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Name: People v. Thoma
Case #: B170355
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 6
Opinion Date: 01/26/2005

A defendant’s silence in the face of a court’s description at sentencing of a victim’s injuries was admissible in a later prosecution as an adoptive admission. The defendant pled guilty to possession of methamphetamine, and then waived jury trial on a prior conviction allegation under the three strikes law. The court found the allegation that the defendant had previously been convicted of personally inflicting great bodily injury to be true, based in part on statements made by the judge at the sentencing hearing in the prior case to the effect that the victim had suffered massive injuries and multiple broken bones. Those statements were introduced as adoptive admissions because at the time they were made, the defendant had not made any attempt to deny the description of the victim’s injuries. The Court of Appeal held that this was proper, because a reasonable person in the defendant’s shoes would have denied the allegations if they were untrue. Moreover, the introduction of the statements did not violate the defendant’s rights under Crawford v. Washington (2004) 541 U.S. 36, because a defendant’s own statements are not subject to the requirements of Crawford. One justice dissented and found that, because the description of the prior offense was not properly admitted as an adoptive admission, the People had failed to meet the burden of proof and the prior conviction should be stricken.