Law Offices of Erik Steven Johnson

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San Jose drug crimes defense attorneyAlthough recreational marijuana use is now legal in several states across the country, many other drugs are still considered illegal. These can include narcotics such as heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, opioids, and more. A drug offense involving these prohibited substances can encompass many different actions. For example, an offender can possess or distribute a controlled substance. 

Being accused of any drug crime is a serious allegation that carries stiff penalties in California. Depending on the drug and the allegations, charges are categorized as either a misdemeanor or a felony. If a person is convicted of a drug crime, he or she may face costly fines, prison time, and a permanent criminal record. That is why it is important to understand the laws to avoid unintentionally breaking them.

Federal Drug Laws

The United States’ Controlled Substances Act (CSA) established the federal drug policy under which the manufacture, importation, possession, use, and distribution of specific controlled substances are regulated. The CSA places those substances that are regulated under existing federal law into one of five “schedules,” based on the substance’s medical use, potential for abuse, and dependence or safety liability. Examples of drugs from each schedule include:

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San Jose criminal defense attorneyThe term “white collar crime” encompasses a wide variety of criminal acts. Some of these offenses can include financial fraud. Embezzlement refers to withholding assets for the purpose of conversion by one or more persons to whom the assets were entrusted. As a form of employee theft, embezzlement applies to any unlawful taking of entrusted property according to California Penal Code. Classified as a felony in California, this crime can affect your personal and professional life. Depending on the circumstances, punishments may include costly fines in addition to prison time. Therefore, if you or someone you know is accused of embezzlement, hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney can help you clear your record.    

What Acts Constitute Embezzlement?

The actions or behaviors that constitute embezzlement can be somewhat confusing. An example of embezzlement would be a cashier at a retail store or a bank who takes cash out of his or her money drawer and pockets it for his or her own use. Similarly, a financial advisor takes some of his or her client’s investment money and uses it to pay off a debt. In other scenarios, a company president may write himself or herself a check out of the business bank account.   

To convict someone of embezzlement, the prosecution must be able to prove all of the following components:

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San Jose expungement lawyersSometimes, people make poor choices or use bad judgment, which can result in criminal charges and potential convictions. In other cases, individuals may have simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time and suffered because of another party’s wrongdoing. A guilty verdict or plea places a negative mark on a person’s record, which can affect his or her future. For example, he or she can have trouble seeking employment or applying for a mortgage loan. 

However, past mistakes should not affect the rest of their life. In California, like in other states, a person may be able to “clear” their record through expungement. This legal procedure does not erase a criminal record, but it essentially sets it aside. That means if a person is interviewing for a job and the prospective employer performs a background check, his or her prior criminal conviction will not show up. Therefore, expunging a record can significantly enhance a person’s future opportunities. 

California Offenses That Can Be Expunged

It is important to note that not all criminal convictions in California can be expunged. Certain misdemeanors and some felonies are eligible for expungement. According to the California Penal Code, offenders may qualify for expungement if they: 

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San Jose DUI defense attorneyDriving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol has been proven to impair a driver’s ability to safely operate a vehicle. Studies show that many car accidents are caused by drunk driving, often resulting in serious to fatal injuries. That is why any motorist who does so can face stiff criminal penalties if caught and convicted. In California, a DUI may result in loss of driving privileges, steep fines, or even prison time. Depending on the circumstances of their arrest, some offenders may be mandated to install an ignition interlock device (IID) in their vehicle.  

How Does an IID Work? 

When an ignition interlock device is installed on a vehicle, it measures a driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) and disables the vehicle’s ignition if a certain amount of alcohol is detected on his or her breath. They are similar to breathalyzer tests, but they control whether or not a car can be started. The majority of IIDs will alert a driver when it is time to give another breath sample. If it detects alcohol, an alarm will go off or the horn will honk to prompt a motorist to stop and turn off the car. It is important to note that the device cannot automatically turn off a vehicle’s engine. 

California DUI Laws

If you are arrested for DUI in California, the penalties can vary depending on the circumstances. First offenders can face between four days to six months in jail; a fine up to $1,000, and a license suspension for up to six months.

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San Jose domestic violence attorneysPeople can make mistakes or bad judgment calls for various reasons. In some cases, young adults may think they are invincible, not pondering the consequences of their actions. In other instances, individuals may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol when they commit a criminal act. Impairment is not an excuse, but it can cause people to do things they would not normally do when they are sober. For example, hitting their spouse in a fit of rage can lead to domestic abuse charges, even if it only happened one time. An incident that occurred in the past should not hinder someone from moving on with their life, which may include divorce. If a couple signed a prenuptial agreement, will domestic violence allegations affect the terms of this legal document?   

Prenuptial Agreement Terms

A prenuptial agreement (prenup) is a legal contract that a couple may choose to sign before they get married. This type of legal document is not required, but many couples like to create one since it protects their interests in the event of divorce. For a prenup to be valid in California, the partners must draft the contract per California’s Uniform Premarital Agreement Act (UPAA), which outlines the rules and requirements for prenuptial agreements. A prenup typically describes how the following marital issues will be distributed if a couple legally ends their marriage: 

Domestic Abuse Charges and Spousal Support

California is a no-fault state, which means that one spouse does not have to prove the other spouse did anything wrong in order to legally dissolve their marriage. This statute also applies when determining the outcome of a divorce. Regardless of whether one spouse had a history of domestic violence, the court will distribute marital property according to the prenuptial agreement (if there is one in place) the same way as if there was no abuse. However, there is one exception to this rule in California, and it involves spousal support. 

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California DUI defense attorneysAlthough there have been national efforts in the past few decades to prevent drunk driving, it still occurs on our country’s roadways. Alcoholic beverages and controlled substances significantly impair a person’s ability to operate a motor vehicle safely. Studies have shown that driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol can be deadly. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2017, there were 3,602 fatalities on the state’s roads and 37 percent of those deaths were alcohol-related. 

Thousands of motorists are arrested for DUI every year in the state of California. However, some of these arrests are made erroneously due to faulty testing equipment or mistakes made by police. If you are a California driver, it is important to know the laws and your options regarding DUI in case you are ever charged with this crime.    

California Drunk Driving Laws 

In California, the legal limit is .08 percent blood alcohol content (BAC). The penalties for DUI in California vary depending on if it is a driver’s first offense or if he or she has had multiple convictions. For some, the punishments can involve fines, jail time, loss of driving privileges, or mandatory installation of an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in their vehicle.

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San Jose DUI defense attorneyThere is no question that drunk driving can be disastrous. Statistics show that alcohol-related crashes can cause serious injuries and even fatalities. That is why it is illegal to operate a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI) in the United States. In 49 out of 50 states, the legal limit for blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08. (Utah uses a 0.05 percent standard.) Anyone who is over that amount can be arrested for DUI. Many motorists believe that being charged with a DUI is not really that big of a deal. However, a DUI charge is very serious and the penalties can range from a misdemeanor to a felony depending on the circumstances. In California, offenders may face fines, probation, or imprisonment. But, does a DUI automatically mean your driver’s license will be taken away?   

Driving Privileges Under California Law

If you are stopped for suspicion of DUI and the police officer has probable cause to arrest you, it is important to understand your rights in regard to your driving privileges. The arresting officer must fill out an official police report and send a copy of the suspension or revocation form along with your confiscated driver’s license to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The DMV will then review the documents, in addition to any blood test results that may have been taken at the time of your arrest.

Referred to as Administrative Per Se (APS), this is an immediate administrative action taken against your driving privileges only. This is separate from any court-ordered prison sentence, fine, or other penalty enforced if you are convicted for DUI.

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San Jose criminal defense attorneyAccording to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), an average of 20 people are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States every minute. Domestic violence is defined as abuse or threatening abuse between individuals who are or have been in an intimate relationship. This can include married or domestic partners, boyfriends and girlfriends (current or former), a couple who live (or lived) together, or people who have a child together. The victim and the abuser could also be related by blood or by marriage. 

Abuse is not limited to just physical acts. It can also involve verbal, psychological, or emotional behaviors or acts that harm or threaten to harm a victim. It is essential to know what constitutes domestic violence and its penalties in case you are falsely accused of this serious crime.   

Forms of Domestic Abuse

Many people mistakenly think domestic abuse is only hitting a spouse. However, it can take various forms besides just a slap or a punch. Abuse may include kicking, shoving, pulling hair, throwing objects, following, or restraining another person. It can even involve physical abuse of family pets. Other actions that constitute domestic violence include:

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Santa Clara County DUI Defense AttorneysIt is that festive time of year with the Christmas and New Year’s holiday soon to be upon us. ‘Tis the season for work parties or get-togethers with friends and relatives. Many of these gatherings involve traveling but can also involve cocktails. If people are going to partake in alcoholic beverages, they should always appoint a designated driver who remains sober. However, if a person has one or two drinks, he or she might think it is OK to drive. Driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol impairs a driver’s ability to operate a vehicle safely. This impairment can cause a car crash, resulting in severe injuries or death.  

Know Your Limit

Many states have created drinking and driving prevention programs in an effort to reduce the number of car accidents caused by intoxicated drivers. Still, drunk driving is a leading cause of vehicle crashes that result in serious injuries and even fatalities. Reports from the California Highway Patrol (CHP) show there were 1,140 DUI arrests over the 2019 New Year holiday, and at least 36 people were killed in car accidents. 

Everyone’s tolerance for drinking alcoholic beverages is different depending on body type as well as the kind of alcohol. For example, the percentage of grain alcohol in beer or wine is typically less than what is found in hard liquor like vodka, gin, bourbon, or whiskey.  

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San Jose criminal defense attorneySome marriages may include one spouse who is a U.S. citizen while the other spouse is an immigrant. In some cases, the foreign national may only use the marriage as a means to enter the United States. Unfortunately, this fraudulent union can be a scam, intended to be a way of obtaining a green card and lawful permanent residence status. The foreign spouse may falsely accuse his or her new spouse of domestic abuse, which can lead to a divorce and serious consequences for the alleged abuser. It is important to note that an immigrant who entered the United States on a marriage-based visa can request special status, which would allow him or her to stay in the country even after a divorce or separation. This can be reason enough for him or her to make false claims of abuse in order to get a divorce. 

California Penalties for Domestic Abuse 

Under the California Penal Code, there are several different types of domestic violence. Abuse can be against an intimate partner, or a family or household member. The crimes are categorized differently, depending on the severity of the incident. Below are some of the punishments that can result from such criminal offenses:

  • Corporal injury: This crime can be a slight physical injury to a person and is a felony. The penalty can include up to one year in county jail and up to four years in state prison. 
  • Domestic battery: Inflicting force or violence on an intimate partner is domestic battery. This offense is classified as a misdemeanor. Punishment can include a fine up to $2,000, and/or up to one year in county jail. 
  • Stalking: Harassing or threatening another person to make him or her fear for his or her safety is considered stalking in California. This charge can be a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances. Misdemeanor stalking can result in up to one year in prison while a felony charge can result in three years of incarceration. 

False Accusations

Even if your foreign-born spouse is not a U.S. citizen, he or she is still entitled to certain rights. Some of these rights are similar to what a citizen would have, such as the right to a divorce, temporary restraining order, financial support, and child custody. An alleged victim can petition for legal status under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), apply to cancel deportation proceedings under VAWA, and petition for U-nonimmigrant status.

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San Jose domestic abuse defense lawyerAbuse is something that no one should have to experience. It can leave lasting damage, physically, mentally, and emotionally. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, approximately 24 people per minute are victims of physical violence, rape, or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States. That equates to more than 12 million men and women over a year’s time. The term “domestic abuse” sounds physical, but it actually encompasses a number of different things. In other words, if you have engaged in any of the following forms of abuse, you could face charges related to domestic abuse.

Different Forms of Abuse

There are various forms of abuse that can lead to criminal charges, even if no physical altercations occurred. Before understanding which actions can lead to charges, one should know the different types of abuse, aside from physical abuse, to identify toxic behavior:

  • Sexual Abuse - This form of abuse is often attributed to physical harm in a sexual manner, but there can be non-physical components. Aside from rape and forced sexual acts, this abuse can also include severe criticism or humiliation from a partner based on sexual performance. Tampering with birth control may also be considered sexual abuse.
  • Verbal/Emotional Abuse - Verbal abuse involves the use of words and phrases to control a partner. This may include threats or threats. This type of abuse can be equally harmful as physical abuse even though no physical harm is done. 
  • Psychological Abuse - This is similar to verbal abuse in that it often includes harmful words from one partner to another. Making a partner feel “crazy” is one of the common ways this form of abuse is done. It can undermine the individual’s sense of self and reality.

What Does California Law Say?

In California, there are four definitions for domestic violence, some of which do not require physical harm to occur at all. If you have done any of the following actions, you have subjected your partner to domestic violence:

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San Jose criminal defense lawyerDrunk driving is a problem throughout the country, and California is no exception. According to the most recent data provided by the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, California had 1,120 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities in 2017 and saw a 9.3% increase in alcohol-impaired driving fatalities from 2008 to 2017. Driving under the influence (DUI) is taken very seriously in California, and a recent death has prompted legislators to propose tighter restrictions on those who drive with alcohol in their system. 

Liam’s Law

On September 3, 2016, 15-month-old Liam Kowal died from traumatic brain injuries after being struck by a drunk driver. His death prompted his parents to advocate for tougher legislation on drunk drivers, including a stricter blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) standards for those on the road. Almost three years later, on February 22, 2019, California Assembly members Autumn Burke and Heath Flora proposed Assembly Bill 1713, also known as “Liam’s Law”.

If passed, the law will lower the BAC state tolerance level from 0.08 to 0.05. In other words, drivers may face DUI charges much sooner than before. This bill has resulted in different opinions from both sides. According to an ABC7 report, supporters claim that the restriction would reduce deaths by 11% yet many do not think that such a change is the right action to be taken to keep people safer on the roads. For most, this BAC reduction will put drivers over the legal limit after just two drinks.

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San Jose DUI Defense AttorneysDriving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol is illegal in all 50 states. In California, if a driver has a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more, he or she is considered impaired or under the influence. Penalties for DUI can carry serious consequences. If an individual is convicted of a DUI in California, the court may order completion of an Alcohol and Drug Education and Counseling program provided by a state-licensed service provider. The duration of the program depends on whether this is a motorist’s first or subsequent DUI offense within a 10-year period.

California DUI Classes

The California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs (ADP) licenses more than 400 DUI education program services across the state. The programs are designed to provide participants with the necessary tools to reflect on attitudes and behavior, promote positive lifestyle changes, and reduce or eliminate the use of alcohol and/or drugs altogether.

For eligibility in one of these programs, a person must be referred by either the court or the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The state of California offers different levels of DUI education programs to those drivers who are ordered to attend them. In some situations, classes can be as short as 12 hours for first-time offenders with low BACs or as high as 30 months for repeat offenders.

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San Jose domestic violence defense attorneyIn some divorce cases, the hostility between the spouses can become extreme and lead to domestic violence protective orders against one or both partners. In California, these protections (also referred to as restraining orders) are court orders that protect a person from being physically or sexually abused, stalked, harassed, or threatened.

Under California law, restraining orders can be requested for various reasons. Unfortunately, not all of them are legitimate. For example, a person may falsely accuse his or her spouse of domestic abuse out of anger or revenge. In other situations, a parent may want to prevent the other parent from seeing their children for personal reasons rather than safety-related concerns. However, it is possible for a protective order to be amended or dismissed entirely if the court finds it invalid or inappropriate. 

Who Is Entitled to Orders of Protection?

The relationships that are eligible for domestic violence restraining orders include:

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San Jose criminal defense lawyerDriving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol is illegal. California has some of the strictest DUI penalties in the United States. A first DUI offense can result in fines ranging from $390 to $1,000 along with driver’s license suspension. Offenders can spend days to months in jail, and they may also be ordered to do community service or attend a treatment program or DUI school. It is imperative to understand your rights if you are pulled over for drunk driving in the state of California. In addition, seeking assistance from a qualified and competent lawyer can increase your chances of possibly having the charges reduced or dropped altogether.

Steps to Take During a DUI Traffic Stop

Being pulled over by law enforcement can be scary, and although the initial reaction might be to panic, it is important that an individual remains calm throughout the traffic stop. Not complying with an officer’s order to exit the vehicle could result in a charge of resisting arrest. Another thing to note is that a person stopped for DUI can invoke his or her right to remain silent even if the police officer does not mention Miranda rights. 

It is also crucial to know the laws regarding drunk driving. Under California law, if someone is over 21, he or she does not need to submit to a field sobriety test during a DUI stop. California has an implied consent law, which means possessing a driver’s license indicates a driver has given his or her consent to submit to a chemical test in case the individual is arrested for driving under the influence. However, the motorist has the option of taking a breath or a blood test. Blood tests are typically more accurate than breath tests are. 

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San Jose domestic abuse defense attorneyAlmost everyone “goes online” these days for one reason or another. Sometimes it is to research a topic, or simply to peruse a friend’s or family member’s photos on social media sites. However, sometimes crimes can be committed over the Internet via electronic devices such as mobile phones or computers. Whether these crimes are intentional or unintentional, the consequences can be serious. Domestic violence is not limited to just crimes involving physical violence or assault; it includes a wide range of criminal acts. In California, several statutes address domestic violence crimes that are committed electronically. 

California Stalking Laws

Stalking, in its simplest form, is repeatedly following, harassing, and/or threatening another person with the intent to cause the other person to fear for his or her own safety. California stalking laws are considered some of the harshest and most inclusive in the country.

In recent years, the state’s stalking law has been broadened to include “cyberstalking.” When threats or harassment occur via the Internet, text messages, email, or any social media site, the defendant can be charged under the California Penal Code. A few examples of actions or behavior that can lead to stalking charges in California include:

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San Jose DUI defense lawyerDriving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol is illegal in all 50 states. In California, a driver can face charges for a DUI when he or she operates a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or if he or she has a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of 0.08 or higher. In addition, motorists who are minors can be charged with impaired driving with 0.01 or higher BAC levels.

Evidence collection in a DUI stop can begin even before a driver is pulled over. A police officer must have a valid reason for the stop, such as a traffic violation, which can include speeding or an illegal maneuver. The evidence collected and used in a DUI case can vary but usually involves observational, testimonial, and forensic evidence.

Observational, Testimonial, and Forensic Evidence

Not all evidence will hold up in a court of law. Mistakes can and do happen during the process, from the time of the initial stop and arrest all the way through to the court proceedings. Therefore, it is best to understand how evidence gathered at your DUI might not be admissible in court, such as for the following reasons: 

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San Jose domestic violence defense attorneyAn allegation of domestic violence should be taken very seriously. Domestic violence can consist of stalking, threatening, abandoning, damaging the property of or inflicting some kind of physical injury on another person. This type of charge can result in significant criminal penalties, plus it characterizes a person as an abuser, which can stay with him or her forever regardless if the accusations are false.

Even if a person is not convicted, just being accused of domestic violence can negatively impact someone’s personal as well as his or her professional life. If you live and work in California and are facing domestic violence charges, it is imperative you understand the consequences associated with this crime so you do not lose your job or professional license and therefore your livelihood.  

Professional Licensing

Mere allegations of domestic abuse can have significant consequences on someone’s career and professional license depending on the occupation. Some occupations that typically require professional licensing include:

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San Jose criminal defense attorneyIn the state of California, it is a crime to harm, or threaten to harm, an intimate partner, such as a current or former spouse; current or former cohabitant in a residence; a parent with whom the person has a child; or a partner in a romantic relationship. Common crimes of domestic violence include domestic battery and inflicting corporal injury on an intimate partner. This type of conviction can have a devastating impact on the rest of the accused person’s life, as well as penalties and jail time. However, innocent people can also be falsely accused of domestic violence. It is important to understand your rights according to California law in the event you are accused of such crimes.

Types of Domestic Violence

Under California Penal Code, domestic battery is defined as “willful and unlawful use of force or violence against the person of another.” Domestic violence also occurs when an individual's intentional acts lead to a “corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition” suffered by a person with whom the individual has a close relationship. In order to prove the accused is guilty of domestic violence as a misdemeanor according to California law, the state must prove the accused deliberately touched his or her partner in a harmful or offensive manner, the victim is the current or former roommate, or current or ex-spouse of the defendant, and the defendant had no right to self-defense, or defense of others, during the offensive or hurtful act to the victim.

Penalties for Domestic Violence

A conviction for domestic battery can lead to a fine of up to $2,000, up to one year in jail, or both. However, the state can also sentence the accused to probation and mandatory enrollment in counseling services. Depending on the degree of harm suffered by the victim of domestic violence, a battery conviction can also result in imprisonment of up to one year in jail or two to four years in a state prison plus a restraining order.

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San Francisco DUI defense attorneyIn the state of California, a driver who has been arrested for a DUI has 10 days to request a hearing with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to keep his or her driving privileges. A DMV hearing is an administrative proceeding involving the suspension of your driving privilege only. It is a completely separate matter from a criminal case for a DUI charge. If a motorist fails to request a hearing, his or her driver's license will be suspended. It is important to know you are not required to request a DMV hearing after a DUI arrest, so you may want to discuss the potential advantages with a skilled DUI lawyer.

Due Process

In California, due process of law entitles you to a notice if the DMV intends to revoke your driver’s license and gives you an opportunity to be heard. The DMV hearing focuses on the details of your arrest and your driving privileges. It does not decide your innocence or guilt of a criminal act. Some of the issues discussed at a DMV hearing include the following:

  • Whether or not you took a blood, breath, or urine test.
  • Did the police officer have reasonable cause to pull you over if he or she believed you were in violation of the law.
  • Was your placed under lawful arrest?
  • Were you operating a vehicle with a BAC of 0.08% or higher in your system?
  • Whether or not you refused or failed a blood, breath, or urine test.

These issues may seem fairly straightforward, but there could be factors that made your arrest unlawful or without probable cause. For example, the arresting officer could make a mistake in the police report or fail to note an important detail.

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