Skip to content
Name: People v. Webb
Case #: A147740
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 07/12/2017
Summary

Trial counsel was not ineffective for failing to move to dismiss identity theft charge under the Williamson rule. A police officer stopped Webb, who was sitting in a recently stolen car. Webb refused to identify himself but said he had identification in his pocket. The officer retrieved the identification and asked for Webb’s real name, as Webb did not look like the person depicted in the driver’s license. Webb then provided his name. A jury convicted Webb of identity theft (Pen. Code, § 530.5, subd. (a)) and other offenses. On appeal, Webb argued his trial attorney provided ineffective assistance by failing to move to dismiss the identity theft charge under In re Williamson (1954) 43 Cal.2d 651. Held: Affirmed. Under the Williamson rule, if a general statute includes the same conduct as a special statute, the court infers that the Legislature intended that conduct to be prosecuted exclusively under the special statute. The Williamson rule applies when a violation of the special statute will necessarily or commonly result in violation of the general statute. Here, Webb argued that under the Williamson rule, his conduct supporting the identity theft conviction could only be prosecuted under either Penal Code section 148.9 (false representation of identity to a peace officer) or Vehicle Code section 31 (false information to a police officer). The court agreed that providing false personal identification to a police officer would necessarily establish a violation of these two statutes. However, that would not be sufficient to support a conviction for identity theft, because section 530.5 requires the prosecution to prove that the defendant also obtained and used the personal information without the consent of the person whose identifying information he was using. Because a violation of section 148.9 would not necessarily or commonly result in a violation of section 530.5, the Williamson rule does not apply and trial counsel was not ineffective for failing to move to dismiss the identity theft charge on this ground.

The criminal laboratory analysis fee and drug program fee are not subject to penalty assessments. The trial court imposed, among other fees, a criminal laboratory analysis fee (Health & Saf. Code, § 11372.5) and a drug program fee (Health & Saf. Code, § 11372.7). Defendant argued the court erred in imposing penalty assessments on these fees. After analyzing the relevant case law and acknowledging that a conflict in the case law will presumably need to be resolved by the California Supreme Court, the court agreed that the laboratory analysis fee and drug program fee are not subject to penalty assessments. Because it is not clear from the statute whether these levies are fines or fees, the purpose for which the charges are imposed determines whether they are fines or fees. In People v. Alford (2007) 42 Cal.4th 749, the court held the court security fee (Pen. Code, § 1465.8) is not punitive in part because it had a rational connection to a non-punitive purpose and the amount of the fee is not dependent on the seriousness offense. Like the court security fee, the laboratory analysis fee and drug program fee serve a primarily administrative function. Neither fee is sufficiently great to serve as a deterrent, and neither fee is linked to the seriousness of defendant’s criminal conduct. The laboratory analysis fee is fixed at $50, and the drug program fee depends not on the severity of the offense but on defendant’s ability to pay, and may not exceed $150. Because the fees are non-punitive, the trial court erred in imposing penalty assessments on those fees. The court agreed with People v. Watts (2016) 2 Cal.App.5th 223.

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/A147740.PDF