California v. Superior Court of San Diego County (Jesus Romero, Real Party in Interest)

917 P.2d 628 (1996)

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California v. Superior Court of San Diego County (Jesus Romero, Real Party in Interest)

California Supreme Court
917 P.2d 628 (1996)

  • Written by Liz Nakamura, JD

Facts

Jesus Romero (defendant) was charged with felony possession of a controlled substance. The information filed by the district attorney (plaintiff) alleged that Romero had been convicted of two prior serious felonies, which subjected Romero to a life sentence under California’s three-strikes law. Romero pled not guilty. At the sentencing hearing, partially in exchange for Romero entering a guilty plea, the superior court (defendant), California’s trial-level court, struck Romero’s prior-felony-conviction allegations, thereby allowing the court to sentence Romero without applying the three-strikes law. The superior court imposed a sentence of six years, the top end of the range for Romero’s current felony charge. The district attorney appealed and sought a writ of mandate requiring the superior court to resentence Romero under the three-strikes law, arguing that the superior court could not strike prior-felony-conviction allegations in a three-strikes case absent a motion by the prosecution. The appellate court agreed and reversed, holding that the superior court could not modify sentencing in a three-strikes case on the court’s own motion. The superior court appealed to the California Supreme Court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Werdegar, J.)

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