Does a finding that auto burglary is a predicate felony for purposes of the felony-murder rule violate equal protection?

California, United States of America


The following excerpt is from People v. Flores, B222861 (Cal. App. 2011):

Defendant argues that finding auto burglary is a predicate felony for purposes of the felony-murder rule violates equal protection. We disagree. "'The first prerequisite to a meritorious claim under the equal protection clause is a showing that the state has adopted a classification that affects two or more similarly situated groups in an unequal manner.'" (People v. Hofsheier (2006) 37 Cal.4th 1185, 1199, quoting In re Eric J. (1979) 25 Cal.3d 522, 530.) Defendant does not attempt to define the two similarly situated groups at issue in this case. He merely asserts that one who burns an automobile commits an arguably more dangerous act than one who breaks into a vehicle. Thus, he claims, it is unfair to allow the act of auto burglary to lead to a first degree murder conviction when the crime of arson does not. Defendant's analysis of the concept of equal protection is flawed.

"'"Persons convicted of different crimes are not similarly situated for equal protection purposes." [Citations.] "[I]t is one thing to hold, as did [People v. Olivas (1976) 17 Cal.3d 236,] that persons convicted of the same crime cannot be treated differently. It is quite another to hold that persons convicted of different crimes must be treated equally." [Citation.]' [Citation.]" (People v. Barrera (1993) 14 Cal.App.4th 1555, 1565.) In that defendant is comparing the treatment of those who commit entirely different crimes, his equal protection claim necessarily fails.

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