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Name: People v. Arias
Case #: F068671
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 09/08/2015

Juvenile adjudication that qualifies as a strike also qualifies as a conviction for purposes of Proposition 36 resentencing eligibility. In 1996, Arias pleaded guilty to possession of heroin and possession of heroin for sale (Health & Saf. Code, §§ 11350, 11351) and admitted two prior strikes: robbery (Pen. Code, § 212.5) and a juvenile adjudication for second degree murder (Pen. Code, § 187). He was sentenced to 26 years to life under the Three Strikes law. After the Three Strikes Reform Act (Prop. 36) passed, Arias petitioned for resentencing. The court denied his petition, reasoning that Arias was ineligible due to his juvenile adjudication for murder. Arias appealed. Held: Affirmed. Individuals with certain prior felony “convictions” (including homicide) are ineligible for resentencing under the Reform Act even if the current felony conviction is not serious or violent. (See Pen. Code, § 1170.126, subd. (e)(3).) Arias argued that his juvenile adjudication for second degree murder did not qualify as a “conviction” under the Reform Act and that he remained eligible for resentencing because Welfare and Institutions Code section 203 precludes juvenile adjudications from being deemed a conviction for any purpose. The Court of Appeal found this argument unpersuasive because the Three Strikes law explicitly states that a juvenile adjudication can constitute a serious and/or violent felony “conviction” under certain circumstances. (See Pen. Code, §§ 667, subd. (d)(3), 1170.12, subd. (b)(3).) The court reasoned that the term “conviction” in the Reform Act must be given a similar construction to effectuate the electorate’s intent and to avoid absurd results.