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Name: People v. Valenzuela
Case #: S239122
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 06/03/2019

Street terrorism conviction must be dismissed where defendant’s felony grand theft conviction was reclassified as a misdemeanor under Proposition 47, thereby negating the “felonious conduct” element of the street terrorism offense subsumed within the same judgment. In 2013, Valenzuela stole a $200 bicycle and on that basis was convicted of both grand theft (Pen. Code, § 487 subd. (c)) and street terrorism (Pen. Code, § 186.22, subd. (a)). After Proposition 47 went into effect, Valenzuela successfully petitioned to have the grand theft conviction reclassified as misdemeanor petty theft. However, the resentencing court refused to dismiss defendant’s street terrorism conviction, despite defendant’s argument that the theft of the bicycle supplied the “felonious criminal conduct” necessary for the commission of the street terrorism offense. The Court of Appeal affirmed. The California Supreme Court granted review. Held: Reversed. An essential element of “street terrorism” is that the defendant promoted, furthered, or assisted in “any felonious criminal conduct” by gang members. (Pen. Code, § 186.22, subd. (a).) This element requires promotion of specific felonious conduct; misdemeanor conduct is insufficient. A felony conviction that is reclassified as a misdemeanor pursuant to Proposition 47 shall be considered a misdemeanor for all purposes. (Pen. Code, § 1170.18, subd. (k).) Here, it was undisputed that the act supporting the “felonious conduct” element of defendant’s street terrorism conviction was the theft of a $200 bicycle (the same act supporting the grand theft conviction). Once the grand theft conviction was reduced to a misdemeanor, the bicycle theft could no longer be considered felonious. Because this reduction established the absence of an essential element of the street terrorism crime, the street terrorism charge should have been dismissed at defendant’s full resentencing. (See People v. Buycks (2018) 5 Cal.5th 857, 888-890, 894 [requiring the court to reassess the continued applicability of prior conviction enhancements at the time of resentencing].)

[Editor’s Note: Opinion by Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye. Justice Corrigan filed a dissent, stating that the street terrorism charge should not be dismissed because street terrorism is not a theft offense to which Prop. 47 applies, nor does it require a felony conviction of any other offense, making it unlike the prior prison term enhancement at issue in Buycks. Justice Kruger filed a separate dissent in which Justice Corrigan concurred. In Justice Kruger’s view, the majority opinion conflated the grand theft conviction with the conduct underlying the conviction. Because street terrorism does not require a separate conviction for grand theft or any other offense, the reduction of defendant’s grand theft conviction does not entitle defendant to dismissal of the street terrorism conviction.]

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: