Finding that the term “dangerous drugs” was unconstitutionally vague, the Court of Appeal replaced that term with “controlled substances” in the probation condition that ordered appellant “not to use, own, possess, or traffic in narcotics or dangerous drugs or knowingly associate with anyone who does.” The court also held that the probation condition requiring appellant to “submit to education, counseling, treatments or test as directed by [his] probation officer” violated the separation of powers doctrine by delegating judicial authority to the probation department; thus, the court struck the condition and remanded the matter. Finally, the court held that appellant did not need a certificate of probable cause to challenge any of his probation conditions, although his plea form included a general appeal waiver from his conviction.

The Court of Appeal remanded for resentencing in light of recent amendments (Senate Bill No. 567 (2021-2022 Reg. Sess.) to Penal Code section 1170, which limited the court’s ability to impose a sentence exceeding the middle term and created a presumption in favor of the low term where the defendant experienced psychological, physical, or childhood trauma and those factors contributed to the commission of the offense.

The Court of Appeal remanded for resentencing in light of recent amendments (Senate Bill No. 567 (2021-2022 Reg. Sess.) to Penal Code section 1170, which limited the court’s ability to impose a sentence exceeding the middle term and created a presumption in favor of the low term where the defendant experienced psychological, physical, or childhood trauma and those factors contributed to the commission of the offense.

Because the trial court partially denied appellant’s Penal Code section 1172.1 resentencing petition before the enactment of Assembly Bill 1540, which requires the court to apply any changes in law that reduce sentences and created a presumption in favor of resentencing when the request comes from the CDCR, the Court of Appeal remanded the matter for further proceedings in compliance with the amended legislation.

In A162143, the Court of Appeal remanded for resentencing because the record was, at best, unclear whether the trial court was aware that it had the discretion to strike a firearm enhancement and imposed in its place a lesser enhancement under Penal Code section 12022.53. Upon remand, the Court of Appeal held that appellant would be entitled to the benefit of recently enacted Senate Bill No. 81 (2021–2022 Reg. Sess.), which amended Penal Code section 1385 “to specify factors that the trial court must consider when deciding whether to strike enhancements from a defendant’s sentence in the interest of justice.” In A161796, the Court of Appeal held that the one-year prior prison term enhancement under Penal Code 667.5, subdivision (b) must be stricken because it was not for a sexually violent offense.

In accordance with Penal Code section 1202.45, subdivision (a), which requires a sentencing court to assess a parole revocation fine “[i]n every case where a person is convicted of a crime and his or her sentence includes a period of parole,” the Court of Appeal struck the imposition of a parole revocation fine because appellant was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.

In light of Assembly Bill No. 177, which eliminated certain fees in criminal cases and rendered the unpaid balance of any such fees unenforceable and uncollectible, the Court of Appeal vacated the trial court’s imposition of interest pursuant to former Penal Code section 1203.1, subdivision (l) and collection cost fees pursuant to former Penal Code section 1214.5.

In a case in which appellant was convicted of, among other things, driving under the influence of alcohol and second-degree implied malice murder, the Court of Appeal held that substantial evidence did not support the jury’s true findings under Penal Code section 12022.7, subdivision (b) that two of the victims were rendered “comatose due to brain injury before they died.” In reaching this conclusion, the Court noted that the statute does not define the term “comatose,” but based on its ordinary usage, the Court concluded “more than a fleeting and unsubstantiated state [of unconsciousness] is anticipated.” However, here, no one testified that the victims were “comatose” before they died, the expert witness did not opine as to how long the victims survived their injuries, and most of the first responders testified that the victims were already dead when they arrived.  

In this appeal from a WIC section 366.26 hearing, appellant argued the Department failed to conduct an adequate ICWA inquiry. The Department conceded there were “inadvertent omissions in the inquiry.” The Court agreed with the parties and conditionally reversed the order terminating parental rights to ensure ICWA compliance.

In light of Senate Bill 483 (2021-2022 Reg. Sess.), the Court of Appeal found appellant’s one-year prior prison term enhancement was invalid and remanded the case for the trial court to resentence appellant and determine whether his total sentence must be reduced.

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