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Name: People v. Alford
Case #: C060251
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 01/13/2010

Under Penal Code section 654, when the trial court determines that the statute applies to a count, it must impose sentence on the count but then stay execution in order to prevent multiple punishment. Appellant was convicted of burglary and grand theft, the offenses arising out of a shoplift at a Wal-Mart store. The court sentenced appellant to two years for the burglary and, without imposing sentence for the offense, stayed imposition of sentence for the grand theft. Penal Code section 654 prohibits multiple punishment when a criminal act or omission violates multiple penal provisions. The court has a duty to impose sentence on all counts, rather than staying the imposition of sentence; otherwise, if the non-stayed sentence is vacated on appeal or collateral attack, no valid sentence will remain. The goal of section 654 cannot be achieved with imposition of concurrent sentences as such sentences imply that the court found defendant had multiple intents or objectives, rejecting the applicability of section 654. Therefore, in the instance where section 654 applies, the court must impose sentence on one conviction and impose but stay execution of sentence for the other conviction.