People v. Meza, No. G015476

CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals
Writing for the CourtRYLAARSDAM; SONENSHINE, Acting P.J., and CROSBY
Citation45 Cal.Rptr.2d 844,38 Cal.App.4th 1741
Parties, 95 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 8077, 95 Daily Journal D.A.R. 13,830 The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Donato Pena MEZA, Rosario Molina Labrada, Defendants and Appellants.
Docket NumberNo. G015476
Decision Date12 October 1995

Page 844

45 Cal.Rptr.2d 844
38 Cal.App.4th 1741, 95 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 8077,
95 Daily Journal D.A.R. 13,830
The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
Donato Pena MEZA, Rosario Molina Labrada, Defendants and Appellants.
No. G015476.
Court of Appeal, Fourth District, Division 3, California.
Oct. 12, 1995.

Page 845

[38 Cal.App.4th 1744] Kenneth R. Elliott, Vista, and William A. Elliott, Santa Ana, for Defendants and Appellants.

Daniel E. Lungren, Attorney General, George Williamson, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Gary W. Schons, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Holly D. Wilkens and Rhonda L. Cartwright-Ladendorf, Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

RYLAARSDAM, Associate Justice.

Apprehended in a car containing over 32 kilograms of cocaine, Donato Pena Meza and Rosario Molina Labrada were convicted of possessing cocaine for sale (Health & Saf.Code, § 11351, subd. (a); all statutory references are to the Health and Safety Code unless otherwise specified) and transporting cocaine (§ 11352, subd. (a)). The jury also found true an allegation the cocaine weighed over 20 kilograms (§ 11370.4, subd. (a)). Meza challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his conviction on the substantive charges. Both defendants contend the trial court was obligated to instruct the jury that it could not find the enhancement true unless they knew the quantity of cocaine exceeded 20 kilograms. Alternatively, they claim their trial attorneys were incompetent by failing to request such an instruction. Finally, both defendants contend the trial court erred in determining their presentence credits.

FACTS

Police officers conducted a narcotics surveillance of a house. Around 10:15 a.m., an unidentified individual left the rear of the residence and drove away in a pickup truck. The vehicle was registered to Labrada at that residence.

About noon, another man left the house and approached a Mercury Marquis bearing Arizona license plates parked in the backyard. The man removed what appeared to be two packages of cocaine and another gray [38 Cal.App.4th 1745] object from the Marquis' trunk and placed them in the trunk of another car. Several other men approached the rear of the Marquis and, while standing in a semicircle, looked inside the trunk. Some of the men reached into the trunk, but it could not be determined what they were doing. One man crawled underneath the rear of the Marquis and did something in the area of the gas tank.

At 5:25 p.m. the pickup reappeared approaching the house. Labrada was driving the truck, and Meza was riding as a passenger. They parked on a cross street some distance from the house even though there were nearby spaces available. Defendants got out of the truck and looked around in all directions. They walked northbound, went down an alley and entered the house from the rear. Two minutes later, defendants left the house, entered the Marquis and drove away, again with Labrada driving and Meza riding as a passenger.

The police stopped the Marquis, and Labrada consented to a search of it. Inside a hidden trunk compartment, police officers found two kilograms of cocaine. The police also discovered the gas tank was equipped with a trap door concealing a compartment containing over 32 kilograms of cocaine worth almost $3 million on the street.

DISCUSSION

I. SUFFICIENCY OF THE EVIDENCE

Meza contends the evidence fails to support his conviction for possessing and transporting cocaine for sale, arguing there is no evidence tying him to the residence or the Marquis until he appeared with Labrada and rode as a passenger in the car. We disagree.

"In assessing a sufficiency-of-evidence argument on appeal, we review the entire record in the light most favorable to the prevailing party to determine whether it shows evidence that is reasonable, credible and of solid value from which a rational trier of fact could find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt." (People v. Wader (1993) 5 Cal.4th 610, 640, 20 Cal.Rptr.2d 788, 854 P.2d 80; see also People v. Johnson (1980) 26 Cal.3d 557, 562, 576-577, 162 Cal.Rptr. 431, 606 P.2d 738.) The same standard applies to a conviction based primarily on circumstantial evidence. (People v. Ceja

Page 846

(1993) 4 Cal.4th 1134, 1138, 17 Cal.Rptr.2d 375, 847 P.2d 55; People v. Towler (1982) 31 Cal.3d 105, 118, 181 Cal.Rptr. 391, 641 P.2d 1253.)

Unlawful possession of a controlled substance for sale requires proof the defendant possessed the contraband with the intent of selling it and with [38 Cal.App.4th 1746] knowledge of both its presence and illegal character. (People v. Eckstrom (1986) 187 Cal.App.3d 323, 330-331, 231 Cal.Rptr. 664.) Transportation of a controlled substance is established by carrying or conveying a usable quantity of a controlled substance with knowledge of its presence and illegal character. (People v. Rogers (1971) 5 Cal.3d 129, 133-134, 137, 95 Cal.Rptr. 601, 486 P.2d 129; People v. Cortez (1985) 166 Cal.App.3d 994, 998-999, 212 Cal.Rptr. 692; Use Note to CALJIC No. 12.02.) The crimes can be established by circumstantial evidence and any reasonable inferences drawn from that evidence. (People v. White (1969) 71 Cal.2d 80, 83, 75 Cal.Rptr. 208, 450 P.2d 600; People v. Eckstrom, supra, 187 Cal.App.3d at p. 331, 231 Cal.Rptr. 664.)

This case involves more than mere guilt by association. Labrada brought Meza to the residence when he was about to make a drug delivery. He parked the pickup some distance away, and both looked around in all directions before going to the residence. An expert described their actions as counter-surveillance activity commonly employed by drug traffickers. After a very short stay at the residence the defendants left, only this time driving the...

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262 practice notes
  • People v. Z.A. (In re Z.A.), No. D060033.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • July 26, 2012
    ...and that she was thereby guilty of violating section 11360, pursuant to an aiding and abetting theory. (See People v. Meza (1995) 38 Cal.App.4th 1741, 1746, 45 Cal.Rptr.2d 844 [concluding record contained [144 Cal.Rptr.3d 598]sufficient evidence of defendant's guilt for transporting cocaine......
  • People v. Z.A. (In re Z.A.), No. D060033.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • July 26, 2012
    ...and that she was thereby guilty of violating section 11360, pursuant to an aiding and abetting theory. (See People v. Meza (1995) 38 Cal.App.4th 1741, 1746, 45 Cal.Rptr.2d 844 [concluding record contained [144 Cal.Rptr.3d 598]sufficient evidence of defendant's guilt for transporting cocaine......
  • Curiel v. Adams, Case No.: 1:10-cv-01121-LJO-JLT
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • February 20, 2013
    ...Cal.App.4th 1152, 1162.) We apply the same standard to convictions based largely on circumstantial evidence. (People v. Meza (1995) 38 Cal.App.4th 1741, 1745.)With commendable candor, Curiel acknowledges that "Carisalas fired multiple shots from the passenger seat of [Curiel's SUV],&qu......
  • Gupta v. Beard, Case No. CV 14-1709-CJC (KK)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Central District of California
    • March 27, 2015
    ...of a controlled substance for sale require as an element that the accused knew the substance was present. See People v. Meza, 38 Cal. App. 4th 1741, 1746 (Cal. Ct. App. 1995) ("Transportation of a controlled substance is established by carrying or conveying a usable quantity of a contr......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
262 cases
  • People v. Z.A. (In re Z.A.), No. D060033.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • July 26, 2012
    ...and that she was thereby guilty of violating section 11360, pursuant to an aiding and abetting theory. (See People v. Meza (1995) 38 Cal.App.4th 1741, 1746, 45 Cal.Rptr.2d 844 [concluding record contained [144 Cal.Rptr.3d 598]sufficient evidence of defendant's guilt for transporting cocaine......
  • People v. Z.A. (In re Z.A.), No. D060033.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • July 26, 2012
    ...and that she was thereby guilty of violating section 11360, pursuant to an aiding and abetting theory. (See People v. Meza (1995) 38 Cal.App.4th 1741, 1746, 45 Cal.Rptr.2d 844 [concluding record contained [144 Cal.Rptr.3d 598]sufficient evidence of defendant's guilt for transporting cocaine......
  • Curiel v. Adams, Case No.: 1:10-cv-01121-LJO-JLT
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • February 20, 2013
    ...Cal.App.4th 1152, 1162.) We apply the same standard to convictions based largely on circumstantial evidence. (People v. Meza (1995) 38 Cal.App.4th 1741, 1745.)With commendable candor, Curiel acknowledges that "Carisalas fired multiple shots from the passenger seat of [Curiel's SUV],&qu......
  • Gupta v. Beard, Case No. CV 14-1709-CJC (KK)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Central District of California
    • March 27, 2015
    ...of a controlled substance for sale require as an element that the accused knew the substance was present. See People v. Meza, 38 Cal. App. 4th 1741, 1746 (Cal. Ct. App. 1995) ("Transportation of a controlled substance is established by carrying or conveying a usable quantity of a contr......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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