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Name: People v. Salas
Case #: B159750
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 06/21/2004
Subsequent History: mod. 120 Cal.App.4th 590e; Rev. granted 9/29/04: S126773
Summary

Appellants were convicted of selling unqualified securities, in violation of Corporations Code section 25110, and 25540, subd.(a). The jury also found the special allegation that each of the offenses was not discovered until after July 10, 1996 (Penal Code section 803(c)) to be true. On appeal, appellants contended that the trial court erred in instructing the jury that the statute of limitations on the offenses was four years instead of three; even if the four-year statute of limitations was applicable, it expired prior to the start of the prosecution, the trial court erred in instructing the jury that the offense was a strict liability crime, and the trial court’s instructions on the defense that the securities were exempt from qualification was erroneous. As to the statute of limitations, the court found that section 25110 is subject to a four-year statute of limitations. Since discovery by law enforcement of the offenses on July 10, 1996, was less than four years before the prosecution was initiated, the charges were not barred. Further, the jury’s finding that the offenses were not discovered until after July 10, 1996 was supported by substantial evidence. However, the trial court did not properly instruct the jury on the elements of the section 25110 violation. Section 25110 is a general intent crime, requiring proof of intent. Further, appellants could not have intentionally sold unregistered and nonexempt securities unless they sold them knowing that the securities were not exempt. Therefore, the trial court’s instructions to the jury were defective. They did not advise the jury that appellants’ knowledge of the facts bringing their conduct within the prohibitions of section 25110, or their criminal negligence in not knowing those facts, was an element of the People’s case. The error was exacerbated by the instruction that it was not a defense that appellants acted in good faith. Given the evidence, the error was harmless as to Salas, but not as to Patrick.