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Name: People v. Aguirre
Case #: A148959
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 03/16/2018

In determining the value of counterfeit money for purposes of Proposition 47, the total is based on the face value of all of the counterfeit currency in the defendant’s possession, rather than on the individual bills’ denominations. Defendant attempted to purchase goods with a counterfeit $100 bill. A search of her purse incident to arrest yielded a total of $1,130 in counterfeit bills. She pleaded no contest to one count of felony forgery (Pen. Code, § 476) and was sentenced to two years. She filed a petition for resentencing under Proposition 47, which the trial court denied based on the value of the counterfeit bills in her possession. On appeal, she argued that the court should not have aggregated the face value of the counterfeit bills when determining the value for purposes of Proposition 47. Held: Affirmed. Proposition 47 amended the general forgery sentencing statute to provide that forgery offenses are wobblers except that “any person who is guilty of forgery relating to a check, bond, bank bill, note, cashier’s check, traveler’s check, or money order” where the value does not exceed $950 shall receive misdemeanor punishment, subject to an exception that did not apply in this case. Although counterfeit paper currency is a “bank bill” for purposes of Proposition 47, the Court of Appeal here determined that “the total amount of counterfeit currency possessed by a defendant at a given time properly determines whether the crime of possessing counterfeit currency remains a ‘wobbler’ or must be charged and sentenced as a misdemeanor.” The court distinguished forged check cases holding that whether a defendant qualifies for resentencing under Proposition 47 is determined by the face value of each individual check and not their aggregate value.

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