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Application PC section 424 (misappropriation public funds)

Does Penal Code section 424 apply only to public officers who are charged with the receipt, safekeeping, transfer, or disbursement of public moneys, or does the statute apply to a public officer who authorizes the disbursement of public funds even if the actual authority to approve the disbursement lies elsewhere?

Held: "In this case we must determine the scope of liability under a criminal statute enacted in 1872 proscribing the misuse of public funds. Penal Code section 424 applies to '[e]ach officer of this state, or of any county, city, town, or district of this state, and every other person charged with the receipt, safekeeping, transfer, or disbursement of public moneys.' (Pen. Code, 424, subd. (a) (section 424(a)).) Before us are two questions arising from this provision. The first is whether the statute applies to all public officers, or only to those 'charged with the receipt, safekeeping, transfer, or disbursement of public moneys.' Because we hold that section 424 applies only to those public officers imbued with such responsibility over public moneys, we must answer a second question: whether sufficient evidence supported the jury's verdict finding that defendant Jeffrey Hubbard, who served as superintendent of the Beverly Hills Unified School District (the District), was charged with the 'receipt, safekeeping, transfer, or disbursement' of public funds. In light of Hubbard's explicit contractual responsibilities to oversee the 'budget and business affairs' of the District, testimony that superintendents like Hubbard owe a duty to safeguard school district funds, and Hubbard's responsibility to ensure such public funds were spent in accordance with the law, we hold the evidence was sufficient." (People v. Hubbard (2016) 63 Cal.4th 378 (S216444).) This case was decided on 6/16/2016.

Updated: 6/16/2016

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