California Vehicle Code Section 10851 - Interpretation
Section 10851, subdivision (a) provides:
"Any person who drives or takes a vehicle not his or her own, without the consent of the owner thereof, and with intent either to permanently or temporarily deprive the owner thereof of his or her title to or possession of the vehicle, whether with or without intent to steal the vehicle, or any person who is a party or an accessory to or an accomplice in the driving or unauthorized taking or stealing, is guilty of a public offense and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year or in the state prison or by a fine of not more than five thousand dollars ($ 5,000), or by both the fine and imprisonment.
"In Jaramillo, police found the defendant pretending to be asleep in a parked car that had been reported stolen 13 days earlier. He was convicted of violating both sections 10851 and 496. Citing the "fundamental principle that one may not be convicted of stealing and receiving the same property," the Supreme Court reversed both convictions.
The court noted, however, that section 10851 "prohibits driving as separate and distinct from the act of taking." ( People v. Jaramillo, supra, 16 Cal.3d at p. 759, fn. 6.) "When an accused is convicted of grand theft auto, which necessarily requires a finding that the accused intended to steal, he cannot also be convicted of receiving that same stolen property.
If, on the other hand, in convicting an accused of a violation of Vehicle Code section 10851, a jury finds that the accused intended only to temporarily deprive the owner of possession for the purpose of driving a vehicle, then the accused may also be guilty of a violation of section 496 . . . if there is other evidence which establishes the elements of that crime -- including evidence of the independent theft of the vehicle and the accused's knowing receipt thereof.
When, as here, however, the record does not disclose or suggest what specific findings were made in convicting a defendant of a violation of Vehicle Code section 10851 but it nevertheless appears that the fact finder may have found that the defendant intended to steal the vehicle, a second conviction based on a further finding that the defendant received that same stolen property is foreclosed." (Id. at pp. 758-759, fns. omitted.)
In People v. Allen (1999) 21 Cal.4th 846, the court explained its holding in People v. Jaramillo (1976) as follows: "We began by recognizing, for example, that 'when an accused is convicted of grand theft auto, which necessarily requires a finding that the accused intended to steal, he cannot also be convicted of receiving that same stolen property.'
The common law rule bars such dual convictions. But the rule also applies 'when the record permits an inference which cannot be rebutted' that the jury might have predicated its conviction of theft on a finding that the defendant stole the same property that it convicted him of receiving.
Turning to the case at hand, we observed that on its face Vehicle Code section 10851 can be violated either by taking a vehicle with the intent to steal it or by driving it with the intent only to temporarily deprive its owner of possession (i.e., joyriding).
We then reasoned that the record before us permitted and did not rebut an inference that the jury might have based its verdict of violating section 10851 on a finding that the defendant took the vehicle with the intent to permanently deprive its owner of title or possession and hence with the intent to steal it.
Applying the common law rule that a person may not be convicted of stealing and receiving the same property, we reversed both convictions." ( Id. at pp. 851-852.)