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Name: People v. Quarles
Case #: A152282
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 07/26/2018

Damaging a telephone line or mechanical equipment connected to the line (Pen. Code, § 591) is a general intent crime and therefore a voluntary intoxication jury instruction is not proper. Quarles got into a physical fight with his elderly father. When his mother attempted to call 911, Quarles pushed her, yanked the phone away, and then threw the phone causing the batteries to eject and the call to disconnect. Quarles was found guilty of damaging a phone line, misdemeanor battery on an elder, and elder abuse. At trial, Quarles requested a voluntary intoxication instruction as to the section 591 count, and the prosecution objected. The trial court refused the instruction. On appeal, Quarles argued section 591 is a specific intent crime and the trial court erred in refusing to give a voluntary intoxication instruction. Held: Affirmed. Evidence of voluntary intoxication is admissible on the issue of whether or not the defendant actually formed a required specific intent, but is inadmissible to negate general criminal intent. Section 591 makes it a crime to “unlawfully and maliciously” take down, remove, cut, destroy, or obstruct a telephone line. The Court of Appeal here primarily relied upon People v. Moore (2018) 19 Cal.App.5th 889, which held vandalism (Pen. Code, § 594, subd. (a)), is not a specific intent crime and there was no error in refusing to give a voluntary intoxication instruction. Similar to the vandalism statute, neither the term “maliciously” nor any other word in section 591 requires a specific intent or mental state. The trial court did not err in rejecting the voluntary intoxication instruction.

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