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The People v. Skandar Alam

December 28, 2011

THE PEOPLE, PLAINTIFF AND RESPONDENT,
v.
SKANDAR ALAM, DEFENDANT AND APPELLANT.



(Super. Ct. No. 09F08641)

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

P. v. Alam CA3

NOT TO BE PUBLISHED

California Rules of Court, rule 8.1115(a), prohibits courts and parties from citing or relying on opinions not certified for publication or ordered published, except as specified by rule 8.1115(b). This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

A jury found defendant Skandar Alam guilty of corporal injury to his spouse, T., and false imprisonment by violence or menace.

According to T.'s trial testimony, these crimes took place after the two had had an argument over the phone during which she told him she was going to leave him. Defendant returned home and started hitting and pushing T. as soon as she opened the door. She ran to their son's bedroom to retrieve her purse, but defendant followed her and was "continuously attacking [her] pretty much the whole time." He "forcefully . . . slap[ped her] . . . down on [their] son's right side of his bedpost, which [was the] left side of [her] face, cheek." Her face was bruised and her ear bled. When defendant saw what he had done, "his attitude dramatically changed" and he "wanted to take care of [her]." When T. told him no and tried to leave, defendant "pulled [her] back by [her] hair" while still pushing and slapping her.

Defendant's theory was self-defense. According to defendant's trial testimony, he did not stomp, hit, punch, or slap T. They were arguing over money, and T. was the one taking swings at him. In their son's bedroom, T. walked by defendant and bit his chest. Defendant "[t]ried to push her head back" but "she wouldn't let go." He was in pain but did not want to hit her. So he pulled her close to him so she would not be pulling his skin and then starting tipping backwards. T. pulled the opposite way, released her grip, and "took her body" sideways into the bedpost.

On appeal, defendant raises four issues relating to sufficiency of the evidence and instructional error. We affirm.

DISCUSSION

I There Was Sufficient Evidence Of Corporal Injury To A Spouse

"Any person who willfully inflicts upon . . . his . . . spouse . . . corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition, is guilty of a felony . . . ." (Pen. Code, § 273.5, subd. (a).) Defendant contends there was insufficient evidence of this crime in violation of his right to due process because T.'s injury was not caused by his direct application of physical force.

In support of his argument, defendant cites People v. Jackson (2000) 77 Cal.App.4th 574. There, the defendant pushed his girlfriend against a car parked on the street. (Id., at pp. 575-576.) In attempting to get away from the defendant, the girlfriend turned around, tripped over the curb of the sidewalk and fell to the ground, causing abrasions to her left thigh and calf. (Id., at p. 576.) The defendant argued on appeal there was insufficient evidence of corporal injury to a cohabitant because his girlfriend's injuries resulted from her own movements. (Ibid.) The appellate court agreed, holding, "the section is not violated unless the corporal injury results from a direct application of force on the victim by the defendant." (Id., at pp. 577-578, 580.) Significantly, however, the appellate court explained, "[i]f the victim fell as a direct result of the blows inflicted by [the defendant], we would conclude [he] inflicted the corporal injury she suffered in the fall." (Id., at p. 580.)

That is the situation here. The prosecutor asked T., "[W]hat was it that caused your body to or caused your face to hit the bedpost?" T. replied, "Him. His arms and hands hitting my face and head and body." As Jackson teaches, where T. fell onto the bedpost ...


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