People v. Iniguez

Decision Date23 May 1994
Docket NumberNo. S030379,S030379
Citation872 P.2d 1183,7 Cal.4th 847,30 Cal.Rptr.2d 258
CourtCalifornia Supreme Court
Parties, 872 P.2d 1183, 63 USLW 2015 The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Hector Guillermo INIGUEZ, Defendant and Appellant.

Daniel E. Lungren, Atty. Gen., George Williamson, Chief Asst. Atty. Gen., Gary W. Schons, Asst. Atty. Gen., Robert M. Foster, Raquel M. Gonzalez, Leslie B. Fleming and Keith I. Motley, Deputy Attys. Gen., for plaintiff and respondent.

ARABIAN, Justice.

Defendant Hector Guillermo Iniguez admitted that on the night before Mercy P.'s wedding, he approached her as she slept on the living room floor, removed her pants, fondled her buttocks, and had sexual intercourse with her. He further conceded that he had met Mercy for the first time that night, and that Mercy did not consent to any sexual contact or intercourse. The Court of Appeal reversed defendant's conviction for rape on the grounds that the evidence of force or fear of immediate and unlawful bodily injury was insufficient. We granted review to determine whether there was sufficient evidence to support the verdict, and to delineate the relationship between evidence of fear and the requirement under Penal Code section 261, subdivision (a)(2), that the sexual intercourse be "accomplished against a person's will," in a case where lack of consent is not disputed. We reverse the Court of Appeal.


On June 15, 1990, the eve of her wedding, at approximately 8:30 p.m., 22-year-old Mercy P. arrived at the home of Sandra S., a close family friend whom Mercy had known for at least 12 years and considered an aunt. Sandra had sewn Mercy's wedding dress, and was to stand in at the wedding the next day for Mercy's mother who was unable to attend. Mercy was planning to spend the night at her home.

Mercy met defendant, Sandra's fiance, for the first time that evening. Defendant was scheduled to stand in for Mercy's father during the wedding.

Mercy noticed that defendant was somewhat "tipsy" when he arrived. He had consumed a couple of beers and a pint of Southern Comfort before arriving at Sandra's. Mercy, Sandra, and defendant celebrated Mercy's impending wedding by having dinner and drinking some wine. There was no flirtation or any remarks of a sexual nature between defendant and Mercy at any time during the evening.

Around 11:30 p.m., Mercy went to bed in the living room. She slept on top of her sleeping bag. She was wearing pants with an attached skirt, and a shirt. She fell asleep at approximately midnight.

Mercy was awakened between 1:00 and 2:00 a.m. when she heard some movements behind her. She was lying on her stomach, and saw defendant, who was naked, approach her from behind. Without saying anything, defendant pulled down her pants, fondled her buttocks, and inserted his penis inside her. Mercy weighed 105 pounds. Defendant weighed approximately 205 pounds. Mercy "was afraid, so I just laid there." "You didn't try to resist or escape or anything of that nature because of your fear?" "Right." Mercy further explained that she "didn't know how it was at first, and just want[ed] to get on with my wedding plans the next day." Less than a minute later, defendant ejaculated, got off her, and walked back to the bedroom. Mercy had not consented to any sexual contact.

Officer Fragoso, who interviewed Mercy several days after the attack, testified that she told him she had not resisted defendant's sexual assault because, "She said she knew that the man had been drinking. She hadn't met him before; he was a complete stranger to her. When she realized what was going on, she said she panicked, she froze. She was afraid that if she said or did anything, his reaction could be of a violent nature. So she decided just to lay still, wait until it was over with and then get out of the house as quickly as she could and get to her fiancee [sic ] and tell him what happened."

Mercy immediately telephoned her fiance Gary and left a message for him. She then telephoned her best friend Pam, who testified that Mercy was so distraught she was barely comprehensible. Mercy asked Pam to pick her up, grabbed her purse and shoes, and ran out of the apartment. Mercy hid in the bushes outside the house for approximately half an hour while waiting for Pam because she was terrified defendant would look for her.

Pam arrived about 30 minutes later, and drove Mercy to Pam's house. Mercy sat on Pam's kitchen floor, her back to the wall, and asked Pam, "Do I look like the word 'rape' [is] written on [my] face?" Mercy wanted to take a shower because she "felt dirty," but was dissuaded by Pam. Pam telephoned Gary, who called the police.

Gary and his best man then drove Mercy to the hospital, where a "rape examination" was performed. Patricia Aiko Lawson, a blood typing and serology expert, testified that there was a large amount of semen present in Mercy's vagina and on the crotch area of her underpants. A deep vaginal swab revealed that many sperm were whole, indicating intercourse had occurred within a few hours prior to the rape examination. ABO blood group, blood type B, which was consistent with defendant's, but not Gary's or Mercy's blood type, was found on the internal and external vaginal swabs and on the underpants.

The following day, Mercy and Gary married. Gary picked up the wedding dress from Sandra while Mercy waited in the car. Neither Sandra nor defendant participated in the wedding.

Defendant was arrested the same day. When asked by the arresting officer if he had had sexual intercourse with Mercy, defendant replied, "I guess I did, yes."

Dr. Charles Nelson, a psychologist, testified as an expert on "rape trauma syndrome." He stated that victims respond in a variety of ways to the trauma of being raped. Some try to flee, and others are paralyzed by fear. This latter response he termed "frozen fright."

Defendant conceded at trial that the sexual intercourse was nonconsensual. Defendant testified that he fondled Mercy without her consent, pulled down her pants, had sexual intercourse, and thereafter ejaculated. However, defense counsel argued that the element of force or fear was absent. "So if he was doing anything, it wasn't force or fear.... It's a situation where it looks to him like he can get away with it and a situation where his judgment is flown out the window.... He keeps doing it, probably without giving much thought to it, but certainly there is nothing there to indicate using fear ever entered his mind. What he was doing was taking advantage, in a drunken The jury was instructed on both rape pursuant to then PENAL CODE SECTION 2611, subdivision (2), and sexual battery. 2 Upon the jury's request for further instruction on the definition of fear of immediate and unlawful bodily injury, the court instructed in relevant part, " '[F]ear' means, a feeling of alarm or disquiet caused by the expectation of danger, pain, disaster or the like." "Verbal threats are not critical to a finding of fear of unlawful injury, threats can be implied from the circumstances or inferred from the assailant's conduct. A victim may entertain a reasonable fear even where the assailant does not threaten by words or deed."

way, of a situation where somebody appeared to be out of it."

The jury found defendant guilty of rape. He was sentenced to state prison for the midterm of six years.

The Court of Appeal reversed, concluding that there was insufficient evidence that the act of sexual intercourse was accomplished by means of force or fear of immediate and unlawful bodily injury. On the issue of fear, the court stated: "While the [defendant] was admittedly much larger than the small victim, he did nothing to suggest that he intended to injure her. No coarse or sexually suggestive conversation had taken place. Nothing of an abusive or threatening nature had occurred. The victim was sleeping in her aunt's house, in which screams presumably would have raised the aunt and interrupted the intercourse. Although the assailant was a stranger to the victim, she knew nothing about him which would suggest that he was violent. [The] event of intercourse is singularly unusual in terms of its ease of facilitation, causing no struggle, no injury, no abrasions or other marks, and lasting, as the victim testified, 'maybe a minute.' " The court modified the judgment, reducing defendant's conviction of rape under section 261, former subdivision 2, to the offense of sexual battery under section 243.4, subdivision (a), and remanded for resentencing.

We granted the Attorney General's petition for review.


The test on appeal for determining if substantial evidence supports a conviction is whether " 'a reasonable trier of fact could have found the prosecution sustained its burden of proving the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.' " (People v. Johnson (1980) 26 Cal.3d 557, 576, 162 Cal.Rptr. 431, 606 P.2d 738.) In making this determination, we " 'must view the evidence in a light most favorable to respondent and presume in support of the judgment the existence of every fact the trier could reasonably deduce from the evidence.' " (Ibid.)

Prior to 1980, section 261, subdivisions 2 and 3 "defined rape as an act of sexual intercourse under circumstances where the person resists, but where 'resistance is overcome by force or violence' or where 'a person is prevented from resisting by threats of great and immediate bodily harm, accompanied by apparent power of execution....' " (People v. Barnes (1986) 42 Cal.3d 284, 292, 228 Cal.Rptr. 228, 721 P.2d 110 [Barnes ]; Stats.1979, ch. 994, § 1, p. 3383.) Under the former law, a person was required to either resist or be prevented from resisting because of threats. (Barnes, supra, 42 Cal.3d at p. 295, 228 Cal.Rptr. 228, 721 P.2d 110.)

Section 261 was amended in 1980 to eliminate both the resistance...

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  • § 33.04 Rape: Actus Reus
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