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Name: People v. Anaya et al.
Case #: F063835
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 10/07/2013

Trial court erred by imposing life terms pursuant to Penal Code section 186.22, subdivision (b)(4)(C) because this subdivision does not apply to violations of Penal Code sections 518 or 136.1, subdivision (b)(1) without additional factual findings by a jury. Appellants were convicted of various criminal charges and enhancements based on their forceful attempts to collect a criminal street gang debt, including convictions for extortion (Pen. Code, § 518; count 1) and dissuading a witness (Pen. Code § 136.1, subd. (b)(1); count 5). The jury found that the appellants committed the crimes for the benefit of a street gang (Pen. Code, § 186.22, subd. (b)). The court sentenced appellants on these counts pursuant to section 186.22, subdivision (b)(4)(C), which requires imposition of a life sentence with a minimum term of seven years when a defendant has been convicted of extortion as defined in Penal Code section 519 or threats to victims or witnesses as defined in section 136.1. On appeal, appellants argued that the trial court committed Apprendi v. New Jersey (2000) 530 U.S. 466 error when it sentenced them to life terms on counts 1 and 5. (See also Alleyne v. United States (2013) 133 S.Ct. 2151.) Reversed. As to count 5, a violation of section 136.1, subdivision (b)(1) does not require that a defendant’s attempt to dissuade a witness be accompanied by an express or implied threat of force and the jury did not make such a finding in this case. As to count 1, the plain language of subdivision (b)(4)(C) is that it applies to criminal street gang threats that induce fear and will constitute extortion as defined in section 519. The Legislature did not intend to treat extortion by simple force as harshly. Here, the jury was instructed on two theories, force or fear, and was not required to find that the extortion was based on threats inducing fear. The errors in sentencing were not harmless.