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Name: People v. Barao
Case #: C066524
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 08/05/2013

Trial court properly refused to accept plea in a case involving serious felonies because plea bargains in such cases are prohibited by Penal Code section 1192.7 and no exception to this rule applied. Barao was initially charged with committing a murder during a robbery, gun use, and other serious offenses. Prior to trial the prosecution and defense presented a plea agreement to the court—the information would be amended and Barao would plead guilty to voluntary manslaughter and other offenses, enhancements, and priors, and be sentenced to 41 years. The trial court refused to accept the plea or approve amending the information. After he was convicted of second degree murder, gun use, and other offenses, Barao was sentenced to 75 years to life. One issue on appeal challenged the trial court’s refusal to accept the plea. Held: Affirmed. Section 1192.7, subdivision (a) prohibited the parties from resolving this case via a plea bargain. There are three exceptions to the prohibition against plea bargaining in section 1192.7: (1) there is insufficient evidence to prove the prosecution’s case; (2) testimony of a material witness cannot be obtained; or (3) the plea will not result in a substantial change in sentence. None of these exceptions applied here. There was evidence appellant exited a car, stood outside the driver’s side window and shot the driver in the head without provocation. The sentence imposed—75 years to life—is much greater than the 41 years provided in the plea. There was no indication a material witness was unavailable. Further, the trial court did not abuse its discretion by denying the motion to amend the information—since the plea bargain was prohibited, the motion to amend was moot.