Supreme Court of California Justia
Citation 51 Cal. 4th 47, 244 P.3d 1062, 119 Cal. Rptr. 3d 415

People v. Albillar

Filed 12/20/10

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF CALIFORNIA

THE PEOPLE,
Plaintiff and Respondent,
S163905
v.
Ct.App. 2/6 B194358
ALBERT ANDREW ALBILLAR et al.,
Ventura County
Defendants and Appellants.
Super. Ct. No. 2005044985

Defendants Albert Albillar, Alex Albillar, and John Madrigal stand
convicted by a jury of forcible rape while acting in concert (Pen. Code, §§ 261,
subd. (a)(2), 264.1), forcible sexual penetration while acting in concert (id., §§
289, subd. (a)(1), 264.1), and active participation in a criminal street gang (id., §
186.22, subd. (a)). The jury further found that the sex offenses were committed
for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with a criminal street gang
with the specific intent to promote, further, or assist in any criminal conduct by
gang members. (Id., § 186.22, subd. (b).) Defendants challenge the sufficiency of
the evidence supporting their convictions of the substantive gang offense as well
as the gang enhancements. This appeal raises three issues.
The first involves the substantive offense defined by Penal Code section
186.22, subdivision (a) (section 186.22(a)), which punishes “[a]ny person who
actively participates in any criminal street gang with knowledge that its members
engage in or have engaged in a pattern of criminal gang activity, and who willfully
1


promotes, furthers, or assists in any felonious criminal conduct by members of that
gang.” Does this offense include an unwritten requirement that the “felonious
criminal conduct” that is promoted, furthered, or assisted be gang related? We
conclude it does not.
The remaining issues involve the enhancement defined by Penal Code
section 186.22, subdivision (b)(1) (section 186.22(b)(1)), which adds specified
penalties for “any person who is convicted of a felony committed for the benefit
of, at the direction of, or in association with any criminal street gang, with the
specific intent to promote, further, or assist in any criminal conduct by gang
members.” Was there sufficient evidence to support the first prong—i.e., that the
charged sex offenses were “committed for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in
association with” a criminal street gang? And does the second prong require
evidence that the charged sex offenses were committed with the specific intent to
promote, further, or assist other criminal conduct by the gang—i.e., gang-related
criminal conduct apart from the charged offenses? We conclude that these
offenses were committed for the benefit of and in association with the gang. We
also conclude, in accordance with the plain language of the enhancement, that the
scienter element of the enhancement requires only “the specific intent to promote,
further, or assist in any criminal conduct by gang members.” (§ 186.22(b)(1),
italics added.)
We therefore affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeal.
BACKGROUND
In December 2004, twin brothers Albert and Alex Albillar and their cousin,
John Madrigal, lived in an apartment in Thousand Oaks. All three defendants
were in their 20‟s. All three were also members of the Southside Chiques gang.
On December 29, 2004, the three defendants met up with 15-year-old
Amanda M., her friend, 14-year-old Carol M., and a third girl, Adriana, who was
2
16. Amanda knew that Alex and Albert were gang members but was not afraid of
them, since neither of them had ever threatened her. But when Amanda was alone
with the three defendants, Albert suggested to Amanda that they “have a
foursome.” Amanda, who did not have a “romantic relationship” with any of the
defendants, replied “no” in a laughing manner. She did not think he was serious.
Later on, the group went to defendants‟ apartment. Albert brought Carol to
the bedroom. He took off her pants and licked her vagina. After asking for her
consent and hearing no reply, he engaged in sexual intercourse with her. Carol
became upset, though, and told him to stop. He immediately withdrew. When she
came out of the room, alone, she was crying and said she wanted to go home.
Defendants and the three girls got back in the car. Carol and Adriana were
dropped off separately. On the way to Amanda‟s house, one of the defendants
said he needed to make a stop at their apartment to use the bathroom, so Amanda
accompanied them as they returned to the apartment. Amanda believed the stop
would be brief and telephoned Carol to tell her so.
Once at the apartment, though, Albert told Amanda he wanted to talk to her
alone in the bedroom. He told her he had engaged in oral sex and sexual
intercourse that evening with Carol but had stopped “right away” when she told
him to stop. Albert then kissed Amanda and removed her jeans. When Alex and
Madrigal opened the bedroom door and asked if they could “get in,” Amanda
yelled, “No. Get out.” But Alex and Madrigal paid her no heed. Albert moved
off Amanda and grabbed one of her legs, while Madrigal grabbed the other,
spreading her legs apart. Alex, who weighed considerably more than Amanda,
climbed on top of her and pinned her hands above her head with one arm. He used
the other to push her panties to one side and digitally penetrated her vagina.
Amanda struggled to close her legs and told defendants to get away from her, but
Alex had his full body weight on top of her, and Albert and Madrigal continued to
3
hold her legs apart. Meanwhile, Alex withdrew his finger, inserted his penis, and
raped her.
When Alex finished, Madrigal got on top of her. He had a Southside
Chiques gang tattoo on his face, but Amanda slapped him. He replied in a
threatening manner, “You don‟t even know what you just did,” bit her thigh and
shoulder, and thrust his fingers in her vagina. He attempted to kiss her on the
mouth, but she moved her head back and forth, and told him repeatedly “no,”
“stop,” and “get off me.” Although Amanda tried to push Madrigal away, he
proceeded to rape her—while the two other defendants stood in the doorway
watching and giggling.
Amanda tried to get up after Madrigal had finished, but Albert pushed her
back on the bed, climbed on top of her, and stuck his fingers into her vagina. She
told him to stop, but he did not listen. Instead, he withdrew his fingers and raped
her. Amanda continued to protest and then tried to pretend the rape was not
happening. Albert ended by ejaculating on her stomach. Defendants subsequently
drove her home.
Amanda originally did not want to tell anyone what had happened because
“she feared that since the suspects were gang members they [would] come after
her family.” After some coaxing, though, Amanda told her younger sister and a
few friends what was wrong and what had happened to her. When defendants
became aware of the allegations Amanda was making, Amanda received a
telephone call from Jazmin Sarabia, whose boyfriend was a Southside Chiques
gang member and who was herself friends with defendants. Jazmin warned that
Amanda and her family could be hurt if they told the police. Amanda became
fearful for her family and decided to tell her parents what happened. They then
contacted the police. Before the police were notified, though, Amanda and her
4
mother also received threatening telephone calls from Albert‟s girlfriend, Carol
M., as well as from Jazmin.
Oxnard Police Detective Neail Holland testified as an expert about gangs in
Oxnard and the Southside Chiques gang in particular. Southside Chiques, whose
membership is mostly Hispanic, claims part of Oxnard as its “turf,” although its
crimes are not limited to that specific geographic area. The gang has engaged in a
pattern of “violent and vicious and brutal” crimes against a wide assortment of
victims—“rival gangs, residents within their community, residents outside their
community, family members, people that are close to them and even members
within their own gang.”
Southside Chiques gang members obtain status within the gang through
various means, including committing crimes and assisting other gang members in
committing crimes. Gang members commit crimes together to increase their
chances of success, to bolster their confidence in one another, and to enable the
participants to boast about each other‟s criminal endeavors to those were not
present, since gang members would not necessarily increase their status by “going
out and committing crimes by themselves and then coming back and bragging
about it to the rest of the gang with absolutely no proof of its occurrence.”
Alternatively, a gang member could lose status by “not supporting gang members
when they‟re out committing crimes or committing gang activities.” Gang
members also rely on intimidation and violence to gain “respect” in the
community and to further the gang‟s interests.
In responding to a hypothetical based on the circumstances of this gang
rape, Holland opined that such a crime would have been committed for the benefit
of, at the direction of, or in association with a criminal street gang. His opinion
was based on the way in which the gang members worked cooperatively to
accomplish the rapes, the brutality and viciousness of the crimes, and the
5
enhancement to the reputations for violence and viciousness of the gang and the
participating gang members.
A jury convicted defendants of the forcible rape of Amanda M. while acting
in concert and the forcible rape of Amanda M. by a foreign object while acting in
concert, both of which were committed for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in
association with a criminal street gang. The jury also found that all defendants
had actively participated in a criminal street gang. Albert was convicted of the
additional offense of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, Carol M. (Pen.
Code, § 261.5, subd. (c).) The trial court sentenced Albert to 20 years in prison,
Alex to 24 years and four months, and Madrigal to 19 years and four months.
The Court of Appeal affirmed in a published opinion. As pertinent here,
the Court of Appeal rejected defendants‟ challenge to the sufficiency of the
evidence underlying the substantive gang offense and the gang enhancements. We
granted defendants‟ petitions for review, limited to the question whether
substantial evidence supported the convictions under sections 186.22(a) and
186.22(b)(1), which are part of the Street Terrorism Enforcement and Prevention
Act (STEP Act).
I
THE SUFFICIENCY OF THE EVIDENCE SUPPORTING THE SUBSTANTIVE
GANG OFFENSE (§ 186.22(a))
Defendants were convicted of violating section 186.22(a), which provides:
“Any person who actively participates in any criminal street gang with knowledge
that its members engage in or have engaged in a pattern of criminal gang activity,
and who willfully promotes, furthers, or assists in any felonious criminal conduct
by members of that gang, shall be punished . . . .” Defendants contend that this
gang offense includes an implied requirement that the felonious criminal conduct
be gang related, and that the record is devoid of evidence that the criminal conduct
6
they promoted, furthered or assisted was gang related. We conclude, in
accordance with the text of the statute, that a violation of section 186.22(a) is
established when a defendant actively participates in a criminal street gang with
knowledge that the gang‟s members engage or have engaged in a pattern of
criminal activity, and willfully promotes, furthers, or assists in any felonious
criminal conduct by gang members.
We begin with the familiar canon that, when construing statutes, our goal is
“ „ “to ascertain the intent of the enacting legislative body so that we may adopt
the construction that best effectuates the purpose of the law.” ‟ ” (City of Santa
Monica v. Gonzalez (2008) 43 Cal.4th 905, 919.) “We first examine the words of
the statute, „giving them their ordinary and usual meaning and viewing them in
their statutory context, because the statutory language is usually the most reliable
indicator of legislative intent.‟ ” (Ibid.) “ „If the language of the statute is not
ambiguous, the plain meaning controls and resort to extrinsic sources to determine
the Legislature‟s intent is unnecessary.‟ ” (People v. Traylor (2009) 46 Cal.4th
1205, 1212.)
As defendants Albert Albillar and Alex Albillar concede, section 186.22(a)
is not facially ambiguous. (See People v. Castenada (2000) 23 Cal.4th 743, 752
[“Through section 186.22(a)‟s plainly worded requirements—criminal knowledge,
willful promotion of a felony, and active participation in a criminal street gang—
our Legislature has made it reasonably clear what conduct is prohibited”].) The
provision criminalizes active participation in a criminal street gang by a person
who has the requisite knowledge and who “willfully promotes, furthers, or assists
in any felonious criminal conduct by members of that gang.” (§ 186.22(a), italics
added.) The plain language of the statute thus targets felonious criminal conduct,
not felonious gang-related conduct. Where there is no ambiguity in the statutory
text, “ „then the Legislature is presumed to have meant what it said, and the plain
7
meaning of the language governs.‟ ” (Lennane v. Franchise Tax Bd. (1994) 9
Cal.4th 263, 268.)
“[J]udicial construction of unambiguous statutes is appropriate only when
literal interpretation would yield absurd results.” (Simmons v. Ghaderi (2008) 44
Cal.4th 570, 583.) But there is nothing absurd in targeting the scourge of gang
members committing any crimes together and not merely those that are gang
related. Gang members tend to protect and avenge their associates. Crimes
committed by gang members, whether or not they are gang related or committed
for the benefit of the gang, thus pose dangers to the public and difficulties for law
enforcement not generally present when a crime is committed by someone with no
gang affiliation. “These activities, both individually and collectively, present a
clear and present danger to public order and safety . . . .” (Pen. Code, § 186.21.)
The gravamen of the substantive offense set forth in section 186.22(a) is
active participation in a criminal street gang. We explained in People v.
Castenada, supra, 23 Cal.4th 743, that the phrase “actively participates” reflects
the Legislature‟s recognition that criminal liability attaching to membership in a
criminal organization must be founded on concepts of personal guilt required by
due process: “a person convicted for active membership in a criminal organization
must entertain „guilty knowledge and intent‟ of the organization‟s criminal
purposes.” (Id. at p. 749.) Accordingly, the Legislature determined that the
elements of the gang offense are (1) active participation in a criminal street gang,
in the sense of participation that is more than nominal or passive; (2) knowledge
that the gang‟s members engage in or have engaged in a pattern of criminal gang
activity; and (3) the willful promotion, furtherance, or assistance in any felonious
criminal conduct by members of that gang. (People v. Lamas (2007) 42 Cal.4th
516, 523.) All three elements can be satisfied without proof the felonious criminal
conduct promoted, furthered, or assisted was gang related.
8
The Legislature clearly knew how to draft language limiting the nature of
the criminal conduct promoted, furthered, or assisted and could have included
such language had it desired to so limit the reach of section 186.22(a). Indeed, the
Legislature did exactly that in the subdivision immediately following—i.e., section
186.22(b)(1), which provides for an enhanced sentence for “any person who is
convicted of a felony committed for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in
association with any criminal street gang, with the specific intent to promote,
further, or assist in any criminal conduct by gang members . . . .” (Italics added.)
“ „[W]hen different words are used in contemporaneously enacted, adjoining
subdivisions of a statute, the inference is compelling that a difference in meaning
was intended.‟ ” (Kleffman v. Vonage Holdings Corp. (2010) 49 Cal.4th 334,
343.)
The absence of ambiguity in the statutory language dispenses with the need
to review the legislative history. We note, however, that the legislative history is
consistent with a plain language construction of the statute. Senate Bill No. 1555
(1987-1988 Reg. Sess.) (Senate Bill No. 1555), the bill that as chaptered as
Statutes 1988, chapter 1256, eventually enacted the first Penal Code section
186.22, included in its original form a gang-related-activity requirement of the
type defendants now ask us to impose. The original bill created a separate offense
for “[a]ny person who actively conducts or participates, directly or indirectly, in
any gang, with the specific intent to promote or further any of its criminal gang-
related activity or to assist in continuing its pattern of criminal gang-related
activity. . . .” (Sen. Bill. No. 1555, as introduced Mar. 6, 1987, § 1, p. 5, italics
added [proposing Pen. Code, § 186.13, subd. (a)].) When amended to consolidate
the substantive gang offense and create a separate enhancement on May 22, 1987,
the italicized language was deleted throughout. The amended bill added a new
section 186.22 to the Penal Code, which provided that “[a]ny person who actively
9
participates in any criminal street gang with knowledge that its members or
participants engage in or have engaged in a pattern of criminal gang activity” was
guilty of a felony if the person “willfully promotes, furthers, or assists in any
criminal conduct by gang members or participants,” and provided for an
alternative felony-misdemeanor “wobbler” if the person has “the specific intent to
promote, further, or assist in any criminal conduct by its members or participants.”
(Sen. Bill No. 1555, as amended May 22, 1987, § 1, pp. 10-11, italics added.)
Subsequent amendments deleted the specific intent requirement, deleted the
reference to “participants,” and added the word “felonious” to the “criminal
conduct” that was promoted, furthered, or assisted, so that the definition of the
gang offense, a wobbler, read (as the current version of § 186.22(a) still reads):
“Any person who actively participates in any criminal street gang with knowledge
that its members engage in or have engaged in a pattern of criminal gang activity,
and who willfully promotes, furthers, or assists in any felonious criminal conduct
by members of that gang, shall be punished . . . .” (Sen. Bill No. 1555, as
amended June 23, 1987, § 1, pp. 5-6; former § 186.22(a), as enacted by Stats.
1988, ch. 1256, § 1, p. 4179, repealed and reenacted by Stats. 1989, ch. 930, §§ 5,
5.1, pp. 3251, 3253.) The elimination of the bill‟s original requirement that the
felonious conduct be gang related is “significant indicia of legislative intent.”
(Wells v. One2One Learning Foundation (2006) 39 Cal.4th 1164, 1192.)
Defendants cite to a number of letters and reports submitted by various
persons and groups to the Legislature in support of Senate Bill No. 1555. In
purporting to summarize the effect of the proposed legislation, these materials
often referred to the need for stricter laws against “gang-related” activity. Some of
these materials predated the May 22, 1987, amendments and thus did not purport
to address the language that was ultimately enacted, while others do not appear to
distinguish between the substantive crime set forth in section 186.22(a) and the
10
enhancement set forth in section 186.22(b)(1). In any event, summaries submitted
to the Legislature by outside parties cannot alter the plain statutory language the
Legislature actually enacted, which contains no requirement that the felonious
criminal conduct be gang related. (Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Allapattah Services, Inc.
(2005) 545 U.S. 546, 568; cf. Vasquez v. State of California (2008) 45 Cal.4th
243, 252-253.)
Defendants argue next that even if the statute does not include a
requirement that the felonious criminal conduct be gang related, the federal
Constitution would compel one. In their view, omission of such a requirement
would create a status offense in violation of Scales v. United States (1961) 367
U.S. 203. Scales, however, is distinguishable. The statute at issue in Scales made
“a felony the acquisition or holding of knowing membership in any organization
which advocates the overthrow of the Government of the United States by force or
violence.” (Id. at p. 205.) The high court construed the statute to require active
membership and, as so construed, upheld it despite the absence of any element
requiring a specific act of criminality, placing active membership in the same
category as criminal conspiracy and complicity—“particular legal concepts
manifesting the more general principle that society, having the power to punish
dangerous behavior, cannot be powerless against those who work to bring about
that behavior.” (Id. at p. 225.)
In People v. Castenada, supra, 23 Cal.4th 743, we noted that section
186.22(a) similarly required active participation in the gang, which means
evidence that the defendant‟s involvement is more than nominal or passive. (Id. at
p. 745.) “Under Scales, the due process requirement that criminal liability rest on
personal guilt means simply that a person convicted for active membership in a
criminal organization must entertain „guilty knowledge and intent‟ of the
organization‟s criminal purposes.” (Id. at p. 749.) “This explains why the
11
Legislature expressly required in section 186.22(a) that a defendant not only
„actively participates‟ in a criminal street gang . . . but also that the defendant does
so with „knowledge that [the gang‟s] members engage in or have engaged in a
pattern of criminal gang activity,‟ and that the defendant „willfully promotes,
furthers, or assists in any felonious criminal conduct by members of that gang.‟
These statutory elements necessary to prove a violation of section 186.22(a)
exceed the due process requirement of personal guilt that the United States
Supreme Court articulated in Scales . . . .” (Castenada, supra, 23 Cal.4th at p.
749; accord, Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project (2010) ___ U.S. ___, ___ [130
S.Ct. 2705, 2718.].)
We also said in Castenada that the phrase “actively participates” needs no
further description to prevent arbitrary law enforcement and provide adequate
notice to potential offenders, explaining that to participate “actively” in an
enterprise means an involvement that is more than nominal or passive (People v.
Castenada, supra, 23 Cal.4th at p. 747), and that the distinction between active
and nominal participation is well understood in common parlance (id. at p. 752).
Although unnecessary to our decision, we added: “every person incurring
criminal liability under section 186.22(a) has aided and abetted a separate felony
offense committed by gang members. [Citation.] By linking criminal liability to a
defendant‟s criminal conduct in furtherance of a street gang, section 186.22(a)
reaches only those street gang participants whose gang involvement is, by
definition, „more than nominal or passive.‟ ” (People v. Castenada, supra, at
p. 752.) Defendants insist our reference in Castenada to “criminal conduct in
furtherance of a street gang” evidences our agreement with their argument that
section 186.22(a) would pass constitutional muster only if it were to link a
defendant‟s criminal liability to a separate felony offense committed by street
gang members in furtherance of the gang. But we made the quoted statement in
12
response to a different argument, i.e., that the phrase “actively participates” fails to
provide fair warning of the conduct section 186.22(a) prohibits, pointing out that
Castenada reasonably would have understood that his crime committed in
furtherance of the gang was evidence of active participation. (Castenada, supra,
at p. 752.) We were not presented in Castenada with the specific argument raised
by defendants here and, indeed, other parts of the opinion acknowledged the
enhancement‟s application “to those who promote, further, or assist a specific
felony committed by gang members.” (Id. at p. 749, italics added; see also id. at
pp. 750-751.) The isolated remark seized on by defendants, therefore, provides no
authority for their argument. (Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. Workers’ Comp. Appeals
Bd. (1999) 19 Cal.4th 1182, 1195.)
Having now considered the argument that the phrase “any felonious
criminal conduct” in section 186.22(a) refers only to gang-related felonious
criminal conduct, we reject it. Defendants do not otherwise challenge the
sufficiency of the evidence underlying their convictions of the substantive gang
offense.
II
THE SUFFICIENCY OF THE EVIDENCE SUPPORTING THE GANG
ENHANCEMENT (§ 186.22(b)(1))
The jury also found that defendants violated section 186.22(b)(1), which
provides: “[A]ny person who is convicted of a felony committed for the benefit
of, at the direction of, or in association with any criminal street gang, with the
specific intent to promote, further, or assist in any criminal conduct by gang
members, shall, upon conviction of that felony, in addition and consecutive to the
punishment prescribed for the felony or attempted felony of which he or she has
been convicted, be punished . . . .” Defendants contend that the evidence was
insufficient to satisfy the first prong of the enhancement, in that there was no
13
evidence the sex offenses were committed for the benefit of, at the direction of, or
in association with Southside Chiques. As to the second prong, defendant
Madrigal argues that there was no evidence the sex offenses were committed with
the specific intent to promote, further, or assist other criminal conduct by gang
members, and all three defendants argue that there was no evidence the sex
offenses were committed with the specific intent to facilitate criminal conduct by
the gang. None of these contentions has merit.
A
Defendants claim there is insufficient evidence that the forcible rape in
concert and the forcible digital penetration in concert were committed for the
benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with the Southside Chiques, and
that the jury findings as to the enhancements on those two counts must be
reversed. In considering a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence to support
an enhancement, we review the entire record in the light most favorable to the
judgment to determine whether it contains substantial evidence—that is, evidence
that is reasonable, credible, and of solid value—from which a reasonable trier of
fact could find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. (People v. Wilson
(2008) 44 Cal.4th 758, 806.) We presume every fact in support of the judgment
the trier of fact could have reasonably deduced from the evidence. (Ibid.) If the
circumstances reasonably justify the trier of fact‟s findings, reversal of the
judgment is not warranted simply because the circumstances might also
reasonably be reconciled with a contrary finding. (People v. Lindberg (2008) 45
Cal.4th 1, 27.) “A reviewing court neither reweighs evidence nor reevaluates a
witness‟s credibility.” (Ibid.)
As we have previously explained, the Legislature included the requirement
that the crime to be enhanced be committed for the benefit of, at the direction of,
or in association with a criminal street gang to make it “clear that a criminal
14
offense is subject to increased punishment under the STEP Act only if the crime is
„gang related.‟ ” (People v. Gardeley (1996) 14 Cal.4th 605, 622.) Not every
crime committed by gang members is related to a gang. These crimes, though,
were gang related in two ways: they were committed in association with the gang,
and they were committed for the benefit of the gang.
1
The record supported a finding that defendants relied on their common
gang membership and the apparatus of the gang in committing the sex offenses
against Amanda M.
Neail Holland, a gang investigator with the Oxnard Police Department,
testified that status and respect were two of the most important elements of gang
membership. Status can be earned by “being with other [Southside] Chiques gang
members, committing crimes,” but can be reduced by “not supporting gang
members when they‟re out committing crimes or committing gang activities.”
Respect can likewise be earned by committing crimes “with other [Southside]
Chiques members so that it‟s recognized within the group that this person is
contributing to the gang or is still showing his heart and interest in the gang.”
As Holland explained, gang members choose to commit crimes together
because “it increases their success of completing the crime. . . . [I]t bolsters each
other‟s confidence in the commission of the crime. It serves as somewhat of a
training . . . for a younger gang member to watch the actions and the level of
participation of more senior gang members. They can trust on each other‟s
loyalties. They can handle contingencies that may arise during the commission of
crime that they did not plan for initially. They can multi-task during the
commission of a crime.”
Holland explained that there were further benefits when gang members
worked together: “[O]ne of the most important things why gang members commit
15
crimes together is the value of one gang member witnessing another gang member
committing the crime because that gang member can share it with others or keep it
within the group and bolster this person‟s status by their level of participation in
the crime . . . . [¶] Gang members do not increase their status or reputation by
going out, necessarily going out and committing crime by themselves and then
coming back and bragging about it to the rest of the gang with absolutely no proof
of its occurrence.” By committing crimes together, though, gang members
increase their status not only among those participating in the crimes, but also
among the entire gang when fellow participants “relay it” to other gang members.
Committing a crime with fellow gang members also enables the
participants to rely on intimidation, which is “one of [the gang‟s] mainstream daily
objectives in furthering their gang interest.” In addition, the bonds within the gang
“would keep people from ratting on their own gang” to the police about the crimes
that gang members were committing.
Holland‟s expert testimony adequately described the relationship between
the gang and the current crimes. Because each defendant was a member of the
Southside Chiques, he could and did rely on the others‟ cooperation in committing
the offenses against Amanda M.: Albert suppressed his own personal interest in
having sex with the victim and immediately yielded to the others when they asked
if they could “get in”; without another word being spoken, Albert and Madrigal
held the victim‟s legs down while Alex raped her; Albert and Alex blocked the
door while Madrigal raped her; and Alex and Madrigal remained in the apartment
while Albert raped her. Defendants knew, because of the nature of the gang, that
no one would be a “rat,” which would be “one of the worst things, if not the worst
thing the gang can have within itself.” As the prosecutor put it in closing
argument, “they counted on each other‟s loyalty to be there and [to] back them
up.” Defendants also knew that fear of the gang would prevent Amanda from
16
reporting the incident to the police—and, indeed, in the days afterwards, Jazmin
Sarabia (who was friends with one gang member, Albert, and was dating another)
and Carol M. (who was Albert‟s girlfriend) warned Amanda and her family that
Amanda “would suffer with her life” if they contacted the police.
In short, defendants‟ conduct exceeded that which was necessary to
establish that the offenses were committed in concert. Defendants not only
actively assisted each other in committing these crimes, but their common gang
membership ensured that they could rely on each other‟s cooperation in
committing these crimes and that they would benefit from committing them
together. They relied on the gang‟s internal code to ensure that none of them
would cooperate with the police and on the gang‟s reputation to ensure that the
victim did not contact the police. We therefore find substantial evidence that
defendants came together as gang members to attack Amanda M. and, thus, that
they committed these crimes in association with the gang. (See People v. Ochoa
(2009) 179 Cal.App.4th 650, 661, fn. 7; People v. Martinez (2008) 158
Cal.App.4th 1324, 1332; People v. Morales (2003) 112 Cal.App.4th 1176, 1179,
1198; accord, Jackson v. State (Ga. 2000) 528 S.E.2d 232, 234-235.)
It is true, as defendants point out, that defendants were related to each other
and lived together, and “it is conceivable that several gang members could commit
a crime together, yet be on a frolic and detour unrelated to the gang.” (People v.
Morales, supra, 112 Cal.App.4th at p. 1198.) Here, though, the record contains no
evidence concerning the significance of those family ties to defendants‟ criminal
activity in this instance or in any other. One may observe, however, “that gang
members frequently come from families in which relatives were also gang
members.” (Conly, Street Gangs: Current Knowledge and Strategies (1993) p.
18.) Therefore, to presume, as defendants urge, that family ties necessarily
17
predominate over gang affiliation when gang members who are related commit
crimes together would substantially eviscerate the gang enhancement.
Indeed, the record here refutes the defense claim that defendants‟
relationship and commitment to the Southside Chiques was merely “superficial.”
Alex had a gang tattoo across his chest and abdomen, in very large letters; Albert
had gang tattoos on his neck, back, and forearm, as well as a misspelled gang
tattoo on his stomach; and Madrigal had a gang tattoo on his face, which “shows
that the individual has a lot of love for that gang and is continually representing
the gang and his affiliation with it.” The apartment they shared was “saturated”
with gang paraphernalia—gang clothing, photographs of themselves and fellow
gang members wearing gang clothing and flashing gang signs, papers with gang
graffiti, and a phone list of fellow gang members. Accordingly, the jury, which
was presented with the competing inferences, was entitled to credit the evidence
that the attack on Amanda M. was gang related, not family related. (People v.
Martinez, supra, 158 Cal.App.4th at pp. 1332-1334; People v. Garcia (2007) 153
Cal.App.4th 1499, 1512; People v. Olguin (1994) 31 Cal.App.4th 1355, 1382-
1383; see generally People v. Millwee (1998) 18 Cal.4th 96, 132; Juchert v.
California Water Service Co. (1940) 16 Cal.2d 500, 507-508.) Under the
circumstances here, it strains credulity to argue, as defendants do, that their
common gang membership “had nothing to do with this rape,” “was an irrelevancy
to the sexual offenses,” “a mere incidental to their lives; akin to school loyalty, or
which football team they favored, or whether they drank their coffee with or
without cream.”
2
The record also supported a finding that the crimes were committed to
benefit the Southside Chiques gang.
18
Holland testified that “[w]hen three gang members go out and commit a
violent brutal attack on a victim, that‟s elevating their individual status, and
they‟re receiving a benefit. They‟re putting notches in their reputation. When
these members are doing that, the overall entity benefits and strengthens as a result
of it.” Reports of such conduct “rais[e] the[] level of fear and intimidation in the
community.” Holland then applied his analysis to a hypothetical based on the
facts of the crime here, where the victim knew that at least two of her assailants
were members of Southside Chiques. “More than likely this crime is reported as
not three individual named Defendants conducting a rape, but members of
[Southside] Chiques conducting a rape, and that goes out in the community by
way of mainstream media or by way of word of mouth. That is elevating
[Southside] Chiques‟ reputation to be a violent, aggressive gang that stops at
nothing and does not care for anyone‟s humanity.”
Expert opinion that particular criminal conduct benefited a gang by
enhancing its reputation for viciousness can be sufficient to raise the inference that
the conduct was “committed for the benefit of . . . a[] criminal street gang” within
the meaning of section 186.22(b)(1). (See, e.g., People v. Vazquez (2009) 178
Cal.App.4th 347, 354 [relying on expert opinion that the murder of a nongang
member benefited the gang because “violent crimes like murder elevate the status
of the gang within gang culture and intimidate neighborhood residents who are, as
a result, „fearful to come forward, assist law enforcement, testify in court, or even
report crimes that they‟re victims of for fear that they may be the gang‟s next
victim or at least retaliated on by that gang‟ ”]; People v. Romero (2006) 140
Cal.App.4th 15, 19 [relying on expert opinion that “a shooting of any African-
American men would elevate the status of the shooters and their entire [Latino]
gang”].)
19
Defendants contend that these crimes could not have been committed to
benefit the gang because “it was flatly attested that . . . sex offenses are considered
antithetical to [Southside‟s] ideology and detrimental to an individual member‟s
status within the gang.” This overstates Holland‟s actual testimony, which was
that the “general view” on rape by Latino street gangs “is that it is frowned upon.”
The jury, of course, was not compelled to assume that Southside Chiques adhered
to the general view. Holland‟s characterization of Latino street gang culture was,
in any event, clarified and narrowed by his subsequent testimony that “[i]f
someone was convicted, that would be frowned upon. That would . . . cause the
person to lose status within the gang.”
Defendant Alex and defendant Madrigal seize on a snippet of Holland‟s
testimony in an effort to argue that gang members “are not going to come back
and announce that they have committed a rape or promote it that it‟s a rape at all.”
Defendants reason that a crime committed under such circumstances could not
possibly have enhanced the reputation of the gang. A fuller reading of Holland‟s
testimony, however, reveals that he was discussing how gang members who were
committing crimes for “themselves or their personal interests” would behave:
“Q. Now, just the mere fact that a rape may be frowned upon, does that
prevent a gang member from committing that crime?
“A. No, sir.
“Q. Why not?
“A. Gang members commit all kinds of crimes to further themselves or
their personal interest, you know. Crimes that involve some type of sexual
gratification occurs by other gang members, by other [Southside] Chiques gang
members, they are not going to come back and announce that they have committed
a rape or promote it that it‟s a rape at all, you know, and they‟re going to claim
that law enforcement and the district attorney‟s office is making stuff up, you
20
know, to protect their position, but these crimes still occur.” That gang members
who were acting to “further themselves or their personal interests” would keep
quiet about a rape does not mean that all gang members who commit a rape would
do so. Accordingly, this isolated fragment of Holland‟s testimony did not
preclude a jury finding that defendants attacked Amanda M. to benefit the gang.
B
The second prong of section 186.22(b)(1) requires that a defendant commit
the gang-related felony “with the specific intent to promote, further, or assist in
any criminal conduct by gang members.” Defendant Madrigal contends there is
insufficient evidence that he committed the attack on Amanda M. with the specific
intent to promote, further, or assist other criminal conduct by gang members. The
People respond that section 186.22(b)(1) encompasses the specific intent to
promote, further, or assist in any criminal conduct by gang members—including
the current offenses—and not merely other criminal conduct by gang members.
We agree with the People.
In Garcia v. Carey (9th Cir. 2005) 395 F.3d 1099 (Garcia), a divided panel
of the Ninth Circuit construed section 186.22(b)(1) to require evidence that a
defendant had the specific intent to further or facilitate other criminal conduct—
i.e., “other criminal activity of the gang apart from” the offenses of which the
defendant was convicted. (Garcia, supra, at p. 1101.) The majority found
insufficient evidence that the particular robbery for which Garcia was convicted
“was committed with the specific purpose of furthering other gang criminal
activity, and there is nothing inherent in the robbery that would indicate that it
furthers some other crime. . . . [¶] . . . [¶] . . . There was testimony that the gang
committed robberies, but nothing to indicate why those robberies were aided or
intended to be aided by this robbery.” (Id. at pp. 1103-1104.) Judge Wallace,
dissenting, complained that the majority had “misinterpret[ed] the requirements of
21
section 186.22(b)(1),” inasmuch as the provision “does not require proof that the
crime of conviction was committed with the intent to further some other
specifically identified crime or category of crimes.” (Id. at p. 1105 (dis. opn. of
Wallace, J.).) In addition to the text of the statute itself, the dissenting judge relied
on the fact that “California courts have rejected sufficiency of the evidence claims
even where such evidence [of a specific intent to further other criminal conduct]
was entirely lacking.” (Ibid.)
In Briceno v. Scribner (9th Cir. 2009) 555 F.3d 1069 (Briceno), another
divided panel, relying on Garcia, again granted habeas relief with respect to the
gang enhancements, finding insufficient evidence that the charged robberies were
committed with the specific intent to facilitate other criminal conduct by the gang.
(Briceno, supra, at p. 1079.) Judge Wardlaw, in dissent, observed that the
majority had “conflate[d] the analysis of the two prongs” of the enhancement—
i.e., that the defendant committed a felony for the benefit of, at the direction of, or
in association with a gang, and that the defendant did so with the specific intent to
promote, further, or assist in any criminal conduct by gang members—in that
“[t]he second prong requires proof not that defendant had specific intent to
„benefit‟ the gang, but that he had the specific intent to „promote, further, or assist
in any criminal conduct by gang members.‟ ” (Id. at p. 1084, fn. 2 (conc. & dis.
opn. of Wardlaw, J.).) She noted, moreover, that “unequivocal state law” had
established “that to prove „specific intent to . . . assist in any criminal conduct by
gang members,‟ it is sufficient to demonstrate that the „defendant intended to
commit [the crimes], that he intended to commit them in association with [his
accomplices], and that he knew that [his accomplices] were members of his gang.‟
[People v. Morales (2003) 112 Cal.App.4th at p. 1197]; see also People v.
Villalobos, 145 Cal.App.4th 310, 322 (2006) („Commission of a crime in concert
with known gang members is substantial evidence which supports the inference
22
that the defendant acted with the specific intent to promote, further or assist gang
members in the commission of the crime‟); People v. Romero, 140 Cal.App.4th
15, 20 (2006) („There was ample evidence that appellant intended to commit a
crime, that he intended to help [his accomplice] commit a crime, and that he knew
[his accomplice] was a member of his gang‟).” (Briceno, supra, 555 F.3d at pp.
1084-1085 (conc. & dis. opn. of Wardlaw, J.).) Finally, she remarked that
Garcia has been explicitly disapproved in two subsequent California Court of
Appeal decisions” and concluded that “California courts could not have indicated
more clearly that our interpretation of section 186.22(b) was incorrect.” (Briceno,
supra, 555 F.3d at p. 1088 (conc. & dis. opn. of Wardlaw, J.), citing People v. Hill
(2006) 142 Cal.App.4th 770, 774, and People v. Romero, supra, 140 Cal.App.4th
at p. 19.)
The conflict between our state courts and the federal courts as to the
interpretation of section 186.22(b)(1) has persisted. After Briceno was decided,
People v. Vazquez, supra, 178 Cal.App.4th at pages 353-354, observed, “While
our Supreme Court has not yet reached this issue, numerous California Courts of
Appeal have rejected the Ninth Circuit‟s reasoning. As our colleagues noted in
People v. Romero[, supra,] 140 Cal.App.4th [at page] 19: „By its plain language,
the statute requires a showing of specific intent to promote, further, or assist in
any criminal conduct by gang members,” rather than other criminal conduct.
(§ 186.22, subd. (b)(1), italics added.)‟ . . . . [¶] Like the Romero court, we reject
the Ninth Circuit‟s attempt to write additional requirements into the statute. It
provides an enhanced penalty where the defendant specifically intends to
„promote, further, or assist in any criminal conduct by gang members.‟ (§ 186.22,
subd. (b)(1).) There is no statutory requirement that this „criminal conduct by
gang members‟ be distinct from the charged offense, or that the evidence establish
23
specific crimes the defendant intended to assist his fellow gang members in
committing.” (See also People v. Hill, supra, 142 Cal.App.4th at p. 774.)
We agree with this construction of the gang enhancement. In part I, ante,
we determined that similar statutory language in section 186.22(a), which applies
to an active participant in a gang who “willfully promotes, furthers, or assists in
any felonious criminal conduct by members of that gang,” was not ambiguous and
extended to any felonious criminal conduct, not just felonious gang-related
conduct. We likewise find that the scienter requirement in section 186.22(b)(1)—
i.e., “the specific intent to promote, further, or assist in any criminal conduct by
gang members”—is unambiguous and applies to any criminal conduct, without a
further requirement that the conduct be “apart from” the criminal conduct
underlying the offense of conviction sought to be enhanced.
A similar analysis disposes of the related argument, advanced by all three
defendants, that section 186.22(b)(1) requires the specific intent to promote,
further, or assist a gang-related crime. The enhancement already requires proof
that the defendant commit a gang-related crime in the first prong—i.e., that the
defendant be convicted of a felony committed for the benefit of, at the direction of,
or in association with a criminal street gang. (People v. Gardeley, supra, 14
Cal.4th at pp. 621-622.) There is no further requirement that the defendant act
with the specific intent to promote, further, or assist a gang; the statute requires
only the specific intent to promote, further, or assist criminal conduct by gang
members. (People v. Ochoa, supra, 179 Cal.App.4th at p. 661, fn. 6; accord,
Briceno, supra, 555 F.3d at p. 1084, fn. 3 (conc. & dis. opn. of Wardlaw, J.)
[“Here, only the specific intent element of the statute is at issue. Therefore, the
lack of gang-related indicia is not dispositive”].)
As in part I, ante, the absence of ambiguity dispenses with the need to
review the legislative history, but we do note that the history is again consistent
24
with a plain language construction of the statute. Senate Bill No. 1555, the bill
that eventually enacted Penal Code section 186.22, in its original form proposed a
separate offense for “[a]ny person who commits any . . . felony, misdemeanor, or
infraction . . . if the felony, misdemeanor, or infraction: (1) is part of a pattern of
criminal gang-related activity, or is done for the benefit of, at the direction of, or
in association with, any gang, and (2) is committed with the specific intent to
promote or further any of its criminal gang-related activity, or to assist in
continuing its pattern of criminal gang-related activity.” (Sen. Bill No. 1555, as
introduced Mar. 6, 1987, § 1, p. 5, italics added [proposing Pen. Code, § 186.13,
subd. (a)].) Subsequent amendments, though, deleted the italicized language (Sen.
Bill No. 1555, as amended May 22, 1987, § 1, pp. 10-11), thus creating a
substantive offense that applied to an active gang participant “who willfully
promotes, furthers or assists in any felonious criminal conduct by members of that
gang” and an enhancement that applied to any person convicted of a gang-related
offense “with the specific intent to promote, further, or assist in any criminal
conduct by gang members.” (Former § 186.22(a) & (b), as enacted by Stats. 1988,
ch. 1256, § 1, p. 4179, italics added, repealed and reenacted by Stats. 1989,
ch. 930, §§ 5, 5.1, pp. 3251, 3253; see now § 186.22(a) & (b)(1).)
We also reject the argument, advanced by all three defendants, that the
constitutional requirement of personal guilt would compel the inclusion in the
enhancement of a specific intent to aid the gang. The claim is specious. The
enhancement set forth in section 186.22(b)(1) does not risk conviction for mere
nominal or passive involvement with a gang. Indeed, it does not depend on
membership in a gang at all. Rather, it applies when a defendant has personally
committed a gang-related felony with the specific intent to aid members of that
gang. Defendants cite no authority to suggest that this would run afoul of Scales
v. United States, supra, 367 U.S. 203, which upheld a statute criminalizing active
25
membership in an organization that advocates the overthrow of the federal
government by force or violence even in the absence of a specific act of
criminality. (Id. at p. 225; cf. People v. Gardeley, supra, 14 Cal.4th at pp. 623-
624.)
In sum, if substantial evidence establishes that the defendant intended to
and did commit the charged felony with known members of a gang, the jury may
fairly infer that the defendant had the specific intent to promote, further, or assist
criminal conduct by those gang members. Here, there was ample evidence that
defendants intended to attack Amanda M., that they assisted each other in raping
her, and that they were each members of the criminal street gang. Accordingly,
there was substantial evidence that defendants acted with the specific intent to
promote, further, or assist gang members in that criminal conduct.
DISPOSITION
The judgment of the Court of Appeal is affirmed.
BAXTER, J.
WE CONCUR:
GEORGE, C.J.
KENNARD, J.
CHIN, J.
CORRIGAN, J.

26



CONCURRING AND DISSENTING OPINION BY WERDEGAR, J.

I concur in the majority‟s construction of Penal Code section 186.22,
subdivision (a).1 With respect to the enhancement imposed on each defendant
under subdivision (b) of section 186.22, I concur as well with the majority‟s
conclusion that the evidence supported a true finding on the second prong, i.e.,
that each defendant acted “with the specific intent to promote, further, or assist in
any criminal conduct by gang members” (id., subd. (b)(1)). I disagree, however,
that the evidence supports a true finding on the first prong of the enhancement—
that the crimes were committed “for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in
association with any criminal street gang.” (Ibid.)
I.
The proliferation of criminal street gangs and gang-related crimes is deeply
troubling, impacting our neighborhoods, our citizenry and our families, and
threatening the individual personal security of us all. In the California Street
Terrorism Enforcement and Prevention Act (the STEP Act), the Legislature has
attempted to address this disturbing state of affairs by imposing enhanced
punishment for felonies committed by a gang member if the offense is gang
connected or accompanied by a gang-related purpose or intent, so that the crime is

1
All further statutory references are to the Penal Code.
1


enhanced if, in its commission, the gang member acted “for the benefit of, at the
direction of, or in association with any criminal street gang, with the specific
intent to promote, further, or assist in any criminal conduct by gang members.”
(§ 186.22, subd. (b)(1).)
Notwithstanding the breadth of the enhancement, not every crime
committed by gang members is related to the gang. In particular, in this case there
is little evidence to conclude defendants‟ crimes were linked to SouthSide
Chiques—i.e., that they were committed for the benefit of or in association with
the gang—and significant reason to conclude they were not so linked. Defendants,
twin brothers and their cousin, lived together with the twins‟ mother in the
apartment where the crimes were committed. Thus, they were brought together by
domestic arrangement and familial relationship, not by their membership in the
gang. They spent the day of the offenses socializing with the victim and her
friends, as they had done in the past without incident. The apartment where the
crimes were committed—the defendants‟ home—was outside the gang‟s territory.
The victim was a young and trusting acquaintance with whom defendants were
friendly and with whom they apparently remained somewhat friendly even after
the crimes. The victim testified that a few days after the crimes she received a hug
from defendant John Madrigal at a party.
As these facts suggest, the crimes, like gang-related crimes, reflect a
disturbing trend in society, but were of a sort that is often not gang-related—where
young men for their apparent amusement, or because they wish to impress their
companions, sexually assault a young female acquaintance who mistakenly
believes she is among friends. The relationship of the perpetrators to one another
and to a specified group or organization often factors into this sort of crime.
Reports of sexual assaults committed by members of a sports team or fraternity, or
by high school students brought together by a social event, are, regrettably, not
2
uncommon. Undoubtedly crimes of this sort are also committed by members of
criminal street gangs. But although common membership in an organization may
be a contributing factor, few would claim a sexual assault committed in concert by
members of a sports team, fraternity or high school student body was committed
“for the benefit of” or “in association with” the sports team, fraternity or high
school.
In order to prove the enhancement, therefore, the prosecution‟s challenge
was to show defendants‟ crimes were more than the casual, opportunistic abuse of
a defenseless female acquaintance—that they were in some way tied to SouthSide
Chiques. As no evidence showed defendants admitted to a subjective motive to
benefit SouthSide Chiques, to show the crimes were committed for that purpose
the prosecutor might have tried to show the gang solicited or encouraged such
crimes, or at least that sexual assaults were typical of its members. Alternatively,
because to act “in association with” an organization would seem to mean joining
with the organization,2 the prosecution might have attempted to show defendants
had come together with the SouthSide Chiques gang for the common purpose of
committing the crimes. The prosecution showed none of these things.
II.
To Benefit the Gang
The only evidence presented on the relationship of the offenses to the gang
was the opinion of Detective Neail Holland, the police expert on gangs and gang
culture, who, in response to a hypothetical question posed by the prosecutor, stated
his opinion that such crimes would have been committed for the benefit of, at the

2
For example, Merriam-Webster‟s Eleventh Collegiate Dictionary (2004) at
page 75 defines “associate,” as “. . . 1 : to come or be together as partners, friends,
or companions 2 : to combine or join with other parts.”
3


direction of, or in association with the gang. Detective Holland‟s opinion was
built on his vivid testimony about criminal street gangs in general and SouthSide
Chiques in particular. He explained SouthSide Chiques favors attempted
homicide, felony assault, auto theft, felony vandalism and drug trafficking. He
also explained gang members commit violent crimes as a means of
communicating to the community that the gang is “a violent, aggressive gang that
stops at nothing and does not care for anyone‟s humanity.” We have upheld
convictions where similar testimony supported the expert‟s opinion a crime was
gang related. For example, in People v. Gardeley (1996) 14 Cal.4th 605, a police
expert after describing a gang‟s criminal activity, opined that a vicious attack on a
stranger, such as the charged assault by gang members against the victim in that
case, would be gang-related activity. The expert explained the crime “was a
„classic‟ example of gang-related activity,” relating his knowledge that “criminal
street gangs rely on such violent assaults to frighten the residents of an area where
the gang members sell drugs, thereby securing the gang‟s drug-dealing
stronghold.” (Id. at p. 619.) By articulating a rational connection between the
crime and the gang‟s activities, the expert‟s explanation supported his opinion,
making it reasonable for the jury to conclude the attack was committed for the
benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with the gang. (Ibid.)
Detective Holland, by contrast, expressed no knowledge that sexual assault
against a young female acquaintance presented a classic example of gang-related
activity. Nor did he explain that SouthSide Chiques encouraged such crimes or
relied on them to frighten or intimidate anyone. To the contrary. Although he
explained a gang would benefit from a report of the crimes, because the report
would elevate the gang‟s “reputation to be a violent, aggressive gang that stops at
nothing and does not care for anyone‟s humanity,” he also stated that Latino gangs
such as SouthSide Chiques disapprove of rape and crimes against children. Later,
4
while agreeing with the prosecutor‟s suggestion that gang members might still
commit such crimes, he explained they would do so for themselves or their
personal interests, and “are not going to come back and announce that they have
committed a rape or promote it that it‟s a rape at all, you know, and they‟re going
to claim that law enforcement and the district attorney‟s office is making stuff up,
you know, to protect their position [in the gang], but these crimes still occur.”
No doubt these crimes still occur, and if reported they might result in a
benefit to the gang as showing its members‟ willingness to commit violent
assaults. Nevertheless, nowhere in the detective‟s testimony do I find any reason
to conclude a sexual assault by members of a Latino gang, as here, would be
committed for that reason. I also find nothing to aid the prosecution‟s case in the
detective‟s testimony that “[w]hen three gang members go out and commit a
violent brutal attack on a victim, that‟s elevating their individual status, and
they‟re receiving a benefit.” Even aside from the point that these gang members,
if asked, would according to the detective deny having committed rape “to protect
their position,” his testimony explains only that a gang member might believe he,
individually, will derive personal benefit from his crimes. And finally, I do not
agree with the majority that the detective‟s testimony can reasonably be
interpreted to mean that gang members would lose status only by being convicted
of the crimes. (Maj. opn., ante, at p. 20.) To the contrary, everything Detective
Holland testified to strongly suggested gang members would lose status in the
gang by being publicly identified as persons who had committed sexual assault
crimes.
In sum, Detective Holland stated a general rule for criminal street gangs:
gangs commit violent crimes as a means of communicating their criminality to the
community. He also stated an exception to that rule, that Latino gangs disapprove
of rape and crimes against children, explaining that although individual members
5
might commit such crimes despite the gang‟s disapproval, they would not report it
for fear of losing status. Defendants‟ crimes fall under the exception. Detective
Holland articulated no reason for concluding defendants‟ crimes were in any way
committed for the benefit of SouthSide Chiques.
The opinion of an expert can provide sufficient support for a factual
finding, but the value of an expert‟s testimony lies not in the expert‟s ability to
articulate the ultimate fact, but in the material from which the opinion is fashioned
and the reasoning by which the expert progresses to his or her conclusion. (People
v. Lawley (2002) 27 Cal.4th 102, 132.) A conviction “in our system of justice,
cannot be made to depend on whether or not the witnesses against [the defendant]
correctly recite by rote a certain ritual formula.” (People v. Bassett (1968) 69
Cal.2d 122, 140.) In my view, Detective Holland‟s opinion that the crimes were
committed “for the benefit of” the gang was nothing but an affirmation of the
phrase stated by the prosecution in its hypothetical, given without adequate
explanation or supporting evidence. It therefore had no evidentiary value. And
the record is devoid of other evidence suggesting the crimes were committed for
the benefit of the gang. The crimes were committed privately, and the victim did
not indicate defendants referred to the gang or to themselves as gang members,
either as they were committing the crimes or afterwards, as they drove the victim
home. Although after the victim reported the crimes some of her acquaintances
warned her against pursuing the matter, there is no evidence defendants reported
the crimes either to SouthSide Chiques or to the community at large. Accordingly,
the evidence does not support a finding the crimes were committed for the benefit
of a criminal street gang.
In Association with the Gang
The lack of evidence the crimes were committed for the benefit of
SouthSide Chiques would not be fatal if the evidence supported a finding
6
defendants acted “in association with” a criminal street gang. But again, the
prosecutor produced no evidence on the point. There was no showing SouthSide
Chiques, as an organization, was involved in or even aware of the crimes until
sometime after they were committed. Indeed, the evidence was that SouthSide
Chiques would not engage in sexual assaults and would disapprove of the
offenses. The prosecutor avoided the problem by providing the jury with a
meaning of the phrase “in association with” that did not require such evidence,
explaining: “Association has a plain, common, ordinary meaning. Two or more
gang members is an association. All three Defendants are active participants in
the SouthSide Chiques. They were aware obviously by their living status, by their
knowledge of each other, by their group tie that [each] one is a member of
SouthSide Chiques. It‟s obvious that they know that the . . . other two . . . are also
members of the SouthSide Chiques. [¶] They commit the crime in concert with
each other, in association with each other. They combine—they pooled their
strength, they combined their muscle, they counted on each other‟s loyalty to be
there and back them up, and it‟s easier to divide labor that way and [successfully
complete] the crime. They do this crime in close proximity to each other, and
they‟re assisting each other in committing the crime.”
This explanation allowed the jury to find that defendants, knowing of each
other‟s gang membership and acting together—pooling their strength and assisting
each other in the commission of the crimes—acted in association with the gang.
In so doing, it collapsed the requirement of the second prong of section 186.22,
subdivision (b)—that each defendant act to promote, further or assist in criminal
conduct by gang members, a finding supported by the evidence—with the
requirement of the first prong—that the defendants committed the crimes in
association with the gang, a finding having no evidentiary support.
7
What the Legislature intended by “in association with any criminal street
gang” is unclear, but that it meant acting “in association with members of a
criminal street gang” is unlikely. That the Legislature distinguishes between the
gang and members of the gang is shown by its use of both terms throughout
section 186.22, including subdivision (b). Indeed, as indicated above, interpreting
“criminal street gang” in subdivision (b) to mean “members of a criminal street
gang” creates a redundancy in the provision, as the second prong of section
186.22, subdivision (b) already requires that the crime have been committed “with
the specific intent to promote, further, or assist in any criminal conduct by gang
members.”
The majority provides a different definition of “in association with” a gang,
explaining it means that in committing the offenses defendants relied on their
“common gang membership and the apparatus of the gang.” (Maj. opn., ante, at
p. 15.) Again, by focusing on gang members as associating with one another,
rather than as associating with the gang, the majority‟s definition also threatens to
render a portion of section 186.22, subdivision (b) redundant.
Finally, the majority‟s interpretation, whatever its merit, was not provided
to the jury. Thus, in finding the enhancements true, the jury necessarily relied on
the construction of the phrase provided by the prosecutor, a construction neither
consistent with the statute nor endorsed by the majority. Hence, on this ground
alone the enhancement should be reversed.
8

CONCLUSION
I would reverse the enhancements imposed on each defendant‟s sentence
under section 186.22, subdivision (b).
WERDEGAR, J.
I CONCUR:
MORENO, J.
9

See next page for addresses and telephone numbers for counsel who argued in Supreme Court.

Name of Opinion People v. Albillar
__________________________________________________________________________________

Unpublished Opinion


Original Appeal
Original Proceeding
Review Granted
XXX 162 Cal.App.4th 935
Rehearing Granted

__________________________________________________________________________________

Opinion No.

S163905
Date Filed: December 20, 2010
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Court:

Superior
County: Ventura
Judge: Edward F. Brodie

__________________________________________________________________________________

Counsel:

Vanessa Place, under appointment by the Supreme, for Defendant and Appellant Albert Andrew Albillar.

Sharon M. Jones, under appointment by the Supreme, for Defendant and Appellant Alex Adrian Albillar.

Conrad Petermann, under appointment by the Supreme, for Defendant and Appellant John Madrigal.

Duane A. Dammeyer, Public Defender (Ventura) and Michael C. McMahon, Chief Deputy Public
Defender, for California Public Defenders Association and Public Defender of Ventura County as Amici
Curiae on behalf of Defendants and Appellants.

Edmund G. Brown, Jr., Attorney General, Dane R. Gillette, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Pamela C.
Hamanaka, Assistant Attorney General, Michael C. Keller, Lawrence M. Daniels, Scott A. Taryle and
Douglas L. Wilson, Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.



Counsel who argued in Supreme Court (not intended for publication with opinion):

Vanessa Place
Post Office Box 18613
Los Angeles, CA 90018
(323) 730-9915

Douglas L. Wilson
Deputy Attorney General
300 South Spring Street, Suite 1702
Los Angeles, CA 90013
(213) 897-2359


Petition for review after the Court of Appeal affirmed judgments of conviction of criminal offenses. The court limited review to the following issue: Did substantial evidence support defendants' convictions under Penal Code section 186.22, subdivision (a), and the true findings with respect to the enhancements under Penal Code section 186.22, subdivision (b)

Opinion Information
Date:Citation:Docket Number:Category:Status:Cross Referenced Cases:
Mon, 12/20/201051 Cal. 4th 47, 244 P.3d 1062, 119 Cal. Rptr. 3d 415S163905Review - Criminal Appealsubmitted/opinion due

EMERY v. CLARK (S182670)


Parties
1The People (Plaintiff and Respondent)
Represented by David A. Wildman
Office of the Attorney General
300 S. Spring Street, 5th Floor
Los Angeles, CA

2The People (Plaintiff and Respondent)
Represented by Douglas L. Wilson
Office of the Attorney General
300 S. Spring Street, 5th Floor
Los Angeles, CA

3Albillar, Albert Andrew (Defendant and Appellant)
Represented by California Appellate Project - L.A.
520 S. Grand Avenue, Suite 400
520 S. Grand Avenue, Suite 400
Los Angeles, CA

4Albillar, Albert Andrew (Defendant and Appellant)
Represented by Vanessa Place
Attorney at Law
P.O. Box 18613
Los Angeles, CA

5Abillar, Alex Adrian (Defendant and Appellant)
Represented by Sharon M. Jones
Attorney at Law
P.O. Box 1663
Ventura, CA

6Madrigal, John Anthony (Defendant and Appellant)
Wasco State Prison - Reception Center
P.O. Box 5500
Wasco, CA 93280

Represented by Conrad Petermann
Attorney at Law
323 E. Matilija Street, #110, PMB 142
Ojai, CA

7California Public Defenders Association (Amicus curiae)
Represented by Michael C. McMahon
California Public Defenders Association
800 S. Victoria Avenue, Suite 207
Ventura, CA

8Public Defender of Ventura County (Amicus curiae)
Represented by Michael C. McMahon
California Public Defenders Association
800 S. Victoria Avenue, Suite 207
Ventura, CA


Opinion Authors
OpinionJustice Marvin R. Baxter
ConcurJustice Kathryn M. Werdegar
DissentJustice Kathryn M. Werdegar

Dockets
May 29 2008Received premature petition for review
  John Madrigal, appellant by Conrad Petermann, counsel
Jun 5 2008Petition for review filed
  Appellant Albert A. Albillar ~Attorney Vanessa Place, Court of Appeal appt.
Jun 6 2008Record requested
 
Jun 6 20082nd petition for review filed
  John Madrigal, Appellant by Conrad Peterman, counsel
Jun 10 2008Received Court of Appeal record
  one doghouse
Jun 11 20083rd petition for review filed
  Alex Adrian Albillar, appellant by Sharon M. Jones, counsel
Jul 30 2008Time extended to grant or deny review
  The time for granting or denying review in the above-entitled matter is hereby extended to and including September 9, 2008, or the date upon which review is either granted or denied.
Aug 4 2008Received Court of Appeal record
  four doghouses ( volume 2,3,4 & 5 )
Aug 13 2008Petition for review granted; issues limited (criminal case)
  The petitions for review are granted. The issue to be briefed and argued is limited to to the following: Does substantial evidence support defendants' convictions under Penal Code, section 186.22, subdivision (a) and the true findings with respect to the enhancement under Penal Code, section 186.22, subdivision (b)? Votes: George, C.J., Kennard, Werdegar, Moreno, and Corrigan, JJ.
Aug 28 2008Counsel appointment order filed
  Upon request of appellant John A. Madrigal for appointment of counsel, Conrad Petermann is hereby appointed to represent appellant on the appeal now pending in this court. Appellant's brief on the merits must be served and filed on or before thirty (30) days from the date of this order.
Aug 28 2008Counsel appointment order filed
  Upon request of appellant Alex Albillar for appointment of counsel, Sharon M. Jones is hereby appointed to represent appellant on the appeal now pending in this court. Appellant's brief on the merits must be served and filed on or before thirty (30) days from the date of this order.
Aug 28 2008Counsel appointment order filed
  Upon request of appellant Albert Andrew Albillar for appointment of counsel, Vanessa Place is hereby appointed to represent appellant on the appeal now pending in this court. Appellant's brief on the merits must be served and filed on or before thirty (30) days from the date of this order.
Sep 9 2008Note: Mail returned and re-sent
  Addressed to atty. Vanessa Place. Sent to PO Box 18613, as noted by USPS label on env.
Sep 26 2008Request for extension of time filed
  For appellant Alex Albillar to file the opening brief on the merits, to 10-27-08.
Sep 29 2008Opening brief on the merits filed
  John Madrigal, appellant Conrad Petermann, counsel
Oct 10 2008Extension of time granted
  On application of appellant Alex Adrian Albillar and good cause appearing, it is ordered that the time to serve and file the opening brief on the merits is extended to and including October 27, 2008.
Oct 15 2008Request for extension of time filed
  to file opening brief/merits to 10-27-08 [replacement--previous extn lost in mail] Appellant Albert Andrew Albillar ~Attorney Vanessa Place
Oct 16 2008Extension of time granted
  On application of appellant Albert Albillar and good cause appearing, it is ordered that the time to serve and file the opening brief on the merits is extended to and including October 27, 2008.
Oct 27 2008Opening brief on the merits filed
  Alex Adrian Albillar, Apellant Sharon M. Jones, Attorney
Dec 8 2008Request for extension of time filed
  For appellant Albert Albillar to file the opening brief on the merits, to 12-12-08 *This request was mailed in October but never received by the Supreme Ct. Clerk
Dec 10 2008Extension of time granted
  On application of appellant Albert Albillar and good cause appearing, it is ordered that the time to serve and file the opening brief on the merits is extended to and including December 12, 2008.
Dec 11 2008Compensation awarded counsel
  Atty Jones
Dec 15 2008Opening brief on the merits filed
  Appellant Albert A. Albillar [rule 8.25] ~Attorney Vanessa Place
Jan 9 2009Request for extension of time filed
  to file answer brief/merits to 2-25-09 Respondent People ~Deputy Attorney General Douglas L. Wilson
Jan 14 2009Compensation awarded counsel
  Atty Place
Jan 20 2009Received:
  Amended proof of service of extension of time Respondent People ~Deputy Attorney General Douglas L. Wilson
Jan 23 2009Extension of time granted
  On application of respondent and good cause appearing, it is ordered that the time to serve and file the answer brief on the merits is extended to and including February 25, 2009.
Feb 24 2009Request for extension of time filed
  answer brief/merits to 3-27-09 Respondent People ~Deputy Attorney General Douglas L. Wilson
Mar 5 2009Extension of time granted
  On application of respondent and good cause appearing, it is ordered that the time to serve and file the answer brief on the merits is extended to and including March 27, 2009. No further extensions of time are contemplated.
Apr 1 2009Request for extension of time filed
  for appellant Alex Albillar to file the reply brief on the merits, to 5/6/09
Mar 27 2009Answer brief on the merits filed
Plaintiff and Respondent: The PeopleAttorney: Douglas L. Wilson  
Apr 13 2009Reply brief filed (case not yet fully briefed)
Defendant and Appellant: Madrigal, John AnthonyAttorney: Conrad Petermann  
Apr 14 2009Extension of time granted
  On application of appellant Alex Albillar and good cause appearing, it is ordered that the time to serve and file appellant's reply brief on the merits is extended to and including May 6, 2009.
Apr 20 2009Reply brief filed (case not yet fully briefed)
Defendant and Appellant: Albillar, Albert AndrewAttorney: Vanessa Place   *Filed under CRC 8.25(b)
May 7 2009Reply brief filed (case fully briefed)
Defendant and Appellant: Abillar, Alex Adrian   by Sharon M. Jones, counsel
Jun 10 2009Application to file amicus curiae brief filed
  California Public Defenders Assn. Michael McMahon, counsel (the appln. & brief are untimely and will require additional permission of the court)
Jul 1 2009Permission to file amicus curiae brief granted
  The application of the California Public Defenders Association for permission to file an amicus curiae brief in support of appellants is hereby granted. An answer thereto may be served and filed by any party within 20 days of the filing of the brief.
Jul 1 2009Amicus curiae brief filed
Amicus curiae: California Public Defenders AssociationAttorney: Michael C. McMahon Amicus curiae: Public Defender of Ventura CountyAttorney: Michael C. McMahon   California Public Defenders Association and the Public Defender of Ventura County in support of appellants Michael McMahon, counsel
Jul 10 2009Received:
  Letter from Amicus Curiae Cal. Pub. Def. Assn.
Aug 26 2009Supplemental briefing ordered
  The court requests each party to file a supplemental letter brief directed to the question of whether the phrase felonious criminal conduct, appearing in Penal Code section 186.22, subdivision (a) should be interpreted to mean felonious criminal gang-related conduct. The parties are to file simultaneous letter briefs addressing this point on or before September 15, 2009, and may file simultaneous reply briefs on or before September 25, 2009.
Sep 10 2009Request for extension of time filed
  for appellant Albert Albillar to file the supplemental letter brief, to Oct. 30.
Sep 10 2009Request for extension of time filed
  for appellant Alex Albillar to file the supplemental letter brief, to Oct. 15.
Sep 10 2009Request for extension of time filed
  for respondent People to file supplemental letter brief to Oct. 15.
Sep 11 2009Request for extension of time filed
  for appellant Madrigal to file the supp letter brief, to Oct. 30
Sep 18 2009Extension of time granted
  On application of the parties and good cause appearing, it is ordered that the time to serve and file the simultaneous letter briefs is extended to and including October 30, 2009. The time for filing the reply letter briefs is extended to November 10, 2009.
Oct 26 2009Request for extension of time filed
  For appellant Madrigal to file the supplemental letter brief, to 11/29/09
Oct 26 2009Request for extension of time filed
  for appellant Albert Albillar to file the supplemental letter brief, to 11/16/09.
Oct 26 2009Request for extension of time filed
  for appellant Alex Albillar to file the supplemental letter brief, to 11/16/09.
Oct 29 2009Application to file over-length brief filed
  supplemental letter brief The People, Respondent David Wildman, Deputy Attorney General
Oct 29 2009Received:
  over-length supplemental letter brief The People, Respondent
Oct 29 2009Letter brief filed
Plaintiff and Respondent: The People   SUPPLEMENTAL LETTER BRIEF (in excess of 2,800 words) FILED WITH PERMISSION
Nov 2 2009Extension of time granted
  On application of appellants and good cause appearing, it is ordered that the time to serve and file the supplemental briefs is hereby extended to and including November 16, 2009. The time to file the reply briefs is extended to November 30, 2009. No extension of time is contemplated. John Madrigal, Defendant and Appellant Conrad Petermann, Supreme Court appointment Alex Abillar, Defendant and Appellant Sharon Jones, Supreme Court appointment Albert Albillar, Defendant and Appellant Vanessa Place, Supreme Court appointment
Nov 12 2009Letter brief filed
Defendant and Appellant: Albillar, Albert AndrewAttorney: Vanessa Place  
Nov 13 2009Letter brief filed
Defendant and Appellant: Madrigal, John AnthonyAttorney: Conrad Petermann  
Nov 13 2009Request for judicial notice filed (Grant or AA case)
Defendant and Appellant: Madrigal, John AnthonyAttorney: Conrad Petermann   with 2 volumes of exhibits
Nov 16 2009Letter brief filed
Defendant and Appellant: Abillar, Alex AdrianAttorney: Sharon M. Jones   Joinder in letter briefs.
Nov 30 2009Letter brief filed
Plaintiff and Respondent: The PeopleAttorney: David A. Wildman   Reply supplemental letter brief
Dec 9 2009Filed:
  response to Attorney General's reply to appellant's supplemental letter brief. Vanessa Place, counsel
Feb 16 2010Received:
  letter from attorney Sharon M. Jones counsel for appellant Alex A. Albillar. Counsel is unavailable for oral argument between June 10, 2010 to July 10, 2010.
Feb 16 2010Received:
  letter from attorney Vanessa Place. She will be out of the country during the month of September and request no oral argument be scheduled during the month of September. Also, she has no objection to attorney Sharon Jones calendaring request.
Jul 14 2010Compensation awarded counsel
  attorney Petermann
Jul 21 2010Request for judicial notice granted
  Appellant's request for judicial notice, filed November 13, 2009, is granted.
Sep 7 2010Case ordered on calendar
  to be argued Tuesday, October 5, 2010, at 1:30 p.m., in Fresno (at Court of Appeal, Fifth Appellate District, 2424 Ventura Street)
Oct 5 2010Cause argued and submitted
 
Dec 17 2010Notice of forthcoming opinion posted
  To be filed on Monday, December 20, 2010 @ 10 a.m.

Briefs
Sep 29 2008Opening brief on the merits filed
 
Oct 27 2008Opening brief on the merits filed
 
Dec 15 2008Opening brief on the merits filed
 
Mar 27 2009Answer brief on the merits filed
Plaintiff and Respondent: The PeopleAttorney: Douglas L. Wilson  
May 7 2009Reply brief filed (case fully briefed)
Defendant and Appellant: Abillar, Alex Adrian  
Apr 13 2009Reply brief filed (case not yet fully briefed)
Defendant and Appellant: Madrigal, John AnthonyAttorney: Conrad Petermann  
Apr 20 2009Reply brief filed (case not yet fully briefed)
Defendant and Appellant: Albillar, Albert AndrewAttorney: Vanessa Place  
Jul 1 2009Amicus curiae brief filed
Amicus curiae: California Public Defenders AssociationAttorney: Michael C. McMahon Amicus curiae: Public Defender of Ventura CountyAttorney: Michael C. McMahon  
Brief Downloads
application/pdf icon
S163905_4-appellant-john-madrigal-opening-brief-on-the-merits.pdf (282061 bytes) - Appellant, John Madrigal, Opening Brief on the Merits
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S163905_5-appellant-alex-adrian-albillar-opening-brief-on-the-merits.pdf (333887 bytes) - Appellant, Alex Adrian Albillar, Opening Brief on the Merits
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S163905_6-appellant-albert-a-albillar-opening-brief-on-the-merits.pdf (329012 bytes) - Appellant, Albert A. Albillar, Opening Brief on the Merits
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S163905_7-respondents-answer-brief-on-the-merits.pdf (283801 bytes) - Respondent's Answer Brief on the Merits
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S163905_8-appellant-john-madrigal-reply-brief-on-the-merits.pdf (147073 bytes) - Appellant, John Madrigal, Reply Brief on the Merits
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S163905_9-appellant-albert-a-albillar-reply-brief-on-the-merits.pdf (157120 bytes) - Appellant, Albert A. Albillar, Reply Brief on the Merits
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S163905_10-appellant-alex-adrian-albillar-reply-brief-on-the-merits.pdf (96027 bytes) - Appellant, Alex Adrian Albillar, Reply Brief on the Merits
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S163905_11-respondents-supplemental-letter-brief.pdf (276211 bytes) - Respondent's Supplemental Letter Brief
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S163905_12-appellant-albert-a-albillar-supplemental-letter-brief.pdf (156083 bytes) - Appellant, Albert A. Albillar, Supplemental Letter Brief
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S163905_13-appellant-john-madrigal-supplemental-letter-brief.pdf (134704 bytes) - Appellant, John Madrigal, Supplemental Letter Brief
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S163905_14-appellant-alex-adrian-albillar-joinder-in-letter-brief.pdf (22652 bytes) - Appellant, Alex Adrian Albillar, Joinder in Letter Brief
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S163905_15-respondents-supplemental-letter-brief.pdf (110329 bytes) - Respondent's Supplemental Letter Brief
If you'd like to submit a brief document to be included for this opinion, please submit an e-mail to the SCOCAL website
May 24, 2012
Annotated by Rebecca Maurer

OPINION BY: Baxter, J. (joined by George, C.J., Kennard, J., Chin, J., Corrigan, J.)

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TAGS

acting in concert, gang-related criminal activity, gangs, rape, statutory interpretation, statutory interpretation, street gangs, Street Terrorism Enforcement and Prevention Act, sufficiency of evidence.
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FACTS

The three defendants in this criminal case--Albert Albillar, Alex Albillar, and John Madrigal--were all members of the Southside Chiques gang in Oxnard, California and were in their 20s. In December 2004, the three men engaged in forced sexual acts with a 15-year-old girl including each taking turns having sex with her. They used their membership in the gang to threaten her about going to the police, but after the girl came forward the three men were arrested.

They were charged with forcible rape while acting in concert, forcible sexual penetration while acting in concert, and active participation in a criminal street gang (California Penal Code §186.22(a)). Additionally, the two sex offenses were enhanced by the furtherance of gang activity statute under Penal Code §186.22(b)(1).

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

The defendants were found guilty at trial on all counts. The Court of Appeal affirmed in a published opinion. The California Supreme Court addressed three issues of statutory interpretation related to §186.22, affirming the decisions of the lower courts on all three.

STATUTORY LANGUAGE

This case concerns the interpretation of two sections of the penal code, both initially passed as part of the Street Terrorism Enforcement and Prevention Act of 1996.

Penal Code §186.22(a) punishes "[a]ny person who actively participates in any criminal street gang with knowledge that its members engage in or have engaged in a pattern of criminal gang activity, and who willfully promotes, furthers, or assists in any felonious criminal conduct by members of that gang."

Penal Code §§186.22(b)(1) further enhances the punishment for "[a]ny person who is convicted of a felony committed for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with any criminal street gang, with the specific intent to promote, further, or assist in any criminal conduct by gang members."

ISSUE

The Court addressed three issues:

1. Can punishment be imposed under §186.22(a) for any felonious criminal activity that is conducted by active participants in gangs, or must the felonious activity be somehow gang-related?

2. Was there evidence that the crimes were "committed for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with" a gang sufficient for enhancement under §186.22(b)(1)?

3. When an offense may be enhanced under §186.22(b)(1), must the felonious activity be promoting other gang crimes distinct from those being charged, or can it be any criminal conduct, including those same offenses being charged?

HOLDING

The Court held that:

1. Any felonious criminal activity was sufficient for punishment under §186.22(a).

2. There was sufficient evidence in this case to prove that the sex offenses furthered gang activity because the communal gang membership helped the defendants to commit the crime and because the crimes were committed to benefit the gang's stature in the community.

3. Any crime furthered by the gang activity was sufficient for enhancement, not just ones distinct from the present charges.

ANALYSIS

The Court offered the following rationales for its holdings:

1. The Court found that there was ample evidence that the statute should be interpreted to allow any felonious activity to fall under §186.22(a), not just gang-related activity. The Court first noted that this interpretation is supported by the plain language of the statute, which begins"[a]ny person who actively participates in any criminal street gang. . . ." (emphasis added).

Even though, "the absence of ambiguity in the statutory language dispenses with the need to review the legislative history," the Court noted that the history also favored this broader interpretation. Previous drafts of the legislation and adjoining sections distinguish between gang-related and non-gang-related activity and so it is reasonable to assume that the legislature made a conscious choice to allow for any criminal activity to be sufficient. Defendants' submission of non-legislative materials written by outside groups during the drafting stage of the bill were not sufficient to overcome this interpretation.

2. The Court reiterated the standard for sufficiency of evidence:

we review the entire record in the light most favorable to the judgment to determine whether it contains substantial evidence--that is, evidence that is reasonable, credible, and of solid value--from which a reasonable trier of fact could find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Applying this standard, and relying heavily on the expert testimony of a gang investigator with the Oxnard Police Department, the Court found that there was substantial evidence in the record to support the proposition that common gang membership aided the defendants in committing the crime. They could rely on each other during the commission of the crime, and on each other's verification of the events to help bolster their reputation after the fact. The Court also found that the crimes were committed to benefit the gang's reputation and power in the community.

3. After noting a disagreement between the Ninth Circuit and state courts on the interpretation of §186.22(b)(1) the Court again engaged in statutory interpretation and again concluded that the plain language of the statute was unambiguous and did not mandate the there be separate criminal activity being furthered by the gang. In concluding this argument, the Court noted that, "if substantial evidence establishes that the defendant intended to and did commit the charged felony with known members of a gang, the jury may fairly infer that the defendant had the specific intent to promote, further, or assist criminal conduct by those gang members."

DISSENTING OPINION

WERDEGAR, J. concurred with respect to the first and third holdings above, but dissented with respect to the applicability of the enhancement to these defendants. She argues that there is not sufficient evidence in the record to show that the crimes were committed in association with the gang and on behalf of the gang, but rather that this was just a separate crime that happened to be committed by three gang members.

KEY RELATED CASES

People v. Castendada, 23 Cal.4th 743 (2000)

People v. Lamas, 42 Cal.4th 516 (2007)

People v. Gardeley, 14 Cal.4th 605 (1996)

People v. Vazquez, 178 Cal. App. 4th 347 (2009)

Garcia v. Carey, 395 F.3d 1009 (9th Cir. 2005)

Briceno v. Scribner, 555 F.3d 1069 (9th Cir. 2009)