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The People v. Jesse Araiza Trillo

May 30, 2012


(Super. Ct. No. 106289)

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

P. v. Trillo



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 This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.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 Jesse Araiza Trillo did not expressly plead guilty to the substantive charge against him, felony possession of methamphetamine, but the ultimate effect was the same as if he had. After an unsuccessful motion to suppress, a jury waiver, and a submission of the case without argument, the court found defendant guilty of the substantive charge. He was sentenced to the lower term of 16 months, doubled for a prior strike offense, making the total term of imprisonment two years and eight months.

On appeal, defendant raises two contentions. First, he asserts the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress because the evidence against him was obtained through an unlawful detention. Second, he argues the trial court's failure to advise him of his constitutional rights when the case was submitted requires reversal. We agree with the People that the trial court properly denied defendant's motion to suppress. We find merit in the second contention, however, and conclude the submission in this case was a "slow plea," tantamount to a guilty plea. Therefore, the trial court's failure to advise defendant of his constitutional rights is reversible because the record does not establish that defendant knowingly and intelligently waived his rights. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment.


Officer Nolan McManus was on patrol, in uniform and driving a marked police car, about 1:15 a.m. when he saw defendant walking down the sidewalk. Concerned about problems with transients camping at night on private property nearby, Officer McManus decided to ask defendant if he lived in the area. Officer McManus pulled over without turning on his siren or flashing his lights. He got out of the car, approached defendant, and asked him how he was doing. Officer McManus may have had a flashlight in his hand but did not have his hand on a weapon.

Defendant told Officer McManus he lived nearby and was on his way home from school. The officer asked if he was on probation or parole, and he said he was not. Officer McManus asked if defendant had any identification, and when he said he did, the officer asked if he could see it. Defendant gave him his California ID card. Because defendant seemed particularly nervous, Officer McManus asked him if "anything was going to pop up" when he ran the ID. Defendant then admitted he was on parole. Officer McManus confirmed his parole status and performed a parole search of his person. The officer found two small baggies in the coin pocket of his pants. He told Officer McManus there was methamphetamine in both baggies. Test results later confirmed the baggies contained methamphetamine.

The trial court held defendant to answer following a preliminary hearing in which defense counsel conducted only brief cross-examination, offered no defense evidence, and made no argument. He moved to suppress the evidence against him on the grounds it had been obtained during an unlawful detention. Following the trial court's denial of the motion, defense counsel indicated defendant would "admit the possession," but there would be a dispute over whether a prior conviction was a strike offense. When counsel agreed to waive jury trial, the trial court advised defendant of his right to a jury, which he also waived. The trial court clearly indicated defendant was not waiving trial entirely; he was simply agreeing to a bench trial. After the jury waiver, there was some discussion of submitting the case on "the paperwork," but the possibility of a full evidentiary hearing was left open.

When the time came for the next step, however, defense counsel and the prosecution agreed to submit the case without further evidence or argument. The court immediately announced its ruling finding defendant guilty of possessing methamphetamine. Defendant said nothing throughout this exchange and was not invited to participate. There were additional proceedings related to the enhancements, but no further discussion of the substantive charge and conviction.



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