Pleading Guilty to a Maximum Term

In People v. Young (2000) 77 Cal.App.4th 827, the court addressed the issue of a defendant who had pled guilty to a maximum term, rather than a specific negotiated term. There, the defendant pled no contest to three felony counts and admitted three strike convictions and two prison term priors in exchange for a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in state prison and the opportunity to request that the trial court strike one or more of the prior convictions. ( Id. at pp. 829-830.) At sentencing the court refused to strike any of the prior conviction allegations, and imposed the agreed-upon maximum term of 25 years to life. The defendant appealed, claiming his sentence constituted cruel and unusual punishment, but he did not obtain a certificate of probable cause. ( Id. at p. 830.) On appeal, Young maintained that section 1237.5 did not apply because he was challenging the constitutionality of the maximum sentence to which he agreed, whereas the Panizzon defendant challenged the constitutionality of the specific sentence to which he agreed. ( Young, supra, at p. 832.) The Court of Appeal (Third District) rejected the argument, holding that by attacking the maximum term, the defendant sought to void a material term of the agreement to which both parties agreed to abide, and therefore he was "'in substance, attacking the validity of the plea.'" ( Id. at pp. 832, 834.)