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Name: People v. Jackson
Case #: A151676
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 08/20/2018

Where defendant’s conviction for violating Vehicle Code section 10851 could have rested on either driving or taking the vehicle, reversal is required because the value of the vehicle was not proven. A jury convicted Jackson of robbery (Pen. Code, § 211) and driving or taking a vehicle (Veh. Code, § 10851). On appeal he challenged the Vehicle Code conviction because the value of the car was not established. Held: Reversed and remanded. Vehicle Code section 10851 prohibits the taking or driving of another person’s vehicle without their consent, with the intent to either permanently or temporarily deprive the owner of possession or title. Under Proposition 47, an offender who obtains a vehicle under the theft prong of section 10851 can only be convicted of a felony if there is proof the vehicle is worth more than $950. (People v. Page (2017) 3 Cal.5th 1175.) Here, Jackson’s trial occurred before the California Supreme Court’s decision in Page, and the jury instruction on the section 10851 charge failed to require the jury to determine the value of the vehicle. When a court instructs a jury on two theories of guilt, one of which was legally correct and one incorrect, a presumption of prejudice arises which can only be overcome if there is a basis in the record to find that the verdict was based on a valid ground. There was strong circumstantial evidence that Jackson drove the car, but it cannot be concluded beyond a reasonable doubt the verdict rested on this theory. On remand the prosecution may either retry Jackson on a felony charge or accept reduction of the offense to a misdemeanor.

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: