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People v. Davis

California Court of Appeals, Second District, Sixth Division
Sep 18, 2008
2d Crim. B195795 (Cal. Ct. App. Sep. 18, 2008)



Superior Court of Ventura County No. 2006009798 John E. Dobroth, Judge.

Law Offices of David Lehr, Inc., David M. Lehr; Law Offices of Peter D. Lemmon, Peter D. Lemmon for Defendant and Appellant.

Edmund G. Brown, Jr., Attorney General, Dane R. Gillette, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Pamela C. Hamanaka, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Margaret E. Maxwell, Supervising Deputy Attorney General, Erika D. Jackson, Deputy Attorney General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.


Dan Bradley Davis appeals a judgment following conviction of forgery. (Pen. Code, § 470, subd. (d).) We affirm.

All further statutory references are to the Penal Code.


On June 1, 2003, Debra Rodkey purchased a Jeep Cherokee automobile from "Rent-A-Wreck" in Camarillo. Davis, Rodkey's boyfriend, accompanied her during the transaction. Rodkey testified that she did not buy the Jeep for Davis, nor did he lend or provide the money for the purchase. Rodkey registered the Jeep in her name. Davis did not then have a valid driver's license.

Approximately five months later, police officers stopped and detained Davis as he drove the Jeep. The officers impounded the vehicle because Davis did not have a driver's license. Subsequently, Rodkey and her friend, Christine Templin, went to the tow yard to retrieve the Jeep. Rodkey did not then have a valid driver's license. For that reason, Templin obtained title to the Jeep upon Rodkey's payment of $500 to the tow yard. Rodkey obtained the money from a friend who owed Davis money. Templin later reconveyed title to Rodkey.

On December 7, 2003, Rodkey and Davis were in an automobile accident with another vehicle as Rodkey was driving. She did not submit a claim for damages to the Jeep nor did she give Davis permission to submit a claim. Nevertheless, he informed her that he intended to submit a claim to the insurer of the other driver involved in the accident.

Subsequently, Rodkey was incarcerated in Ventura County Jail on unrelated charges. She remained incarcerated through April 19, 2004.

In February 17, 2004, Davis spoke with a claims adjuster for Allied Insurance, and claimed to be the owner of the Jeep because he had purchased it. He explained that he did not register the Jeep in his name because he did not have a valid driver's license. The claims adjuster informed Davis that he must support his claim of ownership with a bill of sale and receipt. He did not submit the required proof, however, and the adjuster issued a check for $1,098.23 payable to Rodkey.

On April 15, 2004, Davis notified the claims adjuster that the check should be issued in his name and Rodkey's name, and mailed to an address in Fort Mojave, Arizona. The claims adjuster reissued the check as Davis requested, and mailed it to Fort Mojave.

Laura Cooley befriended Davis and his new girlfriend in Fort Mojave. He requested Cooley to assist him in cashing the Allied Insurance check. She agreed to cash the check at her bank. Cooley signed her name and Davis signed his name on the check. The check also contained Rodkey's signature, but Rodkey did not sign it nor did she give permission to anyone to sign it. The bank teller then cashed the check for Cooley.

During a police interview, Davis admitted that he "probably had" signed Rodkey's name to the check. At trial, a questioned documents examiner testified that he compared Davis's signature on his California identification card with Rodkey's signature on the Allied Insurance check, and opined that Davis probably signed Rodkey's name.

At trial, Davis testified that he purchased the Jeep with his traveler's checks, but Rodkey registered the vehicle in her name because he did not have a valid driver's license. He denied signing Rodkey's name to the insurance check, and opined that either Cooley or his girlfriend did so.

The trial court convicted Davis of insurance fraud and forgery. (§§ 550, subd. (a), 470, subd. (d).) It found that he served two prior prison terms within the meaning of section 667.5, subdivision (b), and that he had been released from custody on bail or his own recognizance at the time he committed the present offenses. (§ 12022.1, subd. (b).) On October 16, 2006, the trial court sentenced Davis to a prison term of nine years eight months.

Subsequently, the trial court granted Davis's motion to stay execution of judgment pending appeal. The parties stipulated that the trial court could set bail. Approximately 10 months following sentencing, Davis filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the trial court requesting that it dismiss his conviction for insurance fraud. Davis and the prosecutor agreed that a subsequent investigation disclosed that Davis had paid for the Jeep's purchase. The prosecutor joined in Davis's request and the trial court granted the petition.

The trial court then resentenced Davis to a low prison term of one year four months for the forgery count. It struck the prior prison term and bail enhancements. (§§ 667.5, subd. (b), 12022.1, subd. (b).) The court ordered Davis released from custody because his 518 days of custody credits exceeded the prison term imposed.

Davis appeals and contends that: 1) insufficient evidence supports the forgery conviction; 2) Ventura County lacked jurisdiction to hear the criminal prosecution; 3) his waiver of a jury trial was not knowing and intelligent; 4) his nine-year eight-month sentence was unauthorized; and 5) he did not receive effective assistance of counsel.



Davis argues there is insufficient evidence that he intended to commit forgery, pointing out that he was the legal owner of the Jeep. He correctly asserts that forgery requires a specific intent to defraud. (§ 470 ["Every person who, with the intent to defraud . . . ."]; People v. Pugh (2002) 104 Cal.App.4th 66, 72.) He adds that he testified that he did not sign Rodkey's name to the Allied Insurance check.

In assessing the sufficiency of evidence to support a judgment, we review the entire record to determine whether reasonable and credible evidence supports the decision of the trier of fact. (People v. Young (2005) 34 Cal.4th 1149, 1180.) We view the evidence and draw all reasonable inferences therefrom in favor of the judgment. (Ibid.) We do not redetermine witness credibility or resolve conflicts in the evidence. (Id. at p. 1181.) "Resolution of conflicts and inconsistencies in the testimony is the exclusive province of the trier of fact." (Ibid.)

The criminal offense of forgery requires that the defendant utter, publish, or pass an instrument with the specific intent to defraud another person. (People v. Pugh, supra, 104 Cal.App.4th 66, 72.) "An intent to defraud is an intent to deceive another person for the purpose of gaining a material advantage over that person or to induce that person to part with property or alter that person's position by some false statement or false representation of fact, wrongful concealment or suppression of the truth or by any artifice or act designed to deceive." (Ibid.)

Sufficient evidence exists that Davis signed Rodkey's name to the Allied Insurance check to induce it to make payment of the insurance claim. Rodkey testified that she did not sign the check and was incarcerated in Ventura County Jail. Cooley also testified that she did not sign Rodkey's name. Moreover, Davis admitted in a police interview that he "probably" signed Rodkey's name on the check.

Davis also testified that he initially returned a check to the insurance company because it was made payable only to Rodkey, the registered owner of the Jeep. It is a reasonable inference that Davis returned the first check because he knew that he could not negotiate it. Davis's forging of the signature of the registered owner of the Jeep caused Allied Insurance to pay the insurance claim, an act it was not willing to do absent Rodkey's signature. (People v. Pugh, supra, 104 Cal.App.4th 66, 72.)

People v. Pugh, supra, 104 Cal.App.4th 66, and People v. Maldonado (1963) 221 Cal.App.2d 128, are not helpful to Davis. In Pugh, the defendant forged a purchase agreement that deceived a harbor patrol officer into believing that defendant had the right to possess a boat. (Id. at p. 72 ["The purchase agreement was an artifice designed to deceive the officer into believing appellant had the right to possession of the boat"].) In Maldonado, defendant requested a check made payable to another person, then forged the payee's signature, and paid part of the check proceeds to the payee. Maldonado concluded that although the payee did not authorize the endorsement or cashing of the check, he was not defrauded because he was "a dummy" payee. (Id. at p. 134.) Here Allied Insurance paid the insurance claim only because Rodkey, the registered owner, ostensibly endorsed the insurance check.


Davis contends that Ventura County lacked jurisdiction to hold his criminal prosecution because his specific intent to defraud Allied Insurance, and the act of forging Rodkey's signature, occurred in Arizona.

Section 27, subdivision (a)(1), affords California courts jurisdiction over crimes partially committed within our state, and section 778a, subdivision (a), affords California courts jurisdiction over crimes committed outside the state "if the defendant formed the intent and committed 'any act' within this state in whole or partial execution of that intent." (People v. Morante (1999) 20 Cal.4th 403, 434.) Thus, for example, California may exercise jurisdiction over criminal acts that occur outside of California if the results of the crime are intended to and cause harm within California. (People v. Betts (2005) 34 Cal.4th 1039, 1046.) Jurisdiction is not precluded by a defendant's absence from the state during the time of the alleged criminal act. (Hageseth v. Superior Court (2007) 150 Cal.App.4th 1399, 1414 [Colorado physician, not licensed in California, prescribed drug over the Internet to a California resident].)

Here Allied Insurance mailed an initial check to Davis from its Camarillo office. At the time, Davis resided in Ventura County. Shortly thereafter, Davis telephoned the Allied Insurance claims adjuster and requested another check in his name and Rodkey's name, and that it be mailed to Fort Mojave, Arizona. Rodkey returned the initial check to Allied Insurance because he admitted that he could not "cash the check in the name of Debra Rodkey." Although Davis's act of forging Rodkey's name occurred in Arizona, the results of the act caused Allied Insurance, located in Ventura County, to pay an insurance claim it would not have paid without the signature of the registered owner of the vehicle. The result of Davis's forgery was intended to and did cause harm in California. (People v. Betts, supra, 34 Cal.4th 1039, 1046; Hageseth v. Superior Court, supra, 150 Cal.App.4th 1399, 1414.)


Davis contends that the trial court did not determine whether he knowingly and intelligently waived his right to a jury trial.

Following denial of Davis's motion pursuant to People v. Marsden (1970) 2 Cal.3d 118, he consulted with his attorney. Thereafter, the trial court convened and Davis's attorney stated: "[Davis] and I had a long conversation and resolved some of the issues. At this time, [he] has explained to me that it would be his desire to waive jury and proceed with a court trial in front of yourself. I've explained to him he has the right to a jury trial of 12 as well as the People have the same right, and I think he understands. At this point in time, it would be his desire to waive his right to a jury trial and proceed by way of a court trial. Correct?" Davis responded: "Yes, that's correct."

The record reflects that Davis and his attorney conferred and Davis indicated that he wanted to waive his right to a jury trial. Counsel stated that he explained the right to jury trial to Davis, and that he believed Davis understood. Davis then affirmed that he wanted to proceed with a court trial. "There is no constitutional requirement that [a defendant] understand 'all the ins and outs' of a jury trial in order to waive his right to one." (People v. Wrest (1992) 3 Cal.4th 1088, 1105.) Moreover, Davis's criminal history spans nearly 30 years and includes many criminal convictions by trial or plea. Thus, he cannot be unaware of the meaning of a trial by jury.


Davis argues that the trial court erred by imposing two one-year enhancements pursuant to section 667.5, subdivision (b), because he served only one prison term for the two convictions underlying the enhancements. He adds that he has suffered prejudice from the prosecutor's delay in filing the felony complaint on March 28, 2006, for the forgery that occurred on April 17, 2004. Davis asserts that the prejudice includes the fading memories of witnesses, the inability to locate the owner of "Rent-A-Wreck," and the charging of the prior prison term enhancement for the 1995 conviction. He also contends that the prosecutor did not provide sufficient evidence to establish that he committed the present offense while released from custody on an earlier offense. (§ 12022.1, subd. (b).)

We need not discuss these contentions because the trial court vacated Davis's original sentencing and resentenced him on August 9, 2007. At resentencing, the trial court struck the prior prison term and bail enhancements, and sentenced Davis to a low-term sentence of one year four months. The court then deemed the sentence served in view of Davis's custody credits, and it ordered him discharged from custody.


Davis argues that he did not receive effective assistance of counsel because his attorney did not object to the lack of jurisdiction or the improper sentencing enhancements. He contends that absent his counsel's errors, there is a reasonable probability of a more favorable result. (People v. Williams (1997) 16 Cal.4th 153, 215 [defendant asserting ineffective assistance of counsel must establish "there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different"].) In view of our discussion, ante, Davis has not established that he did not receive the effective assistance of counsel. (Ibid.)

The judgment is affirmed.

We concur: YEGAN, J., COFFEE, J.

Summaries of

People v. Davis

California Court of Appeals, Second District, Sixth Division
Sep 18, 2008
2d Crim. B195795 (Cal. Ct. App. Sep. 18, 2008)
Case details for

People v. Davis

Case Details

Full title:THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. DAN BRADLEY DAVIS, Defendant and…

Court:California Court of Appeals, Second District, Sixth Division

Date published: Sep 18, 2008


2d Crim. B195795 (Cal. Ct. App. Sep. 18, 2008)