The plaintiff in the recent false arrest case of Edgerly v. City and County of San Francisco brought suit for civil rights violations under Section 1983 after he was taken into custody for the alleged infraction of trespass near a San Francisco housing project. Mr. Edgerly was taken into custody, apparently, even though he had complied with the requirements set forth in Penal Code section 853.5(a)applicable to infraction arrests – he had signed a promise to appear and provided the requisite identification.
The trial court in the case entered judgment for defendants City and County of San Francisco, on the basis of its reading of two Penal Code sections. But the Ninth Circuit reversed, finding that the additional grounds provided for custodial arrests in cases of misdemeanors (such as extreme intoxication, need for medical care or having outstanding warrants) do not apply in cases of infractions.
The case is significant when viewed in connection with the stop and frisk trespass cases happening in New York City. It would appear that the ruling in Edgerly v. City and County of San Francisco may deter cops in California from making unconstitutional trespass arrests to the extent they are using such arrests as pretexts to engage in racial profiling and bullying.