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Name: People v. Rodriguez
Case #: D065080
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 04/08/2015

The “escape rule” does not apply to the trial court’s determination of whether Penal Code section 654 requires stay of a subordinate term. A jury convicted appellant of robbery and recklessly evading police, and found a strike prior true. The trial court imposed a consecutive 16-month sentence for the felony evading count, which appellant argued should have been stayed pursuant to section 654. Held: Affirmed. Section 654 precludes multiple sentences for an act or omission that is punishable by different penal provisions where during a course of criminal conduct the defendant commits multiple crimes which are all incident to one objective. Where a defendant harbors multiple objectives which are independent of one another and not merely incidental to each other, the defendant may be punished for each statutory violation. Here, the trial court found appellant had two distinct objectives in committing the robbery and in evading police; the first was to obtain money, the second to avoid capture. In Neal v. State of California (1960) 55 Cal.2d 11, the court explained that “where a defendant commits another crime as the means of perpetrating the crime,” section 654 applies. However, appellant’s evading police was not the means by which he perpetrated the robbery. In addition, the fact the robbery was incomplete when appellant committed the evading, because he had not reached a place of temporary safety (the so-called “escape rule”) is irrelevant to a section 654 inquiry. For purposes of section 654, a defendant may harbor “separate and simultaneous intents” in committing two or more offenses and it does not matter that “an act occurred in the commission of the crime.”