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The People v. Angel Felix Valenzuela

December 28, 2010

THE PEOPLE, PLAINTIFF AND RESPONDENT,
v.
ANGEL FELIX VALENZUELA, DEFENDANT AND APPELLANT.



APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of Sacramento County, Raymond M. Cadei, Judge. (Super. Ct. No. 08F05751)

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Butz ,j.

CERTIFIED FOR PARTIAL PUBLICATION*fn1

Affirmed in part and reversed in part.

In a bifurcated proceeding, the trial court determined that defendant Angel Felix Valenzuela was previously convicted of a "serious" felony within the meaning of the three strikes law and thus the prior conviction qualified as a "strike." Defendant contends that decision is not supported by sufficient evidence. We agree.

PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND

The underlying facts are not disputed. An amended complaint was filed on August 18, 2008, charging defendant with second degree burglary in violation of Penal Code section 459 (count one)*fn2 and grand theft in violation of section 487, subdivision (a) (count two). The amended complaint further alleged that defendant had a prior strike conviction in 2000 for a serious or violent felony within the meaning of the three strikes law (§§ 667, subds. (b)-(i), 1170.12) and served a prior prison term (§ 667.5, subd. (b)).

Following a jury trial, defendant was convicted of burglary and grand theft. Defendant waived his right to a jury determination of the truth of the prior conviction and prior prison term enhancement allegations.

The court held a bench trial on the enhancement allegations. The court admitted into evidence certified copies of records showing defendant was previously convicted in 2000 of violating Vehicle Code section 23104, subdivision (b)--reckless driving that proximately causes great bodily injury--with a prior conviction for the same.

The People argued that defendant's prior conviction was for a serious felony within the meaning of section 1192.8, and thus constituted a strike under the three strikes law. Defense counsel disagreed, arguing the People failed to prove the prior conviction was for a serious felony.

The following documents were submitted by the People to prove the prior conviction: (1) handwritten minute orders; (2) a fingerprint form; (3) minute orders from defendant's plea; (4) an abstract of judgment and order of probation; (5) an amended complaint filed December 7, 1999, charging defendant with reckless driving that "did proximately cause great bodily injury to" three victims, including a 12-year-old child; (6) a reporter's transcript of the hearing at which defendant's plea was taken,*fn3 and (7) a section 969b packet from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

The reporter's transcript of defendant's plea hearing includes the following as the factual basis for defendant's plea: "On the date stated in the complaint, in the County of Sacramento, the defendant drove his vehicle upon a highway with willful[] and wanton disregard for the safety of other persons, did drive his vehicle recklessly, did approximately [sic] cause great bodily injury upon Susan and John Houk, H-O-U-K, within the meaning of Penal Code section 12022.7 . . . ." Defendant's counsel agreed to the description of the crime, asking only that the minor victim be included in the charge.

Defense counsel argued the People failed to prove the prior conviction was a serious felony because they failed to prove the victims were not accomplices to defendant's crime.*fn4 The People responded that because one of the victims was a minor, the record of conviction proved there was at least one victim who was statutorily incapable of being an accomplice, absent clear and convincing evidence he knew of the wrongful act at the time it was committed.

The trial court was not persuaded by defendant's argument. The court determined the prosecution proved defendant's prior 2000 conviction was a serious felony. The court also found true the allegation that defendant served a term in prison for the prior conviction.

The court then sentenced defendant to an aggregate term of three years eight months: (1) the low term of 16 months for count one, doubled for the strike; (2) the low term of 16 months for count two, doubled for the strike and stayed pursuant to section 654; and (3) an additional one year for ...


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