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Name: People v. Dominguez
Case #: H031795
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 6 DCA
Opinion Date: 09/10/2008

It is a due process violation to prosecute a defendant for an offense not shown by the evidence at the preliminary hearing or arising out of the transaction upon which the commitment was based. Following evidence adduced at the preliminary hearing, appellant was held to answer to one count of vehicle theft alleged to have occurred between October 16-19, 2006. At trial, the victim testified that on October 9, 2006, he had left his car with appellant to be repaired, and that appellant took it without the his permission to visit appellant’s family and did not return it until later that night. On October 16, 2006, the victim discovered his car missing and then saw defendant driving it on October 19, 2006. At the close of evidence, the court granted the prosecutor’s motion to amend the information to extend the date of the offense to include the October 9, 2006, incident. The jury was given a unanimity instruction and after an hour of deliberation, returned a guilty verdict. The appellate court found that it was error to grant the motion to amend as it deprived appellant of his right to be advised of charges and prepare for trial. Appellant first learned of the October 9, 2006, alleged lack of consent at trial. The appellate court declined to decide whether the error was reversible per se or subject to a harmless error analysis, because in this instance, the judgment must be reversed under either analysis.
The superior court did not lack jurisdiction to try appellant because no information was ever filed. The court rejected appellant’s claim that the superior court lacked jurisdiction to try him as no formal information had been filed. Following the preliminary hearing, the parties stipulated the complaint could be deemed an information. As the court observed, this agreement did not attempt to confer jurisdiction, it merely simplified the filing of the information.