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AB-679 Criminal trials: testimony of in-custody informants.(2021-2022)

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Date Published: 04/07/2021 09:00 PM
AB679:v98#DOCUMENT

Revised  April 14, 2021
Amended  IN  Assembly  April 07, 2021

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2021–2022 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill
No. 679


Introduced by Assembly Member Friedman
(Coauthors: Assembly Members Quirk and Wicks)
(Coauthor: Senator Wiener)

February 12, 2021


An act to amend repeal and add Section 1111.5 of the Penal Code, relating to criminal procedure.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 679, as amended, Friedman. Criminal trials: testimony of in-custody informants.
Existing law prohibits a jury or judge from convicting a defendant, finding a special circumstance true, or using a fact in aggravation based on the uncorroborated testimony of an in-custody informant. Existing law defines “in-custody informant” for these purposes as a person, other than a codefendant, percipient witness, accomplice, or coconspirator, whose testimony is based on statements allegedly made by the defendant while both the defendant and the informant were held within a city or county jail, state penal institution, or correctional institution.
Existing law provides that, except as otherwise provided by statute, all relevant evidence is admissible. The California Constitution provides for the Right to Truth-In-Evidence, which requires a 2/3 vote of the Legislature to exclude any relevant evidence from any criminal proceeding, as specified.
This bill would limit the prohibition on the use of uncorroborated testimony of an in-custody informant to misdemeanor prosecutions and finding facts in aggravation. The bill would make testimony by, or information obtained by, an in-custody informant inadmissible in a felony prosecution if the informant’s testimony or the information was obtained in exchange for a grant or promise by an attorney representing the state, law enforcement, or by another, of immunity from prosecution, reduction of sentence, money, or any other form of leniency or special treatment. The bill would redefine “in-custody information” for these purposes as a person, other than a codefendant, percipient witness, accomplice, or coconspirator, who provides testimony or information for use in the investigation or prosecution of a suspect or defendant based upon statements made by the suspect or defendant to the informant, or overheard by the informant, while both the informant and the suspect or defendant are in custody of law enforcement, in any custodial setting. instead make testimony by, or information obtained by, an in-custody informant, as defined, regarding statements made by the defendant while the defendant was in custody, inadmissible, as specified.
Vote: 2/3   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 Section 1111.5 of the Penal Code is repealed.
1111.5.

(a)A jury or judge may not convict a defendant, find a special circumstance true, or use a fact in aggravation based on the uncorroborated testimony of an in-custody informant. The testimony of an in-custody informant shall be corroborated by other evidence that connects the defendant with the commission of the offense, the special circumstance, or the evidence offered in aggravation to which the in-custody informant testifies. Corroboration is not sufficient if it merely shows the commission of the offense or the special circumstance or the circumstance in aggravation. Corroboration of an in-custody informant shall not be provided by the testimony of another in-custody informant unless the party calling the in-custody informant as a witness establishes by a preponderance of the evidence that the in-custody informant has not communicated with another in-custody informant on the subject of the testimony.

(b)As used in this section, “in-custody informant” means a person, other than a codefendant, percipient witness, accomplice, or coconspirator, whose testimony is based on statements allegedly made by the defendant while both the defendant and the informant were held within a city or county jail, state penal institution, or correctional institution. Nothing in this section limits or changes the requirements for corroboration of accomplice testimony pursuant to Section 1111.

SEC. 2.

 Section 1111.5 is added to the Penal Code, to read:

1111.5.
 (a) In a prosecution for any crime, testimony by, or information obtained by, an in-custody informant regarding a statement made by the defendant, while the defendant was in custody, shall not be admissible as evidence against the defendant.
(b) As used in this section, “in-custody informant” means a person, other than a codefendant, accomplice, coconspirator, or percipient witness to the offense for which the defendant is on trial, whose testimony or information is based upon statements made by the defendant while both the defendant and informant were in custody or the informant reasonably appeared to the defendant to be in custody.

SECTION 1.Section 1111.5 of the Penal Code is amended to read:
1111.5.

(a)In a prosecution for a felony, testimony by, or information obtained by, an in-custody informant is not admissible if the informant’s testimony or the information was obtained in exchange for a grant or promise by an attorney representing the state, law enforcement, or by another, of immunity from prosecution, reduction of sentence, money, or any other form of leniency or special treatment.

(b)In a prosecution for a misdemeanor, a jury or judge may not convict a defendant or use a fact in aggravation based on the uncorroborated testimony of an in-custody informant. The testimony of an in-custody informant shall be corroborated by other evidence that connects the defendant with the commission of the offense or the evidence offered in aggravation to which the in-custody informant testifies. Corroboration is not sufficient if it merely shows the commission of the offense or the circumstance in aggravation. Corroboration of an in-custody informant shall not be provided by the testimony of another in-custody informant unless the party calling the in-custody informant as a witness establishes by a preponderance of the evidence that the in-custody informant has not communicated with another in-custody informant on the subject of the testimony.

(b)As used in this section, “in-custody informant” means a person, other than a codefendant, percipient witness, accomplice, or coconspirator, who provides testimony or information for use in the investigation or prosecution of a suspect or defendant based upon statements made by the suspect or defendant to the informant, or overheard by the informant, while both the informant and the suspect or defendant are in custody of law enforcement, in any custodial setting.

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REVISIONS:
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