16 Cal.4th 90 (Cal. 1997) Cited 123 times
Noting that "the 'shall'/'may' dichotomy . . . is not a fixed rule of statutory construction. Moreover, unlike some codes that expressly define 'shall' as mandatory and 'may' as permissive, the Penal Code provides only that '[w]ords and phrases must be construed according to the context and the approved usage of the language . . . .' (§ 7, subd. 16.)."