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Name: People v. Lewis (2024) 100 Cal.App.5th 349
Case #: G060049
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 03/07/2024

Substantial evidence supports defendant’s conviction for kidnapping an intoxicated woman to commit rape under the relaxed force standard applicable to incapacitated adults. Opinion on remand from the California Supreme Court. A jury convicted Lewis of rape by an intoxicating substance and kidnapping to commit rape based on evidence that he drugged a woman (S.D.) at a bar and then sexually assaulted her after they left the bar. In People v. Lewis (2023) 14 Cal.5th 876, 884, the Supreme Court concluded the relaxed force standard for kidnapping applicable to children (i.e., the use of deception rather than actual force) applies to incapacitated adults. Assuming without deciding the trial court erred in instructing the jury on deception, the Supreme Court concluded the instructional error was harmless and remanded the case to the Court of Appeal to address Lewis’s unresolved sufficiency of the evidence arguments. Held: Affirmed. Substantial evidence supports Lewis’s conviction for kidnapping to commit rape. It was reasonable for the jury to conclude Lewis intended to gain S.D.’s trust, plied her with intoxicants to impair her memory, guided her out of the bar, and raped her. Lewis’s initial lie to police about having sex with S.D. also showed his consciousness of guilt. Because there was substantial evidence S.D. was mentally incapacitated due to her intoxication, the relaxed force standard for kidnapping is applicable, and Lewis driving S.D. away from the bar satisfied the standard. [Editor’s Notes: (1) To assist the trial courts and avoid instructional error in the future, the Court of Appeal noted that CALCRIM instructions understandable to the average juror, consistent with the holdings in Lewis and relevant existing law, should be adopted. The court stated that it would be extremely beneficial for the instructions to explain under what circumstances a jury can apply the relaxed/constructive force standard and explain what level of incapacitation or unconsciousness is required to trigger the relaxed force or constructive force standard. (2) As to the rape by an intoxicating substance conviction, the Court of Appeal also concluded there was substantial evidence to support the jury’s conclusion that S.D.’s intoxication level prevented her from exercising the judgment to decide whether to consent to having sexual intercourse with Lewis.]