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Great Bodily Injury Enhancement on Manslaughter Conviction

Does Penal Code section 12022.7, subdivision (g), which provides that the great bodily injury enhancement of this section "shall not apply to murder or manslaughter . . . ," allow an enhancement on a manslaughter conviction for the great bodily injury inflicted on another victim who was the subject of a separate manslaughter conviction?

On July 23, 2014, the court directed supplemental briefing on the question of whether any great bodily injury enhancement was proper in this case.

Held: Sentence for gross vehicular manslaughter cannot be enhanced for great bodily injury (Pen. Code, 12022.7, subd. (a)) suffered by the deceased or surviving victims. While speeding in her Ford Fusion, Cook caused an accident that killed three people and seriously injured a fourth. The jury convicted her of three counts of gross vehicular manslaughter (Pen. Code, 192, subd. (c)(1)). As to one of the manslaughter counts, the jury also found true three great bodily injury (GBI) enhancements (Pen. Code, 12022.7, subd. (a)): one for each of the other two individuals who were killed and one for the individual who was seriously injured. Cook appealed, arguing that section 12022.7 subdivision (g) prohibited all of the GBI enhancements. The Court of Appeal reversed the two GBI enhancements related to the two victims who were killed, but it upheld the enhancement as to the victim who survived. The Supreme Court granted review. Held: All GBI enhancements prohibited. Section 12022.7 subdivision (g) provides that the GBI enhancement set forth in subdivision (a) "shall not apply to murder or manslaughter . . . ." Courts of Appeal had interpreted this provision to allow a GBI enhancement to attach to a manslaughter conviction where, in addition to the homicide victim, other victims suffered great bodily injury. (See People v. Julian (2011) 198 Cal.App.4th 1524, People v. Weaver (2007) 149 Cal.App.4th 1301, People v. Verlinde (2002) 100 Cal.App.4th 1146.) Relying on the plain language of the statute, the Supreme Court disapproved these decisions and concluded that "[s]ubdivision (g) means what it says?great bodily injury enhancements simply do not apply to murder or manslaughter." The court disagreed with the Attorney General's argument that subdivision (g)'s limitation applies only to the victim of the charged murder or manslaughter and not to any other victim. (People v. Cook (2015) 60 Cal.4th 922 (S215927).) This case was decided on 2/5/2015.

Updated: 2/5/2015

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