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Name: People v. Butler (2023) 89 Cal.App.5th 953
Case #: E078235
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 03/28/2023

In assessing whether error under Senate Bill No. 567 is prejudicial, the reviewing court must take a two-step approach, first applying Chapman and then Watson. In 2021, a trial court sentenced defendant to the upper term on one count of attempted voluntary manslaughter, among other offenses, and the upper term on a personal use firearm enhancement. The court noted five circumstances in aggravation, and one factor in mitigation. Defendant appealed. Held: Reversed. The parties agreed none of the aggravating factors used to impose the upper term were properly proved in this case, as now required by SB 567. In analyzing whether the error was prejudicial, the Court of Appeal adopted the standard in People v. Lopez (2022) 78 Cal.App.5th 459. This is a two-step approach. The first question is whether a jury would have found true all of the aggravating factors under the Chapman standard. If not, the court then asks under Watson whether it is reasonably probable that the trial court would have imposed a shorter sentence if the trial court had relied only on factors that the reviewing court is convinced beyond a reasonable doubt would have been found by a jury beyond a reasonable doubt. Applying this framework, the Court of Appeal reversed for resentencing. On remand, defendant is entitled to a full resentencing.