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The People v. Cortez Lamon Washington

October 31, 2012

THE PEOPLE, PLAINTIFF AND RESPONDENT,
v.
CORTEZ LAMON WASHINGTON, DEFENDANT AND APPELLANT.



APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of San Diego County, Frank A. Brown, Judge. (Super. Ct. No. SDC227126)

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

CERTIFIED FOR PUBLICATION

Affirmed.

In this case we address the question of whether an Illinois conviction for battery with the personal infliction of great bodily harm qualifies as a serious felony under Penal Code*fn1 section 1192.7, subdivision (c)(8) involving the personal infliction of great bodily injury. We hold that the term "great bodily harm" under Illinois law is synonymous with "great bodily injury" under California law.

A jury convicted Cortez Washington of assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury (§ 245, subd. (a)(1)), battery causing serious bodily injury (§ 243, subd. (d)), and returned true findings on three sentencing enhancements for personal infliction of great bodily injury (§§ 1192.7, subd. (c)(8) & 12022.7, subd. (a)). Washington admitted five prison prior convictions within the meaning of section 667.5, subdivision (b). He also admitted having a 1998 Illinois felony conviction of aggravated battery with a firearm (720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/12-4.2 (1998)) and a 2003 Illinois felony conviction of aggravated battery (720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/12-4(a) (2003)). Washington agreed to admit his prior Illinois convictions subject to the trial court's determination of whether the convictions qualified as serious felonies and "strikes" under the Three Strikes law.

At sentencing, the court found Washington's two prior Illinois convictions qualified as serious felonies and "strikes." (§§ 667, subds. (b)-(i), 668, 1170.12 (b)(2).) The court sentenced Washington to prison for 41 years to life. Washington appeals, arguing that the court erred in finding his prior Illinois conviction of aggravated battery (720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/12-4(a) (2003)) qualified as a serious felony and a "strike" under California law. We affirm the judgment.*fn2

DISCUSSION

"Various sentencing statutes in California provide for longer prison sentences if the defendant has suffered one or more prior convictions of specified types." (People v. Woodell (1998) 17 Cal.4th 448, 452.) A prominent example is a conviction of a "serious felony" as defined in section 1192.7, subdivision (c). A "[c]onviction of a serious felony has substantial sentencing implications under the 'Three Strikes' law [citation] and also under section 667, subdivision (a)(1), which mandates a five-year sentence enhancement for each such conviction." (People v. Avery (2002) 27 Cal.4th 49, 53 (Avery).)

"To qualify as a serious felony, a conviction from another jurisdiction must involve conduct that would qualify as a serious felony in California." (Avery, supra, 27 Cal.4th at p. 53; §§ 667, subd. (d)(2); 1170.12, subd. (b)(2).) To make this determination, the court may consider both the elements of the crime and the actual conduct as revealed by the record of conviction. (Avery, supra, at p. 53.) A record of conviction includes an accusatory pleading and a defendant's plea of guilty. (People v. Abarca (1991) 233 Cal.App.3d 1347, 1350.) When the record does not disclose the facts of the prior offense, a presumption arises that the prior conviction was for the least offense punishable under the law of the convicting state. (People v. Mumm (2002) 98 Cal.App.4th 812, 816.)

On appeal, Washington contends the record of his prior Illinois conviction for aggravated battery does not establish he personally inflicted harm on the victim as required under section 1192.7, subdivision (c)(8). Washington further contends the elements of aggravated battery in Illinois and California are not the same. Specifically, he asserts the element of "great bodily harm" under Illinois law does not equate to "great bodily injury" as required under section 1192.7, subdivision (c)(8).

Washington is mistaken. The record of Washington's prior conviction clearly reveals he was the direct cause of his victim's injury. Further, an examination of the elements of aggravated battery in Illinois discloses the element of "great bodily harm" is synonymous with "great bodily injury" under California law.

A. The Record of Washington's Prior Conviction Reveals

He Was the Direct Cause of the Injury

California law defines a serious felony as "any felony in which the defendant personally inflicts great bodily injury on any person, other than an accomplice . . . ." (ยง 1192.7, subd. (c)(8).) To "personally inflict" an injury, the defendant must directly cause the injury, and not just ...


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