Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

The People v. Reinaldo Rivera

September 20, 2012

THE PEOPLE, PLAINTIFF AND RESPONDENT,
v.
REINALDO RIVERA, DEFENDANT AND APPELLANT.



(Super. Ct. No. 10F06871)

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

P. v. Rivera

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NOT TO BE PUBLISHED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 This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.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 Reinaldo Rivera was intoxicated when he led a police officer on a car chase that culminated in defendant's car crashing into a third party's car and defendant fleeing on foot. A jury found defendant guilty of two felonies (evading a peace officer with wanton disregard for safety (count one) and evading a peace officer by driving on the wrong side of the road (count two)) and four misdemeanors.

On appeal from the resulting judgment, defendant raises contentions relating to the sufficiency of evidence, instructional error, verdict form error, and ineffective assistance of counsel for failing to raise these contentions. Finding no merit in these contentions (and not needing to address the ineffective assistance claim because we address the others on their merits), we affirm.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

California Highway Patrol Officer Robert Radford was driving his patrol car about 8:00 p.m. on October 15, 2010, in a 25-mile-per-hour residential area near Oak Park. He saw defendant driving a black Mazda toward him at 75 miles per hour. Defendant's Mazda hit some speed bumps, causing the car to launch into the air.

The officer turned his patrol car to avoid being hit by defendant's Mazda and then activated his car's red lights to pull over defendant's car for excessive speed. Defendant "blew a stop sign" and continued accelerating his Mazda. The officer turned on his siren. The officer was about 600 to 700 feet behind defendant's Mazda. Defendant turned his car left, slamming on his brakes to slow down for the turn and for a stop sign. As defendant braked, the officer was able to get within four to five car lengths. Defendant took the corner short, which caused him to enter the eastbound lane in the opposite direction for about 30 feet. After correcting to the right of the lane, defendant traveled westbound until he got to another cross street with a stop sign. He slammed on his brakes but did not make a complete stop before making a right turn. He then accelerated to 55 miles per hour before reaching another cross street with a stop sign. He again slammed on his brakes but did not make a complete stop before making a right hand turn, cutting the corner short. Once on that street, defendant made a left turn and started traveling north, accelerating to about 50 miles per hour. He then made a sharp right turn cutting the corner onto another street, slowing down to about 20 miles per hour for a stop sign. Defendant travelled east, then made a right turn and then a left turn, at which point he accelerated close to 75 miles per hour. Defendant slammed on the brakes really hard and turned left. After making the turn, defendant crashed into a green Honda.

Defendant jumped out of the driver's seat of his Mazda and a passenger jumped out of the other side. Defendant ran through a street and over fences into a yard. Defendant was eventually caught by police after jumping over a couple more fences. He smelled strongly of alcohol, had red watery eyes, and was slurring his speech. Defendant's blood-alcohol level was .15 percent.

DISCUSSION

I

There Was Sufficient Evidence Of Count Two

Defendant contends there was insufficient evidence he evaded an officer by willingly driving on the wrong side of the road (count two). He claims this is so because his intoxication made it such that a jury could not have reasonably concluded his evasion of police and driving on the wrong side of the road were done willfully. He adds that given the distance between his Mazda and the patrol car, there also was a reasonable doubt as to whether he knew he was being pursued by the officer.

Viewed in the light most favorable to the verdict as we must on a sufficiency-of-evidence review (People v. Sanghera (2006) 139 Cal.App.4th 1567, 1572), there was substantial evidence to support defendant's conviction for count two. As to whether defendant knew he was being pursued by the officer, his actions before he crashed into the green Honda provided circumstantial evidence defendant knew an officer was pursuing him. For example, defendant accelerated and repeatedly made evasive turns and ran stop signs after the officer had activated the red lights on his patrol car. A jury reasonably could infer defendant took these measures because he knew the officer was pursuing him. As to whether defendant's intoxication made it such that he did not willfully evade police or drive on the wrong side of the road, the details of his driving provide evidence his evasion was willful. For example, when making the evasive turns, defendant would brake to slow down for the turns. Similarly, when running stop signs, he would sometimes slow down, although never coming to a complete stop. A jury reasonably could infer from this conduct that despite his intoxication, defendant was well enough in charge of his faculties to at least attempt to slow down for turns and stop signs and therefore acted willfully in evading the officer and driving on the wrong side of the road.

II The Instruction On Voluntary Intoxication Was Correct

Defendant contends the instruction on voluntary intoxication was incorrect because it precluded the jury from considering the impact of his intoxication on his willfulness in driving on the wrong side of the road. Defendant reads the instruction too narrowly.

The court instructed the jury as follows:

"You may consider evidence if [sic] any of the defendant's voluntary intoxication only in a limited way. You may consider that evidence only in deciding whether the defendant acted with the intent to evade Officer Radford by willfully fleeing or attempting to [e]lude the officer.

"[¶] . . . [¶]

"In connection with the charge of Counts 1 [evading an officer] and 2 [evading an officer by driving on the wrong side of the road] and their lesser included offenses the People have the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant acted with the intent to evade ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.