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Name: People v. Aguilar
Case #: B263075
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 8
Opinion Date: 03/22/2016

Conviction for carrying a concealed firearm in a vehicle is a crime of moral turpitude, which is admissible for impeachment purposes. A jury convicted defendant of aggravated kidnapping and other offenses arising out of an attack on a woman. Over defense objection, the court allowed evidence of defendant’s 2004 conviction for carrying a concealed weapon in a vehicle (Pen. Code, § 25400, subd. (a)(1)) to be used to impeach his testimony. He appealed. Held: Affirmed. A witness’ prior conviction may be used for impeachment if the least adjudicated elements of the conviction necessarily involve moral turpitude (People v. Castro (1985) 38 Cal.3d 301). “Crimes involve moral turpitude when they reveal dishonesty, a general readiness to do evil, or moral laxity of some kind.” (Quoting People v. Garrett (1987) 195 Cal.App.3d 795, 798 [citations omitted].) Penal Code section 25400, subdivision (a) (1) makes it a crime for a person to carry concealed in a vehicle under his control or direction, any gun capable of being concealed upon the person. It is established that crimes that involve guns pose a risk of violence, and a number of crimes involving guns have been held to involve moral turpitude. A defendant who carries a gun concealed in a vehicle poses an imminent threat to public safety and order because the person has ready access to the gun while impeding others from detecting its presence. Carrying a concealed weapon in a vehicle is therefore a crime of moral turpitude.

The trial court did not abuse its discretion under Evidence Code section 352 by admitting defendant’s prior conviction to impeach him. Even if a prior offense is a crime of moral turpitude, the trial court is still required to balance the probative value against the prejudicial effect of the evidence in determining whether the prior should be admitted for impeachment purposes. Here, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in admitting the prior offense for impeachment. The court found the prior was not too remote, the current offenses were more serious than the prior, and the current and prior offenses were not substantially similar, such that the jury was unlikely to be unduly influenced by the evidence. The court correctly instructed the jury how to evaluate the evidence (CALCRIM No. 316). The admission of the evidence did not result in a miscarriage of justice.

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: