Is Cultivating Marijuana a Crime of Moral Turpitude?
In the case of Solomon Gabriel, the issue was whether his prior convictions for unlawful planting, cultivating or harvesting of marijuana (Health and Safety Code § 11358) and unlawful possession of an unregistered assault weapon (Health and Safety Code § 12280) constituted crimes of moral turpitude for purposes of impeaching his credibility.The Gist of This Article: Cultivating marijuana (a violation of Health & Safety Code § 11358) is a crime of moral turpitude because it done for trafficking marijuana, also a crime, and consequently cultivation shows a “general readiness to do evil,” “bad character,” or “moral depravity.” People v. Castro (1985) 38 Cal. 3d 301, 306, 314.
Mr. Gabriel’s new case in Los Angeles was for cultivating and possession of marijuana (Health and Safety Code § 11358), as well as possession of marijuana for sale (Health and Safety Code § 11359). Defendant was found with seventeen mature marijuana plants. When deputies tried to arrest defendant, he attempted to drive away, but deputies, blocked his escape and arrested him.
Due to defendant’s prior convictions, the judge sentenced defendant to four years in prison, plus a two year enhancement under Penal Code § 12022.1 because defendant was free on bail from another case when he committed the subject offenses.
Defendant then appealed his conviction, arguing that the trial court judge erred in allowing the prosecution to impeach his credibility by admitting evidence of his prior convictions for possession of an unregistered assault weapon and cultivation of marijuana, saying neither conviction was for a crime of moral turpitude.
The appellate court further noted that crimes involving moral turpitude include not only those that reveal dishonesty, but also a “general readiness to do evil,” “bad character,” or “moral depravity.” People v. Castro (1985) 38 Cal. 3d 301, 306, 314. Such crimes include an act of “baseness, vileness or depravity in the private and social duties which a person owes to others.”
The possession of an unregistered assault weapon, the court found, reveals a “general readiness to do evil.” The court cited to People v. Garrett (1987) 195 Cal.App.3d 795, where possession of an unregistered firearm was found to be a crime of moral turpitude. Here, the appellate court noted that Gabriel’s weapon was the type normally used only for criminal purposes and this showed a “readiness to do evil.” Consequently, the trial court was correct in finding this prior conviction for possession of an unregistered assault weapon was a crime of moral turpitude, and thus admissible to impeach him.
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