California Penal Code Section 12022.53(b)

In People v. Chambers (2002) 104 Cal.App.4th 1047, the defendant was charged with personally using a firearm pursuant to Penal Code section 12022.53, subdivision (b). Following a trial by the court, it found the defendant guilty, but failed to make any enhancement finding whatsoever. However, at sentencing, it imposed a 10-year term pursuant to the subdivision. The appellate court affirmed the trial court's imposition of the 10-year term, concluding that this was an implied finding of the truth of the allegation, thus fulfilling Penal Code section12022.53, subdivision (j)'s requirement that the allegation be "found by the trier of fact." More to the point here, Chambers said of what should be done, "A remand for an express finding would be an exaltation of form over substance." (Chambers at p. 1051.) In support, the Chambers court cited People v. Clair (1992) 2 Cal.4th 629, in which the California Supreme Court found that a trial court's imposition of a term for a prior conviction served as an implied finding by the court of the truth of the allegation of the prior, despite its failure to make an express finding on the allegation. Although Chambers acknowledged, as does the majority, the need for a prosecutor to not be "asleep at the wheel," nevertheless it recognized its power to "correct the error" of the missing express finding by affirming the sentence and not remanding the matter to the trial court for an express finding. It should be noted that the term for the enhancement in Chambers was much lengthier than that for the charged offenses. Still, the correction was deemed to be appropriate.