California Supreme Court Grants Review to Consider the Standard of Prejudice When Jury Instructed on Both Legally Valid and Invalid Theories of Conviction
November 9th, 2018

People v. Aledamat REVIEW GRANTED (2018) 20 Cal.App.5th 1149, 1153-1154 reversed a conviction for assault with a deadly weapon based on the following description of the standard of review:


When an appellate court determines that a trial court has presented a jury with two theories supporting a conviction—one       legally valid and one legally invalid—the conviction must be reversed “absent a basis in the record to find that the verdict was actually based on valid ground.” [Citation to People v. Guiton (1993) 4 Cal.4th 1116, 1122, 1129.] That basis exists only when the jury has “actually” relied upon the valid theory, [italics added by Aledamat court] [Citation]; absent such proof, the conviction must be overturned—even if the evidence supporting the valid theory was overwhelming [Citation to People v. Sanchez (2001) 86 Cal.App.4th 970, 981–982.]


The CSC granted review on July 5, 2018. (See S248105) The issues to be considered on review were described as follows:


“Is error in instructing the jury on both a legally correct theory of guilt and a legally incorrect one harmless if an examination   of the record permits a reviewing court to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that the jury based its verdict on the valid theory, or is the error harmless only if the record affirmatively demonstrates that the jury actually rested its verdict on the legally correct

theory? (2) Could the jury in this case have concluded that defendant used an inherently deadly weapon in committing the assault without also concluding that defendant used a weapon in a manner that presents a risk of death or great bodily injury?”

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