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Law School Case Brief

People v. Matian - 35 Cal. App. 4th 480, 41 Cal. Rptr. 2d 459 (1995)

Rule:

Misdemeanor false imprisonment is a lesser and necessarily included offense of felony false imprisonment, which has the additional element of proof the restraint was effected by violence, menace, fraud or deceit. All elements of misdemeanor false imprisonment are also elements of the felony; the felony cannot be committed without necessarily committing the misdemeanor. The misdemeanor is therefore a lesser included offense of the felony.

Facts:

In California state court, a jury convicted defendant Kamal Matian of sexual battery by restraint, felony false imprisonment and genital penetration with a foreign object. Matian squeezed his victim's ***, grabbed her arm, yelled at her not to go, and glared at her as he approached her. The victim was afraid. At trial, Matian objected to any instructions on the lesser offenses to the felony false imprisonment charge. Matian appealed his convictions contending: (1) the trial court erred in denying his motion for new trial based on the introduction of false evidence at trial and the prosecution's withholding of material evidence; (2) insufficient evidence supported the felony false imprisonment conviction; (3) the information failed to give adequate notice of, and insufficient evidence supported, the conviction for genital penetration with a foreign object. Matian also filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus. The petition alleged a violation of due process based on the introduction of false evidence at trial and the prosecution's withholding of material evidence tending to show the victim had a pecuniary interest in the outcome of the trial.

Issue:

Was there sufficient evidence to support the felony false imprisonment conviction?

Answer:

No.

Conclusion:

The appellate court modified the trial court's judgment to reflect a conviction of misdemeanor false imprisonment under Cal. Penal Code § 236, in lieu of the conviction for felony false imprisonment, as the verdict was contrary to the law. However, the evidence showed that Matian was guilty of the lesser included crime. The court held that the evidence was insufficient to support a felony false imprisonment conviction, as the evidence was inadequate to establish express or implied threat of harm and there was no evidence of a deadly weapon. As modified, the judgment was affirmed, and the writ of habeas corpus was denied.

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