caclr_header_template1 California Criminal Law Reporter

Recent Defense Victories

When the prosecution appeals from a suppression order, the court must appoint new counsel, but not the Public Defender.
When the prosecution appeals from a suppression order in a misdemeanor case, the defendant, if indigent, has a right to appointed counsel. Where the defendant was previously represented by the Public Defender, the appellate division must appoint new counsel because the court is not statutorily authorized to appoint the Public Defender under these circumstances.
Gardener v. Superior Court ____ Cal.App.5th ____, ____ Cal.Rptr.3d ____, 2019 D.A.R. 10490 (4th Dist. 2019) November 12, 2019 (E066330)
The quitclaim deeds were not false within the meaning of section 115 (which prohibits the offering of false documents) where the victims actually owned the properties and could legally quitclaim them to the defendant. (200)
The evidence was insufficient to support defendant’s convictions for violating Penal Code section 115 for filing false or forged quitclaim deeds because the alleged victims actually owned the two properties and were legally entitled to quitclaim them to defendant.
People v. Schmidt ____ Cal.App.5th ____, ____ Cal.Rptr.3d ____, 2019 D.A.R. 10411 (3rd Dist. 2019) November 08, 2019 (C082057)
Following Sanchez, case-specific hearsay is inadmissible at SVP probable cause hearings. (522)
The trial court did not err in finding there was insufficient admissible evidence to support a probable cause finding in defendant’s SVP case. The prosecution relied on psychological evaluations that were case-specific hearsay statements submitted for their truth, which made them inadmissible under People v. Sanchez (2016) 63 Cal.4th 655.
People v. Superior Court (Couthren) ____ Cal.App.5th ____, ____ Cal.Rptr.3d ____, 2019 D.A.R. 10361 (1st Dist. 2019) November 07, 2019 (A152529)
Aggravated kidnapping convictions were reversed where the instruction permitted a conviction on an invalid theory. (166) (780)
The jury instruction for aggravated kidnapping to commit extortion or exact money or property from another person - a modified version of CALCRIM No. 1202 - contained a prejudicial legal error permitting the jury to find defendant guilty of the charged offenses on the legally invalid basis of kidnapping to extract money from the kidnap victim. The convictions for aggravated kidnapping were reversed, but could be retried since evidence supported the convictions.
People v. Stringer ____ Cal.App.5th ____, ____ Cal.Rptr.3d ____, 2019 D.A.R. 10353 (4th Dist. 2019) November 07, 2019 (D073877)
The trial court erred in summarily dismissing defendant’s SB 1437 petition, and the felony murder conviction was vacated given an earlier finding that defendant was not a major participant acting with reckless disregard. (147)
Defendant filed a petition under Penal Code section 1170.95 seeking to have his 2003 murder conviction vacated. He satisfied all of the requirements, but the trial court failed to require a response or hold a hearing. The trial court also disregarded the prior finding that defendant was not a major participant in the robbery who acted with reckless disregard for human life. Given that finding, the trial court was required to vacate the conviction and resentence defendant.
People v. Ramirez ____ Cal.App.5th ____, ____ Cal.Rptr.3d ____, 2019 D.A.R. 10349 (2nd Dist. 2019) November 06, 2019 (B296710)
Vehicle Code section 10851 conviction was reversed where it was unclear whether defendant was properly convicted of an unlawful driving or improperly convicted of an unlawful taking of the vehicle. (204)
A defendant can’t be convicted of a felony for unlawfully taking a vehicle with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of possession unless it was worth more than $950, though he can be convicted of unlawful driving a vehicle even if worth less than the threshold amount. The trial court erred by failing to instruct the jury it had to find the car was worth more than $950 to convict him of permanently taking the vehicle. Also there was a reasonable doubt whether the jury properly convicted defendant of improper driving or improperly convicted him of an unlawful taking. Defendant was entitled to have his conviction reduced to a misdemeanor or to be retried for a felony conviction under the proper theory.
People v. Martell ____ Cal.App.5th ____, ____ Cal.Rptr.3d ____, 2019 D.A.R. 10255 (4th Dist. 2019) October 31, 2019 (E069369)