California Penal Code Section 1385 - Case Laws Example
Section 1385 provides, in relevant part, "The judge or magistrate may, ... in furtherance of justice, order an action to be dismissed." ( 1385, subd. (a).) In People v. Superior Court (Romero) (1996) 13 Cal. 4th at pp. 529-530, the California Supreme Court concluded that section 1385, subdivision (a) "permits a court acting on its own motion to strike prior felony conviction allegations in cases brought under the Three Strikes law." But although "a defendant has no right to make a motion, and the trial court has no obligation to make a ruling, under section 1385," a defendant "does have the right to 'invite the court to exercise its power by an application to strike a count or allegation of an accusatory pleading, and the court must consider evidence offered by the defendant in support of his assertion that the dismissal would be in furtherance of justice.'" (People v. Carmony (2004) 33 Cal.4th 367, 375 (Carmony.)
In People v. Williams (1998) 17 Cal.4th 148, the California Supreme Court set forth the factors relevant to the determination of whether to strike a strike:
"In ruling whether to strike or vacate a prior serious and/or violent felony conviction allegation or finding under the Three Strikes law, on its own motion, 'in furtherance of justice' pursuant to section 1385, subd. (a), or in reviewing such a ruling, the court in question must consider whether, in light of the nature and circumstances of his present felonies and prior serious and/or violent felony convictions, and the particulars of his background, character, and prospects, the defendant may be deemed outside the scheme's spirit, in whole or in part, and hence should be treated as though he had not previously been convicted of one or more serious and/or violent felonies." (Id. at p. 161.)
A superior court's determination not to strike a strike is reviewable for abuse of discretion. (Carmony, supra, 33 Cal.4th at p. 376.)
"In conducting this review, we are guided by two fundamental precepts. First, '"the burden is on the party attacking the sentence to clearly show that the sentencing decision was irrational or arbitrary. In the absence of such a showing, the trial court is presumed to have acted to achieve the legitimate sentencing objectives, and its discretionary determination to impose a particular sentence will not be set aside on review."' Second, a '"decision will not be reversed merely because reasonable people might disagree. 'An appellate tribunal is neither authorized nor warranted in substituting its judgment for the judgment of the trial judge.'"' Taken together, these precepts establish that a trial court does not abuse its discretion unless its decision is so irrational or arbitrary that no reasonable person could agree with it." (Id. at pp. 376-377.)
Thus, "'it is not enough to show that reasonable people might disagree about whether to strike one or more' prior conviction allegations.... Because the circumstances must be 'extraordinary ... by which a career criminal can be deemed to fall outside the spirit of the very scheme within which he squarely falls once he commits a strike as part of a long and continuous criminal record, the continuation of which the law was meant to attack' citation, the circumstances where no reasonable people could disagree that the criminal falls outside the spirit of the three strikes scheme must be even more extraordinary.
Of course, in such an extraordinary case--where the relevant factors described in Williams, supra, 17 Cal.4th at p. 161, manifestly support the striking of a prior conviction and no reasonable minds could differ--the failure to strike would constitute an abuse of discretion." (Carmony, supra, 33 Cal.4th at p. 378.)