant & Teacher

    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkM-gDcmJeM

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Los Angeles, California, United States
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: Open Alcohol Container (Inside Trunk)

    Thanks for the info cdwjava. In your opinion, did the policeman have the right to search the trunk like that without a warrant? Just curious cause I've never heard that happen to anybody before, and it kinda sucks for it to have gone down that way.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    California
    Posts
    20,594

    Default Re: Open Alcohol Container (Inside Trunk)

    Quote Quoting kelpjuice
    View Post
    Thanks for the info cdwjava. In your opinion, did the policeman have the right to search the trunk like that without a warrant? Just curious cause I've never heard that happen to anybody before, and it kinda sucks for it to have gone down that way.
    I don't know what the officers saw or heard. But, if you were in the back seat of a vehicle, appeared to have been drinking (smell, behavior, etc.), then a search of the interior within reach of where you were sitting could be entirely appropriate.
    **********
    Retired Cal Cop Sergeant & Teacher

    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkM-gDcmJeM

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