PEOPLE v. CASAS No. E048184.
184 Cal.App.4th 1242 (2010)
109 Cal.Rptr.3d 811
THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. JORGE JOSE CASAS, Defendant and Appellant.
Court of Appeals of California, Fourth District, Division Two.
May 25, 2010.
Thien Huong Tran, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Defendant and Appellant.
Edmund G. Brown, Jr., Attorney General, Dane R. Gillette, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Gary W. Schons, Assistant Attorney General, and Meredith A. Strong, Deputy Attorney General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.
RAMIREZ, P. J.
Defendant, Jorge Jose Casas, a salesman at a car dealership, used a trade-in vehicle to follow a customer home to collect the downpayment, a process referred to as "chasing." However, he did not return to the dealership immediately with the downpayment or the trade-in vehicle, using the vehicle to drive nearly 400 miles in search of drugs to purchase using the cash portion of the downpayment. He was convicted of embezzlement (Pen. Code,
Defendant initially filed a brief in accordance with the procedures outlined in People v. Wende (1979)
On January 18, 2008, Clifford B. went to a Ford dealership to purchase a new F-150 truck. Defendant was the salesperson who assisted him in the transaction. Clifford B. was driving a 2004 F-150 truck, which he intended to use as a trade-in. In addition, the purchase agreement called for a downpayment of $1,500. At the time of the purchase, Clifford did not have the
On this occasion, after signing the purchase agreement, Clifford B. drove home in the newly purchased truck, followed by defendant who drove the trade-in vehicle. Normally, salespersons are supposed to drive their own vehicles to "chase" a customer. When they arrived at Clifford's residence, Clifford gave defendant a check in the amount of $1,000 and $500 in cash. However, defendant did not return immediately with the trade-in truck or the downpayment.
The next day, January 19, 2008, Clifford B. realized he had left something in the old truck that he had traded in, so he called the dealership to arrange to retrieve the item. An assistant sales manager took the call but the trade-in vehicle was missing, along with the keys to the vehicle. Defendant did not show up at the dealership that day, although he was scheduled to work. The sales manager then reported the vehicle as stolen. On January 21, 2008, defendant showed up at the dealership with the trade-in vehicle and the check from Clifford B., but without any cash. When the police arrived, defendant informed the officer he had driven the truck to numerous locations over the two-day period in search of drugs to purchase. The odometer indicated defendant had driven the trade-in vehicle nearly 400 miles. According to defendant's wife, she drove the only vehicle owned by the couple.
Defendant was arrested and charged with embezzlement (§ 508), as well as driving or taking a vehicle without the owner's permission. (Veh. Code, § 10851, subd. (a).) It was further alleged that defendant had been previously convicted of a serious or violent felony, within the meaning of the "Three Strikes" law (§§ 667, subds. (b)-(i), 1170.12, subds. (a)-(d)), and one prior conviction for which he had served a prison sentence (prison prior) (§ 667.5, subd. (b)). He was tried by a jury, which convicted him of the embezzlement charge, but deadlocked on the unlawful driving of the vehicle charge. A mistrial was declared as to the vehicle count.
Further proceedings relating to the prior conviction allegations were heard by the jury which found both the strike allegation and the prison prior allegation true. At sentencing, the court dismissed count 2, and sentenced defendant to the midterm of four years (two years, doubled due to the strike) for the embezzlement count, plus one year for the prison prior, for a total
However, there are decisions which have affirmed convictions for embezzlement after noting that an intent to temporarily deprive the owner of the property is sufficient. (See In re Basinger (1988)
Recently, the First District Court of Appeals held that evidence of a defendant's intent to restore embezzled property was irrelevant because of fraudulent intent, that is, the intent to use the property for a purpose other than that for which the dealership intended. (People v. Sisuphan (2010) 181 Cal.App.4th 800, 813 [
The reviewing court noted that the offense of embezzlement contemplates a principal's entrustment of property to an agent for certain purposes and the agent's breach of that trust by acting outside his authority in his use of the property. (People v. Sisuphan, supra, 181 Cal.App.4th at pp. 813-814, citing People v. Talbot (1934) 220 Cal. 3, 14 [28 P.2d 1057].) The court in Sisuphan, however, did not address the precise question of whether an intent to permanently deprive the owner is, or is not, an element of the crime, and did not discuss the decision in Davis, supra, 19 Cal.4th at page 307, holding that such a mental state is an element of the crime.
Using the definition we have adopted, the proffered evidence was irrelevant, so the exclusion of same by the trial court was not an abuse of discretion. Further, the court's modification of CALCRIM No. 1806, instructing the jury that an intent to temporarily deprive was sufficient to prove the mens rea of the crime of embezzlement was not error.
The judgment is affirmed.
McKinster, J., and Miller, J., concurred.
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