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Name: People v. Torres
Case #: G042010
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 09/21/2010

Where a defendant properly presents motions in the trial court to set aside the information (Pen. Code, § 995), and to suppress evidence (Pen. Code, § 1538.5), both motions may be reviewed simultaneously on appeal. Appellant was convicted of various drug offenses stemming from a search of his vehicle and the subsequent warrant search of his residence. Before the preliminary hearing, he filed a motion to quash and traverse the search warrant and suppress evidence, pursuant to Penal Code section 1538.5, subdivision (f), contending the traffic stop was pretextual, the impound and inventory search was a ruse, and the search warrant was tainted by the unlawful detention and vehicle search. After hearing evidence at the preliminary hearing, the court denied the motion. Appellant then filed a motion to set aside the information pursuant to Penal Code section 995 and renewed his motions to quash and suppress, pursuant to Penal Code section 1538.5, subdivision (i). Again the motions were denied and appellant pled guilty and was sentenced to state prison. Preliminarily, the appellate court rejected the People’s contention that appellant was entitled to review of the suppression motion only, the People noting that the 995 motion initially had been denied by the appellate court in a writ review. Because a defendant has two avenues to challenge a search in superior court, sections 995 and 1538.5, it follows that appellate review of the disposition of each motion is available. Upon denial of one or both motions, the accused is entitled to appellate review under section 1538.5, subdivision (m).
The reasonableness of an impound search is dependent on the impound and cannot be justified when motivated by an improper investigatory motive. The court then found that the initial traffic detention was lawful. The deputy testified that a narcotics officer had previously asked him to develop a basis for stopping appellant and when the officer saw appellant make an unsafe lane change and fail to signal a turn, he opted to stop him. The decision to stop an automobile is reasonable where there is probable cause to believe a traffic violation has occurred and the constitutional reasonableness does not depend on the actual motivations of the officer. However, because justification for an impound search is dependent on the community caretaking function, the officer’s subjective intent comes into play in determining the reasonableness of the search during an impound. Here, the “impound” search was unlawful because the impound was for an improper investigatory purpose (i.e., looking for drugs) and there was nothing in the record to justify it for community caretaking purposes. The vehicle was not isolated and at risk of vandalism, it was not blocking traffic, and there was no indication another person could not get the vehicle. The judgment was reversed.