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Name: People v. Garness
Case #: E062947
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 10/01/2015
Subsequent History: Review granted 1/27/2016: S231031

Defendant convicted of receiving a stolen vehicle (Pen. Code, § 496d) worth less than $950 is not eligible to have the offense reduced to a misdemeanor pursuant to Proposition 47. In 2013, Garness pleaded no contest to felony receiving a stolen vehicle (Pen. Code, § 496d, subd. (a)). It was stipulated that the value of the vehicle was $540. After Proposition 47 passed, Garness filed a petition to reduce his felony conviction to a misdemeanor. (Pen. Code, § 1170.18.) The trial court denied the petition. Garness appealed. Held: Affirmed. Proposition 47 amended Penal Code section 496, receiving stolen property, to make that offense a misdemeanor if the value of the property at issue does not exceed $950. However, Garness’s conviction was for receiving a stolen vehicle under section 496d and Proposition 47 left intact the language in that section which makes the offense punishable as either a felony or misdemeanor. Garness argued that the facts underlying his conviction fell within the scope of section 496 because that section applies to receiving “any property,” which necessarily includes a motor vehicle. The Court of Appeal rejected that argument, reasoning that there are many offenses in the Penal Code that overlap and “it is axiomatic that the Legislature may criminalize the same conduct in different ways thereby giving the prosecutor discretion to proceed under either of two statutes that proscribe the same conduct, but which prescribe different penalties.” (People v. Chenze (2002) 97 Cal.App.4th 521, 523.) The court found no language in Proposition 47 reflecting an intent to reduce the punishment for offenses that are similar to those that are specifically enumerated and found nothing absurd or irrational about treating receiving stolen property and receiving a stolen vehicle differently.