The Court of Appeal held that, after appellant’s murder conviction was vacated under former Penal Code section 1170.95 (now 1172.6), his case should have been referred to the juvenile court for a transfer/fitness hearing under Proposition 57 because appellant was 16 years old at the time he participated in the robbery that led to the murder.

The Court of Appeal held that appellant’s admission to two prior strike convictions was invalid because the record does not reflect that appellant was informed of or expressly waived his constitutional rights to trial by jury and confrontation, and his privilege not to incriminate himself. The Court therefore vacated the judgment and remanded for correction of that error.

[Published Opinion] In an appeal following resentencing, the Court of Appeal found that the trial court abused its discretion by denying the defense a reasonable continuance in order to develop facts in support of a discovery motion under the Racial Justice Act (Pen. Code, § 745).

Because appellant proved he was not one of the assailants and specifically not the shooter by a preponderance of the evidence, and respondent articulated no other ground to affirm the murder and attempted robbery charges, the Court of Appeal held that the trial court erred in denying appellant’s Penal Code section 1485.55(b) motion for a finding of factual innocence.

The Court of Appeal reversed the order denying appellant’s motions under Penal Code sections 17, subdivision (b) and 1203.4, finding that it could not conclude based on the record that the trial court exercised its discretion impartially and with full consideration of the relevant circumstances. Specifically, the court noted that, when presented with motions to reduce and dismiss convictions, courts should consider the nature and circumstances of the offense, the defendant’s attitude toward the offense, character traits evidenced by the defendant’s behavior and demeanor, the defendant’s performance on probation, and the defendant’s post-probation conduct. But, here, the court’s consideration of appellant’s motions appeared to have been overwhelmingly influenced by its view of the vile and racist language appellant used during the offenses and in two incidents a few weeks prior to the offenses, and inferences drawn from that use of language about appellant’s character 10 years later.

The Court of Appeal held that appellant was deprived of his constitutional and statutory right to be present at his resentencing hearing where defense counsel merely told the court that appellant was not present and made no representation that appellant knew he had a right to be present or that he voluntarily waived that right. The Court further found that the error was not harmless, despite the fact that appellant bargained for a specified sentence and received the benefit of his bargain.

In a case where there was no dispute that the challenged charges arouse out of the same occurrence, the Court of Appeal held that non-forcible sodomy (Pen. Code, § 286) is a lesser included offense of forcible sodomy (Pen. Code, § 286, subd. (c)(2)(C) because forcible sodomy with a person aged 14 to 17 years old would necessarily include an act of sodomy with a person under age 18.  The Court further held that oral copulation of a person under age 18 (former Pen. Code, § 288a, subd. (b)(1), now Pen. Code, § 287, subd. (b)(1)) is a lesser included offense of forcible oral copulation of a minor aged 14 or older (former Pen. Code, § 288a, subd. (c)(2)(C), now Pen. Code, § 287, subd. (c)(2)(C)).

[Published Opinion] 40 years after appellant’s judgment for conviction for murder was final, appellant filed a motion to correct information contained in his presentencing probation report. The Court of Appeal finds that the trial court erred when it denied the motion. Trial courts have jurisdiction under Penal Code, § 1203.01, as interpreted by In re Cook (2019) 7 Cal.5th 439, to correct the record transmitted to the Department of Corrections.

The Court of Appeal found that the record did not affirmatively show that appellant’s jury trial waiver was knowing, intelligent, and voluntary. While the Court noted that the record showed appellant may have had some discussion with trial counsel prior to the jury waiver, and that trial counsel indicated to the trial court that appellant wanted to waive his right to a jury trial, the record did  not show whether the attorney ever discussed the nature of a jury trial with his client.  Nevertheless, the trial court took “no steps” to ensure appellant comprehended what a jury trial entailed, which was especially concerning considering appellant’s mental competency had been questioned at one point.

The Court of Appeal held that several counts of rape must be reversed because California lacked jurisdiction over those crimes since they occurred in a different state. Penal Code section 778a, subdivision (a) confers jurisdiction over crimes committed outside California only “if the defendant formed the requisite intent within this state and committed any act, including preparatory acts, showing that the crimes were initiated within California.” In this case, the court found that the rapes were “commenced” and completed in another state. In reaching its decision, the court rejected the A.G.’s argument that the rapes furthered the human trafficking enterprise that, which originated in California.

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