Trial court was required to determine validity of petitioner’s prior prison term enhancements at the time of his Proposition 47 resentencing and should not have imposed three of the enhancements where the underlying felonies were reduced to misdemeanors. In 2012, Baldwin was convicted of felony petty theft with theft priors and other offenses. He was sentenced to prison for three years plus six consecutive one-year enhancements for prior prison terms (Pen. Code, § 667.5, subd. (b)). In 2015, Baldwin filed a Proposition 47 petition to resentence the felony theft as a misdemeanor and dismiss four of the enhancements as no longer valid after three of the underlying felonies were reduced to misdemeanors. The court declined to dismiss the enhancements, he appealed, and the Court of Appeal affirmed. The Supreme Court granted review and subsequently transferred the matter back to the appellate court for reconsideration in light of People v. Buycks (2018) 5 Cal.5th 857. Held: Reversed and remanded. Proposition 47 reduced most possessory drug offenses and thefts of property valued at less than $950 to straight misdemeanors and created a process for persons currently serving felony sentences for those offenses to petition for resentencing. A defendant who successfully petitions for resentencing on a current Proposition 47 eligible conviction may at the time of resentencing challenge a felony-based enhancement contained in the same judgment because the prior felony conviction on which it was based has since been reduced to a misdemeanor. (Buycks, supra, 5 Cal.5th at 879.) When a felony conviction underlying a section 667.5, subdivision (b) enhancement is reduced to a misdemeanor, an element of the enhancement is negated and the enhancement may not be imposed. In this case, Baldwin’s 1998 and 2000 convictions for drug possession and his 2003 conviction for passing a fictitious check were successfully reduced to misdemeanors. Therefore, they are no longer eligible for use as section 667.5, subdivision (b) enhancements.
The felony underlying petitioner’s remaining prior prison term enhancement is no longer eligible for use as a section 667.5, subdivision (b) enhancement under the “washout rule,” based on a broad interpretation of Proposition 47. Baldwin argued that the enhancement for his 1995 conviction should also be stricken because, if his 1998, 2000, and 2003 convictions were stricken, he would be deemed to have remained free of prison custody and felony convictions for five years thereafter. A prior felony conviction “washes out,” and therefore no additional term may be imposed under section 667.5, subdivision (b), when a defendant remained free of both the commission of an offense resulting in a felony conviction and prison custody for a period of five years. Here, Baldwin did not remain free from prison custody. The court noted the purpose of section 667.5, subdivision (b) could not be reconciled with the ameliorative focus of Proposition 47, declining to adopt the Fifth District’s reasoning in People v. Warren (2018) 24 Cal.App.5th 899 and People v. Kelly (2018) 28 Cal.App.5th 886 that the voters’ intent to relieve successful Proposition 47 petitioners of the effects of former felony convictions prevailed over the literal terms of the washout provision. However, the court ultimately accepted the Fifth District’s conclusion that the Supreme Court’s broad interpretation of Proposition 47 indicates that it should likewise apply to mitigate the effects of the washout rule.
The full resentencing rule applies. Upon remand for resentencing, a full resentencing as to all counts is appropriate so the trial court can exercise its sentencing discretion in light of the changed circumstances. (Buycks, supra, 5 Cal.5th at 893.) Baldwin is therefore entitled to plenary resentencing, subject only to the requirement that he may not receive an aggregate sentence greater than that previously imposed.
The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: https://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/archive/A147588M.PDF