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Name: People v. Clancey
Case #: S200158
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 04/18/2013

To demonstrate that a trial court has given a valid indicated sentence rather than engaged in prohibited judicial plea bargaining, the record must reflect that the term is appropriate regardless of whether defendant pled or went to trial. Over objections of the prosecution, appellant pled guilty to all charges and enhancements alleged against him after being told he would receive a particular punishment. He was sentenced to five years in prison after the trial court struck a strike prior and an on bail enhancement. The prosecution appealed, claiming the trial court engaged in prohibited judicial plea bargaining. The Court of Appeal vacated the plea. Clancey’s petition for review was granted. Held: Affirmed in part and remanded. The trial court should refrain from giving an indicated sentence while the prosecution and defense are still discussing a potential plea agreement. The court should assure that the record is adequate to support the reasonableness of the penalty imposed. It should not bargain with the defendant regarding the sentence or attempt to induce a plea in exchange for a more lenient term–the punishment should be the same whether the defendant pleads or proceeds to trial. Contrary to the prosecution’s position, an appropriate indicated sentence may involve the striking of enhancements or a prior serious felony. In this case, the record is missing a clear statement that the indicted sentence was appropriate based on the offense and defendant’s history. Given the unclear record, as well as the prosecution’s objection to the plea, the matter must be conditionally reversed with directions to the trial court to resolve the ambiguity. The court declined to resolve which standard should govern the potential withdrawal of a plea in the event the trial court decides not to impose its indicated sentence.

Improperly calculated presentence credits must be revised and additional time added to defendant’s sentence. The trial court improperly awarded day-for-day credit, believing this would be correct after it struck appellant’s prior serious felony. In People v. Lara (2012) 54 Cal.4th 896, the court held that historical facts that disqualify a defendant from receiving accelerated credits may not be stricken. Here, defendant had been released and the defense argued against reincarceration. Without deciding whether People v. Tanner (1979) 24 Cal.3d 514, remains good law, the court directed the additional time added to appellant’s sentence.