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Name: People v. Chung
Case #: B253580
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 4
Opinion Date: 06/04/2015

Penal Code section 654 prohibited imposition of sentences for two drug convictions because the conduct underlying appellant’s offenses constituted a “single act” of offering to sell drugs to a single individual. Chung was arrested for drug offenses and convicted of offering to sell three drugs (cocaine base and cocaine (Health & Saf. Code, § 11352)) and methamphetamine (Health & Saf. Code, § 11379)) to a single person. At sentencing, the court imposed the upper term of five years for the cocaine base offense, and consecutive terms for the methamphetamine and cocaine counts. On appeal, Chung argued that section 654 barred the consecutive terms. Held: Reversed for sentencing error. When an act is punishable in different ways by different provisions of law, section 654 bars punishment under more than one provision. An “act” for purposes of section 654 may include a “course of conduct” if all the offenses were incident to one objective. “Under the unique factual circumstances of this case,” the court agreed with Chung that her convictions based on an offer to sell multiple narcotics to a single buyer was a single act and should be subject to one punishment only. (See In re Adams (1975) 14 Cal.3d 629 [single act of transportation of multiple types of drugs to a single buyer was punishable only once].) Because Chung had been acquitted on all drug possession charges, there was no possibility that she maintained possession of the drugs with intent to sell to someone else. Relying on Adams, the Court of Appeal concluded that the fact that two of Chung’s convictions were based on violations of the same statute (Health & Saf. Code, § 11352) did not implicate the holding of People v. Correa (2012) 54 Cal.4th 331 (section 654 does not bar multiple punishment for several violations of the same statute).