People v. Brown, Cr. 6655

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (California)
Writing for the CourtPER CURIAM; TRAYNOR; SCHAUER; McCOMB
Citation55 Cal.2d 64,9 Cal.Rptr. 816,357 P.2d 1072
Parties, 357 P.2d 1072 PEOPLE, Respondent, v. Joseph BROWN, Appellant.
Docket NumberCr. 6655
Decision Date22 December 1960

Page 816

9 Cal.Rptr. 816
55 Cal.2d 64, 357 P.2d 1072
PEOPLE, Respondent,
v.
Joseph BROWN, Appellant.
Cr. 6655.
Supreme Court of California, In Bank.
Dec. 22, 1960.

[55 Cal.2d 65] Gerald L. Rosen, Los Angeles, for appellants.

Stanley Mosk, Atty. Gen., and William E. James, Asst. Atty. Gen., for respondent.

PER CURIAM.

The trial court, sitting without a jury, found defendant guilty of offering to sell narcotics in violation of section 11500 (now renumbered and hereafter called section 11501) of the Health and Safety Code. It also found that he was previously convicted of attempted robbery, denied his motion for new trial, and sentenced him to imprisonment in the state penitentiary for the term prescribed by law. Defendant appeals.

The public defender represented defendant at the trial, but did not undertake to do so on appeal. See Gov.Code, § 27706. Defendant requested the District Court of Appeal, Second District, Division Three, in which the appeal was pending, to appoint an attorney to represent him, claiming that he was without funds to employ counsel. The court made an independent investigation of the record, determined that representation by counsel would be of no benefit to defendant or to the court, and denied the request. See People v. Hyde, 51 Cal.2d 152, 154, 331 P.2d 42. Defendant prepared and filed a brief in propria persons. The court affirmed the judgment. People v. Brown, Cal.App., 3 Cal.Rptr. 203. We granted defendant's petition for hearing in this court and appointed counsel to represent him.

Officer Walton, an undercover narcotics agent, had arranged to buy heroin from an unidentified person and was awaiting delivery when defendant walked up to him and

Page 817

[357 P.2d 1073] asked if he were a policeman. He replied that he was not. When defendant then asked him what he was waiting for, he replied that he was expecting a delivery of heroin. Defendant then left.

While sitting in a bar the following afternoon, Officer Walton saw defendant on the street and called to him, and defendant entered the bar. Officer Walton testified: 'I told him that I would like to know who put the jacket on me, meaning who said that I was a policeman; and the defendant stated that he couldn't tell me that, but that he didn't think I was a policeman because I didn't look the type and I told him that I wanted to get some stuff, meaning heroin; and he stated that he could get it for me but if I turned him in, well, the people around that area would know who burned him meaning had [55 Cal.2d 66] him arrested.' Officer Walton told defendant that he did not want to get burned again, meaning thalt he did not want to part with his money without receiving narcotics in return. Defendant answered that if Officer Walton wanted 'it,' he would have to take some risks. Officer Walton then gave defendant $9 and defendant left. Officer Walton waited for some time, but defendant did not return.

He saw defendant again three or four days later and asked him why he had not returned to the bar. Defendant answered 'that he had it and he was on his way back but the police rousted him and he had to get rid of it.' He again encountered defendant about a week and a half later and called to him '(t)hat was a pretty dirty deal you pulled on me the other day.' Defendant replied that he would speak to him later. He did not see defendant again until his arrest. Defendant did not deliver heroin or any other substance to Officer Walton in return for the $9.

In his briefs filed in the District Court of Appeal, defendant contends that a specific intent to sell narcotics is an essential element of the crime of offering to sell narcotics under section 11501 of the Health and Safety Code 1 and that his intent cannot be inferred from the making of the offer alone. He asserts that the making of such an offer is equally attributable to an intent to obtain money by false pretenses. His counsel makes the additional contention that by proscribing offers to sell the Legislature in effect proscribed one form of attempts to sell and that therefore we must look to the law of attempts to determine whether an oral offer to sell constitutes an attempt to sell. He asserts that the oral offer and the taking of the money were only preparation to making a sale [55 Cal.2d 67] and that neither was a direct, unequivocal act toward a sale. See People v. Gallardo, 41 Cal.2d 57, 66, 257 P.2d 29, and cases cited. Since in his view such an act is an essential element of the corpus delicti of an offer to sell within the meaning of section 11501, it cannot be proved by defendant's extrajudicial admission standing alone that 'he had it and he was on his way back but the police rousted him and he had to get rid of it.' See People v. Duncan, 51 Cal.2d 523, 528, 334 P.2d 858; People v. McMonigle, 29 Cal.2d 730, 738, 177 P.2d 745.

Page 818

[357 P.2d 1074] Both defendant's and his counsel's contentions are consistent with the position taken by the Subcommittee on Narcotics of the Assembly Interim Committee of the Judiciary in 1953 whey it proposed the adoption of two new sections of the Health and Safety Code, only one of which was enacted. Section 11503 makes it a crime to offer to sell a narcotic and then deliver a substitute. 2 Proposed section 11509 (section 10 of Assembly Bill No. 2243, 1953 Session) would have made it a crime to offer to sell a narcotic coupled with the acceptance of money, even though there was no delivery of anything. 3

In recommending the passage of section 11503, the Subcommittee stated: '(this section) will be entirely new law. This will cover the individual who agrees to sell, furnish, transport, or give away any narcotic, and then delivers some other liquid, substance or material. These individuals are known to be in a position to violate the law; but, for some reason, they may feel that they are dealing with a law enforcement officer and thus deliver tobacco, water, or some other [55 Cal.2d 68] substance with the result that they have had the intent to commit the crime but are testing out the officer. At the present time nothing can be done to that person, except to charge (him) with 'bunco.' Under this statute, it provides a penalty of not more than one year in the county jail or in the state prison for 10 years.' The Subcommittee thus made clear its view that section 11501 did not encompass an offer to sell a narcotic and subsequent delivery of a substitute. A fortiori it would not encompass an offer to sell a narcotic and subsequent failure to deliver anything, which proposed section 11509 envisaged.

Whether the Subcommittee's view was based on the theory that an offer alone to sell a narcotic is insufficient evidence of a specific intent to make such a sale or on the theory that offer means attempt and that some additional act is required to constitute an attempt does not appear. In any event, the Subcommittee's interpretation of the existing statute is not conclusive. Even if it is assumed that by enacting section 11503 the Legislature impliedly excluded the conduct therein proscribed from the more inclusive language of section 11501, it did not affect the scope of section 11501 in relation to defendant's conduct in this case.

We agree with defendant's contention that a specific intent to sell a narcotic is an essential element of the crime of offering to make such a sale under section 11501. See Pen.Code, § 20; Matter of Yun Quong, 159 Cal. 508, 514-515, 114 P. 835; People v. Winston, 46 Cal.2d 151, 158; People v. Vogel, 46 Cal.2d 798, 801, 299 P.2d 850. In view, however, of defendant's subsequent admission that 'he had (the stuff) and he was on his way back but

Page 819

[357 P.2d 1075] the police rousted him and he had to get rid of it,' and the absence of any commpelling evidence that defendant's offer was false, the trial court could reasonably conclude that defendant meant what he said when he stated to the officer that for $9 'he would get it for me. * * * He would get the stuff for me.' Moreover, there is nothing in section 11501 to support the contention that an offer to sell means an attempt to sell, for it proscribes both 'offers to transport, import into this State, sell, furnish, administer or give away' and 'attempts to import into this State or transport any narcotic * * *.' By thus distinguishing between offers and attempts the Legislature made clear that the requirement of a direct, unequivocal act toward a sale necessary for an attempt to make a sale is not an implied element of an offer to sell.

[55 Cal.2d 69] The judgment and the order denying the motion for new trial are affirmed.

TRAYNOR, Justice (concurring).

I concur in the judgment. It is my opinion, however, that the holding in People v. Hyde, 51 Cal.2d 152, 154, 331 P.2d 42, should be expanded to require the appointment of counsel on appeal for all indigent defendants convicted of felonies. 1

Page 820

[357 P.2d 1076] [55 Cal.2d 70] The question calls for resolution even though we appointed counsel to represent defendant in this court. The question cannot remain in abeyance. This very case illustrates the recurring practice of the District Court of Appeal, Second District, Division Three, of referring the question of the appointment of counsel to the local bar association committee (see People v. Logan, 137 Cal.App.2d 331, 332, 290 P.2d 11) and the consequent countervailing practice of this court to then grant a hearing, even on its own motion, whenever there has been no appointment of counsel. There would be no end to such wasteful procedure were the question deemed moot each time this court granted a hearing and appointed counsel. The question should be settled in the interest of effective appellant court administration. See Almassy v. L. A. County Civil Service Com., 34 Cal.2d 387, 390, 210 P.2d 503; Walling v. Mutual Wholesale Food & Supply Co., 8 Cir., 141 F.2d 331, 334-335; People ex rel. Wallace v. Labrenz, 411 Ill. 618, 104 N.E.2d 769...

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50 practice notes
  • Andrew B., In re, No. G017193
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • November 30, 1995
    ...be expanded to require the appointment of counsel on appeal for all indigent defendants convicted of felonies." (People v. Brown (1960) 55 Cal.2d 64, 69, 9 Cal.Rptr. 816, 357 P.2d 1072, [40 Cal.App.4th 835] fn. omitted (conc. opn. of Traynor, J.).) In support of this position, Justice Trayn......
  • People v. Newman, Cr. 8227
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • January 11, 1971
    ...that the crime of offering to sell a narcotic as defined in that section, requires a specific intent to sell a narcotic. (People v. Brown, 55 Cal.2d 64, 68, 9 Cal.Rptr. 816, 357 P.2d 1072 [cert. den. 366 U.S. 970, 81 S.Ct. 1932, 6 L.Ed.2d 1259]; People v. Jackson, 59 Cal.2d 468, 469, 30 Cal......
  • Douglas v. People of State of California, No. 34
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • March 18, 1963
    ...seem to be a discrimination at least as invidious as that condemned in Griffin v. People of State of Illinois * * *.' People v. Brown, 55 Cal.2d 64, 71, 9 Cal.Rptr. 816, 357 P.2d 1072, 1076 (concurring opinion). In Griffin v. Illinois, 351 U.S. 12, 76 S.Ct. 585, 100 L.Ed. 891, we held that ......
  • People v. Mora, Cr. 23506
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • October 30, 1974
    ...59 Cal.2d 468, 469-470, 30 Cal.Rptr. 329, 381 P.2d 1; People v. Medina, 27 Cal.App.3d 473, 476, 103 Cal.Rptr. 721.) In People v. Brown, 55 Cal.2d 64, 68, 9 Cal.Rptr. 816, 818, 357 P.2d 1072, 1074, the Supreme Court held that 'a specific intent to sell a narcotic is an essential element of t......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
50 cases
  • Andrew B., In re, No. G017193
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • November 30, 1995
    ...be expanded to require the appointment of counsel on appeal for all indigent defendants convicted of felonies." (People v. Brown (1960) 55 Cal.2d 64, 69, 9 Cal.Rptr. 816, 357 P.2d 1072, [40 Cal.App.4th 835] fn. omitted (conc. opn. of Traynor, J.).) In support of this position, Justice Trayn......
  • People v. Newman, Cr. 8227
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • January 11, 1971
    ...that the crime of offering to sell a narcotic as defined in that section, requires a specific intent to sell a narcotic. (People v. Brown, 55 Cal.2d 64, 68, 9 Cal.Rptr. 816, 357 P.2d 1072 [cert. den. 366 U.S. 970, 81 S.Ct. 1932, 6 L.Ed.2d 1259]; People v. Jackson, 59 Cal.2d 468, 469, 30 Cal......
  • Douglas v. People of State of California, No. 34
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • March 18, 1963
    ...seem to be a discrimination at least as invidious as that condemned in Griffin v. People of State of Illinois * * *.' People v. Brown, 55 Cal.2d 64, 71, 9 Cal.Rptr. 816, 357 P.2d 1072, 1076 (concurring opinion). In Griffin v. Illinois, 351 U.S. 12, 76 S.Ct. 585, 100 L.Ed. 891, we held that ......
  • People v. Mora, Cr. 23506
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • October 30, 1974
    ...59 Cal.2d 468, 469-470, 30 Cal.Rptr. 329, 381 P.2d 1; People v. Medina, 27 Cal.App.3d 473, 476, 103 Cal.Rptr. 721.) In People v. Brown, 55 Cal.2d 64, 68, 9 Cal.Rptr. 816, 818, 357 P.2d 1072, 1074, the Supreme Court held that 'a specific intent to sell a narcotic is an essential element of t......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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