In People v. Guerrero, the Supreme Court today holds that a defendant’s felony forgery conviction for possessing a counterfeit $50 bill should have been reduced to a misdemeanor under Proposition 47, the 2014 initiative that reduces punishment and allows resentencing for certain crimes.  It’s one of two Proposition 47 opinions today.  (See here.)

The initiative includes an exception that a defendant’s forgery conviction is not reduced if they are “convicted both of forgery and of identity theft,” and Guerrero was in fact also convicted of identity theft because, along with the counterfeit bill, he had someone else’s driver’s license.  However, following up on People v. Gonzales (2018) 6 Cal.5th 44 (see here), also a Proposition 47, forgery/identity theft case, the court’s unanimous opinion by Justice Goodwin Liu concludes that “concurrent possession, without more,” of the counterfeit bill and the stolen identification was insufficient to invoke the exception to the conviction reduction rule.

Instead, “the prosecution must show that the forgery offense facilitated the identity theft offense, or vice versa.”  The court gives a facilitation example:  “a person may obtain a victim’s home address or checking account number to create a forged check.”

The court reverses the Sixth District Court of Appeal.  It was the second grant of review in this case.  The first time, the Supreme Court had ordered and received full briefing, but, before an opinion, it transferred the case back to the appellate court for reconsideration in light of Gonzales.  In hindsight, it would have been more efficient not to transfer the case.