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Name: People v. Carrillo
Case #: G031382
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 05/28/2004

Evidence of a defendant’s poverty is not admissible to show that she had a motive for robbery. Here the prosecution solicited extensive testimony regarding Carrillo’s difficult financial straits, and on appeal, appellant argued that this constituted prosecutorial misconduct. The Court of Appeal rejected the prosecutorial misconduct argument but found that the trial court should have excluded the evidence. Further, the court found that the issue was not waived despite trial counsel’s failure to object the first time the prosecutor elicited the testimony, because once counsel caught on to where the prosecution was going with the testimony, she objected at least eight times. Because of the fundamental unfairness of using a defendant’s poverty to prove that she was guilty of committing a crime, the court could not conclude that the evidence was harmless, and thus reversed the conviction.