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Name: People v. Potts
Case #: C076318
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 06/01/2016
Summary

Trial court’s refusal to instruct the jury that a conviction for escape from home detention required the willful failure to return to the place of confinement, if error, was harmless. Potts was serving a three-year sentence under the Alternative Custody Supervision (ACS) program (Pen. Code, § 1203.016) of the Butte County Sheriff. He was authorized to travel to work sites, but the ACS contract he signed required that he go straight home after work. The contract informed him that if he deviated from his schedule he could be removed from the ACS program and/or convicted of felony escape (Pen. Code, § 4532). On the day of the offense, Potts left work early. His GPS monitor showed he was moving in a direction away from his home. He crashed his truck, then fled the scene of the collision. When located, he was inebriated. A jury convicted Potts of escape from his home detention program (Pen. Code, § 4532, subd. (b)(1)). On appeal, he challenged the trial court’s refusal to instruct the jury it must find a willful failure to return to his place of confinement no later than the period he was authorized to be away. Held: Affirmed. Penal Code section 4532, subdivision (b)(1) makes it a crime for a defendant to escape or attempt to escape from his place of confinement. It includes the willful failure of a prisoner to return to his place of confinement no later than the expiration of the period that he was authorized to be away from it (Pen. Code, § 4532, subd. (e); see also Pen. Code, § 1203.016, subd. (f)). Assuming the trial court erred in refusing to instruct the jury as Potts claims, the error was harmless. The contract Potts signed with ACS required him to drive directly home from work. By deviating from the direct route home and by fleeing the scene of the accident, Potts exceeded the period he was authorized to be away from home.

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/C076318.PDF