Schmidt v. Cal. Highway PatrolAnnotate this Case
Penal 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. Plaintiff filed a class action against the CHP, seeking a writ of mandate to compel the CHP to comply with sections 849.5 and 851.6. The trial court certified the class, awarded the writ petition, and awarded attorney fees pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 1021.5, the private attorney general statute. The court concluded that plaintiff was entitled to have his arrest deemed a detention under section 849.5, entitled to a certificate from the CHP describing the action as a detention under section 851.6, subd. (b); and entitled to have his arrest deleted from the records of the CHP and the Department of Justice and have any such record refer to it as a detention under 851.6, subd. (d). The court also concluded that the trial court did not err in certifying the class where the class is ascertainable; there is sufficient evidence of numerous persons in the class; the evidence is sufficient to support a finding that a community of interest exists; and plaintiff's claims are typical of the class. Finally, the court concluded that the writ of mandate is not problematic, and the trial court was within its discretion in awarding attorney fees. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment.