Is 25 Years-To-Life Enhancement Cruel and Unusual Punishment ?
In People v. Martinez (1999) 76 Cal.App.4th 489, the defendant was an adult who had no significant criminal record, and who even presented some evidence that the victim had provoked him into the shooting, by ejecting him from a store while the defendant's former girlfriend looked on.
The court acknowledged the presence of some provocation, but found it "insignificant in comparison to appellant's response," noting the victim "might easily have been killed." ( Martinez, supra, 76 Cal.App.4th at pp. 496-497.)
The mandatory 25 years to life sentence was therefore ruled not to be "grossly disproportionate in light of the nature of the offense and the nature of the offender." ( Id. at p. 497) In People v. Martinez (1999) the Court of Appeal rejected a cruel and unusual punishment challenge to this enhancement in a case where the defendant used a gun in an attempted murder.
The defendant argued that imposing a 25-years-to-life enhancement was not warranted where the victim recovered from a single gunshot wound.
He contended that the statute prevented the trial court from reducing the sentence for mitigating circumstances. But the court stated:
"This does not render the statute unconstitutionally excessive. Lines must be drawn somewhere, and the Legislature has reasonably drawn the line at great bodily injury." ( People v. Martinez, supra, 76 Cal.App.4th at p. 495.)