People v. Washington, B296437

CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals
Writing for the CourtMANELLA, P. J.
Citation61 Cal.App.5th 776,276 Cal.Rptr.3d 76
Parties The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Antoine Lamar WASHINGTON, Defendant and Appellant.
Docket NumberB296437
Decision Date09 March 2021

61 Cal.App.5th 776
276 Cal.Rptr.3d 76

The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
Antoine Lamar WASHINGTON, Defendant and Appellant.

B296437

Court of Appeal, Second District, Division 4, California.

Filed March 9, 2021


The Law Offices of Michelle T. LiVecchi-Raufi and Michelle T. LiVecchi-Raufi, South Pasadena, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Defendant and Appellant.

Xavier Becerra, Attorney General, Lance E. Winters, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Susan Sullivan Pithey, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Scott A. Taryle and Viet H. Nguyen, Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

MANELLA, P. J.

61 Cal.App.5th 780

INTRODUCTION

Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies served a search warrant on a home in Lancaster. When they approached the home's garage, a deputy saw appellant Antoine Lamar Washington discard a firearm. Inside the garage, deputies found a sophisticated drug-sale operation. Following trial, a jury

61 Cal.App.5th 781

convicted appellant of possession of three controlled substances while armed with a firearm, possession of the three controlled substances for sale, possession of a firearm as a felon, and possession of ammunition as a felon. The trial court sentenced appellant to a total of five years and eight months in state prison. The sentence included a separate term -- whether consecutive or concurrent -- for each of appellant's offenses, except his possession of ammunition, for which the sentence was stayed under Penal Code section 654 ( Section 654 ). Appellant was further ordered to pay a restitution fine and certain assessments.

Appellant now challenges his conviction and sentence. He asserts: (1) the evidence was insufficient to prove he had knowledge of the narcotics found in the garage; (2) the trial court abused its discretion in admitting evidence of his prior conviction for possession for sale of a controlled substance; (3) the court improperly punished him multiple times for each of his criminal acts (the possession of each controlled substance and the possession of a firearm), in contravention of Section 654 ; and (4) the trial court violated his constitutional rights by imposing the fines and assessments without first determining his ability to pay. Appellant further asks that we independently review sealed portions of the search warrant affidavit to determine if the trial court erred in denying his motions to unseal the sealed portions, and to traverse and quash the warrant.

We agree with appellant that his sentence violates Section 654 ’s proscription against multiple punishments for a single act. Under People v. Jones (2012) 54 Cal.4th 350, 142 Cal.Rptr.3d 561, 278 P.3d 821 ( Jones ) and its progeny, appellant's single possession of each item of contraband (methamphetamine, cocaine, cocaine base, and the firearm) constituted a single act, subject to only one punishment. Appellant's unstayed sentences for possessing controlled substances while armed, therefore, imposed additional punishment for the same acts punished by his sentences for possession of the substances for sale and the possession of a firearm by a felon. Accordingly, appellant's sentence was unauthorized. We therefore vacate the sentence and remand for resentencing. Finding no other error, we otherwise affirm.

276 Cal.Rptr.3d 82

BACKGROUND

A. The Information

In May 2018, the Los Angeles County District Attorney charged appellant with: unlawful possession of three controlled substances (methamphetamine, cocaine, and cocaine base) while armed with three firearms (a Springfield semi-automatic handgun, a Smith & Wesson semi-automatic handgun, and a Ruger revolver) ( Health & Saf. Code, § 11370.1, subd. (a) ; Counts 1, 2, 4, 5,

61 Cal.App.5th 782

6, 8, 9, 10, & 12);1 possession for sale of the same three substances ( Health & Saf. Code, §§ 11351, 11351.5, & 11378 ; Counts 17, 18, & 20); possession of the same three firearms by a felon ( Pen. Code, § 29800, subd. (a)(1) ; Counts 31, 32, & 33); and possession of ammunition by a felon ( Pen. Code, § 30305, subd. (a)(1) ; Count 36).2 The information alleged that appellant committed each of these offenses "[o]n or about February 16, 2018." Appellant pleaded not guilty, and the case proceeded to trial in January 2019.

B. The Prosecution's Evidence at Trial

On February 16, 2018, at about 1:30 a.m., Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies served a search warrant on a house on Corkwood Avenue in Lancaster. Detective Jonathan Delling led two teams of deputies to execute the search. Before executing the search, the deputies received information that a man named Sam might be a drug seller at the location. As the deputies approached the residence, Detective Delling saw a man sweeping in the street. When the man saw the deputies, he walked toward the residence and started shouting. Recognizing that the man was serving as a lookout, Detective Delling instructed the teams to approach the residence quickly.3

As deputies approached the garage attached to the house, Detective Delling saw that the garage door was partially open. Although the garage was very dimly lit, Detective Delling used a light mounted on his firearm to illuminate it and was able to see multiple people inside. Two people were sitting on a couch at the back of the garage, and one person, later identified as appellant, was standing between a dresser and the couch. Detective Delling then saw appellant move across the garage, pull a small revolver out of the back pocket of his pants, and discard it.

All the occupants of the garage and home were then ordered out. Seven people were found in the house. One man, Samuel Farrell, was found in possession of cocaine base. One woman, Taraya Young, resided at the house, and her parents were also present when the deputies arrived. Young's sister and two other women were found in the garage.

A search of appellant found $451 in his pocket, in various denominations in no discernible order.4 Deputies also recovered a loaded Ruger revolver

61 Cal.App.5th 783

from the area where appellant was standing when Detective Delling saw him discard a revolver. At trial, Detective Delling was "[a] hundred percent" certain the recovered Ruger was the gun he had seen appellant discard.

276 Cal.Rptr.3d 83

Inside the garage, deputies found a sophisticated drug-sale operation. At trial, the court admitted the following not-to-scale diagram of the garage:

The dresser faced inward and was placed next to a headboard, creating a partially enclosed space. Detective Delling described this area at trial as similar to "the checkout counter at a convenience store." When Detective Delling first saw appellant in the garage, appellant was standing behind the far-right corner of the dresser, marked on the diagram with an "X" near the dresser's top-right corner.

On top of the dresser were over $400 in cash, a container of marijuana, unused baggies, digital scales, and a container marked "TIPS," containing $36. Inside the dresser's drawers, deputies found more money, two loaded firearms (Smith & Wesson and Springfield handguns), and large amounts of methamphetamine and cocaine base.5 Also found in the drawers was a notebook with pay-and-owe sheets. Testifying as an expert on drug-sale practices, Detective Delling explained a pay-and-owe sheet is how drug

61 Cal.App.5th 784

dealers keep track of payments for drug transactions. On the table within the counter area, deputies found two-way radios, radio scanners, and a video surveillance monitoring system that allowed those in the counter area to view anyone approaching the premises.

Along the east wall of the garage, among some "clutter" by the refrigerator and the headboard, deputies found more money and a baggie containing over 30 grams of cocaine. On top of a microwave (marked "M" in the diagram), deputies found a baggie containing over 22 grams of cocaine base, placed behind a lampshade and an unidentified object. At trial, the parties stipulated that appellant was convicted of possession of cocaine base for sale in 2004.6

276 Cal.Rptr.3d 84

Based on a hypothetical mirroring of the facts of the case, Detective Delling opined at trial that the contraband found in the garage was possessed for sale. Detective Delling further opined that appellant possessed the drugs in the garage, based in part on appellant's possession of the revolver and the money. He explained that drug dealers in similar settings generally do not allow drug buyers to be armed. According to Detective Delling, it would not be "reasonable" for someone uninvolved in the operation to be armed and standing behind the "counter" containing the drugs and money, where he had seen appellant standing. He additionally opined that possessing $451 in various denominations in no discernible order indicated drug sales, suggesting that the person was collecting the money over time, as he was making sales.

At the conclusion...

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14 practice notes
  • Coachella Valley Water Dist. v. Superior Court of Riverside Cnty., E074010
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • March 9, 2021
    ...Code provisions are clear: a county water district makes an "assessment" when it fixes a property tax rate for any given year, and 276 Cal.Rptr.3d 76 such assessments are subject to validation. ( §§ 30066, 31702.3.)In view of our conclusion that Roberts' complaint is barred by the 60-day st......
  • People v. Abdullah, B303963
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • May 19, 2021
    ...prove knowledge of the narcotic nature of the drugs." (People v. Williams (2009) 170 Cal.App.4th 587, 607; People v. Washington (2021) 61 Cal.App.5th 776, 787; People v. Ghebretensae, supra, 222 Cal.App.4th at p. 754; People v. Pijal (1973) 33 Cal.App.3d 682, 691 ["Since appellant's knowled......
  • People v. Wejbe, G059155
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • June 29, 2021
    ...[Citation.] We review any factual findings underlying the trial court's ruling for substantial evidence.” (People v. Washington (2021) 61 Cal.App.5th 776, 795.) Here, appellant was charged with committing two different physical acts: using another's personal information; and obtaining and r......
  • People v. White, C089037
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • December 30, 2021
    ...To be admissible, the evidence of the prior misconduct must be probative of a material fact. [Citation.]" (People v. Washington (2021) 61 Cal.App.5th 776, 787 (Washington).) "Courts have recognized that evidence of other crimes is extremely inflammatory, and the trial court must take great ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
14 cases
  • Coachella Valley Water Dist. v. Superior Court of Riverside Cnty., E074010
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • March 9, 2021
    ...Code provisions are clear: a county water district makes an "assessment" when it fixes a property tax rate for any given year, and 276 Cal.Rptr.3d 76 such assessments are subject to validation. ( §§ 30066, 31702.3.)In view of our conclusion that Roberts' complaint is barred by the 60-day st......
  • People v. Abdullah, B303963
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • May 19, 2021
    ...prove knowledge of the narcotic nature of the drugs." (People v. Williams (2009) 170 Cal.App.4th 587, 607; People v. Washington (2021) 61 Cal.App.5th 776, 787; People v. Ghebretensae, supra, 222 Cal.App.4th at p. 754; People v. Pijal (1973) 33 Cal.App.3d 682, 691 ["Since appellant's knowled......
  • People v. Wejbe, G059155
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • June 29, 2021
    ...[Citation.] We review any factual findings underlying the trial court's ruling for substantial evidence.” (People v. Washington (2021) 61 Cal.App.5th 776, 795.) Here, appellant was charged with committing two different physical acts: using another's personal information; and obtaining and r......
  • People v. White, C089037
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • December 30, 2021
    ...To be admissible, the evidence of the prior misconduct must be probative of a material fact. [Citation.]" (People v. Washington (2021) 61 Cal.App.5th 776, 787 (Washington).) "Courts have recognized that evidence of other crimes is extremely inflammatory, and the trial court must take great ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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