People v. Villalobos, Cr. 11890

CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals
Writing for the CourtKINGSLEY; FILES, P.J., and JEFFERSON
Citation54 Cal.Rptr. 60,245 Cal.App.2d 561
PartiesThe PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Ralph VILLALOBOS, Defendant and Appellant. Division 4, California
Docket NumberCr. 11890
Decision Date11 October 1966

Page 60

54 Cal.Rptr. 60
245 Cal.App.2d 561
The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
Ralph VILLALOBOS, Defendant and Appellant.
Cr. 11890.
District Court of Appeal, Second District,
Division 4, California.
Oct. 11, 1966.

Page 61

[245 Cal.App.2d 562] Richard H. Levin, Los Angeles, under appointment by the District Court of Appeal, for defendant and appellant.

Thomas C. Lynch, Atty. Gen., William E. James, Asst. Atty. Gen., Norman H. Sokolow, and William V. Ballough, Deputy Attys. Gen., for plaintiff and respondent.

KINGSLEY, Justice.

Defendant, together with Freddie E. Morales and Clyde Olivas, was charged with the possession of marijuana, in violation of section 11530 of the Health and Safety Code. Trial by jury was duly waived and the case was submitted on the transcript of the testimony taken at the preliminary examination together with the exhibits there introduced. The court found all three defendants guilty as [245 Cal.App.2d 563] charged; defendant was committed to the Youth Authority, from which judgment he has appealed.

Officer Weese, of the Los Angeles Police Department, was advised by the manager of the Ramona Gardens housing project that a number of marijuana smokers were in the habit of congregating on a street adjacent to the project. He drove to the location indicated and saw a group of ten men crouched in a huddle. As he approached them, a torn paper sack was thrown into the air and the men scattered. The officer did not see who threw the sack and he was unable to say that any particular member of the group was in immediate physical possession of the sack prior to the throwing.

The officer recognized four of the men and he pursued two others whom he did not recognize. He apprehended one of these two (Tony Osuna--not involved in the present case), handcuffed him, and then returned to pick up the paper sack. Examination of its contents (a brownish, green leafy substance) convinced him, in the light of his experience and training, that the sack contained marijuana. 1 He then started to search for the other men in the group. Defendant and his codefendants were found seated on a bench about 150 feet from the point at which the huddled group had been. The officer recognized them as three members of that group. 2 He 'approached them, and questioned

Page 62

them, 3 and placed them under arrest.' They were transported to the narcotics division quarters and were there searched. Some debris was taken from defendant's pocket, which debris, on being tested, was discovered to consist of 50 milligrams of marijuana debris.

The contentions made by counsel for defendant at the preliminary examination, and here, were (1) that the arrest was without probable cause and (2) that the evidence is not sufficient to support the finding of guilt.

It is admitted that the officer had adequate grounds to interrogate defendant and his companions and to investigate their possible connection with marijuana usage. He had information from a reliable informant 4 that such usage habitually [245 Cal.App.2d 564] took place at the point where defendant and his companions were first seen. While mere flight at the approach of an officer is not, itself, ground for arrest (People v. Garrett (1965) 237 Cal.App.2d 701, 47 Cal.Rptr. 194), it justified the officer in investigating to discover the reason for the flight. Knowing, as he did when he approached the defendant and his companions, that someone among the group of ten had possessed a sack of marijuana, inquiry of the three to discover more about that possession and the activity of the group was not only proper but an obligatory police duty.

Defendant's argument is that, since the officer (so far as this record shows) had no basis for thinking that defendant had held the sack or thrown it, there was no justification for him to go beyond interrogation and no reasonable basis for the arrest. But the law recognizes a joint possession; the officer could reasonably conclude that the sack was the common property--or at least in the common possession--of the entire group of ten men. We conclude that he had reasonable cause to arrest any or all members of the group.

Were there no more to the case, what we have said would also dispose of the contention that the evidence was insufficient. (People v. Toms (1958) 163 Cal.App.2d 123, 128, 329 P.2d 90.) However, when the case was heard at the preliminary examination, the magistrate took the position that defendant could not be convicted of possession of the marijuana in the sack, since he was not shown to have been more than a spectator or hanger-on. He expressly admitted the sack and its contents 'only as part of the probable cause phase of the case' and expressly refused to admit it as evidence against defendant. As we have indicated, the case was submitted to the trial court solely on the transcript of the preliminary examination and on 'all exhibits received at the preliminary hearing.' It does not appear from the record of the trial that anyone considered the sack and its contents to have been in evidence at the trial on the issue of guilt.

The Attorney General argues: 5

[245 Cal.App.2d 565] (a) Since the officer's testimony that he found and examined the sack and contents, and the expert's testimony as to the nature and quantity of the contents, were admitted without objection and without

Page 63

limitation as to purpose, the physical exhibit was purely cumulative and its limited admission...

To continue reading

Request your trial
11 practice notes
  • People v. Chrisman, Cr. 5908
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • November 28, 1967
    ...61 P.2d 771; but cf. People v. McChristian, supra, 245 Cal.App.2d 891, 894--897, 54 Cal.Rptr. 324; and People v. Villalobos (1966) 245 Cal.App.2d 561, 566--568, 54 Cal.Rptr. 60.) They contend that the evidence of the heroin traces on the paraphernalia was circumstantial evidence, which with......
  • People v. Valerio, Cr. 4159
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • December 29, 1970
    ...the fragments constituted a usable quantity (People v. Leal, 64 Cal.2d 504, 512, 50 Cal.Rptr. 777, 413 P.2d 665; People v. Villalobos, 245 Cal.App.2d 561, 567, 54 Cal.Rptr. 60), but, inasmuch as the marijuana cigarette was only partially smoked and the remaining portion was approximately on......
  • People v. Villareal, Cr. 3130
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • May 23, 1968
    ...in investigating the reason for the flight. (People v. Alvarado, 250 Cal.App.2d 584, 589, 58 Cal.Rptr. 822; People v. Villalobos, 245 Cal.App.2d 561, 564, 54 Cal.Rptr. 60.) Furthermore, there is nothing unreasonable in an officer's questioning suspicious persons outdoors during the nighttim......
  • Lejeune v. State, No. 49404
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Texas. Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas
    • July 14, 1976
    ...other State courts have allowed the minimum quantity of marihuana to be proved by the use of judicial notice. In People v. Villalobos, 245 Cal.App.2d 561, 54 Cal.Rptr. 60 (Dist.Ct. of App., 2nd Dist., Div. 4--1966), the court 'Assuming that, at some point, a trial court and we could take ju......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
11 cases
  • People v. Chrisman, Cr. 5908
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • November 28, 1967
    ...61 P.2d 771; but cf. People v. McChristian, supra, 245 Cal.App.2d 891, 894--897, 54 Cal.Rptr. 324; and People v. Villalobos (1966) 245 Cal.App.2d 561, 566--568, 54 Cal.Rptr. 60.) They contend that the evidence of the heroin traces on the paraphernalia was circumstantial evidence, which with......
  • People v. Valerio, Cr. 4159
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • December 29, 1970
    ...the fragments constituted a usable quantity (People v. Leal, 64 Cal.2d 504, 512, 50 Cal.Rptr. 777, 413 P.2d 665; People v. Villalobos, 245 Cal.App.2d 561, 567, 54 Cal.Rptr. 60), but, inasmuch as the marijuana cigarette was only partially smoked and the remaining portion was approximately on......
  • People v. Villareal, Cr. 3130
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • May 23, 1968
    ...in investigating the reason for the flight. (People v. Alvarado, 250 Cal.App.2d 584, 589, 58 Cal.Rptr. 822; People v. Villalobos, 245 Cal.App.2d 561, 564, 54 Cal.Rptr. 60.) Furthermore, there is nothing unreasonable in an officer's questioning suspicious persons outdoors during the nighttim......
  • Lejeune v. State, No. 49404
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Texas. Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas
    • July 14, 1976
    ...other State courts have allowed the minimum quantity of marihuana to be proved by the use of judicial notice. In People v. Villalobos, 245 Cal.App.2d 561, 54 Cal.Rptr. 60 (Dist.Ct. of App., 2nd Dist., Div. 4--1966), the court 'Assuming that, at some point, a trial court and we could take ju......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT