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The People v. Mark Steven Williams

February 27, 2012

THE PEOPLE, PLAINTIFF AND RESPONDENT,
v.
MARK STEVEN WILLIAMS, DEFENDANT AND APPELLANT.



(Super. Ct. Nos. 10F2326, 10F4006)

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

P. v. Williams

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NOT TO BE PUBLISHED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 This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

Defendant Mark Steven Williams pled guilty to numerous charges, including intimidating a witness (Pen. Code,*fn1 § 136.1, subd. (a)(2)), in exchange for an agreement that the remaining charge and enhancements would be dismissed and he would be sentenced to a term of six years eight months in state prison. He was sentenced in accordance with the plea agreement.

Defendant appeals, claiming his conviction for intimidating a witness must be reversed because the trial court did not have an adequate factual basis at the time it accepted appellant's plea to that offense. Concluding the error was harmless, we affirm.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

In March 2010, defendant was charged with first degree robbery (§ 212.5, subd. (a)), assault with a deadly weapon (§ 245, subd. (a)(1)), false imprisonment (§ 236), cutting a phone line (§ 591), and unlawful taking of a vehicle (Veh. Code, § 10851, subd. (a)), with enhancements for commission of the robbery in concert with two or more persons (§ 213, subd. (a)(1)(A)) and personal use of a deadly weapon (§ 12022, subd. (b)). After the preliminary examination on these charges, defendant was charged in a new complaint with attempting to dissuade a witness from testifying. (§ 136.1, subd. (a)(2).) Defendant waived a preliminary examination on this offense.

In exchange for a stipulated state prison sentence of six years eight months, defendant pled guilty to all charges except the robbery offense, which was dismissed along with the enhancements. The deputy district attorney and defendant's attorney agreed that the preliminary examination transcript constituted a factual basis for the pleas. They also agreed that the matter did not need to be referred to the probation department. At a subsequent hearing, defendant was sentenced in accordance with the plea agreement.

Two months later, a post-sentence report was filed, which contained, among other things, a summary of the facts underlying defendant's offenses. With regard to his conviction for dissuading a witness, the report summarized the police report from the incident as follows: "[T]he defendant threatened co[]defendant Carl Cromp with bodily harm were he to testify about the defendant's role in the residential robbery described below in Case No. 10F2326. This information came to light from recordings of a jail visit in which the defendant told his visitor of his threats of harm to Cromp. Investigators interviewed Cromp who confirmed he was threatened by the defendant."

DISCUSSION

Defendant contends his guilty plea to dissuading a witness was invalid because the trial court lacked an adequate factual basis for the plea. The People concede the court erred by relying on the preliminary examination transcript to provide a factual basis for this plea. As the preliminary examination took place before defendant committed the offense and he waived a preliminary examination as to that offense, their concession is well taken. However, they maintain the error was harmless because the record contains an adequate basis for the plea. We agree.

Before accepting a guilty or no contest plea pursuant to a plea agreement in a felony case, the trial court is required to make inquiry to establish that there is a factual basis for the plea.*fn2 (ยง 1192.5; People v. Holmes, supra, 32 Cal.4th at pp. 440-442.) "'The purpose of the requirement is to protect against the situation where the defendant, although he realizes what he has done, is not sufficiently skilled in law to recognize that his acts do not constitute the offense with which he is charged. [Citation.] Inquiry into the factual basis for the plea ensures that the ...


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