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Name: People v. Villegas
Case #: A164370
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 11/15/2023
Summary

Counsel was not ineffective in failing to seek exclusion of defendant’s second statement to police where defendant waived his right to remain silent and then failed to clearly assert this right during questioning before making incriminating statements. Defendant was questioned as to sexual offenses against two alleged victims, waived his Miranda rights, made incriminating statements, and was arrested. Police then learned of a third alleged victim and questioned defendant a second time a couple days later. He waived his Miranda rights a second time and admitted making a “mistake,” but said he would not say anything else. Police detailed the allegations, and defendant said the victim was telling the truth. The court admitted the entirety of the second statement without objection by defense counsel. Defendant was convicted and appealed. Held: Affirmed. When a suspect has waived his right to remain silent, any subsequent invocation of that right must be unequivocal and unambiguous. Defendant’s statements during the interrogation (“I won’t say anything else,” “I won’t say more things anymore,” “I will tell you that it was a mistake and that’s it,” and “that’s the only thing I’ll say”) were neither unequivocal nor unambiguous. A reasonable officer could conclude that defendant was simply expressing frustration with the continued questioning. There was no Miranda violation and thus there is no substantial likelihood the result in this case would have been more favorable to defendant had defense counsel raised the claim.

Trial court erred and violated appellant’s due process right to notice when it imposed a One Strike law sentence of 25 years to life on three counts where information alleged that the punishment for those counts would be 15 years to life. The information alleged three counts related to a victim over 14 years old, and also alleged under Penal Code section 667.61, subdivisions (b) and (e) that defendant had committed offenses against multiple victims. The information stated that the punishment as to each of these counts would be 15 years to life. However, the trial court sentenced defendant to consecutive terms of 25 years to life on these counts under section 667.61(m). Defendant argued that his sentence on these counts violated his due process right to notice. The Court of Appeal agreed and modified the sentence. The court analyzed People v. Mancebo (2002) 27 Cal.4th 735 and its progeny and concluded that, even if the information met the statutory requirement to plead all enhancing allegations, defendant also had a due process right to fair notice of the specific sentence enhancement allegations that would be invoked to increase punishment for his crimes. In this case, defendant’s “due process rights were violated because—although he was on notice he was being charged with crimes against a minor victim 14 years of age or older and that the One Strike law would apply to his case—he was not given notice that Jane Doe Three’s age would be used under subdivision (m) of section 667.61 to increase his exposure on counts eight through 10 from 15 years to life to 25 years to life.” The court disagreed with other Court of Appeal opinions addressing pleading and sentencing under the One Strike law. [Editor’s Note: The California Supreme Court is considering One Strike law pleading and sentencing issues in In re Vaquera (2019) 39 Cal.App.5th 233, review granted 11/26/2019 (S258376/G056786), which was argued and submitted on 11/8/2023.]

Trial court did not err in awarding noneconomic restitution to the third victim even though the crimes committed against her were not specifically listed in Penal Code section 1202.4(f)(3)(F). With respect to Doe Three, defendant was convicted of forcible rape of a minor over 14 (Pen. Code, § 261(a)(2)), sexual penetration by a foreign object on a minor over 14 (Pen. Code, § 289(a)(1)(C)), and forcible oral copulation of a minor over 14 (Pen. Code, § 287(c)(2)(C)). The trial court awarded $500,000 in noneconomic damages to her. Defendant argued that the trial court lacked authority to award noneconomic restitution to Doe Three because the crimes alleged against that victim were not among those listed in section 1202.4(f)(3)(F), which permits such restitution for any violations of Penal Code section 288, 288.5 or 288.7. The Court of Appeal disagreed. The restitution statute permits noneconomic awards for “violations” of the listed statutes, not for “convictions” under those statutes. Thus, regardless of the specific charges alleged, the trial court could properly consider whether defendant’s actions amounted to a violation of any of the statutes. The charges and instruction left no doubt that the jury convicted defendant of conduct that violates section 288. [Editor’s Notes: (1) The Court of Appeal also followed the majority opinion in People v. Montiel (2019) 35 Cal.App.5th 312 and concluded there was no error in the award of noneconomic damages to the two mothers in this case. (2) Both defendant and the Attorney General raised issues regarding the fines and fees imposed in this case, each conceding that the other was correct. The court agreed and reduced the sex offender fine imposed pursuant to Penal Code section 290.3(a) from $4,800 to $4,300 and imposed $12,320 in additional penalty assessments.]

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: https://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/A164370.PDF