In determining whether value of forged bills or notes exceeds $950, court should not assign value to materials that could be used to make counterfeit bills. After Proposition 47 passed, Rendon filed a petition to reduce her felony forgery conviction to a misdemeanor. The trial court denied the petition, finding the value of the counterfeit bills and materials that could be used to make counterfeit bills exceeded $950. Rendon had only $260 worth of complete counterfeit bills in her possession, but she was also in possession of the materials from which she could have made tens of thousands more. Rendon appealed. Held: Reversed. Proposition 47 reduced a number of drug and theft related offenses from felonies to misdemeanors and created a mechanism whereby eligible individuals could have old felony convictions for those offenses retroactively reduced to misdemeanors. Forgery involving a “bank bill [or] note . . . where the value of the . . . bank bill [or] note . . . does not exceed nine hundred fifty dollars” is one such offense. (See Pen. Code, § 473, subd. (b).) Section 473, subdivision (b) “does not speak to the value of the material that could be used to make fictitious or altered bills or notes; it speaks to the value of the fictitious or altered bills or notes themselves.” Here, Rendon only had $260 worth of counterfeit bills in her possession. The security strips and Benjamin Franklin faces that were also found on Rendon were not, by themselves, bills or notes. And although the blank washed bills that Rendon also possessed are altered bills or notes, they have no discernible value. As a result, the evidence showed that the value of the altered or fictitious bills or notes Rendon possessed did not exceed $950.
The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/C079831.PDF