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Name: People v. Button
Case #: D070341
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 08/17/2017

Defendant’s admission of serious felony allegation had no “direct penal consequence” and thus did not trigger Boykin-Tahl admonishments. Defendant was accused of punching his ex-fiancé in the face. During trial, the parties stipulated that defendant personally inflicted great bodily injury on the victim within the meaning of Penal Code section 1192.7(c)(8), which contains a list of serious felonies. The jury convicted defendant of corporal injury to a spouse or roommate (Pen. Code, § 273.5, subd. (a)) and assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury (Pen. Code, § 245, subd. (a)(4)), and found the serious felony allegations true as to both counts. On appeal, defendant argued the jury’s true findings on the serious felony allegations should be reversed because the trial court did not advise him of his Boykin-Tahl rights when he entered the stipulation. Held: Affirmed. When entering a plea in a criminal case, a defendant must be advised of his constitutional rights and of the direct penal consequences of the conviction. (Boykin v. Alabama (1969) 395 U.S. 238.) In order to trigger Boykin-Tahl requirements, a stipulation must have “definite penal consequences.” (People v. Cross (2015) 61 Cal.4th 164, 171.) A stipulation has “definite penal consequences” if it establishes every fact necessary to expose a defendant to increased punishment in the case in which the allegation is admitted. Here, the stipulation defendant entered had the effect of prequalifying defendant’s crime as a serious felony, which would subject defendant to enhanced penalties under the Three Strikes law if he is convicted of another serious felony in the future—an event which may or may not occur. Unlike a prior conviction admission that automatically subjects a defendant to an increased sentence in the same case (In re Yurko (1974) 10 Cal.3d 857), the stipulation here had no immediate penal consequence. As a result, no Boykin-Tahl advisements were required.

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: