Wednesday, January 07, 2015

People v. Jalalipour (Cal. Ct. App. - Jan. 7, 2015)

Here's a crime that doesn't fill up a plethora of pages in the California Appellate Reports:  a state criminal prosecution of the owner of twelve Subway restaurants for underpaying state sales tax revenue.

Notwithstanding the prosecution, white collar criminals everywhere should be happy at the underlying events.  Sure, the store owner stole nearly $1.4 million from California.  Take one-tenth of one percent of that from a dude on the street and you're looking at serious prison time.  But here, the trial court lets defendant plead guilty to a misdemeanor -- although the prosecution, which had filed felony charges, opposes such relief -- because if he pleads guilty to a felony, under his contract with Subway, he may well lose his Subway stores.

God forbid we should deprive you of the instrumentality of your crimes, eh?

Fear not, though.  Although the Court of Appeal reverses the trial court's decision in this regard -- over the dissent of Justice Thompson -- all that's really at stake here is timing.  The trial court can permissibly drop the charge to a misdemeanor before the prelim.  Or it can drop the charge to a misdemeanor after the defendant has pled guilty, and can even do so with an indicated sentence.  The only thing it can't do (the thing that it did here) is drop it after the prelim and before the plea.

No problem.  We'll just do the thing over.  Take the plea, drop it down, and then sentence the thief of $1.7 million to three years of probation.

Problem solved.