The Williamson Rule

In In re Williamson (1954) 43 Cal.2d 651, the California Supreme Court held: "'It is the general rule that where the general statute standing alone would include the same matter as the special act, and thus conflict with it, the special act will be considered as an exception to the general statute whether it was passed before or after such general enactment.'" (Williamson, supra, 43 Cal.2d at p. 654, quoting People v. Breyer (1934) 139 Cal.App. 547, 550 34 P.2d 1065.) The general and special statutes must be construed to carry out the legislative objective. (Williamson, supra, 43 Cal.2d at p. 655.) The Williamson rule is further explained in People v. Murphy (2011) 52 Cal.4th 81, 86: "Under the Williamson rule, if a general statute includes the same conduct as a special statute, the court infers that the Legislature intended that conduct to be prosecuted exclusively under the special statute. In effect, the special statute is interpreted as creating an exception to the general statute for conduct that otherwise could be prosecuted under either statute. (Ibid.) 'The rule is not one of constitutional or statutory mandate, but serves as an aid to judicial interpretation when two statutes conflict.' (People v. Walker (2002) 29 Cal.4th 577, 586.) 'The doctrine that a specific statute precludes any prosecution under a general statute is a rule designed to ascertain and carry out legislative intent.'" (Quoting People v. Jenkins (1980) 28 Cal.3d 494, 505-506; accord, People v. Walker, supra, 29 Cal.4th at pp. 585-586.) In Williamson, the defendant was charged with conspiring to act as a contractor without a license in violation of the general conspiracy statute, section 182, subdivision (a)(1). The charged conspiracy was punishable as a misdemeanor or as a felony under section 182. However, Business and Professions Code section 7030 specifically provided that conspiring to act as a contractor without a license was a misdemeanor. The California Supreme Court held the specific statute controlled over the general one because, "To conclude that the punishment for the violation of section 7030 of the Business and Professions Code is stated in section 182 of the Penal Code, which deals with conspiracies in general, would be inconsistent with the designation of the particular conspiracy as a misdemeanor." (Williamson, supra, 43 Cal.2d at p. 655; see People v. McCall (2013) 214 Cal.App.4th 1006, 1012-1013 154 Cal. Rptr. 3d 471.)