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People v. Montoya

Supreme Court of California
874 P.2d 903 (1994)


Rosario Montoya (defendant) was charged with burglary based on a theory of aiding and abetting after entering an inhabited home with Raymond Gaxiola. Under California law, a person commits a burglary by unlawfully entering a building with an intent to commit a felony within the building. The trial court issued jury instructions on the elements of burglary, as well as aiding and abetting. No instructions were given to explain the point in time at which Montoya must have formed an intent to encourage or facilitate the burglary in order to be convicted on the basis of aiding and abetting. Montoya was convicted of the burglary and appealed, arguing that the trial court erred by failing to instruct the jury sua sponte that, in order to be convicted, Montoya must have formed the requisite intent before or at the time of Gaxiola’s entry into the building. Montoya asserted that, because a burglary is accomplished when a perpetrator enters a building with felonious intent, a person may only be found guilty of aiding and abetting if the person formed the intent to commit, encourage, or facilitate the burglary before the principal actor’s entry. The court of appeal affirmed Montoya’s conviction, finding that there was no duty for the trial court to issue such an instruction to the jury sua sponte. Montoya appealed again, and the Supreme Court of California granted Montoya’s petition for review.

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