Three Strikes Petty Theft Example Case

In People v. Bishop (1997) 56 Cal.App.4th 1245, Bishop was convicted of petty theft with a prior and was found to have sustained three prior strike convictions. Despite several convictions between the strike offenses and the current offense, the trial court dismissed two of Bishop's strikes and sentenced him to 12 years in state prison as a one-strike offender. The trial court noted that the strikes were remote in time (17 to 20 years old), the current offense was nonviolent, and the penalty of 12 years would keep Bishop in prison for a significant period of time. (Id. at pp. 1247-1249.) The Court of Appeal affirmed, commenting: "Bishop is not a worthy member of society. . . . While the People and perhaps even this court may be of the opinion that Bishop appears undeserving of leniency, the paramount consideration is not what the prosecution, defense or appellate court might conclude. Rather, what counts is what the trial court in this case concluded, as expressed by the reasons it stated under Penal Code section 1385, subdivision (a). On this record, we cannot say that the trial court's decision to dismiss two of Bishop's strikes in furtherance of justice constituted an abuse of discretion." (Bishop, at p. 1251.) The appellate court upheld the trial court's decision to dismiss two of three strikes where all three crimes (robberies) were committed 17 to 20 years before the defendant's current offense of petty theft with a prior theft-related offense ( 666). Upholding a sentence of 12 years, the Court of Appeal ruled that it could not "say that the trial court's decision . . . constituted an abuse of discretion" since "the nature and timing of a defendant's crimes may also operate as mitigation, such as in this case where the present crime is a petty theft and the prior violent offenses are remote." (56 Cal.App.4th at p. 1251.)