California Court of Appeals, Second District, Sixth Division
JOHN J. SCHMIDT, Plaintiff and Respondent,
CALIFORNIA HIGHWAY PATROL, Defendant and Appellant.
Court County of Santa Barbara, No. 1385226, Thomas P.
D. Harris, Attorney General, Chris A. Knudsen, Senior
Assistant Attorney General, Kenneth C. Jones, Supervising
Deputy Attorney General, and Nancy G. James, Deputy Attorney
General, for Defendant and Appellant.
Office of Robin L. Unander and Robin L. Unander; Law Offices
of William C. Makler, P.C., and William C. Makler for
Plaintiff and Respondent.
Code section 849.5 provides that if a person is arrested and
released and no accusatory pleading is filed, the arrest
shall be deemed a detention only. Section
851.6, subdivision (b) provides that the arresting law
enforcement agency shall issue the person a certificate
describing the action as a detention. Subdivision (d) of the
section provides that the official criminal records shall
delete any reference to an arrest and refer to the action as
a detention. The California Highway Patrol (CHP) does not
comply with sections 849.5 and 851.6.
Schmidt brought a class action against the CHP for a writ of
mandate to compel the CHP to comply. The trial court
certified the class and granted Schmidt’s writ
petition. The court also awarded Schmidt attorney fees
pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 1021.5, the
private attorney general statute. We affirm.
1, 2011, Schmidt was arrested by the CHP for driving under
the influence. He was booked into the Santa Barbara County
jail and released later that day on his own recognizance.
Schmidt signed a notice to appear in court.
sent Schmidt’s arrest report to the Santa Barbara
County District Attorney’s Office. The district
attorney reviewed the referral and decided not to file
charges “at this time.”
did not provide Schmidt with a certificate describing his
arrest as a detention. (§ 851.6, subd. (b).) Nor did the
CHP report the arrest as a detention to the Department of
brought this action against the CHP on behalf of himself and
all persons similarly situated. The action sought a writ of
mandate to compel the CHP to comply with sections 849.5 and
851.6, subdivision (b).
the CHP’s objection, the trial court certified the
class as follows: “‘Any and all individuals who
were arrested by the California Highway Patrol in Santa
Barbara County and taken into custody and booked between June
1, 2009 and the present, who were released from custody, who
did not have an accusatory pleading related to the arrest
filed against them in the Santa Barbara County Superior
Court, who did not receive a certificate of detention from
the California Highway Patrol, and who did not receive a
disposition noting the action was a detention only on their
criminal records maintained by the California Highway Patrol
and the California Department of Justice.’”
moved for summary judgment. The trial court denied the motion
and the matter proceeded to a court trial.
testified that he was arrested for a driving under the
influence offense. Schmidt was taken to jail and released the
next day. He was not prosecuted; he was not given notice that
his arrest be considered a detention; and his criminal
history was not updated.
Barbara Senior Deputy District Attorney Lee Carter testified
that he is the filing deputy for his office. He determines
whether a case should be filed. He said that neither he nor
anyone acting on behalf of his office filed an
“accusatory pleading” against Schmidt.
Segura testified that she has been the records supervisor for
the Santa Barbara Police Department for 16 years. She
testified to her office’s procedure when the police
department refers a case to the district attorney and the
district attorney’s office sends notice to the police
department that the case has been rejected.
We apply our local procedure which is to update our files to
indicate that the arrest is now considered a detention.
It’s no longer considered an arrest. So we do update
our files to reflect that information. We also prepare the
detention certificate to send to the person that was
counsel:] How do you describe, please, how you reflect the
event as a detention?
In our local records management system, we have a module for
arrest. We update the module for arrest with the status of
detention only. We also stamp any paper arrest with the
testified that this policy is consistent with the industry
trial court found Segura’s testimony persuasive and
stated that Schmidt should have been issued a certificate of
detention by the CHP.
trial court determined that the term “released”
in sections 849.5 and 851.6 means released from custody,
which may include a notice to appear in court. The term
“accusatory pleading” may include a notice to
appear, but only when filed with the court. The term
“filed” means filed with the court, not the