Plea agreements contemplate changes in the law when the Legislature intended those changes to apply and such issues may be raised on appeal without a certificate of probable cause (CPC). Appellant committed several offenses when he was 17 years old and was charged with those crimes in criminal court. In May 2016, he pleaded guilty to two robberies, evading an officer, and admitted a gun use enhancement. He filed a notice of appeal and did not obtain a CPC. While his appeal was pending, Proposition 57 passed. This new law requires cases involving minors to be filed in juvenile court and a fitness hearing held before transfer to criminal court. In addition, SB 620 was enacted, granting trial courts discretion to strike gun use enhancements. On appeal defendant urged application of both new laws to his case. Held: Remanded for transfer hearing and, if necessary, a resentencing hearing. Generally, when a defendant enters into an agreed-term plea, a CPC is required to challenge the sentence because this is in essence a challenge to the validity of the plea. However, defendants may generally obtain retroactive relief from new potentially ameliorative statutes if their cases are not yet final. The latter line of authority prevails in these cases, because plea agreements are deemed to incorporate changes in the law. The California Supreme Court concluded the “inference of retroactivity” meant that Proposition 57’s transfer hearing provisions applied “to all juveniles charged directly in adult court whose judgment was not final at the time it was enacted.” (People v. Superior Court (Lara) (2018) 4 Cal.5th 299.) In addition, SB No. 620 was enacted after Penal Code section 1237.5 (the CPC requirement) and should therefore be given priority. Further, SB 620 expressly contemplated that it would have retroactive effect. Since these laws are retroactive, their changes apply to all nonfinal cases, including all preexisting plea agreements. Therefore, appellant’s issues on appeal do not concern the validity of his plea and do not require a CPC.
The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: https://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/archive/H043736.PDF