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Name: People v. James
Case #: F057974
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 12/30/2010

A prior act of domestic violence is admissible under Evidence Code section 1109 when proof of the charged crime includes, as an integral part, conduct “involving domestic violence.” Appellant was convicted of burglary based upon beating down the door to his ex-girlfriend’s house while yelling, “I’m gonna fuck your ass up.” At trial, the court admitted evidence of two prior acts of domestic violence as propensity evidence. (Evid. Code, sec. 1109.) Appellant argued this was error because he was charged with burglary, which does not qualify as an offense “involving domestic violence” for purposes of the statute since it is not an offense that inherently involves domestic violence. The court affirmed. Although burglary is not always an offense involving domestic violence, under the facts of this case it was. Here, the burglary was based on the intent to commit an act of domestic violence. The defendant’s intent is what made it qualify for purposes of section 1109. Since proof of the intent was an integral part of proving the crime of burglary, the evidence was properly admitted. (See e.g., People v. Story (2009) 45 Cal.4th 1282 [prior sex offenses properly admitted where defendant was charged with felony murder with rape as the underlying felony].)