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Name: People v. Nicolas
Case #: G052512
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 02/23/2017

Trial court committed structural error by erroneously instructing jury on uncharged misconduct evidence where the conduct at issue was an indivisible part of the charged offense. Nicolas was talking on her cell phone, texting, and speeding down the I-405. She slammed into the car in front of her, which was stopped in a traffic jam, going 80 miles per hour. The other motorist died. At Nicolas' trial for vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, the trial court instructed the jury over a defense objection with a modified version of CALCRIM No. 375, concerning uncharged misconduct evidence. Specifically, the jury was instructed…

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Name: People v. Mary H.
Case #: F071282
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 11/07/2016

The standard of proof in Welfare and Institutions Code section 8103, subdivision (f)(6) (preponderance of the evidence), which the People bear in order to maintain a five-year firearms ban for a person detained under section 5150, is constitutional. Following her release from a 72-hour psychiatric hold (Welf. & Inst. Code, § 5150), Mary H. filed a petition to lift the automatic five-year prohibition on gun possession (Welf. & Inst. Code, § 8103, subd. (f)). The superior court held a hearing and denied the petition, finding that the People had proven, by a preponderance of the evidence, that she would…

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Name: People v. Aguilar
Case #: B269709
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 4
Opinion Date: 10/27/2016

Trial court did not abuse its discretion in ordering defendant to pay $475 in restitution for graffiti abatement because that figure was based on more than city's average per incident cost to abate graffiti. Aguilar pleaded no contest to one count of felony vandalism for graffiti. A graffiti abatement coordinator for the City of Los Angeles testified that $475 is the flat rate for private property graffiti removal and that this figure was based on a graffiti removal cost sheet. Aguilar was ordered to pay $475 in restitution to abate it. He appealed, arguing that the method used to arrive…

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Name: People v. Rivas-Colon
Case #: A144390
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 5
Opinion Date: 10/16/2015

The petitioner bears the burden of proving he is eligible for resentencing under Proposition 47. Rivas-Colon went into the NFL Shop at Pier 39 in San Francisco and attempted to leave with $1,437.74 worth of merchandise without paying. He pled guilty to second degree commercial burglary (Pen. Code, § 459). After Proposition 47 passed, Rivas-Colon petitioned for resentencing of his felony burglary conviction based on newly added Penal Code section 459.5, which classifies shoplifting as a misdemeanor "where the value of the property that is taken or intended to be taken does not exceed [$950]." The People argued Rivas-Colon was…

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Name: People v. Sherow
Case #: D067605
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 08/11/2015

A person seeking to have felony second degree burglary convictions reduced to misdemeanor shoplifting (Pen. Code, § 459.5) under Proposition 47 has the burden to show the property loss in each count did not exceed $950. Sherow was convicted of multiple counts of second degree burglary, a strike prior, and enhancements. He was originally sentenced to 19 years, 4 months in prison. In November 2014, Sherow filed a petition for resentencing on five of the burglary counts pursuant to Proposition 47. The prosecutor opposed the request, contending that the losses exceeded $950. Relief was denied and Sherow appealed the decision…

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Name: Smith v. United States
Case #: Nov-76
Court: US Supreme Court
District USSup
Opinion Date: 01/09/2013
Subsequent History: 133 S.Ct. 714; 184 L.Ed.2d 570

Due process does not require the prosecution to disprove a defendant's withdrawal from a conspiracy within the statute of limitations. Smith was convicted of federal drug trafficking and other charges. On appeal he challenged his conspiracy conviction as barred by the applicable federal statute of limitations (18 U.S.C. § 3282), as well as the court's instruction to the jury that once the prosecution proved that Smith was part of a conspiracy, Smith bore the burden of proving withdrawal from the conspiracy. Held: Affirmed. The Court noted the circuits are divided regarding the burden of proving withdrawal from a conspiracy. It…

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Name: People v. Gregerson
Case #: G044661
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 12/22/2011

A Mentally Disordered Offender (MDO) has the burden of proof on his motion for outpatient treatment and the standard is "reasonable cause" to believe that outpatient treatment would be safe and effective. There was agreement in the trial court that the standard would be a preponderance of evidence. The issue was addressed on appeal because it was a pure question of law and pertinent to a proper disposition of the cause. The standard of "reasonable cause" is set forth in the plain language of the statute. (Pen. Code, sec. 2972, subd. (d).) Because the trial court applied an elevated standard…

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Name: People v. Ary
Case #: A113020
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 04/20/2009
Subsequent History: rev. granted 7/29/09 (S173309)

In the "rare" case in which a retrospective competency hearing is conducted as a result of a Pate violation(Pate v. Robinson (1966) 383 U.S. 375 [trial court's failure to accord appellant a competency hearing at trial], due process requires that the state bear the burden of proof of proving competency by a preponderance of evidence. Appellant was convicted of first degree murder, carjacking, robbery, and being a felon in possession of a firearm. The jury also found true firearm allegations. Appellant was sentenced to life without possibility of parole. On appeal, the appellate court determined that the…

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Name: People v. Mayo
Case #: B180282
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 7
Opinion Date: 06/14/2006

The trial court's failure to instruct the jury on the meaning of reasonable doubt was harmless because the jury was adequately informed of the reasonable doubt standard. The trial court in this case apparently inadvertently failed to read CALJIC 2.90 to the jury. Apply the Watson standard, the Court of Appeal found the error harmless. Although the reasonable doubt instruction is critical, the federal constitution does not require the trial court to define reasonable doubt, and other instructions adequately informed the jury of the reasonable doubt…

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Name: Smith v. Mitchell
Case #: 04-55831
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 02/09/2006

Habeas relief was available where the evidence introduced at trial did not support the defendant’s conviction for causing the death of her grandson under the prosecution theory of shaken baby syndrome. The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court’s denial of habeas relief after the California appellate courts affirmed the defendant’s conviction under Penal Code section 273ab. The court found that the evidence produced at trial was constitutionally insufficient under Jackson v. Virginia (1979) 443 U.S. 307, because no rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. The court…

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