Earlier this year, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a California violation of probation case, discussing whether the defendant was entitled to the benefit of Senate Bill 620, even though the time to appeal his underlying conviction had passed. Ultimately, the court concluded that the defendant was entitled to a resentencing, based on the language of SB 620 and the holding in the recent case, People v. McKenzie.
The Facts of the Case
The details of the allegations leading to the defendant’s arrest and conviction are not particularly relevant to this post-conviction matter. However, briefly, according to the court’s opinion, the defendant plead guilty to robbery and felony assault. In addition, the defendant admitted to using a firearm, resulting in a firearm enhancement. The agreement was that the defendant would be sentenced to 10 years in jail, but it would be suspended in favor of placing the defendant on probation.
The following year, the defendant was arrested for violating his probation. The judge then imposed the 10-year suspended sentence. The defendant appealed, arguing that he was entitled to a hearing in which he could ask the trial judge to strike the firearms enhancement.
Initially, the court resolved the case against the defendant; however, after the states’ high court issued its opinion in People v. McKenzie, the case was sent back to the court for reconsideration. In People v. McKenzie, the court held that defendants could take advantage of statutory amendments that could affect their sentence, even if they do not appeal their initial sentence in a timely manner. Essentially, the holding allows defendants on probation to appeal their initial sentence under various statutes that may have helped a defendant avoid an enhancement at the time of the initial sentencing.
In light of the McKenzie case, the court of appeals agreed that the defendant was entitled to the retroactive benefit of SB 620. In this case, the issue is whether the defendant’s sentence of probation was “final,” under the law, because SB 620 only applies to sentences that are not final. Thus, to simplify the court’s holding, it held that, for the purposes of SB 620, a defendant’s sentence is not final if they are put on probation or if their sentence is suspended in favor of probation. This gives defendants the ability to challenge their original sentence, even if the window for filing an appeal has passed.
Are You Serving a Lengthy Sentence Based on a Firearms Enhancement?
If you or a loved one is currently incarcerated, serving a sentence based in part on a California firearm enhancement, reach out to Barhoma Law. Attorney Matthew Barhoma is a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney with extensive experience handling all types of California post-conviction cases and appellate matters. He has successfully obtained resentencing for many of his clients, under SB 620 and other statutory amendments. You do not need to accept your sentence as a guaranteed reality; call Barhoma Law to see what we can do to help. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case with Attorney Barhoma, call 213-800-7664 today.