Striking a Prior Serious Felony Conviction In California

Under Penal Code section 1385, subdivision (a), the trial court has discretion to strike or vacate a prior conviction under the Three Strikes law "in furtherance of justice." However, in determining whether to dismiss a prior felony conviction, the trial court must consider whether, in light of the nature and circumstances of his present felonies and prior serious and/or violent felony convictions, 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. In People v. Philpot (2004) 122 Cal.App.4th 893, the Court explained: "Striking a prior serious felony conviction '"is an extraordinary exercise of discretion, and is very much like setting aside a judgment of conviction after trial."' Accordingly, such action is reserved for 'extraordinary' circumstances. This case, however, is far from extraordinary. Accordingly, given defendant's continuous criminal history, his parole violations, the seriousness of the present and past offenses, his seemingly dim prospects for rehabilitation, and his lack of meaningful crime-free periods, the court did not abuse its discretion in denying the Romero motion." (Id. at p. 907.)