Skip to content
Name: U.S. v. Vidal
Case #: 04-50185
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 10/10/2007

Vehicle Code section 10851 (vehicle theft) extends liability for vehicle theft to principals, accomplices, and accessories after the fact. Vidal’s sentence for violation of 8 U.S.C. section 1326 was enhanced on the basis of his prior California conviction for violation of section 10851, under the theory that section 10851 qualified as an aggravated felony within the federal sentencing scheme. Applying rules of statutory construction, the appellate court observed that section 10851 specifically makes liable any person who is “an accessory to” the stealing of a vehicle. Because Penal Code section 971 abolishes any distinction between principals and accessories before the fact, reference to accessory in section 10851 has to be to “after the offense.” Thus, with his plea to 10851, Vidal could have been guilty of being an accessory after the fact and not subject to the enhanced sentence which applies only to principals and accomplices. Further, the record otherwise failed to confirm that Vidal was convicted of elements of the theft offense such that the offense was an aggravated felony. The only judicially noticeable documents before the court were the complaint and the written plea and waiver of rights form. (Taylor v. United States (1990) 495 U.S. 575.)