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Name: People v. Correa
Case #: S163273
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 06/21/2012

Penal Code section 654 does not bar multiple punishment for multiple violations of the same criminal statute. In the course of a police investigation, appellant was found in a closet along with seven rifles and shotguns. He was convicted of seven counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm, former Penal Code section 12001, subdivision (k), and two “strikes,” and sentenced to seven consecutive terms for the firearm possession. In this case, the Supreme Court disapproved footnote 1 of Neal v. California (1960) 55 Cal.2d 11, 18, stating that section 654 precludes double punishment when an act gives rise to more than one violation of the same Penal Code section or to multiple violations of the criminal provisions of other codes. The Court concluded that the footnote was dictum; an incorrect statement of section 654, which by its plain language does not bar multiple punishment for multiple violations of the same criminal statute; and is unsupported by the authority upon which it relied. Because the Neal interpretation of Penal Code section 654 previously was unsettled, the Court in this case did not apply its ruling to appellant, holding that the ruling is to be applied prospectively. Nevertheless, because section 12001, subdivision (k), specifically provided that possession of each firearm shall constitute a distinct and separate offense, appellant’s sentence was found not to violate Penal Code section 654, even under the former interpretation.