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Name: People v. Aldana
Case #: G040320
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 06/08/2009
Subsequent History: rev. granted 8/19/09 S174836

Convictions for knowingly keeping false accounts were reversed where there was insufficient evidence that acts were knowing, and where appellant had no control of the public money. Appellants Aldana and Matney were convicted of violating Penal Code section 424, subdivision (a)(3), which prohibits those charged with control over the expenditure of public money from keeping false accounts or making false entries into the accounts. Matney had hired Aldana to perform administrative services and had obtained Aldana’s signature on blank timesheets. The timesheets prepared and submitted by Matney did not accurately reflect the hours that Aldana worked for the county, although Aldana worked more hours than he was paid for or than were listed on the timesheets. On appeal, Aldana and Matney claimed that the jury was erroneously instructed regarding the element of intent. The appellate court rejected the argument, finding that section 424, subdivision (a)(3) is a general intent crime, and the trial court correctly instructed that it was not necessary to prove that appellants had an intent to deceive. However, there was insufficient evidence to support Aldana’s conviction because he was not an officer charged with the control of public moneys, and there was insufficient evidence that he ever made a false entry on the timesheets. Therefore, Aldana’s conviction was reversed. Matney’s conviction was also reversed because there was insufficient evidence of her guilty knowledge to support the conviction. Although an intent to deceive was not required, the prosecution was required to prove that Matney had knowledge that her actions constituted criminal conduct, or that she was criminally negligent in lacking such knowledge.