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Governor Newsom Signs Law on Police Use of Force

August 29, 2019

The law was enacted in response to high profile police shootings across the state

Governor Newsom Signs Law on Police Use of Force

In 2018, Stephon Clark was shot and killed in his grandmother’s back yard by police officers in Sacramento. Police officers had chased him, and said that they believed he had a gun. He was found with only a cell phone. Prosecutors later announced that the officers responsible for his death would not face criminal charges.

The case sparked outrage, both nationally and across California. It has also led to a new law in California that aims to protect those suspected of crimes, along with all Californians. Governor Newsom signed the bill into law in August.

The law was introduced as Assembly Bill 392 (AB 392) by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, a Democrat from San Diego. It restricts the use of deadly force to situations where an officer reasonably believes, based on the totality of the circumstances, that deadly force is necessary (1) to defend against an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury to the officer or another person; (or (2) to apprehend a fleeing person for a felony that threatened or resulted in death or serious bodily injury, if the officer reasonably believes that the person will cause death or serious bodily injury to another unless the person is immediately apprehended.The law does not remove the right of police officers to use force to make arrests, prevent escape, or to overcome resistance. However, the use of force must be based on reasonable cause to believe that the person has committed a public offense — and the force used must be objectively reasonable.

The phrase “objectively reasonable” is important, according to a criminal defense attorney Los Angeles County, CA. Under current law, deadly force is justified if a reasonable officer would have acted similarly in the same situation based on their training. The new law — which goes into effect in January — will change the standard, evaluating it based on whether a reasonable officer in the same situation, based on the totality of the circumstances known or perceived at the time, would reasonably believe that use of force was necessary.

The heightened standard is important, as it will make all Californians safer, and will draw a bright line rule for when the police can use deadly force. For purposes of criminal cases, it may make it easier to argue that your constitutional rights were violated when the police arrested you. In that situation, your criminal defense attorney Los Angeles County, CA may be able to file a motion to have the fruits of the illegal arrest suppressed. This could lead to the evidence against you being kept out of court, and any charges being dismissed.

The new law is an important step towards protecting Californians from the use excessive force by law enforcement officers. It may also prevent police shootings. It is one of a number of new laws designed to overhaul California’s criminal justice system and provide greater protections for individuals accused of crimes. If you have been charged with a criminal offense in California, the Chambers Law Firm is here for you. We represent clients who have been charged with a range of offenses. Contact us today at 855-397-0210 or dchambers@clfca.com to schedule a free initial consultation.

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