Can a defendant be subjected to multiple punishment under section 654 of the Criminal Code?

California, United States of America


The following excerpt is from People v. Murphy, B303415 (Cal. App. 2020):

"Whether a defendant may be subjected to multiple punishment under section 654 requires a two-step inquiry, because the statutory reference to an 'act or omission' may include not only a discrete physical act but also a course of conduct encompassing several acts pursued with a single objective. [Citations.] We first consider if the different crimes were completed by a 'single physical act.' [Citation.] If so, the defendant may not be punished more than once for that act. Only if we conclude that the case involves more than a single acti.e., a course of conductdo we then consider whether that course of conduct reflects a single 'intent and objective' or multiple intents and objectives. [Citations.]" (People v. Corpening (2016) 2 Cal.5th 307, 311.)

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