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Name: Aslam v. Superior Court
Case #: A156628
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 4
Opinion Date: 11/08/2019
Summary

Following defendant’s successful post-trial Williamson motion to vacate his Penal Code section 115 conviction, prosecution under the more specific statute (Veh. Code, § 20) does not violate double jeopardy even though defendant was acquitted of a separate perjury count. Aslam submitted a document containing false statements to the DMV. He was convicted of offering a false document (Pen. Code, § 115, subd. (a)), but acquitted of perjury (Pen. Code, § 118, subd. (a)). After the trial, Aslam moved to vacate his section 115 conviction, arguing that under In re Williamson (1954) 43 Cal.2d 651, the prosecution was required to charge him under Vehicle Code section 20, a more specific statute that makes it a misdemeanor to knowingly make a false statement in a document filed with the DMV. The trial court agreed and allowed the prosecution to add a charge under section 20. Aslam moved to dismiss the section 20 count based on double jeopardy, arguing it is a lesser included offense (LIO) of perjury, of which he was acquitted. After his motion was denied he petitioned for writ of mandate or prohibition. Held: Petition denied. The proscription against double jeopardy protects persons from being consecutively charged with violation of an offense that is an LIO of an offense for which the defendant has been convicted, acquitted, or previously placed in jeopardy. Aslam argued that the section 20 offense is an LIO of perjury based on the accusatory pleading test. The court concluded that a double jeopardy claim is properly evaluated under the statutory elements test, i.e., whether the elements of the greater offense include all of the elements of the lesser offense. Under that test, a section 20 offense is not an LIO of perjury because each contains an element the other does not.

Defendant’s prosecution under Vehicle Code section 20 does not contravene Penal Code section 654’s bar against successive prosecutions. Aslam also argued that prosecution under section 20 contravenes section 654’s bar against successive prosecutions because the jury acquitted him of perjury based on the same false document that forms the basis of the section 20 count. The Court of Appeal disagreed. Section 654 provides that an acquittal or conviction and sentence under any one provision of law bars a prosecution for the same act under any other provision. Aslam was originally prosecuted for perjury and offering a false document in violation of Penal Code section 115 based on evidence he submitted a document to the DMV with false statements. He was neither acquitted nor convicted and sentenced for the section 115 offense because the trial court vacated the conviction before Aslam was sentenced. Based on this, section 654 did not prohibit the prosecution from charging Aslam with violating section 20 to replace the section 115 count. Additionally, the jury’s acquittal on the separately charged perjury count did not bar the prosecution of the false document charge, which was charged initially as a violation of section 115 in the same prosecution, then replaced with a violation of section 20 based on Williamson. There was no “subsequent prosecution” within the meaning of section 654 because the section 20 charge was added by amendment to the original information.

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: https://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/archive/A156628.PDF