The proper test to determine a claim of insufficient evidence in a criminal case is whether, on the entire record, a rational trier of fact could find appellant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In making this determination, the appellate court must view the evidence in a light most favorable to respondent and presume in support of the judgment the existence of every fact the trier could reasonably deduce from the evidence. The appellate court's task is twofold. First, the court must resolve the issue in the light of the whole record. Second, the court must judge whether the evidence of each of the essential elements is substantial.
Defendant was convicted of rape and false imprisonment pursuant to California law. The court of appeal reversed the convictions as unsupported by substantial evidence after applying former section 261, which required the victim to resist the act. Defendant argued that the legislature's amendment deleting references to resistance did not change the definition of rape because resistance was never an element of the crime and that the amendment had no impact on the factors used in evaluating his claim of insufficiency of the evidence.
Was defendant's rape conviction proper?
The court affirmed appellant's convictions and directed the court of appeal to enter an order affirming the judgment of conviction. The court stated that the court of appeal erred in applying the requirements of the former rape statute to the facts of the case because the amended statute was clearly in effect when the offense occurred for which appellant was convicted. Reliance by the court of appeal on the former rape statute was improper.