Supreme Court of California Justia
Citation 53 Cal. 4th 156, 264 P.3d 822, 133 Cal. Rptr. 3d 856

People v. Ahmed

Filed 12/22/11

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF CALIFORNIA

THE PEOPLE,
Plaintiff and Respondent,
S191020
v.
Ct.App. 4/2 E049932
AMIR A. AHMED,
Riverside County
Defendant and Appellant.
Super. Ct. No. RIF145548

A jury convicted defendant of one crime — assault with a firearm — and
found true two sentence enhancement allegations as to that crime — personal use
of a firearm and personal infliction of great bodily injury. We granted review to
decide the relevance, if any, of Penal Code section 654, which generally prohibits
multiple punishments for the same act or omission, to the question of whether a
court may impose multiple enhancements for a single crime; and, more
specifically, whether the court properly imposed both enhancements in this case.1
We conclude that a court deciding how multiple enhancements interact
should first examine the specific sentencing statutes. If, as is often the case, these
statutes provide the answer, the court should apply that answer and stop there.
Because specific statutes prevail over general statutes, consideration of the more

1
All further statutory citations are to the Penal Code unless otherwise
indicated.
1


general section 654 will be unnecessary. Only if the specific statutes do not
provide the answer should the court turn to section 654. We conclude that section
654 does apply in that situation, but the analysis must be adjusted to account for
the differing natures of substantive crimes and enhancements.
In this case, the relevant specific statute, section 1170.1, permits the court
to impose both one weapon enhancement and one great-bodily-injury
enhancement. Accordingly, the trial court properly imposed both enhancements.
Because the specific statute provides the answer, we do not turn to section 654.
I. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
On August 7, 2006, defendant shot his girlfriend, Larin Romo, in the
stomach with a .38-caliber handgun. For this act, a jury convicted him of assault
with a firearm (§ 245, subd. (a)(2)), and found true sentence enhancement
allegations that he personally used a firearm (§ 12022.5, subd. (a)) and inflicted
great bodily injury under circumstances involving domestic violence (§ 12022.7,
subd. (e)). Defendant also admitted that he had served two prior prison terms
within the meaning of section 667.5, subdivision (b).
The court sentenced defendant to state prison for 13 years, a sentence
consisting of the upper term of four years for the assault, three years for using a
firearm, four years for inflicting great bodily injury, and one year each for the two
prior prison terms. Defendant appealed. The Court of Appeal held that section
654 prohibited imposing both the firearm-use and the great-bodily-injury
enhancements. It stayed the sentence for the firearm-use enhancement, reducing
the prison sentence to 10 years, and otherwise affirmed the judgment.
We granted the Attorney General‟s petition for review.
II. DISCUSSION
As relevant, section 654, subdivision (a), provides: “An act or omission
that is punishable in different ways by different provisions of law shall be
2
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.”
Defendant argues, and the Court of Appeal held, that this statute bars the
imposition of separate enhancements for using a firearm and inflicting great bodily
injury because both enhancements were based on the same act — shooting the
victim in the stomach. This conclusion gives rise to the threshold question of how,
if at all, section 654 applies to whether a court may impose multiple enhancements
for a single crime. As we explain in part II.A., post, courts should look first to the
statutory language concerning the enhancements to determine how they interact
and consider section 654 only if those statutes do not provide the answer.
Accordingly, in part II.B, post, we will examine the relevant statute to determine
whether the trial court properly imposed both enhancements.
A. Application of Penal Code section 654 to sentence enhancements.
“On July 1, 1977, the Legislature replaced California‟s indeterminate
sentencing scheme with a new law, the Determinate Sentencing Act. Under the
new law, most felonies specify three possible terms of imprisonment (the lower,
middle, and upper terms); after weighing any aggravating and mitigating
circumstances, the trial court selects one of these terms. (§ 1170, subd. (b).)”
(People v. Jefferson (1999) 21 Cal.4th 86, 95.) An example of such a felony is the
one of which defendant was convicted, assault with a firearm, which specifies
lower, middle, and upper terms of two, three, and four years, respectively. (§ 245,
subd. (a)(2).)
“A determinate term for a given offense might also be lengthened by
sentence enhancements.” (People v. Felix (2000) 22 Cal.4th 651, 655.)
“Enhancements typically focus on an element of the commission of the crime or
3
the criminal history of the defendant which is not present for all such crimes and
perpetrators and which justifies a higher penalty than that prescribed for the
offenses themselves.” (People v. Hernandez (1988) 46 Cal.3d 194, 207-208.)
“[T]here are at least two types of sentence enhancements: (1) those which go the
nature of the offender; and (2) those which go the nature of the offense.” (People
v. Coronado (1995) 12 Cal.4th 145, 156.) The first category typically enhances
the sentence due “to the defendant’s status as a repeat offender.” (Ibid.) “The
second category of enhancements, which are exemplified by those authorized
under sections 12022.5 and 12022.7, arise from the circumstances of the crime and
typically focus on what the defendant did when the current offense was
committed.” (Id. at p. 157, fn. omitted.)
The two enhancements in this case are the ones cited as examples of the
second category in People v. Coronado, supra, 12 Cal.4th at page 157. Section
12022.5, subdivision (a), adds an enhancement of three, four, or 10 years for
personal use of a firearm.2 This provision is intended to deter persons from
creating the potential for death or injury that the presence of firearms at a crime
scene causes and to deter the use of firearms in the commission of violent crimes.
(In re Tameka C. (2000) 22 Cal.4th 190, 196.) Section 12022.7, subdivision (e),
adds an enhancement of three, four, or five years for personal infliction of great

2
The Legislature has provided that this enhancement applies to assault with
a firearm even though firearm use is an element of that offense. (§ 12022.5, subd.
(d).) The enhancement does not entirely duplicate the offense, however. A
defendant may be vicariously guilty of assault with a firearm even if that
defendant did not personally use the firearm. (See People v. McCoy (2001) 25
Cal.4th 1111, 1116-1118.) But the firearm-use enhancement applies only to a
defendant who “personally uses” the firearm. (§ 12022.5, subd. (a); see People v.
Walker
(1976) 18 Cal.3d 232.) Thus, the enhancement does not attach to everyone
guilty of assault with a firearm but only to those who personally use the firearm.
4


bodily injury under circumstances involving domestic violence in the commission
of a felony or attempted felony. “Section 12022.7 is a legislative attempt to
punish more severely those crimes that actually result in great bodily injury.”
(People v. Guzman (2000) 77 Cal.App.4th 761, 765.) Because defendant both
used a firearm and inflicted great bodily injury when he shot his victim, both
enhancements apply.
The question here is whether section 654 prohibits imposition of both
enhancements because both apply to the same act. In People v. Coronado, supra,
12 Cal.4th at pages 156-159, we held that section 654 does not apply to the first
category of enhancements identified in that case — those that go to the nature of
the offender. (See People v. Rodriguez (2009) 47 Cal.4th 501, 507.) But we did
not decide whether section 654 applies to enhancements that go to the nature of
the offense. (People v. Coronado, supra, at p. 157.) In several cases after
Coronado, we have noted but declined to decide the general question regarding
section 654 and instead resolved the specific issue solely by examining the
relevant sentencing statutes themselves. (People v. Rodriguez, supra, at p. 507;
People v. Palacios (2007) 41 Cal.4th 720, 728; People v. Oates (2004) 32 Cal.4th
1048, 1066, fn. 7; People v. Masbruch (1996) 13 Cal.4th 1001, 1013.)
As we noted in People v. Coronado, supra, 12 Cal.4th at page 157, “the
appellate courts have disagreed on whether section 654 applies to enhancements.”
The disagreement persists, although the modern trend has been for courts to hold,
or at least assume, that section 654 does apply to enhancements that go to the
nature of the offense, and then either to apply that section or find that the specific
statutes provide an exception to it. (People v. Wynn (2010) 184 Cal.App.4th 1210,
1218-1221 [holding that § 654 precludes imposing the specific enhancement at
issue and not deciding the broader question of § 654‟s application to
enhancements in general]; People v. Chaffer (2003) 111 Cal.App.4th 1037, 1044-
5
1046 [the specific statute operates as an implied exception to § 654]; People v.
Reeves (2001) 91 Cal.App.4th 14, 54-57 [§ 654 does apply to enhancements];
People v. Arndt (1999) 76 Cal.App.4th 387, 394-396 [§ 654 does apply to
enhancements]; People v. Douglas (1995) 39 Cal.App.4th 1385 [§ 654 does apply
to enhancements].)
Often the sentencing statutes themselves will supply the answer whether
multiple enhancements can be imposed. Examples can be found in the several
decisions from this court in which we noted but did not resolve the section 654
question because we decided the question solely by considering the specific
statutes. When this is the situation, recourse to section 654 will be unnecessary
because a specific statute prevails over a more general one relating to the same
subject. (Pacific Lumber Co. v. State Water Resources Control Bd. (2006) 37
Cal.4th 921, 942.) The court should simply apply the answer found in the specific
statutes and not consider the more general section 654.
Only if the specific statutes do not provide the answer should the court turn
to section 654. When that section was enacted in 1872, sentence enhancements as
we know them today did not exist. But on its face, its language applies to
enhancements. Enhancements are “provisions of law” under which an “act or
omission” is “punishable.” Accordingly, as a default, section 654 does apply to
enhancements when the specific statutes do not provide the answer.
But enhancements are different from substantive crimes, a difference that
affects how section 654 applies to enhancements. Provisions describing
substantive crimes, such as the assault with a firearm of this case, generally define
criminal acts. But enhancement provisions do not define criminal acts; rather,
they increase the punishment for those acts. They focus on aspects of the criminal
act that are not always present and that warrant additional punishment. (See
6
People v. Coronado, supra, 12 Cal.4th at p. 157; People v. Hernandez, supra, 46
Cal.3d at pp. 207-208.) 3
Sometimes separate enhancements focus on different aspects of the
criminal act. Here, for example, the personal use of a firearm and the infliction of
great bodily injury arose from the same criminal act — shooting the victim. The
personal use of a firearm was an aspect of that act that, the Legislature has
determined, warrants additional punishment; similarly, the infliction of great
bodily injury is a different aspect of that act that, the Legislature has determined,
also warrants additional punishment. Conversely, sometimes separate
enhancements focus on the same aspect of a criminal act. For example, numerous
weapon enhancements exist. (E.g., §§ 12022, subd. (a) [being armed with a
firearm], 12022.5 [use of a firearm], and 12022.53, subd. (b) [use of a firearm in
the commission of specified offenses], 12022.53, subd. (c) [discharging a firearm
in the commission of specified offenses].) As another example, numerous great-
bodily-injury enhancements exist. (E.g., § 12022.7, subd. (a) [a general great-
bodily-injury enhancement], subd. (b) [great bodily injury causing the victim to
become comatose or suffer permanent paralysis], subd. (c) [great bodily injury on
a person 70 years of age or older], subd. (d) [great bodily injury on a child under
the age of five years], and subd. (e) [the enhancement in this case].)
In this case, both the firearm use and the infliction of great bodily injury
were part of the same physical act as the substantive crime itself. If section 654

3
People v. Coronado, supra, 12 Cal.4th at page 157, says enhancements
involve “circumstances” of the crime (italics deleted); People v. Hernandez,
supra, 46 Cal.3d at pages 207-208, uses the word “element.” Other words such as
“factor” could also be used. In this context, we prefer to use the word “aspect” to
avoid confusion with the special circumstances described in section 190.2, the
aggravating factors described in section 190.3, or the term “elements of the crime”
commonly used to describe what must be proven to establish a crime.
7


barred any additional punishment for a single criminal act, then no enhancement at
all would be permitted, a result obviously inconsistent with the function of
sentence enhancements. Thus, when applied to multiple enhancements for a
single crime, section 654 bars multiple punishment for the same aspect of a
criminal act.
The concurring opinion agrees that section 654 applies to sentence
enhancements but criticizes the majority for explaining how it does so. Because
we find that the specific statute does provide the answer (pt. II.,B., post),
technically we could avoid the section 654 question altogether, as we have done
many times in the past. But this is true of whether section 654 applies to
enhancements as well as of how it does so. Providing a partial answer to the
section 654 question — concluding it applies to enhancements — without
providing the entire answer — explaining how it does so — would be worse than
providing no answer at all. Providing only a partial answer would be confusing
and potentially misleading. Today, some 34 years after the Determinate
Sentencing Act took effect, we think it appropriate to explain the general method
courts should employ in deciding questions like the one before us, and then to
apply that method to this case.
Accordingly, applying this method, we now turn to deciding whether the
court properly imposed the two enhancements of this case.
B. Whether the court properly imposed both sentence enhancements.
To decide this question, we turn first to the specific statute concerning the
enhancements. Section 1170.1, subdivision (f), provides: “When two or more
enhancements may be imposed for being armed with or using a dangerous or
deadly weapon or a firearm in the commission of a single offense, only the
greatest of those enhancements shall be imposed for that offense. This subdivision
8
shall not limit the imposition of any other enhancements applicable to that offense,
including an enhancement for the infliction of great bodily injury.” Section
1170.1, subdivision (g), provides: “When two or more enhancements may be
imposed for the infliction of great bodily injury on the same victim in the
commission of a single offense, only the greatest of those enhancements shall be
imposed for that offense. This subdivision shall not limit the imposition of any
other enhancements applicable to that offense, including an enhancement for being
armed with or using a dangerous or deadly weapon or a firearm.”
It can be readily seen that these two subdivisions mirror each other:
subdivision (f) of section 1170.1 concerns weapon enhancements, and subdivision
(g) of that section says the equivalent about great-bodily-injury enhancements.
Together, they clearly bar imposing two or more weapon enhancements for the
same offense (subd. (f)) and two or more great-bodily-injury enhancements for the
same offense (subd. (g)). The second sentence of each subdivision also seems to
permit imposing both one weapon enhancement and one great-bodily-injury
enhancement for the same crime when both apply. In other words, if, as here, the
defendant both uses a firearm and inflicts great bodily injury, these two
subdivisions seem to permit imposing both enhancements.
The Court of Appeal found this statutory language not dispositive. It
focused on the language at the beginning of the second sentences of subdivisions
(f) and (g) of section 1170.1, referring to “[t]his subdivision.” The court believed
that “it is only „[t]h[ese] subdivision[s]‟ that do not limit the imposition of other
enhancements. Other statutes — including section 654 — may still limit the
imposition of other enhancements.” However, even assuming the statutory
language is ambiguous, the legislative history behind these subdivisions shows the
Legislature intended to permit imposing both enhancements when both apply.
9
Section 1170.1 has been amended many times. Originally, it was numbered
section 1170.1a and, in subdivision (d), provided that only one weapon
enhancement or great-bodily-injury enhancement could be imposed. (Stats. 1976,
ch. 1139, § 273, p. 5142.) Former section 1170.1a was amended even before it
took effect and became, as it remains today, section 1170.1. (Stats. 1977, ch. 165,
§ 17, p. 649.) This version, the first one that actually took effect, permitted
imposing both a weapon enhancement and a great-bodily-injury enhancement, but
only for specified underlying offenses. Specifically, section 1170.1, former subd.
(d), originally provided: “When two or more enhancements under Sections 12022,
12022.5, and 12022.7 may be imposed for any single offense, only the greatest
enhancement shall apply; however, in cases of robbery, rape or burglary, or
attempted robbery, rape or burglary the court may impose both (1) one
enhancement for weapons as provided in either Section 12022 or 12022.5 and (2)
an enhancement for great bodily injury as provided in Section 12022.7.” (Stats.
1977, ch. 165, § 17, p. 650; see People v. Boerner (1981) 120 Cal.App.3d 506,
511, fn. 7.) People v. Boerner, supra, 120 Cal.App.3d 506, held that this language
“expressly permits a sentencing court to impose both of the cited enhancements in
cases of attempted robbery.” (Id. at p. 511.) Because former subdivision (d) of
section 1170.1 specifically addressed the question, the Boerner court correctly
concluded that section 654 did not trump that subdivision. (People v. Boerner,
supra, at p. 511.)
A few years after its original enactment, former subdivision (d) of section
1170.1 became former subdivision (e) of that section. (Stats. 1982, ch. 1551,
§ 1.5, p. 6049.) Over the years, this former subdivision (e) was amended several
more times, sometimes in ways irrelevant here, but sometimes to add more crimes
for which the trial court could impose both a weapon enhancement and a great-
bodily-injury enhancement. (Stats. 1986, ch. 1429, § 1, pp. 5125-5126 [adding
10
penetration of a genital or anal opening by a foreign object, oral copulation, and
sodomy, as well as an attempt to commit those crimes, and attempted murder];
Stats. 1988, ch. 1487, § 2, pp. 5273-5274 [adding lewd or lascivious acts upon or
with a child under the age of 14 years accomplished by means of force or fear and
kidnapping, as well as an attempt to commit those crimes]; Stats. 1992, ch. 235,
§ 1, p. 1031 [adding sexual battery and attempted sexual battery]; Stats. 1993, ch.
611, § 17, p. 3525 [adding carjacking and attempted carjacking]; Stats. 1994, ch.
1188, § 12.7, pp. 7201-7202 [adding spousal rape and attempted spousal rape].)4
During this time, another decision construed the statute. (People v. Ferrell
(1990) 218 Cal.App.3d 828.) In Ferrell, the trial court imposed both a weapon
enhancement and a great-bodily-injury enhancement for aggravated mayhem, a
crime never listed among the specified exceptions in section 1170.1, former
subdivision (e). The appellate court held the trial court erred in imposing both
enhancements. (People v. Ferrell, supra, at p. 836.) Because the relevant statute

4
The last version of section 1170.1, former subdivision (e), provided:
“When two or more enhancements under Sections 12022, 12022.4, 12022.5,
12022.55, 12022.7, and 12022.9 may be imposed for any single offense, only the
greatest enhancement shall apply. However, in cases of lewd or lascivious acts
upon or with a child under the age of 14 years accomplished by means of force or
fear, as described in Section 288, kidnapping, as defined in Section 207, sexual
battery, as defined in Section 243.4, spousal rape, as defined in Section 262,
penetration of a genital or anal opening by a foreign object, as defined in Section
289, oral copulation, sodomy, robbery, carjacking, rape or burglary, or attempted
lewd or lascivious acts upon or with a child under the age of 14 years
accomplished by means of force or fear, kidnapping, sexual battery, spousal rape,
penetration of a genital or anal opening by a foreign object, oral copulation,
sodomy, robbery, carjacking, rape, murder, or burglary the court may impose both
(1) one enhancement for weapons as provided in either Section 12022, 12022.4, or
subdivision (a) of, or paragraph (2) of subdivision (b) of, Section 12022.5 and (2)
one enhancement for great bodily injury as provided in either Section 12022.7 or
12022.9.” (Stats. 1994, ch. 1188, § 12.7, pp. 7201-7202.)
11


clearly prohibited both of the enhancements, the Ferrell court could find the trial
court had erred, simply by referring to that statute. It did not need to, and did not,
refer to section 654.
We thus see that before subdivisions (f) and (g) of section 1170.1 were
amended to read as they do today, that section generally prohibited imposing both
a weapon enhancement and a great-bodily-injury enhancement, but it listed a
growing number of crimes that constituted exceptions to the general rule. For the
listed crimes, the court could impose both of these enhancements. As the number
of exceptions grew, they came ever closer to swallowing the rule.
In 1997, the Legislature replaced former subdivision (e) of section 1170.1
with subdivisions (f) and (g). (Stats. 1997, ch. 750, § 3, p. 5067, enacting Sen.
Bill No. 721 (1997-1998 Reg. Sess.) (Senate Bill No. 721).) Those subdivisions
have remained unchanged since then. Legislative history materials regarding
Senate Bill No. 721 explain the purpose for the change.
The reports of the Senate and Assembly Committees on Public Safety
provided a detailed analysis of the bill‟s proposed changes. The Senate committee
report stated that under existing law, “[t]here are rules . . . limiting enhancements
for both weapons and injuries. There are various exceptions to those rules. [¶]
This bill would repeal those limitations.” (Sen. Com. on Public Safety, Rep. on
Sen. Bill No. 721, p. 1.) It also stated that “the bill eliminates the double
enhancement limitation [no double enhancement for both weapon and injury for
certain felonies]. This limitation impacts a few crimes when the defendant both
uses a weapon and inflicts great bodily injury. The original impact was so unjust
that the limitation has been almost amended out of existence. The last remnants of
this terrible policy mistake must be eliminated.” (Id. at p. 4.) Later the report
added: “Only one sentencing enhancement may be imposed under existing law
when both a weapon and an injury are involved. (Penal Code Section
12
1170.1(e)[.]) This „rule‟ does not apply to the following: [¶] [listing the
exceptions]. [¶] This bill would eliminate the „double enhancement‟ limitation
and its many exceptions.” (Id. at pp. 5-6.)
The report of the Assembly Committee on Public Safety is similar in this
regard. It stated that under existing law, “if a defendant is charged with at least
two enhancements for infliction of GBI [great bodily injury] and/or use of a
specified weapon, the court may only sentence the defendant to the greatest of
those enhancements (except in specified circumstances). (Penal Code Section
1170.1(e).)” (Assem. Com. on Public Safety, Rep. on Sen. Bill No. 721 as
amended July 10, 1997, p. 2.) It then stated the following: “4) More
Enhancements To Punish Defendants Who Inflict GBI and Use a Weapon. Under
current law, if a defendant is charged with at least two enhancements for inflicting
GBI and/or using a specified weapon, the judge may only sentence him or her on
the greatest of those enhancements except in specified circumstances. [¶] This
bill increases the punishment for defendants charged with these multiple
enhancements. This bill allows a judge to impose the greatest enhancement (that
is charged and proven) for use of a weapon, as well as the greatest enhancement
(that is charged and proven) for infliction of GBI.” (Id. at p. 5.)
The history of the amendments of section 1170.1 leading to its current
subdivisions (f) and (g), as well as the committee reports on Senate Bill No. 721,
make clear the Legislature that enacted those subdivisions intended to permit the
sentencing court to impose both one weapon enhancement and one great-bodily-
enhancement for all crimes.
Defendant argues that the rule of “lenity,” whereby courts resolve doubts
about the meaning of penal statutes in the defendant‟s favor, compels the
conclusion that only one enhancement may be imposed here. (See People v. Avery
(2002) 27 Cal.4th 49, 57.) We disagree. “[A]lthough true ambiguities are
13
resolved in a defendant‟s favor, an appellate court should not strain to interpret a
penal statute in defendant‟s favor if it can fairly discern a contrary legislative
intent.” (Id. at p. 58.) We can fairly discern a legislative intent to permit
imposition of one weapon enhancement and one great-bodily-injury enhancement.
Because section 1170.1 provides the answer to the question of this case, we do not
consider section 654.
Accordingly, we conclude that the trial court properly imposed both the
great-bodily-injury and the firearm-use enhancements. The Court of Appeal erred
in concluding otherwise.
III. CONCLUSION
We reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeal and remand the matter to
that court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
CHIN, J.
WE CONCUR:
CANTIL-SAKAUYE, C.J.
KENNARD, J.
BAXTER, J.
CORRIGAN, J.

14





CONCURRING OPINION BY LIU, J.

I agree with the majority that the prohibition against multiple punishment
for a single act or omission in Penal Code section 654 applies to sentence
enhancements, but that subdivisions (f) and (g) of Penal Code section 1170.1
permit imposing enhancements for both using a firearm and inflicting great bodily
injury in the present case. These conclusions resolve this case. Accordingly, I do
not join in that portion of the majority opinion that discusses how section 654
applies to enhancements. (Maj. opn., ante, at pp. 6-8.) The wisdom and
workability of the rule that “when applied to multiple enhancements for a single
crime, section 654 bars multiple punishment for the same aspect of a criminal act”
are difficult to determine in the abstract. I would not opine on how section 654
applies to enhancements until we are called upon to resolve an actual dispute on
that question. Until such a concrete dispute arises, the Legislature may wish to
clarify the scope of Penal Code section 654 in general, and how that statute applies
to criminal sentence enhancements in particular.
LIU, J.
I CONCUR: WERDEGAR, J.
15



See next page for addresses and telephone numbers for counsel who argued in Supreme Court.

Name of Opinion People v. Ahmed
__________________________________________________________________________________

Unpublished Opinion


Original Appeal
Original Proceeding
Review Granted
XXX 191 Cal.App.4th 1407
Rehearing Granted

__________________________________________________________________________________

Opinion No.

S191020
Date Filed: December 22, 2011
__________________________________________________________________________________

Court:

Superior
County: Riverside
Judge: Sharon J. Waters

__________________________________________________________________________________

Counsel:

Phillip I. Bronson, under appointment by the Supreme court, for Defendant and Appellant.

Edmund G. Brown, Jr., and Kamala D. Harris, Attorneys General, Dane R. Gillette, Chief Assistant
Attorney General, Gary W. Schons, Assistant Attorney General, Gil Gonzalez, Vincent P. LaPietra,
Andrew S. Mestman, Steve Oetting and Tami Falkenstein Hennick, Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff
and Respondent.



Counsel who argued in Supreme Court (not intended for publication with opinion):

Phillip I. Bronson
P.O. Box 57768
Sherman Oaks, CA 91413-7768
(818) 784-9702

Tami Falkenstein Hennick
Deputy Attorney General
110 West A Street, Suite 1100
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 645-2274


Petition for review after the Court of Appeal modified and affirmed a judgment of conviction of a criminal offense. This case presents the following issue: Does California Penal Code section 654, which generally prohibits multiple punishments for the same act or omission, prohibit the imposition of enhancements for both personal use of a firearm and personal infliction of great bodily injury under circumstances involving domestic violence?

Opinion Information
Date:Citation:Docket Number:Category:Status:Cross Referenced Cases:
Thu, 12/22/201153 Cal. 4th 156, 264 P.3d 822, 133 Cal. Rptr. 3d 856S191020Review - Criminal Appealclosed; remittitur issued

PEOPLE v. ROBINSON (S193289)


Parties
1The People (Plaintiff and Respondent)
Represented by Tami Falkenstein Hennick
Office of the Attorney General
P.O. Box 85266
San Diego, CA

2Ahmed, Amir A. (Defendant and Appellant)
California State Prison
P.O. Box 3466
Corcoran, CA 93212

Represented by Phillip I. Bronson
Attorney at Law
P.O. Box 57768
Sherman Oaks, CA


Opinion Authors
OpinionJustice Ming W. Chin
ConcurJustice Goodwin Liu

Disposition
Dec 22 2011Opinion: Reversed

Dockets
Mar 2 2011Petition for review filed
Plaintiff and Respondent: The PeopleAttorney: Tami Falkenstein Hennick  
Mar 2 2011Record requested
 
Mar 4 2011Received Court of Appeal record
  one doghouse
Apr 20 2011Petition for review granted
  Votes: Cantil-Sakauye, C.J., Kennard, Baxter, Werdegar, Chin and Corrigan, JJ.
May 18 2011Counsel appointment order filed
  Upon request of appellant for appointment of counsel, Phillip I. Bronson is hereby appointed to represent appellant on the appeal now pending in this court. Appellant's brief on the merits must be served and filed on or before thirty (30) days from the date respondent's opening brief on the merits is filed.
Jun 3 2011Application for relief from default filed
  requesting permission to file late opening brief on the merits; by Tami Falkenstein Hennick, Deputy Attorney General.
Jun 3 2011Opening brief on the merits filed
Plaintiff and Respondent: The PeopleAttorney: Tami Falkenstein Hennick   *filed with permission*
Jun 3 2011Request for judicial notice filed (Grant or AA case)
Plaintiff and Respondent: The PeopleAttorney: Tami Falkenstein Hennick  
Jun 17 2011Answer brief on the merits filed
Defendant and Appellant: Ahmed, Amir A.Attorney: Phillip I. Bronson  
Jul 5 2011Reply brief filed (case fully briefed)
Plaintiff and Respondent: The PeopleAttorney: Tami Falkenstein Hennick  
Aug 10 2011Compensation awarded counsel
  Atty Bronson
Oct 4 2011Case ordered on calendar
  to be argued on Wednesday, November 9, 2011 at 9:00 a.m. in San Francisco
Nov 9 2011Cause argued and submitted
 
Nov 17 2011Request for judicial notice granted
  Respondent's request for judicial notice, filed on June 3, 2011 is granted.
Dec 21 2011Notice of forthcoming opinion posted
  To be filed Thursday, December 22, 2011 at 10 a.m.
Dec 22 2011Opinion filed: Judgment reversed
  We reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeal and remand the matter to that court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion. Majority Opinion by Chin, J. -- joined by Cantil-Sakauye, C.J., Kennard, Baxter, and Corrigan, JJ. Concurring Opinion by Liu, J. -- joined by Werdegar, J.
Jan 18 2012Compensation awarded counsel
  Atty Bronson
Jan 24 2012Remittitur issued
 
Jan 26 2012Returned record
  2 doghouses

Briefs
Jun 3 2011Opening brief on the merits filed
Plaintiff and Respondent: The PeopleAttorney: Tami Falkenstein Hennick  
Jun 17 2011Answer brief on the merits filed
Defendant and Appellant: Ahmed, Amir A.Attorney: Phillip I. Bronson  
Jul 5 2011Reply brief filed (case fully briefed)
Plaintiff and Respondent: The PeopleAttorney: Tami Falkenstein Hennick  
Brief Downloads
application/pdf icon
1-s191020-respondent-petition-for-review.pdf (399964 bytes)
application/pdf icon
2-s191020-respondent-opening-brief-on-the-merits.pdf (340966 bytes)
application/pdf icon
3-s191020-respondent-request-for-judicial-notice.pdf (313906 bytes)
application/pdf icon
4-s191020-appellant-answer-brief-on-the-merits.pdf (298447 bytes)
application/pdf icon
5-s191020-respondent-reply-brief-on-the-merits.pdf (203900 bytes)
If you'd like to submit a brief document to be included for this opinion, please submit an e-mail to the SCOCAL website
May 22, 2012
Annotated by Ashley Rogers

-FACTS-

Defendant Amir Ahmed, who had served two prior prison terms, shot his girlfriend in the stomach with a .38-caliber handgun. A jury convicted him of assault with a firearm, and found true two sentence enhancement allegations: he personally used a firearm, and he inflicted great bodily injury under circumstances involving domestic violence.

The trial court sentenced Ahmed to state prison for 13 years, including the upper term of four years for the assault, three years for using a firearm, four years for inflicting great bodily injury, and one year each for Ahmed's two prior prison terms.

-PROCEDURAL HISTORY-

The Court of Appeal held that California Penal Code section 654 prohibited imposing both the firearm and great-bodily-injury enhancements and stayed the three-year term imposed for the firearm-use enhancement, reducing Ahmed’s prison sentence to 10 years. The Court of Appeal otherwise affirmed the judgment.

The Supreme Court of California granted the Attorney General’s petition for review.

-ISSUE-

Does California Penal Code section 654, which generally prohibits multiple punishments for the same act or omission, prohibit the imposition of enhancements for both personal use of a firearm and personal infliction of great bodily injury under circumstances involving domestic violence?

-HOLDING-

No:

1. The sentencing court must look first to the statutory language in specific sentencing statutes to determine how multiple enhancements interact and should consider California Penal Code section 654 only if those statutes do not provide the answer.

2. Because a specific statute, California Penal Code section 1170.1, permits the trial court to impose both one weapon enhancement and one great-bodily-injury enhancement to a single crime, California Penal Code section 654's prohibition against multiple punishments for the same act or omission does not apply.

-ANALYSIS-

When considering whether California Penal Code section 654 prohibits imposition of multiple enhancements because both enhancements apply to the same act, a sentencing court must turn first to specific sentencing statutes to see if they provide an answer as to how multiple enhancements interact. If the specific sentencing statutes supply an answer, which will “often” be the case, the court should not consider the more general section 654. If the specific statutes do not provide the answer, then section 654, as a “default” provision, will apply to determine whether multiple enhancements may be imposed.

The Court clarified how section 654 applies to multiple enhancements for a single crime: it bars multiple punishment for the same aspect of a criminal act. Here, for example, while the personal use of a firearm and the infliction of great bodily injury arose from the same criminal act, both enhancements concern different aspects of the act that the Legislature determined warrants additional punishment.

The Court then turned to the question of whether the trial court properly imposed both sentence enhancements, focusing first on the language of the specific statutes at issue. Section 1170.1, subdivisions (f) and (g), “mirror each other,” explicating barring imposition of two or more weapon enhancements but permitting imposition of one weapon enhancement and one great-bodily-injury enhancement for the same crime when both apply. Further, when examining the legislative history and the history of the amendments of section 1170.1, the Court discerned a clear legislative intent to permit the sentencing court to impose both one weapon enhancement and one great-bodily-enhancement for all crimes.

Because the specific sentencing statutes allowed the Court to “fairly discern” a legislative intent to permit imposition of both enhancements, the Court did not turn to section 654.

-RULING-

The Court reversed the judgment of the Court of Appeal and remanded for further proceedings.

-CONCURRENCE-

The concurring judges declined to join the portion of the opinion that discusses how section 654 applies. They questioned the “wisdom and workability” of the proposed rule that section 654 bars multiple punishment for the same aspect of a crime.

-TAGS-

California Penal Code section 654, California Penal Code section 1170.1, double jeopardy, enhancement statute, great bodily injury, multiple enhancement, multiple punishment, personal use of firearm, sentence enhancement, sentencing, specific statute

-CASES-

Related cases

Review in People v. Robinson (S193289) was dismissed in light of this decision
http://www.courts.ca.gov/documents/ws013012.pdf

People v. Coronado, 12 Cal. 4th 145, 906 P.2d 1232 (1995)
http://law.justia.com/cases/california/cal4th/12/145.html

People v. Rodriguez, 47 Cal. 4th 501, 213 P.3d 647 (2009)
http://caselaw.findlaw.com/ca-court-of-appeal/1499853.html

People v. Wynn, 184 Cal. App. 4th 1210, 109 Cal. Rptr. 3d 457 (2010)
http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=12956523396593091340&q=Peopl...

Examined by

People v. Murillo, D058142, 2012 WL 513016 (Cal. Ct. App. Feb. 16, 2012)
http://www.leagle.com/xmlResult.aspx?xmldoc=In%20CACO%2020120216062.xml&...

People v. Rainford, B229384, 2012 WL 1035377 (Cal. Ct. App. Mar. 28, 2012), review filed (May 9, 2012), unpublished/noncitable (Mar. 28, 2012)
http://www.leagle.com/xmlResult.aspx?xmldoc=In%20CACO%2020120328044.xml&...

People v. Delreal, H036021, 2012 WL 489240 (Cal. Ct. App. Feb. 15, 2012), unpublished/noncitable (Feb. 15, 2012), review denied (Apr. 25, 2012)
http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=8875381618025546956&q=People...

-RELATED STATUTES-

Cal. Penal Code § 654 (West), http://law.justia.com/codes/california/2005/pen/654-678.html
Cal. Penal Code § 1170.1 (West), http://law.justia.com/codes/california/2005/pen/1170-1170.9.html

-CITATION-

People v. Ahmed, 53 Cal. 4th 156, 264 P.3d 822 (2011)

-ANNOTATION-

Ashley Rogers