People v. LopezAnnotate this Case
The Supreme Court held that section Cal. Penal Code 459.5(b) prohibits charging shoplifting and theft of the same property, even in the alternative, and that, as a general rule, section 459.5(b) prohibits a prosecutor from charging theft when there is probable cause that a defendant has committed shoplifting of the same property.
Defendant stole items worth $496.37. Defendant was charged with shoplifting and theft but was convicted solely of theft. Defendant appealed, arguing that he had been charged in violation of section 459.5(b), which provides that no person who is charged with shoplifting may also be charged with burglary or theft of the same property. The court of appeal concluded that Defendant had been improperly charged but that Defendant was not prejudiced by his trial counsel's failure to object to the charges because section 459.5(b) permitted the prosecutor to amend the information to charge shoplifting and theft in the alternative. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the court of appeal (1) correctly concluded that Defendant was charged in violation of section 459.5(b)'s prohibition on charging a person with shoplifting and theft of the same property; but (2) erred in concluding that section 459.5(b) would have permitted the prosecutor to charge Defendant with shoplifting and theft in the alternative.