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Name: People v. Nordberg
Case #: B218891
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 11/08/2010
Summary

The Vehicle Code section 20001, subdivision (c) enhancement for flight from the scene of a vehicular manslaughter requires knowledge by the perpetrator that the accident was of such a nature that one would reasonably believe a person was injured. Appellant was driving drunk when she hit and ran over a motorcyclist on the freeway, hit the center divider, drove away, and collided again as she got off the freeway. A jury convicted her of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and found true an allegation that she fled the scene after committing the crime. Appellant argued the true finding on the enhancement should be reversed because the court’s modified CALJIC instruction did not tell the jury there was a knowledge requirement on the part of the perpetrator to know the accident caused injury, or that it was of such nature that a reasonable person would know it resulted in injury. (Compare CALCRIM No. 2160 which states this requirement.) The court agreed that the hit and run enhancement (Veh. Code, § 20001, subd. (c)) has a knowledge requirement, and that the instruction on the enhancement was deficient in this regard. But the court found the error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. Appellant’s own testimony showed she reasonably should have known that someone had been injured. She testified she knew she got into several accidents on the freeway and heard impact noises before she allegedly blacked out. Based on this and on the damage to her windshield, injury to a person was reasonably anticipated.