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Name: People v. Navarette
Case #: F069534
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 10/27/2016

Mexican murder conviction is not a serious felony under California law. Navarette was convicted of a number of offenses arising from a domestic incident with his ex-girlfriend. A prior serious felony enhancement and a strike prior were found true based on Navarette’s 2006 murder conviction in Mexico. Navarette appealed, arguing that the Mexican offense did not include all the elements of murder in California and therefore the evidence was insufficient to support the prior serious felony enhancement and strike prior. Held: Reversed. “To qualify as a serious felony, a conviction from another jurisdiction must involve conduct that would qualify as a serious felony in California.” (People v. McGee (2006) 38 Cal.4th 682.) The elements of murder in Mexico are different and broader than California. In Mexico, the prosecution does not need to prove malice aforethought; committing an intentional or imprudent act is sufficient. Furthermore, in Mexico, the prosecution does not bear the burden of disproving self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt. The People incorrectly asserted that the trial court was free to evaluate the record of the Mexican offense to determine that it included all the elements of murder under California law. “McGee prohibits the court from resolving disputed issues of fact in determining whether the prior conviction ‘realistically’ may have been based on conduct that would not constitute a serious felony under California law.” A similar result is required pursuant to federal law. Under Descamps v. United States (2013) 133 S.Ct. 2276, a sentencing court cannot, without violating the Sixth Amendment, “look beyond the elements to the evidence or . . . explore whether a person convicted of one crime could also have been convicted of another, more serious offense.”

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