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Name: People v. Hoffman
Case #: B261945
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 6
Opinion Date: 11/05/2015

For a defendant convicted of seven separate counts of felony forgery, trial court did not have discretion to aggregate the value of the seven forged checks, which were each less than $950, to deny resentencing under Proposition 47. Hoffman pleaded guilty to seven counts of felony forgery in May 2014 based on forging seven of her parents’ checks in amounts ranging from $175 to $400. In exchange, a number of other felony counts, including grand theft, were dismissed with a Harvey waiver. After Proposition 47 passed, Hoffman filed a petition to reduce the felony convictions to misdemeanors. (See Pen. Code, § 1170.18.) The trial court denied the request, reasoning that the aggregate value of the seven counts exceeded $950, which “takes her outside the spirit of the law.” Hoffman appealed. Held: Reversed. Under Proposition 47, a defendant is eligible to have a felony forgery conviction reduced to a misdemeanor if the value of the forged check does not exceed $950. (See Pen. Code, §§ 473, subd. (b), 1170.18, subd. (a).) The People conceded that section 473 did not authorize the trial court to aggregate check values but argued that Hoffman’s Harvey waiver allowed the trial court to rely on the dismissed counts that would not have been eligible for reduction to misdemeanors to find she was “outside the spirit” of Proposition 47. The court rejected this argument. Under the plain language of Proposition 47, a trial court may not refuse to reduce a defendant’s sentence based on the court’s notion of the statute’s “spirit.” The criteria for resentencing are explicitly set forth in section 1170.18, subdivision (a). If those criteria are met, which they were here, the court “shall” reduce the defendant’s felony to a misdemeanor unless it finds resentencing would pose an unreasonable risk of danger to public safety. Courts do not have discretion to take into account other considerations.