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Name: People v. Britt
Case #: S115377
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 04/19/2004

A sex offender may be prosecuted and sentenced only once for failing to register in his former county of residence and in his new county. Under Penal Code section 290, subdivisions (a)(1)(A) and (f)(1), a convicted sex offender who moves between counties is required to alert authorities in both counties of his change in residence. While noting that a defendant can be convicted of violating each offense, the California Supreme Court held that Penal Code section 654 precludes multiple punishment under these circumstances, because the defendant’s objective in committing the offense, i.e., avoiding police surveillance, was achieved only once by the combined commission of the two offenses. The Court noted that it is the defendant’s criminal intent, not the legislative intent in enacting the two statutes, that is a concern under Penal Code section 654. Likewise, the Court held that under the facts of this case appellant could not be prosecuted in each county, because the record made it clear that the prosecutor in the second county was fully aware of the simultaneous prosecution in the first county. The Court cautioned, however, that the multiple prosecution inquiry under Kellett v. Superior Court (1966) 63 Cal.2d 822 must be conducted on a case-by-case basis. [Editior’s note: Although Britt is limited on its facts, counsel should continue to look for separate duties arising under only one criminal intent under section 654 standards to argue Britt applies.]