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Name: People v. Valencia
Case #: C079394
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 03/16/2016
Subsequent History: Review granted 5/25/2016: S233402

Defendant who entered a store and purchased a prepaid phone with counterfeit bills for under $950 was eligible for Proposition 47 relief. In June 2014, defendant entered an AT&T store and purchased a prepaid phone for $294.74 using counterfeit money. He was arrested and subsequently entered a plea to second degree burglary (Pen. Code, § 459). After Proposition 47 passed in 2014, he petitioned to reduce the burglary conviction to a misdemeanor under the new “shoplifting” statute (Pen. Code, § 459.5). The trial court found him ineligible for relief because his conduct was not shoplifting within the common definition of that term. He appealed. Held: Reversed. The passage of Proposition 47 created Penal Code section 1170.18, which provides a procedure whereby qualified defendants may petition to have certain theft and drug-related felonies reduced to misdemeanors. It also added Penal Code section 459.5, which defines the misdemeanor offense of shoplifting as entering a commercial establishment during regular business hours with the intent to commit larceny, where the property taken or intended to be taken does not exceed $950. Although shoplifting is commonly understood to mean stealing merchandise from a store that is open for business, the definition of shoplifting in section 459.5 is not limited to the common meaning. Instead, it must be considered in conjunction with section 490a, which provides that whenever any law refers to larceny, embezzlement, or stealing, it shall be interpreted as if the word “theft” were substituted therefore. Thus, “section 459.5’s use of the term ‘larceny’ demonstrates an intent to cover all forms of theft committed in a business during regular hours under the rubric of ‘shoplifting.'” Based on the circumstances of defendant’s offense, he was eligible for Proposition 47 relief.

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