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Name: People v. Sanders
Case #: D072875
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 04/17/2018

A violation of Penal Code section 530.5, subdivision (a) (often referred to as identity theft) may not be deemed a petty theft under Proposition 47 because it is not actually a theft offense. In 2017, the defendant filed a Proposition 47 petition to reduce a number of offenses to misdemeanors. The court granted the petition in part, but denied it as to two counts of identity theft (Pen. Code, § 530.5). Sanders appealed, arguing that the identity theft offenses must be deemed petty thefts because the amount of money or merchandise taken was less than $950. Held: Affirmed. Proposition 47 reduced the punishments for certain drug and theft-related offenses, making them punishable as misdemeanors rather than felonies. It provides a procedure whereby eligible defendants may seek resentencing or reductions of their offenses. (Pen. Code, § 1170.18, subd. (a)). It also added Penal Code section 490.2, which provides that obtaining any property worth less than $950 by theft is petty theft and punishable as a misdemeanor. After analyzing section 530.5 and Proposition 47, the Court of Appeal concluded that identity theft is not actually a theft offense and is not eligible for reduction under Proposition 47. Although commonly referred to as identity theft, the offense is not listed in the theft chapter of the Penal Code and the conduct prohibited by section 530.5 is misuse of another person’s identity. Additionally, section 530.5 is not listed is section 1170.18 as being subject to reclassification. Proposition 47 also specifically provides that forgery, which is otherwise subject to Proposition 47, does not fall under its provisions if the person “is convicted of both forgery and of identity theft, as defined in section 530.5.” The court distinguished People v. Romanowski (2017) 2 Cal.5th 903 and People v. Page (2017) 3 Cal.5th 1175, which held that theft offenses not listed in section 1170.18 fell within the scope of Proposition 47.

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