Justia Criminal Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in California Courts of Appeal
by
Penal Code section 859b permits a defendant to enter a limited waiver of time beyond the initial 60-day time period by agreeing the preliminary hearing be held by a date certain. Absent a further time waiver by the defendant, the court may not continue the preliminary hearing beyond the agreed-upon date based on a finding of good cause.The People petition for writs of mandate to compel the superior court to vacate its order dismissing amended complaints against real party in interest Arnold, Park, and Case. Although it is common in the superior courts for defendants to enter limited time waivers, agreeing, as here, to waive time to a new date as a "zero of 60" or "zero of 90" date, the People contend that under section 859b, if a defendant waives time beyond the initial 60-day period following arraignment, this constitutes a general time waiver, and defendant loses his or her right to demand the preliminary hearing take place by a date certain. The People also assert that there is a good-cause exception to the 60-day time limit allowing a continuance of the preliminary hearing to maintain joinder of the codefendants or to enable defendants' pending motion to disqualify the district attorney's office be heard before the preliminary hearing.The Court of Appeal rejected these contentions and denied the petitions. In this case, Arnold, Park, and Case did not enter general waivers of their right to a timely preliminary hearing; there is no good cause exception to section 859b's requirement a preliminary hearing be held within 60 days of the defendant's arraignment or plea; and defendants' disqualification motion did not toll the 60-day time limit. View "People v. Superior Court" on Justia Law

by
Quinn was convicted of felony attempted interstate transportation of marijuana, Health & Safety Code, section 11360(a)(3). San Francisco International Airport security-screening officers testified that they found over 13 pounds of marijuana in luggage belonging to Quinn and her mother. Quinn admitted that she did not pack her suitcase and was paid to transport the bag containing marijuana from San Francisco to New York. She also admitted that she had previously flown with marijuana in her luggage at least twice. Quinn was placed on supervised probation for a period of three years, with the condition, among others, that she abstain from the use and possession of controlled substances, including marijuana.The court of appeal modified the judgment. The condition prohibiting the use or possession of marijuana is not unreasonable under People v. Lent; it is amply justified by her current conviction and criminal history. The restriction on her use or possession of “controlled substances” is overbroad and must be modified to permit the use and possession of legally prescribed medications. The $300 restitution fine must be stricken and the term of Quinn’s probation reduced to two years under the recent statutory amendment, Assembly Bill 1950 (2019-2020 Reg. Sess.). View "People v. Quinn" on Justia Law

by
In 1995, when defendant-appellant Steven Lipptrapp was 25 years old, he admitted that he attempted two murders and engaged in street terrorism. The trial court sentenced him to a determinate 30-year prison term. In 2019, Lipptrapp, acting in propria persona, filed a motion requesting appointment of counsel, resentencing, and a "Franklin" proceeding. This appeal centered only the trial court’s denial of his request for a Franklin proceeding. After review, the Court of Appeal concluded Lipptrapp adequately established his eligibility for a Franklin proceeding and, accordingly, the Court reversed the order, remanded the matter, and directed the trial court to oversee the evidence preservation process. View "California v. Lipptrapp" on Justia Law

by
Eun Sung Jung appeals from an order denying her two motions to vacate plea and conviction pursuant to Penal Code section 1473.7. Jung was born in South Korea and brought in 1998 (at age three) by her parents to the United States as a nonimmigrant visitor and has continuously lived in this country since then. She was not a United States citizen and did not have permanent resident status. In 2014, Jung was charged with one count each of second degree commercial burglary, obtaining drugs by a forged prescription, possession of a controlled substance, misdemeanor possession of controlled substance paraphernalia, and misdemeanor identity theft with intent to defraud. A second felony complaint, filed in Orange County Superior Court in March 2015 charged Jung with two counts of felony identity theft, and one count each of sale or transportation of a controlled substance, possession for sale of a controlled substance, misdemeanor receiving stolen property, and misdemeanor possession of controlled substance paraphernalia. Striking a plea bargain, Jung was sentenced to 180 days in jail and three years of probation. On plea forms, she initialed a provision implicating she understood the immigration consequences of her pleas. In January 2016, Jung was released from jail and entered the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). In May 2016, Jung, through retained counsel, filed motions pursuant to Penal Code sections 1016.2 and 1016.3 to set aside her convictions, filing petitions for habeas relief. Jung's habeas petition averred she did not ascertain the immigration consequences arising from her guilty pleas to the criminal charges against her in Orange County. After review of order denying her motions to vacate the pleas, the Court of Appeal determined Jung was entitled to relief under section 1473.7: Jung met her burden of proof by submitting her own declaration and a declaration from her then trial counsel showing that, at the time of the pleas, she did not meaningfully understand the adverse immigration consequences of pleading guilty and would not have pleaded guilty if she did. Furthermore, the Court determined Jung’s earlier petitions for writ of habeas corpus, which alleged ineffective assistance of counsel, did not bar Jung from seeking relief under section 1473.7 once she was no longer in criminal custody. View "California v. Jung" on Justia Law

by
Defendant-appellant Larry Brand was convicted by jury of possessing metal knuckles, one count of misdemeanor possession of heroin, and one count of misdemeanor possession of methamphetamine. The trial court imposed a split sentence of two years in local custody, and one year of mandatory supervision. Brand challenged three of the conditions of mandatory supervision ordered by the trial court: (1) the condition requiring that he submit to a search of his computers, recordable media, and cell phones; (2) the condition that he report his contacts with law enforcement; and (3) the condition requiring him to comply with a curfew if directed by his probation officer. Finding that Brand’s challenges lacked merit, the Court of Appeal affirmed judgment. View "California v. Brand" on Justia Law

by
Defendant appealed his conviction for six offenses committed between 1995 and 2017, including murder, solicitation of murder, and assault with a firearm. In the published portion of the opinion, the Court of Appeal addressed defendant's claim that the trial court erroneously doubled the sentence on one count based on an unpleaded prior strike conviction. The court concluded that the information adequately pleaded the prior strike as to all counts, and the trial court did not err in doubling the sentences of all eligible offenses. View "People v. Laanui" on Justia Law

by
Defendant-appellant Oliver Panozo was convicted by jury of various offenses in connection with two domestic violence incidents involving his former girlfriend. At sentencing, the court rejected Panozo’s request to be placed on probation and enrolled in Veterans Court. Instead, it imposed a three-year middle term on the principal aggravated assault count. Panozo appealed, arguing the trial court was unaware of its statutory obligation to consider his service-related PTSD as a mitigating factor under Penal Code sections 1170.9 and 1170.91. He therefore sought remand for resentencing. Tracing the relevant statutes and considering the record, the Court of Appeal agreed remand was necessary: sections 1170.9 and 1170.91 obligated a court to consider a defendant’s service-related mental health issues, including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as a mitigating factor in evaluating whether to grant probation and in selecting the appropriate determinate term. Although there was ample evidence of Panozo’s service-related PTSD presented at sentencing, by all indications the court was unaware that it was required to consider this mitigating factor when it denied probation and imposed a three-year prison term. Accordingly, the Court remanded for a new sentencing hearing to permit the court to exercise its statutory obligations under sections 1170.9 and 1170.91. In all other respects, the judgment was affirmed. View "California v. Panozo" on Justia Law

by
Defendant was convicted of three counts of stalking and two counts of criminal threats, and sentenced to seven years, which included two one-year prior prison enhancements under Penal Code section 667.5, subdivision (b). Defendant's conviction stemmed from his erratic and threatening behavior towards other students in his paralegal studies program.The Court of Appeal held that the evidence was sufficient to support the criminal threats counts; the trial court properly excluded one defense witness; and, despite the trial court's initial statement, the record reflects that it did exercise its discretion to deny defendant's request for advisory counsel based upon the characteristics of this defendant and this case. The court remanded for the trial court to strike the two one-year enhancements under Senate Bill No. 136 and to resentence defendant. The court also ordered a correction to the criminal conviction assessment in the abstract of judgment. The court affirmed in all other respects. View "People v. Choi" on Justia Law

by
The Court of Appeal affirmed defendant's conviction for robbing three people, but struck the gang enhancements for lack of substantial support. In this case, defendant snatched necklaces from three people. The court concluded that the gang expert had no logical basis for his opinion that defendant was "assisting his gang in having a feared reputation." The court explained that this claim made no sense when nothing linked these crimes to a gang. Furthermore, the expert conceded that no evidence showed defendant shared robbery booty with the gang. Finally, the court concluded that there was no instructional error, and that defendant forfeited his various challenges to the fines and fees assessed against him by failing to object. View "People v. Gonzalez" on Justia Law

by
The Court of Appeal affirmed defendant's conviction for dissuading a witness from reporting a crime. The court held that the evidence was sufficient to support defendant's conviction where defendant was convicted of violating Penal Code section 136.1, subdivision (b)(1); he was not charged with or convicted of violating section 136.1, subdivision (c). Therefore, the prosecutor, was not required to prove defendant acted knowingly and maliciously. In this case, while defendant's mother tried to call 911 to report that defendant was fighting with his brother, he ripped the phone off the wall and threw it to the ground, which broke the phone and disconnected the call. The court concluded that substantial evidence supported the jury's verdict. View "People v. Cook" on Justia Law