Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Monday, January 27, 2014


Page 4


C.A. Says Defendant Wrongly Sentenced for Both Forgery and Burglary


By a MetNews Staff Writer


A defendant’s sentence should be set aside where the crimes involved the same single objective, even if the criminal act took place at different time periods, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled Friday.

Div. Three, in an opinion by Justice Eileen C. Moore, modified Lisa Ann Casica’s sentence on all three counts of her forgery conviction, holding that since there was insufficient evidence to prove a separate intent between the forgery and commercial burglary, her sentence should have been stayed pursuant to Penal Code §654.

The statute provides that an act that is punishable under different provisions in different ways shall be punished under the provision providing the longest term, without punishing under more than one provision.

In 2011, Casica was charged with three counts of commercial burglary and three counts of forgery.

The evidence at trial showed that, in 2008, Casica dropped her friend Jack McElreath Jr. at the Orange County Central Justice Center in Santa Ana, where he entered custody on a drug diversion program.  

McElreath left his checkbook from a Washington Mutual account in his rental car, which Casica had driven him in. 

He testified that he had not given her permission to use the checks, but that she had forged his signature and cashed three checks..

Surveillance footage from a Washington Mutual branch in Costa Mesa, showed Casica cashing all three checks on three separate days in May 2008.

The jury found Casica guilty on all six counts.  She was sentenced to over four years on burglary counts, and 16 months concurrently on each forgery count.  The court sentenced her to three years, with the remainder of the sentence suspended.

Casica argued that she only had one intent—to obtain money from the checking account—and as a result, she would not have been able to cash the checks without also forging them.

The district attorney stressed that the crimes took place at different times, and as such required different intents for each temporally distinct act.

 Citing People v. Curtin (1994) 22 Cal.App.4th 525, Moore said:

“[I]t is logical to conclude that defendant only harbored one intent—to obtain money from McElreath’s account.  Speculation about any other intent harbored by defendant is just that, speculation….We therefore agree with the holding in Curtin that ‘the forgery and burglary were part of the same indivisible transaction, both committed for a single criminal objective, to cash the check.’”

The case is People v. Casica, S.O.S. 14 382.


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