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Name: People v. Reyes-Tornero
Case #: F069243
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 10/19/2016

Multiple victim exception to Penal Code section 654 permits punishment for several great bodily injury enhancements (Pen. Code, § 12022.7) even though only one person was injured. In addition to other offenses, a jury convicted Reyes-Tornero of multiple assault counts, one for each person he pointed a gun at during a robbery. Each of those counts also had a great bodily injury enhancement attached to it based on the fact Reyes-Tornero shot one of the victims during the robbery. Reyes-Tornero appealed, arguing that punishment for two of the great bodily injury enhancements should have been stayed pursuant to section 654. Held: Affirmed. Section 654 “prohibits multiple punishment for the same act or omission.” (People v. Correa (2012) 54 Cal.4th 331.) However, there is a multiple victim exception to section 654 that arises “when a defendant commits an act of violence with the intent to harm more than one person or by means likely to cause harm to several persons.” Reyes argued that he only inflicted great bodily injury on one of the victims and thus the multiple victim exception was inapplicable. However, in People v. Oates (2004) 32 Cal.4th 1048, the Supreme Court held that applicability of the multiple victim exception in the sentencing enhancement context turns on whether there were multiple victims of the underlying substantive offenses. Reyes-Tornero assaulted four different people. Under Oates, the multiple victim exception precludes applicability of section 654 to the sentencing enhancements. [Editor’s Note: Justice Poochigian wrote a concurring separate opinion to encourage the Supreme Court to consider whether Oates should apply when multiple section 12022.7 enhancements are applied to a single great bodily injury.]

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