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Name: People v. Acosta
Case #: B263849
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 6
Opinion Date: 05/31/2016
Subsequent History: Review granted 8/17/2016: S235773
Summary

After granting defendant Proposition 47 relief in three separate cases with an aggregate sentence, trial court had authority to reimpose prior prison term enhancements (Pen. Code, § 667.5, subd. (b)) where one felony remained. At Acosta’s sentencing for convictions arising from three different felony cases, the court imposed six one-year prison prior enhancements. The trial court specifically attached the enhancements to Acosta’s felony drug possession conviction in one of the cases and dismissed the six prison prior enhancements as to the two other cases involving felony petty theft with a prior and felony resisting arrest, reasoning that the enhancements could only be imposed once to increase the aggregate sentence. Thereafter Proposition 47 passed. Acosta’s drug possession and petty theft with a prior convictions were reduced to misdemeanors. At his resentencing, the court imposed the prison priors in the resisting case because it remained a felony. Acosta appealed, arguing that the trial court did not have the authority to resurrect the prison priors that attached to the resisting case because the court had previously dismissed them. Held: Affirmed. The trial court’s dismissal of the prison priors was not a true dismissal. It was merely a recognition that the prison priors could only be imposed once to increase the aggregate sentence for all three cases. When Acosta was resentenced “the enhancements did not simply vanish by legal legerdemain. They remained available for sentencing purposes because they had been imposed on the aggregate sentence and were not attached to a particular count or case.”

Defendant’s prison prior enhancements should not be stricken even though the felony convictions underlying three of them were reduced to misdemeanors pursuant to Proposition 47. Three of Acosta’s felony convictions underlying three of the prison priors were also reduced to misdemeanors pursuant to Proposition 47. On appeal, Acosta argued that the trial court erred by refusing to strike those prison prior enhancements. The Court of Appeal disagreed. Although section 1170.18, subdivision (k) states that “Any felony conviction that is . . . designated a misdemeanor . . . shall be considered a misdemeanor for all purposes,” Proposition 47 nowhere mentions that this would affect prior prison term enhancements. “Crediting appellant’s contention would be a windfall beyond the imagination of the drafters of Proposition 47. We certainly cannot impute such knowledge to the electorate since there is no mention of it in Proposition 47. Indelible erasure of such for all time for subsequent felonies would be an extreme and unreasonable ‘gift’ to a recidivist.”

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/B263849.PDF