People v. McGowanAnnotate this Case
Defendant was arrested and charged with camping in a prohibited public place, possession of a milk crate, and loitering under the Santa Monica Pier. At issue on appeal is whether Penal Code section 991 vests the trial court with authority to dismiss only some of the charges for lack of probable cause, or whether it must dismiss the complaint in its entirety or not at all. The court concluded that the Legislature intended for sections 991 and 995 to serve analogous purposes - to weed out unsupported charges prior to trial - in the misdemeanor and felony contexts; the court agreed with the defense that section 991 must be interpreted to permit the trial courts to dismiss not only an entire complaint, but also individual charges within the complaint, if it finds the charges are not supported by probable cause; and many of the public policy objectives that underpin section 995 also support a reading of section 991 that permits trial courts to dismiss individual charges from a complaint. Accordingly, the court reversed the decision of the appellate division.