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Name: People v. Beyah
Case #: B201886
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 4
Opinion Date: 02/03/2009
Summary

Giving of the consciousness of guilt instruction for false statements made at trial was not prejudicial. At appellant’s trial for controlled substance offenses, the prosecutor asked that the jury be instructed with CALCRIM No. 362, concerning consciousness of guilt. On appeal, appellant argued that the trial court erred in giving the instruction because it is only to be given if the allegedly false statements were made before trial, because giving the instruction based upon trial testimony has a chilling effect on the right to testify. He also argued that to the extent the instruction was deemed to apply to appellant’s testimony at his suppression motion hearing, it violated his right not to have the statements from his suppression motion introduced against him at trial. The appellate court rejected the argument and affirmed. Although CALCRIM No. 362 was not intended to be used as it was here, it caused no prejudice because California law is clear that a defendant’s false trial testimony may be considered as evidence of consciousness of guilt. Further, although a defendant’s testimony at a suppression hearing may not be used against him as part of the People’s case-in-chief, it may be used for impeachment.