California Court of Appeals, Second District, Second Division
APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County No. TA111198. Paul A. Bacigalupo, Judge.
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David L. Kelly, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Defendant and Appellant.
Kamala D. Harris, Attorney General, Lance E. Winters, Assistant Attorney General, and Mary Sanchez, Deputy Attorney General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.
The People may initiate a civil proceeding to forfeit seized cash or its equivalent connected to drug trafficking. (Health & Saf. Code, §§ 11488.4, subd. (a), 11470, subd. (f).) When the amount to be forfeited is less than $25, 000 in value, the property’s owner must be convicted of a drug crime and “the issue of forfeiture shall be tried in conjunction” with the related criminal case. (§ 11488.4, subd. (i)(5); see id., subd. (i)(2), (3).) Does the rule requiring simultaneous trial apply when the
defendant enters a plea to the criminal charges? We conclude it does not, and affirm the forfeiture of cash in this case.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
After Donna O. Bradford (Defendant) was found in possession of cocaine and $2, 709 in cash, the People initiated two proceedings: (1) the People charged her with two felony counts of possessing cocaine for sale (§ 11351.5) and alleged she was on bail at the time of the second count (Pen. Code, § 12022.1); and (2) the People filed a petition in court to forfeit the $2, 709 in cash (§§ 11488.4, subd. (a), 11470, subd. (f).) The People served Defendant (through her counsel) with requests for admissions regarding the ownership and use of the cash. The People also served Defendant with written notice that it would seek to bifurcate the upcoming criminal trial in order to litigate the criminal charges and then the civil forfeiture action before the same jury.
Just days before trial, Defendant announced her intention to enter a plea to the criminal charges in exchange for a dismissal of the on-bail enhancement and a sentence of three years’ formal probation subject to a suspended, 76-month prison sentence. The trial court asked the parties about the pending forfeiture action, and Defendant’s attorney responded that discovery was ongoing and that the ...