California Penal Code Section 190 - Interpretation

1. In People v. Herrera (2001) 88 Cal.App.4th 1353, the Court noted that Penal Code section 190 required a 25-years-to-life sentence for first-degree murder. ( Id. at p. 1358.) The Court further noted that the voters enacted section 190 through the initiative process. ( Id. at p. 1358.) Paragraph (4) was, in contrast, enacted by the Legislature. As a Legislative enactment, paragraph (4) could not contravene section 190. ( Id. at p. 1359, 1363.) Paragraph (4) was thus inapplicable to murder defendants serving life sentences. ( Id. at p. 1364.) The Court held that when paragraph (4) was inapplicable, the determinate term applied. ( Id. at p. 1364.) 2. In People v. Jenkins (1995) 10 Cal.4th 234, 893 P.2d 1224, the California Supreme Court stated, "Section 190 simply provides that every person convicted of murder 'shall suffer confinement in the state prison' for specified periods. The only reasonable construction of this language is that the term prescribed by section 190 establishes a 'floor,' i.e., a minimum term of imprisonment that a person convicted of murder is required to serve, and does not establish that a murderer must be sentenced under this statute to the exclusion of any other sentencing scheme." ( People v. Jenkins, supra, 10 Cal.4th at p. 245, fn. 7.)