California Penal Code Section 1203.097 - Interpretation

In People v. Delgado (2006) 140 Cal.App.4th 1157, the defendant pled guilty in 2005 to four counts, including a count of corporal injury to a spouse committed in 1993. The court placed the defendant on 36 months' probation--the minimum probationary term pursuant to section 1203.097. The defendant argued at sentencing and on appeal that he could not be sentenced under section 1203.097 because the underlying offenses occurred before the 1994 effective date of the statute. the court in Delgado agreed. (People v. Delgado, supra, 140 Cal.App.4th at pp. 1162-1163.) The court reasoned that, because the law at the time the defendant committed the offenses did not require mandatory conditions of probation for offenses involving domestic violence, the application of section 1203.097 changed the legal consequences of the defendant's offenses before the statute's effective date and was applied retroactively. (People v. Delgado, supra, 140 Cal.App.4th at pp. 1164-1165.) The court also concluded that application of section 1203.097 to the offenses that occurred prior to its enactment violated the prohibition against ex post facto laws because it increased the measure of punishment. at the time the defendant committed the offenses, the length of the probationary term for a section 273.5 violation was discretionary, the only condition being that it could not exceed four years. Section 1203.097 removed the trial court's discretion and imposed a mandatory minimum term of 36 months, along with several other mandatory conditions. (People v. Delgado, supra, 140 Cal.App.4th at pp. 1166-1167.) The court observed that, "changes in sentencing rules can violate the ex post facto clause when the rules sufficiently circumscribe judicial discretion, even if the change does not automatically lead to a more onerous result than what would have occurred under the prior law." (Id. at p. 1169.)