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Name: People v. Brown
Case #: E064318
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 12/20/2016

Inducing falsehood (Pen. Code, § 137) is not a special statute that precludes a conviction for preventing prosecution under Penal Code section 136.1. Brown slashed his ex-girlfriend’s tires when she refused to reconcile with him. After he was arrested, he called her threatening to kill her unless she called the police and recanted. A jury convicted Brown of witness intimidation (Pen. Code, § 136.1) and other offenses. He appealed, arguing that he could not be convicted under section 136.1, which is a serious felony, because it is a general statute and section 137, which is not a serious felony, is a special statute applicable to the same conduct. Held: Affirmed. “[I]f 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 special statute.” (People v. Murphy (2011) 52 Cal.4th 81. 86.) “Absent some indication of legislative intent to the contrary, th[is] rule applies when (1) each element of the general statute corresponds to an element on the face of the special statute or (2) 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.” (Ibid.) A violation of section 137 does not necessarily constitute a violation 136.1, subdivision (b)(2) because each has elements that the other does not. Furthermore, inducing falsehood under section 137 does not “commonly” constitute preventing prosecution under section 136.1, subdivision (b)(2). Among other things, inducing falsehood can occur at any time before or during trial, while preventing prosecution is limited to conduct occurring before the charging document has been filed. The court also rejected Brown’s equal protection argument (see People v. Wilkinson (2004) 33 Cal.4th 821, 838) and his argument that the court erred by refusing to instruct on section 137 (see People v. Valentine (2006) 143 Cal.App.4th 1383).

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