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Reversal for Failure to Instruct on Useable Quantity

California v. Blanco Court: California Courts of Appeal, Docket: E073176 (Fourth Appellate District), Opinion Date: February 24, 2021. Defendant-appellant Jonathon Blanco was found guilty by jury of: (1) bringing a controlled substance into a penal institution; and (2) bringing a deadly weapon into a penal institution. The trial court found defendant had suffered a prior strike conviction and sentenced him to prison for a term of six years. On appeal, defendant raised two issues: (1) the trial court erred by failing to instruct the jury on the useable quantity element of the controlled substance offense; and (2) the trial court erred by denying his request for the jury to be instructed on the allegedly lesser included offense of possession of a controlled substance. The Court of Appeal found merit to defendant's first contention: because there was evidence suggesting defendant possessed less than a usable quantity of methamphetamine, the Court could not conclude beyond a reasonable doubt a rational jury would have rendered the same verdict if it had been properly instructed. Accordingly, the trial court’s error was prejudicial, and that portion of the judgment was reversed and remanded. Judgment was affirmed in all other respects.

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