Statute of Limitations - a Later Complaint on the Same Charges

In Maytag v. Municipal Court (1982) 133 Cal. App. 3d 828 184 Cal. Rptr. 365, the Court of Appeal held that for statute of limitations purposes, the filing of a later complaint did not relate back to the filing date of the original complaint alleging the same charges, where the original complaint had been dismissed. (Id. at pp. 830-831.) Implicit in the holding is the notion the two complaints were not for the same "prosecution," even though they related to the same criminal violations. The Legislature was presumably aware of Maytag when it enacted sections 803 and 804 in 1985. (See People v. Overstreet (1986) 42 Cal. 3d 891, 897 231 Cal. Rptr. 213, 726 P.2d 1288 Legislature is presumed to be aware of existing decisions and to have acted in light of them.) The California Law Revision Commission comments to sections 803 and 804 also support the notion multiple prosecutions for the same acts are distinct. (See People v. Williams (1976) 16 Cal. 3d 663, 667-668 128 Cal. Rptr. 888, 547 P.2d 1000 California Law Revision Commission comments are declarative of legislative intent.) Section 803, subdivision (b) "continues the substance of former Section 802.5." (Cal. Law Revision Com. com., 50 West's Ann. Pen. Code, 803 (2000 supp.) p. 33.) The commission comment to section 803 uses the term "subsequent prosecution" when referring to language in former section 802.5 addressing "recommencing the same 'criminal action' " (Cal. Law Revision Com. com., supra, at p. 33, italics added), indicating earlier and later prosecutions are distinct, and the statute of limitations is tolled while the earlier prosecution is pending. The commission comment for section 804 notes "subdivision (d) referring to the issuance of an arrest warrant as commencing an action continues the substance of portions of former Sections 800 and 802.5 . . . ." (Cal. Law Revision Com. com., 50 West's Ann. Pen. Code 804, supra, p. 39.)