October 22, 2014

Colorado Court of Appeals: Defendant Violated Terms of Bonds When He Spat in the Face of a Police Officer

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People v. Luna, Jr. on Thursday, May 9, 2013.

Assault—Evidence—Violation of Bond—Jury Questions.

Defendant Arturo Luna, Jr. appealed the trial court’s judgment of conviction entered on jury verdicts finding him guilty of second-degree assault (in jail/bodily fluids), two counts of violating his bond conditions, resisting arrest, and disorderly conduct. The judgment was affirmed.

When questioned by police regarding an alleged assault, Luna acted aggressively, spat in the direction of the officers, and then spat in the face of one of the officers. Luna was found guilty of all charged counts.

On appeal, Luna asserted that insufficient evidence existed to support his convictions of violating the terms of his bonds, because the prosecution did not present evidence to prove that his bonds were in effect at the time of the events giving rise to his conviction. Luna posted bonds in relation to two charges, one on August 28, 2009 and another February 15, 2010. The conditions of both bonds prohibited any further violations of the law. The prosecution was required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the terms of the bonds were in effect at the time of the alleged illegal conduct. The prosecution presented circumstantial evidence, which when taken in the light most favorable to the prosecution, established that the bonds were in effect at the time of the charged conduct. Accordingly, the jury could reasonably infer that the bonds continued to be in effect at the time of the charged conduct.

Luna also argued that the trial court erred by issuing a misleading answer to jury questions, which asked whether the bonds were in effect on the date of the offense. In response to the jury’s question as to whether the bonds were still in effect, the trial court correctly declined to address the merits of the questions, and instead referred the jury back to the elements of each charge. Accordingly, the trial court did not commit plain error in responding to the jury’s questions.

Luna further argued that there was insufficient evidence to support his conviction of second-degree assault, because the prosecution did not prove that he was “lawfully confined in a detention facility” at the time of the assault. CRS § 18-3-203(1)(f.5) applies to an individual lawfully confined in a vehicle who is lawfully held in custody and whose victim is a law enforcement officer. Therefore, the prosecution presented sufficient evidence to support Luna’s conviction for second-degree assault.

Summary and full case available here.

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