California Penal Code Section 667 - Interpretation

In People v. Lawrence (2000) 24 Cal. 4th at pages 225-234, the Supreme Court interpreted Penal Code section 667, subdivision (c)(6), which requires consecutive sentences for Three Strikes defendants when there are current serious or violent felony offenses which were not committed on the same occasion and did not arise from the same set of operative facts. The court found that while the term "committed on the same occasion" generally refers to a close temporal and spatial proximity between two or more events, other factors must be considered as well in making the ultimate determination on this issue. For example, the court noted that factors to be considered include but are not limited to whether the offenses were committed simultaneously against the same group of victims, whether the criminal activity was interrupted, whether there was any event that could be considered to separate one event from another event, and whether the elements of one offense have been satisfied in a manner to render that offense completed before the commission of further criminal acts constituting additional and separately chargeable crimes. (24 Cal. 4th at pp. 226-229, 233.) The court further found that the term "same set of operative facts" means that the two or more separate offenses at issue must share common acts or criminal conduct that serves to establish the elements of each offense. The court specifically noted that different operative facts could well be involved in a situation where the elements of one offense were completed before the commission of other criminal acts that constituted the elements of the other separately chargeable offense or offenses, even where the different offenses occurred close in proximity and in time. ( Id. at p. 233.) The court approved the approach taken by the reviewing court in People v. Durant (1999) 68 Cal. App. 4th 1393, 1396-1406 81 Cal. Rptr. 2d 207, which held that distinct and completed crimes were not committed on the same occasion and did not arise from the same set of operative facts where one of the crimes was completed, because all of its elements were satisfied, before the other crime was committed, even though all of the crimes were committed at the same general location and occurred in succession.