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Name: People v. Sanchez
Case #: B180113
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 8
Opinion Date: 04/21/2006
Subsequent History: 7/26/06 Review Granted: S143771

Under Penal Code section 22, defense evidence of voluntary intoxication may not be used to negate implied malice. The defendant was convicted of second degree manslaughter, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, and various related offenses. He argued on appeal that his due process rights had been violated by the exclusion of his voluntary intoxication defense. He had intended to call an expert witness to establish a “diminished actuality” defense in respect to the mental state of implied malice, and on appeal argued that the 1995 amendment to Penal Code section 22 violated his right to present a defense. The court rejected the argument, finding that section 22 as amended was not intended to exclude otherwise relevant evidence, but rather redefined the substantive offense in a way that made defendant’s proffered evidence irrelevant. The court further found that neither the terms of section 22 nor due process required that the prosecution likewise be precluded from introducing evidence of voluntary intoxication. The prosecution may, under the statute and within the bounds of due process, use voluntary intoxication to establish implied malice, even though defendant is precluded from using voluntary intoxication to negate implied malice. Because the distinctions drawn in section 22 have a rational basis, the statute does not deprive those charged with murder under an implied malice theory of equal protection under the law. Finally, the introduction of 911 tapes did not violate defendant’s confrontation rights, because the evidence from the tapes was not testimonial in nature.