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Name: In re D.A.
Case #: B283932
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 6
Opinion Date: 06/19/2018
Summary

Evidence that an alleged battery victim was upset and had injuries on his face permitted a reasonable inference that the minor committed a battery and satisfied the corpus delicti of the crime independent of the minor’s statements to police. A juvenile court determined that minor D.A. had committed misdemeanor battery based on evidence that she slapped and pushed her boyfriend. The D.A. told responding officers that she had found something on her boyfriend’s phone that upset her, and when he refused to apologize, she slapped and pushed him. The boyfriend could not be located for the jurisdictional hearing, and the sole witness was the responding officer, who related what he saw and what the minor told him. The officer testified that he discovered the boyfriend in a bedroom. He appeared upset, his head was down, his arms were crossed in front of him, and he spoke in a low, sad voice. He had a scratch on his forehead and redness on the upper part of his left eye. No one else was home. On appeal, D.A. argued there was insufficient evidence to establish the corpus delicti of the crime, and therefore her statements should not have been admitted as evidence against her. Held: Affirmed. The prosecution must show that (1) a crime actually occurred and (2) the person accused was the perpetrator. The first of these is the corpus delicti, which must be established independently from any extrajudicial statements, confessions, or admissions by the accused. But such evidence may be circumstantial, and the amount of independent proof required to establish the corpus delicti is slight. It need only permit a reasonable inference that a crime was committed, even if a noncriminal explanation is also plausible. Here, the victim was in the bedroom (corroborating the information provided by D.A.), he was upset, and he had injuries on his face. Such evidence permits a reasonable inference that D.A. committed a battery against him.

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/B283932.PDF