Thursday, March 24, 2005

People v. Hagedorn (Cal. Ct. App. - March 17, 2005)

Okay, Justice Ardaiz. I guess you've convinced me. It appears that California really does -- albeit inartfully -- call what David Hagedorn did in this case a crime. So I guess that I (somewhat reluctantly) agree with your holding.

But am I the only one who senses a bit of injustice here? Here's what Hagedorn did. Hagedorn did some work under a different name (Arthur Pettet) and got paid by check. The check was made out to "Arthur Pettet," of course, since that was the name that Hagedorn used when he did the work. Hagedorn cashes the check at a check-cashing store using Pettet's identification (without his consent). That's it. It's not that Hagedorn is stealing money from anyone. He's just getting paid for the work he did.

Assume that's nonetheless a crime. What's the appropriate sentence? Probation? Maybe a tiny bit of time in jail?

Try three years of prison. At least according to Judge Westra (up in Placer County), who not only refuses to let the offenses be misdemeanors, but who sentences Hagedorn to the upper term for the felony.

That seems overly harsh. Plus, what the heck is the order of restitution doing in here? Who exactly did he steal money from or harm? It was a valid check, so the check-cashing store gets paid. Hagedorn did the work, so it's not like Pettet had money stolen from him or his credit ruined. Who exactly is the victim who's harmed who's entitled to restitution here? I'm a bit baffled.