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People v. Camacho

March 10, 2009

THE PEOPLE, PLAINTIFF AND RESPONDENT,
v.
RAMON DOMINGO CAMACHO, DEFENDANT AND APPELLANT.



APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Alan B. Honeycutt, Judge. Affirmed as modified. (Los Angeles County Super. Ct. No. YA067055).

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kriegler, J.

CERTIFIED FOR PARTIAL PUBLICATION*fn1

A verdict form provided to the jury on a charge of robbery mistakenly identified the offense as carjacking. The mistake went unnoticed when the guilty verdict was read and the jury polled, and judgment was imposed as though the jury had returned a verdict of guilty of robbery. Because every stage of this case identified the offense as robbery-the charging document, the opening statement, arguments of counsel, and the jury instructions-we hold the jury's intent to convict on robbery was unmistakably clear. The clerical error in the verdict form does not affect the validity of the verdict.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Defendant Ramon Domingo Camacho was charged in counts 1 and 3 with carjacking (Pen. Code, § 215, subd. (a)),*fn2 and in counts 2 and 4 with second degree robbery (§ 211). Shantal Morris was the alleged victim in counts 1 and 2; her sister, Trechell Patton, was the alleged victim in counts 3 and 4. The jury returned guilty verdicts on all counts, with the verdict form in count 2 mistakenly describing the offense as carjacking instead of second degree robbery. The jury found that defendant personally used a knife within the meaning of section 12022, subdivision (b)(1), in the commission of the offenses in counts 3 and 4. Defendant was sentenced to 11 years 8 months in state prison on the carjacking charges and the weapon enhancement. The sentences on the robbery charges in counts 2 and 4 were stayed pursuant to section 654.

In this timely appeal, defendant contends the conviction in count 2 violated due process and the constitutional protection against double jeopardy because he was twice found guilty of the same carjacking offense. Respondent contends the sentence should be modified to include an additional $92 in mandatory fines and fees. We conclude no constitutional violation occurred. We further conclude the trial court erroneously failed to order court security fees on each count as required by section 1465.8, subdivision (a)(1), and modify the judgment to reflect an additional $60 in court security fees. In all other respects, the judgment is affirmed.

STATEMENT OF FACTS*fn3

On January 1, 2007, Patton was waiting in Morris's car while Morris was on an errand. Defendant entered the car on the driver's side, holding a knife. Afraid for her safety, Patton stepped out of the car, gave defendant the car keys, and notified her sister. After a brief struggle with Morris, defendant and two associates drove away in Morris's car with Patton's and Morris's belongings in it.*fn4 Patton called 911. Shortly thereafter, the police apprehended defendant and his two associates in possession of Morris's car.

DISCUSSION

I. Conviction in Count 2

The guilty verdict form on count 2 stated the jury found defendant "guilty of the crime, CARJACKING, in violation of Penal Code Section 215(a), a Felony, as charged in Count 2 of the Complaint [sic]." It went unnoticed that the offense in count 2 was described as carjacking instead of second degree robbery when the verdicts were read aloud and the jury was polled. Defendant contends that as a result of the mistake in the verdict form, he was twice convicted of the carjacking of Morris, in violation of double jeopardy and due process. We reject the premise of the contention. Viewing the record as a whole, we conclude the jury's unmistakable intent was to convict defendant of robbery, as charged in count 2, and the clerical error in the verdict form was surplusage that may be disregarded.

"'"A verdict is to be given a reasonable intendment and be construed in light of the issues submitted to the jury and the instructions of the court." [Citations.]' [Citations.]

'The form of a verdict is immaterial provided the intention to convict of the crime charged is unmistakably expressed. [Citation.]' [Citation.]" (People v. Jones (1997) 58 Cal.App.4th 693, 710.) "[T]echnical defects in a verdict may be disregarded if the jury's intent to convict of a specified offense within the charges is unmistakably clear, and the accused's substantial rights suffered no prejudice. (§§ 1258, 1404;*fn5 . . . .)" (People v. Webster (1991) 54 Cal.3d 411, 447; see also Cal. Const., art. VI, § 13.) "'There are innumerable authorities which declare that the form of the verdict is immaterial if the intention to convict of the crime charged is unmistakably expressed. [Citations.]' [Citations.] [¶] In People v. Reddick [(1959) 176 Cal.App.2d 806], the court stated: 'No particular form of verdict is required, so long as it clearly indicates the intention of the jury to find the defendant guilty of the offense with which he is charged. It is sufficient if it finds him guilty by reference to a specific count contained in the information. [Citations.]' ([Id. at p. 821].)" (People v. Bratis (1977) 73 Cal.App.3d 751, 763-764; accord, People v. Escarcega (1969) 273 Cal.App.2d 853, 858 ["In giving effect to the manifest intention of the jury, the clerical error will be disregarded."].) Where the error is in the recording of the judgment, as opposed to in the rendering of the judgment, it is clerical error which may be disregarded or corrected. (See People v. Trotter (1992) 7 Cal.App.4th 363, 370.)

We have no difficulty in determining the jury intended to find defendant guilty of second degree robbery of Morris as charged in count 2. This case was tried from start to finish with the understanding defendant was charged with two counts of carjacking and two counts of second degree robbery. Prior to jury selection, the trial court indicated its intent "to ...


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