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Name: People v. Rocha
Case #: H038703
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 6 DCA
Opinion Date: 12/06/2013

Trial court properly allowed evidence of defendant’s prior burglary of a garage to controvert his claim he had no intent to steal when he entered the garage of a residence in the present case. A jury convicted Rocha of first degree burglary for taking a wrench from the homeowner’s garage. On appeal he challenged the trial court’s admission of evidence that in 2009 he entered the garage of a home and stole items. Held: Affirmed. Evidence that a person committed a certain act may be admitted to prove some material fact, such as that person’s intent or identity. Here, the 2009 burglary was admitted to show that when Rocha entered the garage he intended to steal. The facts of the prior do not require a number of points of similarity to the current offense; the question is their logical relevance to establish the mental element of the charged crime. Rocha placed the mental element of the crime in controversy—he claimed that he did not intend to steal when he entered the garage. The evidence was not more prejudicial than probative; it supported “a legitimate incriminating inference independent of any consideration of propensity.”