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People v. Jimenez

California Court of Appeals, Second District, Sixth Division

May 8, 2018

THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Appellant,
v.
MIGUEL ANGEL JIMENEZ, Defendant and Respondent.

          Superior Court County of Ventura, No. 2016041618, Manuel J. Covarrubias, Judge.

          Gregory D. Totten, District Attorney, Lisa O. Lyytikainen, Senior Deputy District Attorney, and Michelle Contois, Deputy District Attorney, for Plaintiff and Appellant.

          Todd W. Howeth, Public Defender, William M. Quest, Senior Deputy Public Defender, for Defendant and Respondent.

          PERREN, J.

         The People appeal the trial court's order reducing Miguel Angel Jimenez's felony convictions for identity theft under Penal Code section 530.5, subdivision (a)[1] to misdemeanor shoplifting under section 459.5, subdivision (a). They contend that section 459.5, which was enacted as part of Proposition 47 (§ 1170.18), does not apply to section 530.5 identity theft offenses, even when the amount involved does not exceed $950.

         In People v. Gonzales (2017) 2 Cal.5th 858 (Gonzales), the defendant cashed two stolen checksvalued at less than $950 each. (Id. at p. 862.) Our high court determined that the defendant's “act of entering a bank to cash a stolen check for less than $950, traditionally regarded as theft by false pretenses..., now constitutes shoplifting under [section 459.5].” (Ibid.) Section 459.5, subdivision (b) states that any act of shoplifting “shall be charged as shoplifting, ” and that no one “charged with shoplifting may also be charged with burglary or theft of the same property.” (Gonzales, at p. 876 [“A defendant must be charged only with shoplifting when [section 459.5] applies”].)

         Like the defendant in Gonzales, Jimenez cashed two stolen checks valued at less than $950 each. These acts constitute misdemeanor shoplifting under section 459.5, subdivision (a) and must be charged as such. (§ 459.5, subd. (b); Gonzales, supra, 2 Cal.5th at p. 876.) The trial court correctly reduced Jimenez's felony convictions for identity theft to misdemeanors pursuant to Proposition 47. Accordingly, we affirm.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On two different occasions, Jimenez entered Loan Plus, a commercial check-cashing business, and cashed a check from Outer Wall, Inc., made payable to himself. The checks were valued at $632.47 and $596.60, respectively. Outer Wall, Inc. did not issue the checks in Jimenez's name.

         The People filed an information charging Jimenez with two felony violations of section 530.5, subdivision (a) -- the unauthorized use of the personal identifying information of another.[2] They further alleged that Jimenez had suffered a prior strike conviction for assault with a deadly weapon plus a prison prior.

         After a jury convicted Jimenez of both charges, Jimenez admitted the special allegations. He also moved to reduce the convictions to misdemeanors pursuant to Proposition 47 and Gonzales, supra, 2 Cal.5th 858. Jimenez asserted his conduct constituted misdemeanor shoplifting under section 459.5, subdivision (a), as interpreted by our Supreme Court in Gonzales.

         The trial court granted Jimenez's motion over the People's objection. It stated that it had reviewed Gonzales, supra, 2 Cal.5th 858, and People v. Romanowski (2017) 2 Cal.5th 903 (Romanowski), and concluded that under the reasoning and holding of those two cases, the “[c]ourt's hands have been somewhat tied.” The court explained: “It appears indicated that when there's conduct that results in the theft, which was here theft of property when it was used to derive on two separate instances money less than $950, the Court is mandated to reduce those to misdemeanors. Those are the rulings put forth by the Supreme Court.” The court further stated: “And even though [this case] involves a different charge, it appears to be somewhat of a theft charge which was the focus of Gonzale[s]and Romanowski.... And based on the Court's review of those two recent rulings, the Court feels it is obligated... to grant the defense motion and reduce Count 1 and Count 2 to misdemeanors as it appears to be that conduct that has been described in Proposition 47 as a shoplifting type of offense.”

         Following reclassification of the convictions, the trial court sentenced Jimenez to two consecutive six-month terms. The court awarded Jimenez presentence credits, and ...


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