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Name: People v. Carroll
Case #: C067395
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 01/15/2014

A written “own recognizance” (OR) release agreement that contains all the terms that are pertinent to a defendant’s failure to appear (Pen. Code, § 1320) prosecution substantially complies with Penal Code section 1318. On two separate occasions, defendant was arrested for a felony and released from jail on OR after she signed a release agreement. She then failed to appear both times. A jury convicted her of two counts of failure to appear on a felony (Pen. Code, § 1320, subd. (b)). On appeal, she argued that there was insufficient evidence to support her conviction because her OR release agreements did not contain all the terms mandated by section 1318. Held: Affirmed. Section 1318 specifies five terms that must be included in an OR release agreement. In People v. Mohammed (2008) 162 Cal.App.4th 920, the Sixth Appellate District held that evidence of a written release agreement that fully complies with section 1318 is required to convict a defendant of willful failure to appear. The court here disagreed with Mohammed’s conclusion that the substantial compliance doctrine is inapplicable to section 1318. While proof of a written agreement “containing a promise to appear and an acknowledgment of the consequences for failing to do so, signed by the defendant, is an absolute prerequisite” for a section 1320 conviction, substantial compliance with section 1318 may be sufficient to support a conviction. Although defendant’s OR release agreements did not contain two of the terms specified in section 1318, they substantially complied with the statute. The written agreements contained the required promise to appear and acknowledgment of penalties. The omitted terms were immaterial to defendant’s section 1320 prosecution.