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The People v. Laura Beth Clark


December 20, 2010


(Mendocino County Super. Ct. No. SCTMCRCR09-92704)

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dondero, J.

P. v. Clark CA1/1


California Rules of Court, rule 8.1115(a), prohibits courts and parties from citing or relying on opinions not certified for publication or ordered published, except as specified by rule 8.1115(b). This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

Defendant Laura Beth Clark was sentenced to a two-year prison term following her entry of a no contest plea to grand theft by embezzlement (Pen. Code §§ 487, subd. (a), 503).*fn1 She filed a timely notice of appeal and obtained a certificate of probable cause from the trial court. Her counsel has raised no issues and asks this court for an independent review of the record to determine whether there are any issues that would, if resolved favorably to her, result in reversal or modification of the judgment. (People v. Kelly (2006) 40 Cal.4th 106; People v. Wende (1979) 25 Cal.3d 436.) Defendant was notified of her right to file a supplemental brief, but has not done so. Upon independent review of the record, we conclude that no arguable issues are presented for review, and affirm the judgment of conviction and sentence.


Defendant was employed by the Coastal Mendocino Association of Realtors (CMAR) as an office manager. After defendant's soon-to-be ex-husband informed officers at CMAR that she had been embezzling funds over an extended period of time, they confronted her and she admitted she had taken approximately $26,000. She returned the amount to CMAR. Subsequent investigation placed the actual amount taken in excess of $77,000. Defendant utilized a number of methods to commit the offense, including submitting invoices from a bogus company, and "creatively overpaying" her salary.

On September 17, 2009, a first amended complaint was filed charging defendant with one count of grand theft by embezzlement. The complaint further alleged defendant had caused property damage/destruction in excess of $65,000. (§ 12022.6, subd. (a).)

On September 29, 2009, defendant entered a plea of not guilty and denied the allegation.

On January 19, 2010, pursuant to a negotiated plea, defendant waived her right to a preliminary hearing and her fundamental federal constitutional rights, including the right to trial by jury, the right to subpoena, confront, and cross-examine witnesses, and the right not to incriminate oneself, and pleaded no contest to the count of grand theft in exchange for dismissal of the property damage/destruction allegation.*fn3 Her counsel stipulated to a factual basis for the plea.

Sentencing memoranda were submitted by both defendant and the prosecution. Defendant requested a grant of probation, stressing that she had no prior record of criminal activity, had acknowledged her wrongdoing early in the proceedings, and would be able to comply with terms of probation. She attempted to partially deflect personal responsibility, arguing that she had been "induced and compelled" to commit the crimes by her ex-husband. She also noted that imprisonment would have a devastating effect on her two young daughters. The prosecution argued for a state prison commitment.

A probation report was prepared, recommending that probation be denied and the middle-term state prison commitment of two years be imposed. The report noted defendant's offense demonstrated a high degree of sophistication and constituted an abuse of a position of trust. The officer who prepared the report also stated defendant failed to display sincere remorse and accountability.

On April 30, 2010, the trial court denied probation and imposed a two-year state prison commitment. The court ordered restitution to CMAR in the amount of $66,606, payment of a restitution fine of $400 (§ 1202.4, subd. (b)), a suspended restitution fee of $400 (§ 1202.45), and gave defendant one day credit for time served.

On June 25, 2010, defendant filed a timely notice of appeal with an application for a certificate of probable cause, which the trial court granted.


We have reviewed the record on appeal. By entering a plea of no contest in this matter, defendant admitted the sufficiency of the evidence establishing the crime and therefore is not entitled to review of any issue going to the question of her guilt. (People v. Hunter (2002) 100 Cal.App.4th 37, 42.)

As noted above, before accepting defendant's plea the trial court advised her that she would be waiving certain constitutional rights, including the right to a jury trial, by entry of the plea. She was notified that she would be required to make restitution payments and that she could receive a maximum prison sentence of three years. She indicated her plea was voluntary.

At the sentencing hearing, the trial court indicated it had reviewed and considered the parties' sentencing memoranda and the probation officer's report. The court stated proper reasons for denying probation, concluding that the mitigating circumstances did not outweigh the aggravating circumstances.

We find no sentencing errors. The term imposed for the offense was in accord with the negotiated plea. The trial court was justified in imposing the restitution payments, including fines and other fees.

Defendant was represented by competent counsel throughout the proceedings. We find no legal issues that require further briefing and, therefore, affirm the judgment.


The judgment of conviction and sentence are affirmed.

We concur: Margulies, Acting P. J. Banke, J.

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