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People v. Vandiver

California Court of Appeals, Fourth District, Second Division

March 30, 2017

THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Appellant,
v.
ANGELA KAY VANDIVER, Defendant and Respondent.

         APPEAL from the Superior Court of Riverside County, No. RIF1209520 Becky Dugan, Judge. Affirmed.

          Michael A. Hestrin, District Attorney, Emily R. Hanks and Donald W. Ostertag, Deputy District Attorneys, for Plaintiff and Appellant.

          Elizabeth Garfinkle, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Defendant and Respondent.

          OPINION

          SLOUGH J.

         In this appeal, the parties ask us to determine the value of a blank check for the purpose of distinguishing between misdemeanor and felony receiving stolen property after passage of the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act (Proposition 47).

         Respondent, Angela Kay Vandiver, pled guilty in 2012 to a single felony count of receiving stolen property based on her possession of blank checks she knew had been stolen. She later petitioned to have the conviction redesignated a misdemeanor under the new provisions of Proposition 47 on the ground the checks were worth $950 or less. (Pen. Code, § 1170.18.) The People opposed, arguing the balance of the victim's checking account was greater than $950. The trial court found the value of the blank checks to be de minimis and granted the petition.

         The People contend the court erred by (i) reaching the merits because Vandiver did not attach evidence of value to her petition and (ii) determining the checks' value was de minimis. They contend the court should have dismissed the petition as unsupported or found the checks were worth the full amount in the linked checking account and denied the petition on the merits. We affirm.

         I

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         On November 7, 2012, police found Vandiver in possession of 10 blank checks belonging to another person (the victim).[1] They arrested her and charged her with receiving stolen property and violating probation.

         The same day, the investigating officer contacted the victim, who reported “she and her family had recently closed a Citibank account because of Fraud. She [said] they had complained to the bank after not receiving the checks they ordered. When they went to the bank to follow-up, the family learned that somebody had drawn nearly $3000 dollars from the account. [She] said [neither] she, nor her family gave anybody permission to take or use the checks. [She] felt it was most likely the checks were taken from their mailbox.”

         Vandiver talked to police after waiving her Miranda rights.[2] She told the police she had recently been kicked out of an apartment and when she left she took items from the person she was staying with, including the checks. “She said she knew it was wrong to have the checks and she should have known better. She said she knew she had stolen property but denied any knowledge of how [her former roommate] came to possess them. She said she had not used any of the checks before.” A copy of one of the checks attached to the police report shows it was blank and not endorsed.

         The Riverside County District Attorney accused Vandiver of felony receiving stolen property (§ 496, subd. (a);[3] count 1) and having suffered a prison prior (§ 667.5, subd. (b)).[4] The complaint alleged “on or about November 7, 2012, in the County of Riverside, State of California, she did wilfully and unlawfully receive certain property, to wit, CHECKS, which said property had been obtained by theft, knowing said property had been so obtained, and did conceal and withhold and aid in concealing and withholding said property from the owner.” The complaint does not allege she made the checks out for any amount, attempted to cash them, or attempted to pass them as payment for goods or services.

         On November 21, 2012, Vandiver pled guilty to felony receiving stolen property and admitted the prison prior. At the plea hearing, the trial court asked, “Is it true that on November 7, 2012 of this year, in the county of Riverside, you had somebody else's checks?” She replied, ...


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