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Name: People v. Lopez (2024) 99 Cal.App.5th 1242
Case #: F086179
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 02/27/2024
Summary

Senate Bill No. 1437 did not abrogate the doctrine of transferred intent and it may still be used to establish an accomplice’s liability for murder. In 1995, Lopez assisted his codefendant in ambushing and shooting at a rival who was in a van, and an unintended victim was killed. Lopez was convicted of first degree murder for the death of the unintended victim. In 2021, Lopez filed a petition for resentencing pursuant to Penal Code section 1172.6. After a (d)(3) hearing, the trial court denied the petition, finding Lopez aided and abetted the shooting and impliedly finding an intent to kill through the doctrine of transferred intent. Lopez appealed. Held: Affirmed. Under the doctrine of transferred intent, if a defendant shoots at one victim with malice aforethought, but instead kills someone else nearby, the defendant is deemed liable for murder notwithstanding the lack of intent to kill that bystander. The doctrine does not signify an actual transfer of intent, but instead expresses a policy that a defendant should be subject to the same criminal liability that would have been imposed had he hit his intended mark. The doctrine still requires the defendant’s own intent to kill. Following SB 1437, a defendant may still be liable for murder as a direct aider and abettor because a direct aider and abettor must possess malice aforethought. Because Lopez held an intent to kill when he aided and abetted this fatal shooting, he is guilty of murder for the unintended death caused as a result of his and his codefendant’s criminal conduct. Malice was not imputed to him based solely on his participation in a crime.