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Name: People v. Rader
Case #: B247088
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 5
Opinion Date: 07/23/2014
Summary

Defendant who failed to pay for restaurant meal may be convicted of felony petty theft with a prior (Pen. Code, §§ 484, subd. (a), 666) instead of misdemeanor defrauding an innkeeper (Pen. Code, § 537, subd. (a)) because the statutes do not conflict. Rader paid $100 of his restaurant check with counterfeit $20 bills. He was convicted of burglary, two counts of felony theft (due to prior theft convictions), and two counts of forgery. On appeal Radar claimed he could not be convicted of petty theft with a prior (Pen. Code, §§ 484, subd. (a), 666), a felony, because his conduct could only be prosecuted under the more specific statute for misdemeanor defrauding an innkeeper (Pen. Code, § 537, subd. (a)). Held: Affirmed. In In re Williamson (1954) 43 Cal.2d 651, the court held “[i]t is the general rule that where the general statute standing alone would include the same matter as the special act, and thus conflict with it, the special act will be considered as an exception to the general statute whether it was passed before or after such general enactment.” However, the Williamson rule does not apply if there is no conflict between the statutes. Both sections 484, subdivision (a) and 537, subdivision (a) prohibit theft-related acts. The Court of Appeal analyzed the statutes in terms of what elements must be proved, the punishment, and statutes of limitation, and found no conflict between them. Thus, Radar was properly convicted of felony petty theft (the section 666 elevation of petty theft to a felony being a sentencing provision), rather than misdemeanor defrauding an innkeeper. The court disagreed with People v. Fiene (1964) 226 Cal.App.2d 305.

A single theft which occurs at the same time as part of one transaction may result in only one conviction. Rader argued that he could not be convicted of two counts of theft because both counts involved a single offense. Held: One count reversed. When a single theft occurs at the same time as part of one transaction, there may be only one conviction. Here, both counts involved the same theft of the same meal on a single occasion at the restaurant.