[F]rom the perspective of a defendant, statutory enactments that provide for trial in a county that bears a reasonable relationship to an alleged criminal offense also operate as a restriction on the discretion of the prosecution to file charges in any locale within the state that it chooses, an option that, if available, would provide the prosecution with the considerable power to choose a setting that, for whatever reason, the prosecution views as favorable to its position or hostile or burdensome to the defendant’s. As one leading criminal treatise explains: “The principal justification today for the venue requirement of trial in the vicinity of the crime is to ‘safeguard against the unfairness and hardship involved when an accused is prosecuted in a remote place.’ ” (1 Wharton’s Criminal Procedure (13th ed. 1989) § 34, p. 183, quoting United States v. Cores
(1958) 356 U.S. 405, 407, 78 S.Ct. 875, 2 L.Ed.2d 873; see, e.g., United States v. Johnson
(1944) 323 U.S. 273, 275–278, 65 S.Ct. 249, 89 L.Ed. 236.) Finally, venue provisions also serve to protect the interests of the community in which a crime or related activity occurs, “vindicat[ing] the community’s right to sit in judgment on crimes committed within its territory.” (People v. Guzman, supra,
45 Cal.3d at p. 937, 248 Cal.Rptr. 467, 755 P.2d 917.)
“[V]enue provisions applicable to criminal proceedings serve a variety of purposes.” People v. Simon (2001) 25 Cal.4th 1082, 1095, 108 Cal.Rptr.2d 385, 25 P.3d 598 “[F]rom the perspective of a defendant, statutory enactments that provide for trial in a county that bears a reasonable relationship to an alleged criminal offense also operate as a restriction on the discretion of the prosecution to file charges in any locale within the state that it chooses, an option that, if available, would provide the prosecution with the considerable power to choose a setting that, for whatever reason, the prosecution views as favorable to its position or hostile or burdensome to the defendant’s.”(Ibid., italics added.) “ [V]enue provisions also serve to protect the interests of the community in which a crime or criminal activity occurs, ‘vindicat[ing] the community’s right to sit in judgment on crimes committed within its territory.’ People v. Guzman (1988) 45 Cal.3d 915, 937 .
Sometimes a crime may be committed in two counties. This occur when acts in preparation of a crime occur in one county and the crime is consummated in another county. In those situations, the crime may be prosecuted in either county. California Penal Code section 781 provides in pertinent part: “When a public offense is committed in part in one jurisdictional territory and in part in another, or the acts or effects thereof constituting or requisite to the consummation of the offense occur in two or more jurisdictional territories, the jurisdiction of such offense is in any competent court within either jurisdictional territory.” (Italics added.)
In People v. Posey 32 Cal..4th 193, the California Supreme Court reviewed numerous cases exemplifying an “act” or “effects” requisite to the consummation of an offense to create venue in a county. The Supreme Court gave the following examples of cases that can be prosecuted in multiple counties:
“What is important for present purposes is the phrase in section 781 that speaks of “acts or effects … requisite to the consummation” of a crime which establish venue in any county in which they occur. The words “acts … requisite to the consummation” of a crime establishing venue in a county have been liberally construed to embrace preparatory acts (People v. Crew, supra, 31 Cal.4th at p. 836, ; People v. Simon, supra, 25 Cal.4th at p. 1109, ), such as the following: the theft of firearms in a county leading to a murder (see People v. Price (1991) 1 Cal.4th 324, 384–386, ); meetings with an accomplice and victims in a county to make arrangements pursuant to a scheme to produce a pornographic film, resulting in the victims’ murder (see People v. Douglas (1990) 50 Cal.3d 468, 492–494, ); a kidnapping in a county leading to a murder (see People v. Powell (1967) 67 Cal.2d 32, 62–63, ); and striking and fleeing from a police officer in a county in an automobile in order to avoid taking a field sobriety test, resulting in assault with a deadly weapon (People v. Bismillah, supra, 208 Cal.App.3d at pp. 85–87, ). By the same token, the words “effects … requisite to the consummation” of a crime establishing venue in a county should be liberally construed to embrace preparatory effects, such as the placement of a telephone call into a county leading to a crime. In People v. Price (1989) 210 Cal.App.3d 1183, 1189–1192, —on which the trial court relied in formulating its instructions—the Court of Appeal so construed the words in question, holding, on facts similar to those here involving the sale or transportation of cocaine, that a “telephone call for the purpose of planning a crime received within [a] county is an adequate basis for venue, despite the fact the call was originated outside the county” (People v. Price, supra, 210 Cal.App.3d at p. 1192,). Although we recognize that the holding of the Court of Appeal in Price represents the most liberal construction of the words “effects … requisite to the commission” of a crime reflected in a reported decision, we cannot find its holding unsound.” Posey, supra 32 Cal.4that pp. 219-220.
If you are charged with a crime in Orange, Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara or any other county in California you should always consult with an experienced criminal lawyer to determine if you can object to venue to give yourself the best chance at a fair prosecution and trial.
- Changing Venue In A California Criminal Case Due to Unfair Trial Publicity
As you may see in some high profile cases, some criminal defense attorneys or even prosecutors will file a motion to change venue because a fair and impartial jury cannot be had in a county. This is a different venue motion than is related to territorial jurisdiction and is governed by California Penal Code section 1033 which allows a defendant to move the Court to change venue to another county when it appears reasonably likely that an impartial and fair trial cannot be had in a county. Moreover, venue may be changed pursuant to Penal Code section 1033 when the jury panels have been exhausted which is rare in bigger counties like Los Angeles and Ventura.
It is a more difficult task to show that one cannot find an impartial jury but when a case has a lot of media attention in a county or part of a county, a jury pool can become tainted and a motion to change venue will be appropriate to insure a defendant facing serious criminal charges obtains a fair trial.
If you have been charged with a crime in California whether your case is in Los Angeles, Palmdale, Ontario, Pomona, Santa Barbara, Ventura or any other city or county, you should contact the criminal defense lawyers at Leib Law to get a free consultation at (844) 210-1701.