APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of Placer County, Charles D. Wachob, Judge. Reversed with directions. (Super. Ct. No. 62-077532).
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Nicholson, J.
CERTIFIED FOR PARTIAL PUBLICATION*fn1
Defendant Urberto Dotson, a convicted felon, was found to be in possession of a firearm, ammunition, and methamphetamine when he was stopped in his vehicle by a peace officer. Defendant was also under the influence of a controlled substance at the time of the stop. After he was arrested and released on bail or his own recognizance, defendant committed a criminal offense in Sacramento County.
Convicted by jury of several crimes and sentenced to state prison, defendant appeals. He contends that (1) the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress the evidence obtained as a result of the vehicle stop and (2) the applicable statutes of limitations had run before the prosecution was commenced. We conclude that the trial court properly denied the motion to suppress. However, because we cannot tell from the record whether the prosecution was commenced within applicable limitations periods for the crimes, we must reverse and remand to the trial court for that determination.
The district attorney filed an information charging defendant with six counts: count one, transportation of a controlled substance (Health & Saf. Code, § 11379, subd. (a)), with an allegation that he was personally armed with a firearm (Pen. Code, § 12022, subd. (c)); count two, possession of a controlled substance (Health & Saf. Code, § 11377, subd. (a)); count three, possession of a firearm by a felon (Pen. Code, § 12021, subd. (a)(1)); count four, possession of ammunition by a felon (Pen. Code, § 12316, subd. (b)(1)); count five, being under the influence of a controlled substance while in possession of a firearm (Health & Saf. Code, § 11550, subd. (e)); and count six, being under the influence of a controlled substance, a misdemeanor (Health & Saf. Code, § 11550, subd. (a)). The information also alleged that defendant committed an offense while released on bail or his own recognizance in this case. (Pen. Code, § 12022.1, subd. (b).)
After the trial court denied defendant's suppression motion, a jury convicted defendant on counts three through six and found that he committed offenses while released on bail or his own recognizance. The jury was unable to reach verdicts on counts one and two.
At the time of his sentencing in this case, defendant was already serving time (six years) for the offense he committed in Sacramento County while he was released on bail or his own recognizance in this case. The trial court added two years eight months to that sentence for the crimes committed in this case, which included a consecutive eight months (one-third the middle term) for possession of a firearm by a felon (count three), a concurrent eight months (one-third the middle term) each for possession of ammunition by a felon (count four) and being under the influence of a controlled substance while in possession of a firearm (count five), a concurrent 180 days for being under the influence of a controlled substance (count six), and a consecutive two years for committing an offense while released on bail or his own recognizance. The total state prison term for the two cases was eight years eight months.
A. Law Concerning Vehicle Stops
"In ruling on a motion to suppress, the trial court finds the historical facts, then determines whether the applicable rule of law has been violated." (People v. Hernandez (2008) 45 Cal.4th 295, 298 (Hernandez).) When we review the trial court's resolution of the motion to suppress, we "defer to the trial court's factual findings, express or implied, where supported by substantial evidence." (People v. Glaser (1995) 11 Cal.4th 354, 362.) However, we exercise our independent judgment in determining whether the search or seizure was reasonable under the Fourth Amendment. (Ibid.)
The Fourth Amendment protects against unreasonable searches and seizures. (U.S. Const., 4th Amend.; Terry v. Ohio (1968) 392 U.S. 1, 20 [20 L.Ed.2d 889, 905].) "A detention is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment when the detaining officer can point to specific articulable facts that, considered in light of the totality of the circumstances, provide some objective manifestation that the person detained may be involved in criminal activity." (People v. Souza (1994) 9 Cal.4th 224, 231.) Traffic stops are investigatory detentions for which the officer must be able to articulate specific facts justifying the suspicion that a law is being violated. (People v. Wells (2006) 38 Cal.4th 1078, 1082- 1083.) An officer may make an investigatory stop if there is a reasonable suspicion that vehicle registration laws have been violated. (See Hernandez, supra, 45 Cal.4th at pp. 300-301; People v. Saunders (2006) 38 Cal.4th 1129, 1136 (Saunders).)
"When two license plates are issued by the department for use upon a vehicle, they shall be attached to the vehicle for which they were issued, one in the front and the other in the rear." (Veh. Code, § 5200, subd. (a).) A vehicle is being operated legally despite missing license plates if a valid temporary operating permit is correctly displayed. (Veh. Code, §§ 4156, 5202.) The Vehicle Code does not explicitly provide for the placement of the temporary operating permit; however, it generally allows drivers to affix signs, stickers, and other materials in specified parts of the windshield or rear window. (Veh. Code, § 26708, subd. (b)(3).) The question for us is not whether the ...