Courts Set Up “Stings” to Snare DUI Defendants
Court sting operations are carried out by law enforcement in cooperation with the courts and district attorneys.
The simplest form of a Court Sting involves some Judges whose practice it is to have their bailiff follow a person out of the courtroom after a routine court appearance such as an arraignment or pre-trial conference once they determine the person has a suspended license. The bailiff will then observe a person attempting to leave the courthouse parking lot driving a vehicle, stop them and give them a citation. This practice is disconcerting for a number of reasons. First and foremost, citizens are ordered to personally appear in court despite no legal requirement to make a personal appearance on a misdemeanor. (Penal Code section 977) The vast majority of DUI’s are misdemeanors. When you couple this with the fact that public transportation is not always available nor convenient in California; and the fact that a warrant shall be issued for a failure to appear per court order, the practice by the Court of conducting its own sting operations under these circumstances is questionable.
Law Enforcement Court Stings
The more common and more sophisticated sting operation is conducted by law enforcement. In this instance a representative from the law enforcement agency will work with the District Attorneys Office and by using Court Records, the California Law Enforcement Tracking System (CLETS); and DMV records, officers will determine who is going to be in Court on a particular date and whether their license is suspended. Once they have determined a person is scheduled to be in Court whose license is suspended they will stake-out the Courthouse and seek to cite or arrest the person and in many cases impound the persons vehicle. In most instances the officers will plan a particular date typically a busy DUI arraignment calendar and conduct a sweep outside that courthouse.
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