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Name: People v. Das (2023) 96 Cal.App.5th 954
Case #: C096982
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 10/25/2023
Summary

Penal Code section 1172.6 petition improperly denied at prima facie stage where defendant’s plea to attempted murder did not prove that he acted with intent to kill. Das and several others were involved in a fight that resulted in a stabbing. In 2018, he pleaded guilty to attempted murder with a gang enhancement. During the plea, the prosecutor recited the factual basis for the plea, which included the fact that Das stabbed the victim with a knife during the fight, intending to kill him. The court accepted the factual basis without comment from Das. He later filed a section 1172.6 petition for resentencing that was denied at the prima facie stage because the court found the factual basis rendered him ineligible for relief. Das appealed. Held: Reversed. At the time of Das’s guilty plea, the law allowed him to be convicted of attempted murder under the natural and probable consequences doctrine. After Senate Bill No. 1437, the People are now required to prove that the defendant himself harbored the requisite mental state for attempted murder—express malice. The complaint filed against Das did not specify that he was being charged with attempted murder as the person who stabbed the victim with the intent to kill, nor did it limit the prosecution’s ability to proceed on a natural and probable consequences theory at trial. While the factual basis, if true, demonstrates defendant stabbed the attempted murder victim with the intent to kill, defendant did not stipulate to the factual basis or otherwise admit the truth of the facts recited by the prosecutor. Without defendant’s admission to having personally stabbed the victim with the intent to kill, it was unclear whether that was the actual basis for defendant’s plea, or whether defendant pleaded guilty because he believed the jury would have convicted him of attempted murder on a natural and probable consequences theory even if he was not the person who stabbed the victim.