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Name: People v. Vang
Case #: C059700
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 05/17/2010

The crimes of felon in possession of a firearm (Pen. Code, sec. 12021, subd. (a)) and possessing methamphetamine while armed with a loaded firearm (Health & Saf. Code, sec. 11370.1, subd. (a)) are separate acts such that separate penalties can be imposed without violating Penal Code section 654. A probation search of appellant and his residence revealed the presence of methamphetamine and a loaded firearm. Appellant was convicted of felon in possession of a firearm and possessing methamphetamine while in possession of a loaded firearm, and sentenced to consecutive terms. The appellate court rejected appellant’s argument that the sentence for the felon in possession offense should have been stayed pursuant to Penal Code section 654. Under section 654, an act or omission that is punishable in different ways by different provisions of law, shall be punished under the provision that provides for the longest potential term of imprisonment, but in no case shall the act or omission be punished under more than one provision. On the basis of the evidence presented at trial, the trial court could reasonably have concluded that appellant had separate intents for the crimes, namely that he possessed the firearm to protect his home in a high crime area and to conduct his drug business. Additionally, the crimes themselves are differentiated because possession of methamphetamine while armed requires the weapon to be loaded whereas felon in possession of a firearm does not.