Multiplicity: Threats, Assault And Other Specific Examples
March 26th, 2020

Multiplicity deals with the fragmentation of what is legally a single offense into separate multiple offenses. This doctrine is legislatively set forth in pc 954, which “‘authorizes multiple convictions for different or distinct offenses, but does not permit multiple convictions for a different statement of the same offense when it is based on the same act or course of conduct.'” (People v. Vidana (2016) 1 Cal.5th 632, 650.) The CSC Has Advised That Whether Statutory Provisions “Define Different Offenses Or Merely Describe Different Ways Of Committing The Same Offense Properly Turns On The Legislature’s Intent In Enacting These Provisions, And If The Legislature Meant To Define Only One Offense, We May Not Turn It Into Two.” (People v. Gonzalez (2014) 60 Cal.4th 533, 537.

People V. Cota (Jan. 27, 2020, G056850) ___ Cal.App.4th ___ [Pp. 4-5]

Two recent examples of the multiplicity doctrine are the following:


Criminal Threats: People v. Roles; C086645; 1/8/20; C/A 3rd

During a divorce proceeding with a child custody issue, the court appointed counsel for the minors. The defendant called the minor’s lawyer and left 9 separate threatening messages. Each of these would qualify as a criminal threat under pc 422. The defendant was convicted of 9 counts.


The reviewing court reversed because the victim heard all 9 voice mails in one sitting and thus the required sustained fear happened all at once.


Moreover, the victim played the voice mails for the wife’s lawyer, and that became count 10. That that count was also reversed because the prosecution failed to establish that the defendant intended that the second lawyer would hear the threats.


Assault: People v. Cota (Jan. 27, 2020, G056850) ___ Cal.App.4th ___ [Pp. 4-5]

The defendant hit the victim with a chair, breaking his wrist. The DA sought and obtained convictions for both assault with a deadly weapon (PC 245(a)(1)), and assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury (PC 245(a)(4)). The defense contended that these are just two alternative descriptions of the same act. The appellate court agrees reversed because the convictions were different statements of the same offense of aggravated assault, and that both were based on the same conduct.


Other examples in Forecite include the following:

F 3515.2 Note 1 Multiple Counts: Multiple Takings
F 3515.2 Note 2 Multiple Counts: Multiple Possessions
F 3515.2 Note 3 Multiple Counts: Multiple Victims
F 3515.2 Note 4 Multiple Counts: Multiple Entries
F 3515.2 Note 5 Multiple Counts: Receipt Of Multiple Items
F 3515.2 Note 6 Failure To Register (PC 290): Single Prosecution Required For PC 290 Violations Based On Single Act Of Relocating
F 3515.2 Note 7 Aggregation Of Multiple Misdemeanor Violations
F 3515.2 Note 8 Multiple Counts: Sale And Transportation
F 3515.2 Note 9 Multiple Counts: Kidnapping For Robbery And Kidnapping For Carjacking (PC 209.5; PC 209)
F 3515.2 Note 10 Multiple Counts: Arson—Individual Apartments Damaged By Fire Are Not Separate Structures Per PC 451.5(A)(3)
F 3515.2 Note 11 Evading A Peace Officer: Multiple Counts Improperly Based On Multiple Police Cars In The Chase
F 3515.2 Note 12 Conviction Permissible For Both Attempted Manslaughter And Assault For Same Act
F 3515.2 Note 13 Multiple Counts: Continuous Sexual Abuse And Individual Sexual Offenses—PC 288.5 Precludes Convictions On Both Continuous Sexual Abuse Charge And Individual Sexual Offenses
F 3515.2 Note 14 Multiple Counts: Forgery
F 3515.2 Note 15 Multiple Counts: Violation Of Child Custody Order (PC 278.5)
F 3515.2 Note 16 Multiple Counts: Medi-Cal Fraud (WI 14107)
F 3515.2 Note 17 Federal Internet Pornography Statute Held Not To Violate The First Amendment
F 3515.2 Note 18 Multiple Crimes From A Single Occasion: Predicate Crimes For Gang Enhancement (PC 186.22(B))
F 351.25 Note 19 Kidnapping: Convictions For Both Simple And Aggravated Kidnapping Not Permissible For The Same Course Of Conduct

Tags: , ,