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Name: Fortner v. Superior Court (Monterey County)
Case #: H038353
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 6 DCA
Opinion Date: 07/17/2013

Trial court lacked territorial jurisdiction over domestic violence offense committed in Hawaii against a victim who was subsequently battered in California. In early 2010, Fortner and Doe, who lived together, argued about Fortner’s past use of prostitutes. In April 2010, they went to Hawaii, where they again argued about the prostitutes. Fortner hit Doe in the face, causing an eye injury. After they returned to California, Doe sought medical help for the injury. In November 2011, Fortner again battered Doe. He was charged with numerous crimes arising from this incident and two counts based on the April 2010 Hawaii incident. He moved to dismiss the Hawaii charges based on lack of jurisdiction. The trial court denied the motion. Fortner sought writ relief. Held: Mandate issued. The court evaluated the territorial jurisdiction question under three statutes, noting that California has established jurisdiction in certain types of interstate situations or crimes. Penal Code section 27 provides for jurisdiction when any part of the crime is committed in California. Penal Code section 778 provides jurisdiction when an offense commences outside California, but is consummated in the state. As the Hawaii offense involved a single punch to Doe’s face, no part of the crime occurred in California; it was commenced and consummated in Hawaii. The fact that Doe sought medical attention for her eye in California does not mean the Hawaii offense was consummated in California. Under section 778a, jurisdiction exists if a defendant commits a preparatory act in California with the intent to culminate the offense outside California. No such evidence was presented here. The earlier argument in California about prostitutes was not a preparatory act by Fortner. The argument that Fortner’s use of violence to subjugate Doe, with the intent to have an ongoing effect on her behavior in California, was unavailing to establish jurisdiction over the Hawaii crime. Even if a crime committed in another state will affect the victim’s behavior after she returns to California, this does not establish that the crime was consummated or any part it occurred in California.