If you steal a cheap car — one worth $950 or less — it’s a misdemeanor under Proposition 47, the 2014 initiative passed to reduce punishment for certain theft- and drug-related crimes. And, if you were serving a felony sentence for stealing a cheap car when Proposition 47 took effect, you could be eligible for a sentence reduction. The Supreme Court today in People v. Page concludes that those principles apply not just to grand theft but also to the crime of taking or driving a vehicle without the owner’s consent if done with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of possession and if not only driving after the theft. The court’s unanimous opinion by Justice Leondra Kruger holds that the crime is theft of property worth $950 or less, a criteria for possible resentencing under the initiative.
The court says it’s modifying the judgment of the Fourth District, Division Two, Court of Appeal, but the opinion really counts as a reversal. The Court of Appeal — as did the superior court — found the defendant’s crime could not qualify for resentencing. The Supreme Court concludes the categorical exclusion of the crime from Proposition 47 was wrong and gives the defendant a chance to establish the stolen car’s value.
The same Court of Appeal is also a winner today, however. The Supreme Court’s opinion favorably cites and quotes a decision by a different panel of justices of the Fourth District, Division Two, that had later reached the opposite conclusion of the Page Court of Appeal opinion. (The author of the effectively reversed Page opinion dissented from the opinion that is given props today.) The later opinion is a grant-and-hold case, on hold for Page itself. And, yes, that opinion is citeable despite review having been granted.