What is the test for a motion to bifurcate a criminal trial where evidence used to support a gang enhancement has been found prejudicial?

California, United States of America


The following excerpt is from The People v. Alejandrez, F058876, No. F08903456 (Cal. App. 2010):

A trial court is authorized to bifurcate a criminal trial if presentation of evidence on one issue might cause prejudice to the defendant on another issue. For instance, "unique prejudice... may ensue if the jury that determines guilt also learns of the defendant's status as a person with one or more prior convictions." (People v. Hernandez (2004) 33 Cal.4th 1040, 1048 (Hernandez).) Evidence used to support a gang enhancement, such as predicate offenses used to establish a pattern of gang activity, can have this kind of prejudicial effect. (Id. at p. 1049.) To show that a motion to bifurcate should be granted, a defendant must "'clearly establish that there is a substantial danger of prejudice (Id. at p. 1051.) We review the trial court's decision not to bifurcate for an abuse of discretion. (Id. at pp. 1048, 1051.)

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