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Name: People v. Vasquez
Case #: C071195
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 05/25/2016

Gang offenses and enhancements withstood sufficiency challenge pursuant to People v. Prunty (2015) 62 Cal.4th 59, because prosecution admitted evidence of an associational connection between the members of the Norteño subset who committed the predicate acts and the subset the defendants belonged to. Vasquez and other RVN subset Norteños robbed and assaulted a stranger. During the event, witnesses heard the defendants yelling “Norte.” The jury convicted them of a number of offenses and found true a number of enhancements, including a substantive gang offense (Pen. Code, § 186.22, subd. (a)) and a gang enhancement (Pen. Code, § 186.22, subd. (b)). On appeal, the defendants challenged the sufficiency of the evidence of the gang offense and enhancement under Prunty. Held: Affirmed. The existence of a criminal street gang is an element of both the gang enhancement and substantive gang offense. In Prunty, the court held that “where the prosecution’s case positing the existence of a single criminal street gang for purposes of section 186.22(f) turns on the existence and conduct of one or more gang subsets, then the prosecution must show some associational or organizational connection uniting those subsets.” Here, the defendants belonged to the RVN Norteño subset, but the prosecution did not offer evidence that the RVN subset committed the predicate acts necessary to establish the existence of a criminal street gang. Instead, the prosecutor offered evidence that members of a different subset, the Broderick Boys, committed the predicate acts. However, the prosecution carried its burden under Prunty of showing an associational connection between the RVN subset and the Broderick Boys by admitting photos depicting RVN members and Broderick Boys together, including photos that were taken at another Norteño’s funeral: “Such conduct shows a loyalty not only to their particular set but also an association with the larger Norteno street gang as a whole.” Other evidence also showed that the Norteño subsets shared an association with each other and the larger Sacramento-area Norteño gang.

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