People v. Whitmer

Defendant, while acting as manager for a motorcycle dealership, arranged for the fraudulent sale of twenty vehicles to fictitious buyers. After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of twenty counts of grand theft, one count for each of the vehicles fraudulently sold. On appeal, Defendant argued that he could be convicted of one count of grand theft only because all of the sales were part of a single scheme. The court of appeal affirmed the judgment of conviction for the twenty counts of grand theft. At issue before the Supreme Court was the correct interpretation of the language in People v. Bailey, which some courts of appeal have interpreted as permitting only one conviction of grand theft in circumstances such as those presented in this case. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) a defendant may be convicted of multiple counts of grand theft based on separate and distinct acts of theft, even if committed pursuant to a single overarching scheme; but (2) the Court cannot not retroactively apply this new rule to Defendant, and therefore, under the law that has existed for decades, Defendant could only have been convicted of a single count of grand theft. View "People v. Whitmer" on Justia Law