public nuisance law california

By authority, police can respond to only immediate violations of criminal statutes; thus, they have little power to prevent the circumstances that cause ongoing criminal behavior on these premises. More narrowly construed, well-defined, and targeted ordinances have replaced generic antigang and antidrug loitering ordinances, and they have been more likely to withstand judicial review (Strosnider, 2002). In its revised antigang loitering strategy, the City of Chicago defined the prohibited activity and the geographic boundaries of the ordinance’s reach more narrowly. Similarly, place-based interventions, such as closing houses of gambling or prostitution, can reduce social disorder and the presence of criminally inclined nonresidents in a neighborhood, thus promoting community safety and returning control to law-abiding residents (Cheh, 1998). In particular, the Court declared that the Fourteenth Amendment’s right to travel and to move from one place to another supported “liberty” (City of Chicago v. Morales, 1999). Drug abatement initiatives have varied in terms of their emphasis on civil remedies and criminal sanctions. In Gallo v. Acuna, the court also ruled that the authority to determine which acts constitute public or private nuisances should rest with the legislature rather than with the courts. In short, drug and gang abatement programs appear to be cost-effective strategies to prevent continued drug sales on private properties and gang activities in public places. Gang property abatements are an innovative but underused strategy in law enforcement’s armamentarium of antigang/antidrug efforts. Civil remedies also can target both criminal enterprises and individual criminals. 370. A conviction is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in county jail. Observations of gang activities were performed within Verdugo Flats and adjacent areas (to test for displacement effects) and within nonequivalent comparison areas (to enhance the internal validity of the research design). The evaluation also revealed that the planning and effectuation of abatement strategies is complicated, time-consuming, and costly (Allen, 2002). Most important, the issuance of warning letters and consequent property owner actions precluded the filing of civil suits in 95 percent of cases (Davis & Lurigio, 1998). California Penal Code Section 372 and 373a: Public Nuisance. Public nuisances were initially defined as offenses against “the crown.” The first public nuisance statute was enacted in the 12th year of Richard II’s reign in England. Anything which is injurious to health, or is indecent, or offensive to the senses, or an obstruction to the free use of property, so as to interfere with the comfortable enjoyment of life or property by an entire community or neighborhood, or by any … Behavior that obstructs the “free use” of property and interferes with the “comfortable enjoyment of life or property” is also a nuisance. The research also addressed plausible rival explanations for pre–post differences in crime (e.g., changes in employment rates in both types of communities). The underlying rationale of the Gang Loitering Ordinance postulates that loitering helps gang members secure territory in order to promote their gang identity and illicit businesses (e.g., drug sales). Individuals may face PC 372 charges if they: Maintain a Public Nuisance; Commit a Public Nuisance; Willfully Refuse to Carry Out a Legal Duty to Remove a Public Nuisance; As you can see, this charge can apply in a large number of different circumstances. Thus, Anything which is injurious to health, or is indecent, or offensive to the senses, or an obstruction … . For example, in Leal v. the Town of Cicero (2000), an ordinance prohibiting any person from “obstruct(ing) or encumber(ing) any street corner or other public place . (Often, though, public nuisance laws allow individuals who are harmed in a manner that is different from the harm suffered by the public at large to sue for damages.) 29 likes. Nuisance Law. Such rulings can also hold defendants criminally liable for actions that are inherently noncriminal. A legal professional can go over your unique situation. A public nuisance is an unreasonable interference with the public's right to property. For example, antiloitering ordinances have been found to be too vague in their proscriptions, too broad in their scope, and too nebulous in their targeting of residents. All criminal activities of the gang at these locations are documented as evidence for the abatement process. A study of a drug abatement program in San Diego found that abatement activities (i.e., warning letters with threats to shutter properties) and police officer meetings with property owners reduced drug sales. What Do You Need To Know If Arrested For A Crime In California? whenever a police officer observes a person whom he reasonably believes to be a criminal street gang member loitering in any public place with one or more other persons, he shall order all such persons to disperse and remove themselves from the area. The Superior Court (lower court) granted the City of San Jose civil injunctions against 38 individual gang defendants under California’s Code of Civil Procedure and Civil Code, which contains the state’s public nuisance statutes. In California, the law defines a “nuisance” as “anything which is injurious to health, …indecent or offensive to the senses, or an obstruction to the free use of property, so as to interfere with the comfortable enjoyment of life or property, or [which] unlawfully obstructs the free passage or use…of any navigable [waterway]…or any public park, square, street, or highway.” (California Civil Code Section 3479) Civil abatement involves the use of non-criminal remedies to address crime and public disorder in communities. In Irwindale, California, the city council has determined that the … California Law >> >> Code Section Group Code Section Group. The penal and civil codes in California overlap in certain provisions dealing with public nuisances. . In this case, a street gang was allegedly “terrorizing” a neighborhood in San Jose, California through criminal activity on public streets, including drug use, violence, and shootings. Through the application of administrative codes and civil ordinances, civil abatement attempts are made to suppress or eliminate criminal activity and other types of disorderly conduct, known as incivilities or public nuisances (Mazerolle & Roehl, 1998). The growth of civil remedies can be attributed to three factors (Mazerolle & Roehl, 1998). Perhaps not surprisingly, each of these cases arose in the state of California, and have a California Labor Code class action component as well. A significant number of persons must be affected for an irritation to be legally viewed as a public nuisance. . The Public Nuisance Ordinance (PNO), Ordinance # 12550 C.M.S., was adopted by the Oakland City Council on November 4, 2003. Indeed, civil abatement ordinances extend criminal responsibility or civil fault beyond the actual perpetrators of crimes that occur on the premises over which non-perpetrators (i.e., non-offending third parties) have ownership or authority (Mazerolle & Roehl, 1998). This means that leaving a public nuisance unaddressed can quickly increase the penalties for a conviction. You can start constructing your defense with a FREE consultation. In 2000, Chicago officials supplemented the Gang Congregation Ordinance with a targeted “hot spot” law, which restricted the court-identified right to loiter within a more narrowly defined geographic area where gang members were prohibited (Alderden, 2012). Nuisance abatement programs to reduce drug selling on private properties have resulted in modest successes in terms of enlisting property owners’ cooperation in evicting dealers from apartment buildings and appear to be effective with only an issuance of warning letters to landlords. California law defines a nuisance as activity that injures health, including selling illegal drugs, indecent behavior or behavior offending the senses. For example, as a primary outcome variable, the crime data analyzed in these studies have consisted largely of reported crimes, which reflect only some fraction of the number of crimes that actually occur in a community. . The California Supreme Court eventually reinstated two of the invalidated provisions. For example, the presence of a “nuisance” can be ascertained through residents’ reports or through the formal actions of police officers and prosecutors. Hence, by curtailing their ability to occupy public lands, gang members lose their control over neighborhoods, which reduces their power and sphere of criminal influence (Gang Congregation Ordinance, 1992). Visible signs of public drug sales and physical decay as well as outdoor drinking and other signs of social disorder decreased on the targeted blocks only (Mazerolle, Roehl, & Kadleck, 1998). § 240.45 Criminal nuisance in the second degree. requirements of public nuisance in California and highlights the ways California courts have provided a more expansive interpretation of the tort's boundaries than other jurisdictions that have addressed this issue. 2d Torts). Such remedies can hold accountable nonperpetrators of criminal activities, such as property and business owners, if those activities occur on the premises of the buildings or establishments that they are responsible for managing. Still in others, SWAT teams storm and shutter buildings, which can result in property abandonment, vandalism, and long-term removal from the housing market (Smith et al., 1992). Even in California, courts have stated that nuisance law can be described as an impenetrable jungle, incapable of any exact or comprehensive definition. The court stated, “In a sense that cannot easily be dismissed, the availability of equitable relief to counter public nuisances is an expression of the interest of the public in the quality of life and the total community environment” (see Busch v. Projection Room Theatre, 1976). Many of these statutes were based on “bawdy laws” that had remained unused for decades and never enforced to combat illicit alcohol or drug sales, as their original intention was mostly to interrupt the sex trade (on the streets and in the brothels). [a]cts or conduct, which qualify as [14 Cal. The term public nuisance covers a wide variety of minor crimes that threaten the health, morals, safety, comfort, convenience, or welfare of a community. Gallo v. Acuna is one of the best examples of an anti-gang injunction. California Civil Code 3480 (“A public nuisance is one which affects at the same time an entire community or neighborhood, or any considerable number of persons, although the extent of the annoyance or damage inflicted upon individuals may be unequal.”) 3491. Gang loitering was defined in the code as “remaining in any one place under circumstances that would warrant a reasonable person to believe that the purpose or effect of that behavior is to enable a criminal street gang to establish control over identifiable areas, to intimidate others from entering those areas, or to conceal illegal activities” (Chicago Municipal Code §8-4-015). A conviction for either charge can lead to the same penalties, which can include: You should also be aware that individuals can face an additional charge under PC 372 or 373a for each day that they do not remove the public nuisance. The Attorney General may proceed in equity on behalf of the public to abate the nuisance . The PNO established an administrative process and penalty structure to address “nuisance” properties, as well as a Case Manager to help coordinate and direct resources to resolve the cases. A wrong arising from the unreasonable, improper, indecent, or unlawful use of property to the annoyance or damage of another, or the general public. Ii, 1389, ch. The Supreme Court considered the constitutionality of Chicago’s gang-loitering ordinance in the 1999 case of Chicago v. Morales. In turn, liquor authorities rely on the police to effectuate license suspensions or closures for liquor-law or other code violations, which are common civil enforcement tools (Buerger, 2011: Smith & Mazerolle, 2013). In most states, a public nuisance is “an unreasonable interference with a right common to the general public.” This definition is often broken down into four elements: (1) the defendant’s affirmative conduct caused (2) an unreasonable interference (3) with … The notion that a public nuisance interfered with common rights is evident in this historic statute (The Stat. An example of the latter is demolishing, sealing, or refurbishing a building that is the site of drug sales and use as well as other illicit activities, thereby altering the physical environment to change the behavior of criminal aspirants (Mazerolle & Roehl, 1998). Unlike criminal cases, the burden of proof in civil proceedings is a preponderance of evidence (i.e., more likely than not). Within the gang injunction areas, surveys found pre–post implementation reductions in residents’ reports of gang presence, gang intimation, and fear of confrontations with gang members (Maxson, Hennigan, & Sloane, 2005). The court’s opinion legitimized the exercise of equitable relief to control public nuisances and expanded the concept of “criminal equity” to include the abatement of public nuisances. Nonetheless, as exemplified in the Chicago v. Morales case, such ordinances may fail to pass Constitutional muster. . remaining in any one place under circumstances that would warrant a reasonable person to believe that the purpose or effect of that behavior is to facilitate the distribution of substances in violation of the Cannabis Control Act or the Illinois Controlled Substances Act” (Chicago Code 8-4-017(c)(1)). Project TOUGH (Taking Out Urban Gang Headquarters) is one example of a property abatement program, which was designed to curtail gang and drug-selling activity in Los Angeles, California (Cristall & Forman-Echols, 2009). They can be geared specifically toward reducing or eliminating particular instances of criminal activity and disorder or toward achieving more general crime prevention goals by changing the conditions of properties and the characteristics of environments that are considered “high-risk” places in which crime or criminal opportunities are concentrated (Clarke & Eck, 2005; Smith & Mazerolle, 2013). Civil remedies typically have a broader reach than law enforcement strategies. Acuna, the California Supreme Court considered both criminal and civil law (or equity) in its analysis of a public nuisance injunction. Constitutional Amendment XIV, §1). Liquor control ordinances, which have been enforced in numerous municipalities throughout the United States, are among the oldest and most notable examples of the use of civil regulations to address criminal activity and to prevent social harm (Buerger, 2011). Abatement. The Annapolis ordinance was invalidated for lacking a mens rea requirement (i.e., a culpable state of mind) and for being vague. As a component of the lawsuit, gang member defendants are legally prohibited from returning to the property. Handling public nuisance charges on your own can be difficult. Public Nuisances CIVIL CODE SECTION 3490-3496 3490. Both PC 372 and PC 373s are prosecuted as misdemeanors in the state of California. By bringing suit, the plaintiff usually seeks to control or limit the use of the land owned by the defendant. Free Case EvaluationEasy. Named as defendants in the cases are the property owners who are legally responsible for abating the nuisance at the property and the gang members who have appropriated the properties as their safe haven or base for criminal activities. . Using a pretest–posttest design, the effects of several antigang injunction programs in Los Angeles, California were examined by comparing crime statistics from the programs’ target areas with those from noninjunction communities (nonequivalent comparison neighborhoods), one year before and one year after the injunction program was launched. The new antigang ordinance targeted gang activity or drug dealing in these hot spots. The Court of Appeals heard the case and invalidated 15 of the 24 provisions, upholding only those that enjoined acts under the penal code, which effectively limited the scope of allowable injunctive relief to conduct that would otherwise be defined as criminal (Gallo v. Acuna, 1997). Furthermore, the court found that the ordinance was overly broad in its coverage of lawful activities protected under the Constitution (NAACP Anne Arundel County Branch et al. Printed from Oxford Research Encyclopedias, Criminology and Criminal Justice. Therefore, criminalizing otherwise legal behaviors that subsequently foster crimes is a means to reduce or prevent future criminal activities. .” (Ward v. Rock Against Racism, 1989 as cited in Laven, 2004). Such rulings can affect non-perpetrators (business or property owners or managers) even if they have had no extant knowledge, direct involvement, or intentions related to the criminal or disorderly activity (Cheh, 1998). Results indicated that crimes (felonies and misdemeanors) and calls for service all decreased within the gang injunction sites but not within the control sites where serious crimes increased slightly. A large-scale, 25-site study of gang injunction programs explored the effects of such initiatives on three major outcomes: serious crimes (felonies), minor crimes (misdemeanors), and calls for police services. 3493. Employing a retrospective, quasi-experimental design in a variety of sites across Los Angeles County, the study compared before and after data that were collected within and between injunction and comparison areas; the latter were selected to match gang-injunction sites in terms of levels of gang activity, proximity to targeted gang territories, and comparability of targeted and nontargeted sites on environmental characteristics. The uses of civil remedies to curtail or eradicate gang and drug activities have been challenged in the courts. Common to such programs is a mechanism to compel property owners by law and court order to remove from the premises tenants (or their visitors) who sell illicit drugs on these private properties. 2010 California Code Civil Code Title 2. A criminal prosecution is inadequate in such case, because it does not prevent the doing of the unlawful act (see Armory Park v. Episcopal Community Services, 1985). Civ. The inducements to conscript non-state actors in abatement activities are sometimes referred to as legal levers (Buerger & Mazerolle, 1998). Under most public nuisance laws, on the other hand, individuals cannot seek to stop the activity, unless an exception under state or local law applies. Note that a PC 373a charge can only apply after: PC 373a charges can apply if an individual receives this notice for and: PC 373a charges can only be used after an individual is given a written notice dealing with the public nuisance that is considered a problem by others. The Court held that the Chicago ordinance neither provided adequate notice of the prohibited conduct nor set minimal guidelines for police officers to enforce the ordinance. In California, the nature of the dangerous condition (and whether it would qualify as an “attractive nuisance” in another jurisdiction) and the legal status of the person on the owner’s property are just two factors the court examines when determining what “reasonable” steps the property owner needed to take in the situation. Specifically, police can arrest individuals for committing a crime in a bar, but they have little power to close down a drinking establishment when patrons engage in continued criminal activity or disorderly conduct on or near the premises. Similarly, while the First Amendment safeguards freedom of expression, laws to regulate the time, place, or manner of protected speech are allowable if they are “narrowly tailored to serve the government’s legitimate . This is not so in the case of particular civil abatement ordinances, which are analogous to strict liability laws in which mental state or intent is unnecessary to find fault or guilt. In the Loyola study, however, residents on abatement blocks were no more likely than residents on non-abatement blocks to report reductions in drug sales, crimes, or disorderly behaviors. whether it be a criminal nuisance or not is wholly immaterial. A defendant may also be required to remove a nuisance or to pay the costs of removal. The program used notification and warning letters instructing landlords to evict drug-selling tenets from targeted buildings; the landlords were threatened with subsequent court action for failing to instigate eviction procedures. Civil remedies are diverse and applicable to various stages of the criminal justice process. . For gang members, the occupation of these properties promotes their identity and survival. By referencing People v. Lim (1941), Gallo v. Acuna (1997) argued that the legislature may identify an act as a crime and the repetition of that act as a public nuisance, affording the courts equity to abate noisome activity by injunction. Civil abatement ordinances hold property owners and building managers legally accountable for failing to do so (Eck & Wartell, 1998). An example of the former is discouraging youth from gathering on street corners, thereby reducing the chances for social interactions to spawn criminal pursuits. Civil remedies also vary on several dimensions, including their purposes (e.g., prevention or control), focal points (e.g., people or places), targets (e.g., gang members or property or business owners [third parties]), primary problems (e.g., crimes or incivilities), statutory basis (e.g., ordinances, laws, or codes), and sanctions (e.g., fines, evictions, or property seizures) (Mazerolle & Roehl, 1998). The courts also have upheld the broad language of civil abatement statutes that define public nuisances in terms of various criminal activities, people, and circumstances (Gallo v. Acuna, 1997). v. City of Annapolis, 2001). Furthermore, abatement areas can vary from housing developments, several square blocks, or entire cities, and gangs differ on their degree of territoriality, rendering comparisons among such studies challenging and misleading (Maxson, Hennigan, & Sloane, 2005; O’Deane, 2012). Go over the legal applications of public nuisance charges and the effects of a conviction today with the Simmrin Law Group. What Is California’s Castle Doctrine (Stand Your Ground)? Signs of social disorder, such as gambling, public drinking, loud gatherings, loitering, and other common nuisance activities are also endemic to gang-dominated places. In these situations, you may be able to avoid a conviction under PC 372 or PC 373a if you have the help of a legal professional on your side. Under California law, a public nuisance is defined as a nuisance which affects at the same time an entire community or neighborhood, or any considerable number of persons, although the extent of the annoyance or damage inflicted upon individuals may be unequal. In other words, any conditions that affect occupants’ comfort, health, convenience, or “quiet enjoyment” can be considered private nuisances, the presence of which could form the basis for civil cases (Cadwalader, Wikersham, & Taft, 1993). For example, antigang and antidrug ordinances are designed to alter situations or environments that provide opportunities for criminal activities. In Gallo v. By bringing petitions to the civil courts, injunctions can be issued against the agents of public nuisances, such as known gang members who threaten the public by loitering on the streets or drug sellers who operate clandestinely from apartment buildings or drinking establishments. The use of civil remedies to address crime and disorder is grounded in several criminology theories, such as opportunity reduction theory and situational crime prevention. Under special circumstances, civil or administrative laws may prohibit noncriminal activity. Termed third-party policing, the enlistment of private citizens (non-state actors) to contribute to law enforcement and crime prevention efforts is an essential element of civil abatement. The landlord may base the eviction off a 3 day notice to quit, without any opportunity to cure. Note that this nuisance must also conflict with the enjoyment of life of a(n): Therefore, a nuisance that only annoys one or two people might not meet the standards to be considered a public nuisance. . In general, a culpable state of mind (mens rea) must be established to ascribe blame to an individual for the planning or commission of a crime. Quick. You could not be signed in, please check and try again. 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