People v. GutierrezAnnotate this Case
Defendant appealed his conviction of fleeing a police officer while driving recklessly, unlawful driving or taking a vehicle, driving under the influence of alcohol and hit-and-run driving. The Court of Appeal reversed defendant's felony conviction for unlawful driving or taking a vehicle in violation of Vehicle Code 10851, vacated his sentence in its entirety, and remanded for retrial on that count or resentencing. The court held that the felony conviction must be reversed because it may have been based on a legally incorrect theory of guilt. In this case, the People failed to present any evidence at trial regarding the value of the rental car, and thus the felony conviction for violating section 10851, if predicated on vehicle theft, could not stand. The court explained that the jury instructions failed to adequately distinguish among, and separately define the elements for, each of the ways in which section 10851 could be violated. On remand, the court noted that the People will have the election of accepting a reduction of the felony conviction on count 2 to a misdemeanor or retrying count 2 as a felony. The court affirmed in all other respects.