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Name: Hudson v. Superior Court
Case #: E065645
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 01/24/2017

Prosecution for offering a false instrument (Pen. Code, § 115) precluded where more specific statute (Govt. Code, § 87203) applies to defendant’s act of filing a statement of economic interest form that did not fully disclose her property interests. Hudson was the secretary of the board of directors for the Palo Verde Healthcare District. Among other offenses, a grand jury indicted Hudson for five felony counts of offering a false instrument (Pen. Code, § 115) for failing to list her husband’s property on an annual economic interest form (Form 700). Hudson moved to dismiss the indictment on various grounds, including that any prosecution must be under the more specific statute, Government Code section 87203, which provides that failing to file an economic interest form is a misdemeanor. The trial court denied her motion and she filed a petition for writ of prohibition in the Court of Appeal. Held: Peremptory writ issued. Under In re Williamson (1954) 43 Cal.3d 651, “if a general statute includes the same conduct as a special statute, the court infers that the Legislature intended that conduct to be prosecuted exclusively under the specific statute.” (People v. Murphy (2011) 52 Cal.4th 81, 86.) The rule applies “either when the general statute and the specific statute share the same elements, or ‘when it appears from the statutory context that a violation of the special statute will necessarily or commonly result in a violation of the general statute.'” (Quoting ibid.) A person may violate section 87203 not only by failing to file a Form 700, but also by filing a form that fails to make the necessary disclosures. Since a violation of section 87203 will commonly result in a violation of section 115, Williamson requires that Hudson be prosecuted under section 87203 only. The Court of Appeal rejected the People’s argument that Government Code section 91014 reflected a legislative intent to allow prosecution under both statutes.

Trial court did not err by allowing the prosecution to amend the charging documents to adequately plead tolling of the statute of limitations. Hudson moved for dismissal of five counts under Penal Code section 995 on the ground that the prosecution had failed to adequately plead tolling of the statute of limitations. The trial court agreed that the indictment’s tolling allegations were insufficient, but granted leave to amend. Hudson argued this was error and that dismissal was required. The Court of Appeal disagreed. While Hudson captioned her motion as one for dismissal under section 995, it was actually an attack on the sufficiency of the tolling allegations based on the face of the indictment. A section 995 motion seeks review of the indictment or information “on the basis of the record made before the grand jury.” A demurrer, by contrast, is authorized if the “defect appears on the face of the pleading.” Since Hudson’s attack was based on the face of the indictment, it should have been captioned a demurrer. And when a court sustains a demurrer, the court must permit the filing of an amended complaint. (Pen. Code, § 1007.) The trial court did not err.

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: