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People v. Garcia
California Supreme Court
976 P.2d 831 (1999)
When Jerry Garcia (defendant) burglarized two homes in 1996, he already had a lengthy criminal record, including five prior felonies for burglary and three prison terms. Garcia first served time for receiving stolen property, followed by a second term for heroin possession. In 1991, Garcia was convicted for five burglaries committed during a short crime spree, resulting in a third prison term. In 1995, California enacted a “Three Strikes” law that imposes a triple 25-year minimum sentence for a third serious felony. In 1996, Garcia burglarized two more homes, dropped his wallet at one, and was caught bicycling away from the other. At the sentencing hearing, the judge reviewed Garcia’s record, and the two burglary victims described the impact of the crimes. Garcia’s girlfriend described his difficult childhood and heroin addiction by age 12. Noting that Garcia had cooperated with police and had no record of violence, the judge sentenced Garcia to 25 years to life under the Three Strikes law plus a consecutive five-year repeat-offender enhancement for the first burglary, but not the second. Instead, the judge exercised his discretion to strike all Garcia’s prior conviction allegations and sentenced Garcia to 16 months for that burglary, consecutive to the 30-year term, totaling from 31 years and four months to life in prison. The state attorney general appealed, arguing that the court could not strike the prior conviction allegations in sentencing as to one burglary but not the other.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Chin, J.)
Dissent (Brown, J.)
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