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People v. Chung

California Court of Appeals, Second District, Fourth Division

June 4, 2015

THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
HELEN CHUNG, Defendant and Appellant.

[As Modification on June 9, 2015, June 29, 2015]

[CERTIFIED FOR PARTIAL PUBLICATION [*]]

APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, No. BA408648Rand Rubin, Judge.

Page 463

COUNSEL

Davina T. Chen, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Defendant and Appellant.

Kamala D. Harris, Attorney General, Gerald A. Engler, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Lance E. Winters, Assistant Attorney General, Mary Sanchez and David Zarmi, Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

Page 464

OPINION

COLLINS, J.

INTRODUCTION

Defendant Helen Chung appeals from her conviction by jury on three counts of offering narcotics for sale, with special allegations regarding prior narcotics convictions. She was sentenced to a total term of 16 years four months and was ordered to pay various fines and fees. Chung raises a number of contentions on appeal: first, that the prosecutor improperly struck the only African-American prospective juror from the panel during voir dire; second, that evidence of her prior convictions was improperly admitted at trial; third, that one of the police officer witnesses gave improper and unqualified expert testimony; and fourth, that the consecutive sentences she received violated the bar on multiple punishment for a single act under Penal Code section 654.[1] We reverse the judgment with respect to the consecutive sentences imposed on counts five (offer to sell methamphetamine) and six (offer to sell cocaine) and remand to the trial court for proceedings consistent with this opinion. We affirm the judgment in all other respects.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

A. Procedural Background

An information charged Chung (also known as Thuy Pham) with the following six counts: possession of methamphetamine for sale (Health & Saf. Code, § 11378; count one), possession of cocaine base for sale (Health & Saf. Code, § 11351.5; count two), possession of cocaine for sale (Health & Saf. Code, § 11351; count three), offer to sell cocaine base (Health & Saf. Code, § 11352; count four), offer to sell methamphetamine (Health & Saf. Code, § 11379; count five), and offer to sell cocaine (Health & Saf. Code, § 11352; count six). The information further alleged that Chung had suffered five prior felony narcotics convictions and had served five prior prison terms (Health & Saf. Code, § 11370.2; Pen. Code § 667.5, subd. (b)).

Chung pleaded not guilty and denied the special allegations. Following trial, the jury found Chung not guilty on the possession counts (counts one through three), but guilty on the offer to sell counts (counts four through six). Chung waived jury trial on, and then admitted, the five prior conviction allegations.

On November 13, 2013, the court sentenced Chung to a total term of 16 years four months. On count four, the court imposed the upper term of five years, plus nine years for three prior felony convictions.[2] (Health & Saf. Code,

Page 465

ยง 11370.2, subd. (a)).) The court imposed one-third of the middle term for count five (equaling one year) and count six (equaling one year four months), both sentences to run ...


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