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Name: People v. Gonzales
Case #: S240044
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 08/27/2018

To exclude a forgery conviction from sentencing as a misdemeanor under Proposition 47 when the defendant is also convicted of identity theft, the conduct related to the convictions must have been “in connection with” each other. In a single consolidated proceeding, Gonzales pleaded guilty to multiple offenses stemming from three different cases, including four counts of check forgery arising from conduct that occurred in 2003 and one count of identity theft committed in 2006. After the passage of Proposition 47 (which reduced certain theft- and drug-related offenses from felonies to misdemeanors and created a petition procedure for retroactively reducing impacted offenses), he petitioned to have his forgery convictions reduced to misdemeanors. The trial court denied the petition because the reduced punishment for certain forgeries does not apply to a person who is convicted of both forgery and identity theft. (Pen. Code, § 473, subd. (b).) The Court of Appeal reversed. The Supreme Court granted review on its own motion. Held: Affirmed. Proposition 47 enacted section 473, subdivision (b), which reduces the punishment of forgery relating to specified items to a misdemeanor when the amount in question does not exceed $ 950, subject to certain exceptions. As relevant to this case, subdivision (b) does not apply “to any person who is convicted both of forgery and of identity theft, as defined in Section 530.5.” Applying principles of statutory construction and after analyzing the initiative’s election materials, the Supreme Court concluded “that Proposition 47’s language and structure indicate that the provisions at issue require that a forgery and identity theft conviction be related to preclude resentencing.” The court also concluded “that, in resolving that statute’s textual ambiguity, the voters’ intended purpose—as evidenced by the election materials—was indeed to bar from resentencing only those offenders whose conduct related to the forgery and identity theft convictions were made ‘in connection with’ each other.” [Editor’s Note: Justice Corrigan concurred, but asserted that the correct phrase should be “relating to” rather than “in connection with.”]

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