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Name: People v. Valenzuela
Case #: C061539
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 12/27/2010
Summary

Whether Vehicle Code section 23104 (reckless driving with injury) is a “strike” offense depends on whether the record establishes that defendant personally inflicted great bodily injury (GBI), as opposed to whether the driving proximately causes GBI. Appellant was convicted of a felony and sentenced to state prison. His sentence was doubled pursuant to the “two strikes” provisions of the Three Strikes Law (Pen. Code, § 1170.12) on the basis of a prior conviction for reckless driving proximately causing GBI (Veh. Code, § 23104, subd. (b)). On appeal, appellant argued that there was insufficient evidence to support the strike-prior finding because the documents introduced to prove the prior established only that appellant had “proximately caused” GBI, not that he had “personally inflicted” it. (See People v. Rodriguez (1999) 69 Cal.App.4th 341, 348-349.) The Court of Appeal agreed, explaining that “personally inflicting” GBI within the meaning of Penal Code sections 1192.7, subdivision (c)(23), 1192.8, and 12022.7 requires that the defendant’s conduct be the direct cause of the GBI, not merely that it be a “proximate” cause of GBI. Here, the record of the prior conviction established only that appellant’s reckless driving was a proximate cause of GBI. That evidence consisted solely of the least adjudicated elements of a violation of Vehicle Code section 23104, subdivision (b), and appellant’s recitation of the language of that statute as the factual basis of his plea in the prior case. Therefore, the evidence was insufficient to support the strike-prior finding. The Court of Appeal reversed the judgment to the extent it is based on the trial court’s finding that appellant was previously convicted of a serious felony. The case was remanded for retrial of the prior and/or resentencing.