People v. Farrara

Decision Date24 February 1956
Docket NumberCr. 5822
Citation294 P.2d 21,46 Cal.2d 265
CourtCalifornia Supreme Court
PartiesThe PEOPLE of the State of California, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. James FARRARA, Helen Farrara and Maxine Shaman, Defendants, James Farrara and Helen Farrara, Defendants and Appellants.

G. Vernon Brumbaugh, Los Angeles, for appellants.

Edmund G. Brown, Atty. Gen., and Joan D. Gross, Deputy Atty. Gen., for respondent.

TRAYNOR, Justice.

Defendants James and Helen Farrara appeal from orders granting them probation and denying their motion for a new trial entered after they were found guilty of violations of Penal Code section 337a. A jury trial was waived and it was stipulated that the case should be submitted on the transcript of the preliminary hearing. Each defendant was found guilty of one count of recording bets on horse races, Penal Code § 337a(4), and Helen was found guilty of one count of occupying premises for the purpose of bookmaking. Penal Code § 337a(2).

On October 28, 1954, Officer Sherrer of the Los Angeles Police Department observed James Farrara get into his car near the corner of 8th and Cochran in Los Angeles. Two other officers got into the car with James and the car was driven for a little less than a block. James then got out of the car, and Officer Sherrer searched him. He found keys, a scratch sheet for October 27th, and several pieces of paper that were identified as records of bets for races run on the 27th. Although James told Officer Sherrer that he did not know anything about these papers, there was evidence that the handwriting was his.

Shortly thereafter at approximately 12:35 p. m. on October 28th, Officer Sherrer and two other officers gained entrance to an apartment about half a block away on South Cochran by the use of one of the keys taken from James. They found Helen Farrara in the bedroom with a scratch sheet for October 28th and several pieces of paper similar to those taken from James. These papers were identified as records of bets in Helen's handwriting for races run on the 28th, and Helen admitted taking bets over the telephone for two days. The apartment was regularly occupied by Maxine Shaman, a friend of the defendants, who was present when the officers arrived. 1

Before the arrests, the officers had had the apartment and defendants under observation and had seen both of them go to the apartment on the 27th. James arrived before ten a. m. and left shortly after one p. m. Helen left her home about 12:30 p. m., went to the apartment, and left there at about 5:25 p. m.

Neither defendant took the stand or presented any evidence other than by cross-examining prosecution witnesses.

The foregoing evidence is sufficient to support the conclusion of the trial court that each defendant was guilty of recording bets and that Helen was guilty of occupying the apartment 'with * * * papers * * * for the purpose of recording * * * bets.' Penal Code § 337a(2). There is no merit in defendants' contention that venue was not proved. Helen admitted taking bets in the apartment, which was located in Los Angeles County, and James was observed at or near the apartment on both the 27th and the 28th. Moreover, since the defendatns' home was also located in Los Angeles, it may reasonably be inferred that James did not leave the county to record the best on races run on the 27th.

Defendants contend that the officers did not have reasonable cause to believe that either of them had committed a felony and that the arrests and the searches and seizures incident thereto were therefore illegal. In addition, Helen contends that the officers violated section 844 of the Penal Code by using the key to enter the apartment to make an arrest without first 'having demanded admittance and explained the purpose for which admittance is desired.' Accordingly, they conclude that the evidence should have been excluded.

This case was tried before the decision in People v. Cahan, 44 Cal.2d 434, 282 P.2d 905, no objection was made to the introduction of the evidence in the trial court, and no evidence was presented for the purpose of showing whether or not the officers acted lawfully. Thus it does not appear whether or not the officers had warrants for defendants' arrest or for the search of the premises or reasonable cause to believe that they had committed a felony. From the fact, however, that the officers had defendants and the apartment under observation, it may be inferred that they had some information indicating guilt, but the record is completely silent as to whether or not such information was sufficient to constitute reasonable cause to justify the arrests. Similarly, it may...

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