One Act, One Punishment: Check Forgery and Commercial Burglary in Orange County as a Single Objective (Penal Code Sections 460, 470, 654)
In California, you are protected from being sentenced more than once for multiple crimes resulting out of the same act. California Penal Code Section 654 states the following:
“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. An acquittal or conviction and sentence under any one bars a prosecution for the same act or omission under any other.”
When this happens, the court should “stay” (in other words withhold) imposition of a possible additional sentence. This may be a little bit confusing, so let’s take a look at the following example to help you understand…
People v. Lisa Ann Casica (Case No. G048097, California Court of Appeal, January 24, 2014)
In 2011, Lisa Casica dropped off a friend at a California drug diversion program using his car. Afterwards, she took from him and wrote three checks to herself totaling $7,600. She cashed the forged checks on three different days at a Washington Mutual Bank in Costa Mesa. The friend had left the checks behind in his car. He did not give the defendant permission to use his checkbook.
Casica was convicted of three counts of forgery pursuant to Penal Code Section 470(d) for writing bogus checks. She was also convicted of three counts of second degree commercial burglary pursuant to Penal Code Section 460(b) for cashing them on separate occasions.
The court sentenced her to three years in custody on the burglary counts. Additionally, she was sentenced to three 16-month terms on the forgery counts.
The defendant appealed her conviction, arguing that her sentences on the forgery counts should have been stayed pursuant to Penal Code section 654 because the forgeries and burglaries were undertaken within a single objective.
What Did the Court Decide?
The court agreed with her, stating:
“…[S]he committed each count of forgery and burglary together, as a single course of conduct, with the goal of obtaining money via the forged checks. There would be little point in forging the checks without cashing them, and cashing the checks would be impossible without the forgeries. Thus, it is logical to conclude that defendant only harbored one intent — to obtain money…”
The Court modified (stayed) her sentencing for the forgeries according to Penal Code Section 654.
What Does This Ruling Mean?
If you commit two or more crimes resulting out of a single act (intent), you can be convicted of more than one crime. However, you can only be punished once for whichever crime carries the longest sentence.
As shown in the example above, the check forgeries and the burglaries as a result of cashing the checks went hand in hand. They were all part of one act to take the friend’s money.
Penalties for Check Forgery and Burglary in Orange County (Penal Code Sections 460, 470)
Second degree commercial burglary (Penal Code Section 460(b).) and forgery (Penal Code Section 470) are both “wobbler” offenses. You can be charged with committing either a misdemeanor or a felony for either crime.
For each crime, a misdemeanor conviction carries up to one year in jail and/or a maximum $1,000 fine. A felony conviction is punishable by 16 months, or two or three years in jail and/or a maximum $10,000 fine.
Here, the defendant was convicted of both crimes but could only be sentenced for one.
What an Experienced Wallin & Klarich Criminal Defense Attorney Can Do for You
Upon her conviction, the defendant in the above case received concurrent rather than consecutive sentencing. This means she serves all of her sentences at the same time running, not one after another. Concurrent sentencing is a significant advantage for you if you are convicted of multiple offenses requiring you to serve time in custody.
If you are in a position where you may be serving a jail or prison sentence for multiple convictions, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you get your sentences to run concurrent, thereby shortening the amount of time you ultimately have to serve in custody.
However, getting your charges reduced or dismissed altogether whenever possible is our first priority.
Contact Wallin & Klarich Today
If you or someone you love is facing criminal charges, you should speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney at Wallin & Klarich immediately. At Wallin & Klarich, our attorneys have over 40 years of experience successfully defending our clients facing charges on all types of theft crimes.
With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, our experienced criminal defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich will protect your constitutional rights and make certain you are treated fairly through every step of your criminal proceedings. We will aggressively pursue every strategy available to help you get the best result possible in your case.
Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free telephone consultation. We will get through this together.