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Name: People v. Dydouangphan
Case #: F062554
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 12/05/2012

Penal Code section 654 does not preclude imposition of punishment for a criminal act where a sentence enhancement was imposed for the same conduct. When a group of thieves stole marijuana from appellant’s legal marijuana garden, appellant shot at their vehicle with a shotgun as they drove away, killing one of the occupants. Appellant was convicted of voluntary manslaughter, shooting at an occupied vehicle, and assault with a firearm. An enhancement pursuant to Penal Code section 12022.53, subdivision (d) was found true. Appellant was sentenced to three years for the shooting into an occupied vehicle plus 25 years to life for the enhancement. Sentence on the voluntary manslaughter was imposed to run concurrently. Affirmed, with the court rejecting appellant’s contention that the concurrent sentence for voluntary manslaughter was error as it should have been stayed under section 654. The multiple victim exception to section 654 applies to this case since there were at least seven individuals in the vehicle appellant shot at with a shotgun, using a shell that contained between nine and twelve pellets. The single action of shooting, thus, had potential for greater harm than the situation where there is only one victim, justifying imposition of sentence for voluntary manslaughter and shooting at an occupied vehicle. The court concluded that section 654 also does not preclude imposition of punishment for a substantive crime where the same conduct is already punished by imposition of a sentencing enhancement. Unlike an enhancement addressing the nature of a defendant, the enhancement here addresses the circumstances of the crime and is intended as additional punishment. With such an enhancement, the Legislature has determined that increased punishment over that of the substantive crime is appropriate. The language of section 12022.53, subdivision (d) underscores this intent by specifying that notwithstanding any other law, any person who uses a gun and causes death shall be punished by an additional and consecutive term of imprisonment of 25 years to life.