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Name: People v. Torres
Case #: B226903
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 5
Opinion Date: 08/11/2011
Subsequent History: review granted 11/16/2011 (S195870)

Penal Code section 4573.5 (bringing an alcoholic beverage into place where prisoners are in custody) requires evidence that defendant “knowingly” brought the contraband into the facility. Appellants were convicted of bringing alcohol into a prison facility and possessing alcohol in prison. According to the evidence presented, an unknown individual drove to a trash can on the grounds of a minimum security prison facility, placed an item into the can, and then drove from the grounds, repeatedly honking the horn of his vehicle. Some twenty minutes later, appellants ran from a prison building and retrieved packages containing alcohol from the can. To prove section 4573.5, there must be sufficient evidence that defendant “knowingly” brought the prohibited contraband into the facility. The court upheld the convictions, finding sufficient evidence to establish that appellants acted together to assist the driver of the vehicle in transporting contraband into the prison.

Penal Code section 654 is not violated where punishment is imposed for bringing alcohol into prison and possessing alcohol in prison. The court rejected appellants’ claim that section 654 precluded punishments for both section 4573.5 and section 4573.8, finding that here appellants committed two distinct criminal acts with separate objectives. Running to the trash can amounted to circumstantial evidence that appellants participated in planning or assisting the delivery of contraband, with the crime of bringing alcohol into prison being completed once the bags were dropped into the can. Appellants’ objectives then shifted to possession which was completed when appellants took the bags from the can and ran to what they believed was a safe haven.