People v. Gallegos, 81CA1228

Decision Date10 November 1983
Docket NumberNo. 81CA1228,81CA1228
Citation680 P.2d 1294
PartiesThe PEOPLE of the State of Colorado, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Paul GALLEGOS, Defendant-Appellant. . I
CourtColorado Court of Appeals

Duane Woodard, Atty. Gen., Charles B. Howe, Deputy Atty. Gen., Joel W. Cantrick, Sp. Asst. Atty. Gen., Laura E. Udis, Asst. Atty. Gen., Denver, for plaintiff-appellee.

William S. Retrum, Wheatridge, for defendant-appellant.

PIERCE, Judge.

Defendant, Paul Gallegos, appeals his jury conviction for second degree burglary, theft, and conspiracy. We affirm.


Defendant first contends the county court committed reversible error when it conducted defendant's preliminary hearing when defendant was not represented by counsel. We disagree.

Because the public defender's office had a conflict of interest, no public defender would represent defendant in this matter. Therefore, just prior to the commencement of the preliminary hearing, the trial court appointed counsel for defendant. The attorney appointed to represent defendant, however, was out of town at the time. Therefore, defendant was not represented during the preliminary hearing.

One of the investigating detectives testified at the preliminary hearing. The detective identified defendant in court after having testified that he had observed defendant frequently during surveillance as defendant drove a 1974 navy blue Cadillac with a license plate denominated "T.P." The detective further testified he had conducted surveillance for several weeks prior to the incident involved here. He testified that he had seen the navy blue car, driven by defendant, on the night of the burglary, at a motel where three of the persons subsequently accused in the burglary met.

After being informed of the burglary, this detective instructed members of his surveillance team to go to an apartment building where one of the three persons who had met at the motel resided to ascertain whether the Cadillac was parked nearby. The Cadillac in question was found to be parked there. Thereafter, the four individuals, including the defendant, walked from one of the apartments to the Cadillac, each of whom opened one of the four car doors. At this time, police detained all four individuals, and simultaneously observed a large quantity of jewelry on the floorboard of the automobile.

During trial, this detective's testimony was essentially repeated and was buttressed by testimony from the other investigating detective as well as other prosecution witnesses who linked the jewelry, the car, and the defendant to this particular burglary. See Wells v. People, 197 Colo. 350, 592 P.2d 1321 (1979).

The preliminary hearing issue was not raised prior to or during trial, nor by any C.R.C.P. 106 proceeding. See Zaharia v. County Court, 673 P.2d 378 (Colo.App.1983). The preliminary hearing is a "critical stage" of a criminal proceeding at which an accused is entitled to representation. Coleman v. Alabama, 399 U.S. 1, 90 S.Ct. 1999, 26 L.Ed.2d 387 (1970).

However, in Coleman, the Supreme Court noted that the error which occurs if a defendant is denied or does not have counsel at the time of the preliminary hearing may, in certain circumstances, be characterized as harmless. See Chapman v. California, 386 U.S. 18, 87 S.Ct. 824, 17 L.Ed.2d 705 (1967); People v. Myrick, 638 P.2d 34 (Colo.1981).

Following this analysis, we hold that because the case against the defendant was so overwhelming, this error was harmless. The error during the preliminary hearing did not materially contribute to the defendant's ultimate conviction.


Defendant next contends the trial court erred when it denied his motion to suppress evidence obtained pursuant to a warrantless arrest. He argues the requirements of the Aguilar-Spinelli test for determining probable cause were not met. We reject defendant's argument.

Defendant correctly states that, in the recent past, the existence of probable cause to support either a warrantless arrest or search has been tested by considering both the basis of an informant's knowledge, and the reliability of the information itself, i.e., Aguilar-Spinelli test. People v. Glasener, 191 Colo. 114, 550 P.2d 851 (1976). This two-pronged test, however, has been abandoned by the United States Supreme Court in Illinois v. Gates, 462 U.S. 213, 103 S.Ct. 2317, 76 L.Ed.2d 527 (1983). There, the Supreme Court stated:

"[T]hese elements, [reliability and basis of knowledge] ... should be understood simply as closely intertwined issues that may usefully illuminate the common sense, practical question whether there is 'probable cause' to believe that contraband or evidence is located in a particular place.

"This totality of the circumstances approach is far more consistent with our prior treatment of probable cause than is any rigid demand that specific 'tests' be satisfied by every informant's tip.

"[W]e conclude that it is wiser to abandon the 'two-pronged' test established by our decisions in Aguilar and Spinelli. In its place we reaffirm the totality of the circumstances analysis that traditionally has informed probable cause determinations."

Applying the totality of the circumstances test to the facts here, we conclude probable cause for the arrest was present.

The two detectives who conducted surveillance of the suspect prior to the burglary obtained much of their information from conversations with two confidential informants, and from an individual who was named later as co-defendant. The confidential informants specified the individuals by name whom they believed were committing burglaries and described the method used for breaking and entering, as well as the make and year of the vehicle in which the individuals left the burglary scenes. The co-defendant informant relayed information to the detective as to when and where the burglary would occur on the evening in question.

Through surveillance, the detectives saw defendant driving the vehicle described by the informant, and interacting with the other individuals arrested.

These facts, under a totality of the circumstances analysis, lead us to conclude the trial court did not err when it denied defendant's motion to suppress evidence seized following a warrantless arrest. Probable cause was present.


Defendant next contends the trial court erred when it denied his motion for severance of trial. We disagree.

First, we note that the trial court originally granted defendant's motion for severance, but upon the district attorney's suggestion, set a trial date for both defendant and co-defendant. Neither defendant had made statements at any time during the course of their arrest, nor thereafter during questioning by the police.

Contrary to defendant's assertion, severance is not...

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4 cases
  • People v. Vazquez, 84CA1173
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals
    • July 7, 1988
    ...(Colo.1986). See also People v. Smith, 685 P.2d 786 (Colo.App.1984); People v. Sullivan, 680 P.2d 851 (Colo.App.1984); People v. Gallegos, 680 P.2d 1294 (Colo.App.1983). That test continues to rely on former elements of probable cause determination--the informant's veracity or reliability a......
  • People v. Salazar, 83CA1066
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals
    • September 12, 1985
    ...v. Gates, 462 U.S. 213, 103 S.Ct. 2317, 76 L.Ed.2d 527 (1983). See People v. Sullivan, 680 P.2d 851 (Colo.App.1984); People v. Gallegos, 680 P.2d 1294 (Colo.App.1983). Here, Bervig's statement corroborating Silva's information, and police confirmation of Silva's directions to defendant's ho......
  • People v. Smith
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals
    • July 5, 1984
    ...established by Illinois v. Gates, 462 U.S. 213, 103 S.Ct. 2317, 76 L.Ed.2d 527 (1983), and adopted by this court in People v. Gallegos, 680 P.2d 1294 (Colo.App.1983) and People v. Sullivan, 680 P.2d 851 (Colo.App.1984), we agree with the trial court's conclusion that the remaining facts set......
  • People v. Peltz, 82CA1241
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals
    • August 23, 1984 considered. People v. Smith, 685 P.2d 786 (Colo.App.1984); People v. Sullivan, 680 P.2d 851 (Colo.App.1984); People v. Gallegos, 680 P.2d 1294 (Colo.App.1983). Here, the information provided by the named informant was both detailed and corroborated by the other information in the affidav......

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