CSC Clarifies Exception to Proposition 47 in Cases Involving Forgery and Identity Theft
July 1st, 2020

Proposition 47 reduced the punishment for certain nonserious, nonviolent crimes previously classified as “wobblers,” which were punishable either as a felony or as a misdemeanor. Among the offenses it amended was forgery not exceeding $950 dollars. (PC 473(b).) However, Proposition 47 is not “applicable to any person who is convicted both of forgery and of identity theft, as defined in Section 530.5.” (Ibid.)

The CSC held in People v. Gonzales (2018) 6 Cal.5th 44 that this exception applies only when there is a “meaningful connection” between a defendant’s forgery conviction and his conviction for misuse of personal identifying information (PC 530.5), commonly referred to as identity theft. (Gonzales, at p. 53.) The mere fact that those convictions were secured in the same proceeding does not demonstrate such a connection. (Id. at p. 54.)

People v. Guerrero (4/30/2020; S253405) further clarified the “meaningful connection” standard by answering the following question: Does the fact that a defendant possessed separate stolen identification and forged instruments together at the same time provide a sufficient connection between the two offenses to bar him from a sentence reduction pursuant to section 473(b)?

The Court answered this question in the negative: “A meaningful connection between forgery and identity theft for purposes of the identity theft exception requires a facilitative relationship between the two offenses. The mere fact that a defendant possessed two separate items of contraband at the same time does not demonstrate such a relationship.”

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