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Name: People v. Velasco-Palacios
Case #: F068833
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 03/23/2015
Summary

Dismissal of charges is appropriate remedy where a prosecutor falsified an interrogation transcript to include an admission by the defendant. Appellant was charged with lewd and lascivious conduct with a child under the age of 14 (Pen. Code, § 288, subd. (a)). During plea negotiations, the prosecutor gave defense counsel a transcript of appellant’s police interrogation that indicated appellant had admitted to police that he was a child molester. Based on the transcript, defense counsel encouraged appellant to take a deal so he could avoid charges carrying a life sentence. Appellant, however, denied making any admission to police and refused to take a deal. When defense counsel asked the prosecutor for a CD of the interrogation, the prosecutor admitted that he had falsified the transcript to include the admission. Defense counsel moved to dismiss based on outrageous government conduct, which the trial court granted. The People appealed. Held: Affirmed. In United States v. Morrison (1981) 449 U.S. 361, 365, the U.S. Supreme Court held that dismissal of criminal charges is an appropriate sanction when government misconduct results in “demonstrable prejudice” or substantial threat to the defendant’s constitutional rights, including the right to counsel. Here, the trial court did not abuse its discretion by dismissing the case. The prosecutor’s falsified transcript prejudiced appellant’s right to counsel because it caused defense counsel to encourage appellant to take a deal, which, in turn, caused appellant to lose trust in his defense counsel. Further, the prosecutor’s misconduct directly led to appellant’s attorney being forced to withdraw from the case. Any remedy short of dismissal fails to provide incentive for state agents to refrain from attempting to induce a plea agreement through fraudulent evidence.