Court Defines GBI Enhancement in Criminal Cases

Following a court trial outside of Long Beach, the accused was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and three counts of furnishing a controlled substance based on evidence that he provided methadone and hydrocodone to a woman who died from an overdose of the drugs. As to two of the furnishing counts, the court also found true allegations that the defendant, Martinez,  personally inflicted GBI (Great Bodily Injury) on the homicide victim. On appeal, Martinez challenged the GBI enhancements, including the sufficiency of the evidence to support them. Here, the appellate court rejected Martinez’s argument that subdivision (g) should be broadly interpreted to mean that a GBI enhancement based on the homicide victim’s death cannot attach to other offenses when the defendant has been convicted of murder or manslaughter. This interpretation of section 12022.7, subdivision (g) is unsupported by the plain language of section 12022.7, which only prohibits a GBI enhancement from attaching to the murder or manslaughter offense, and by case law. Because Martinez waived his Penal Code section 654 rights in exchange for dismissal of a murder charge and a maximum sentence, and because there was no statutory prohibition on imposing the GBI enhancement on the furnishing charges, the trial court acted properly.

Defendant “personally inflicted” GBI by furnishing a lethal quantity of controlled substances to the homicide victim while she was intoxicated. The Criminal Defense Attorney also argued there was insufficient evidence that he “personally inflicted” great bodily harm on the victim. He conceded that the lethal combination of drugs caused the death, but claimed the relevant question was whether his act of furnishing the drugs, as opposed to the victim’s act of voluntarily ingesting them, directly caused her death. The evidence was sufficient. Although appellant did not force the victim to take the drugs, he supplied them knowing that they were more dangerous when combined with alcohol and knew the victim was drinking. The term “personally inflicts” does not necessarily imply that the defendant must be the sole cause of the injuries.  These types of enhancements are common in Long Beach Criminal cases. (Thanks CCAP)

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