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Name: People v. Murphy
Case #: S180181
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 07/07/2011

When two criminal statutes may apply, the more specific one must be charged. Murphy signed a CHP form under penalty of perjury about the claimed theft of her damaged car. It was discovered that she had abandoned the car after an accident. She was charged and convicted of the felony of offering a false instrument for filing under Penal Code section 115, subdivision (a). On appeal, the conviction was challenged on the basis that two more specific Vehicle Code sections, misdemeanors, were applicable to her conduct. Vehicle Code section 10501, subdivision (a) makes it unlawful for any person to make or file a false or fraudulent report of theft of a vehicle with any law enforcement agency with intent to deceive. The legislature, in defining the more specific conduct as a misdemeanor, intended to create an exception to the more general felony statute. The section 115 conviction was reversed.