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Name: People v. Coelho
Case #: H020689
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 6 DCA
Opinion Date: 06/05/2001
Subsequent History: Rev. den. 9/19/01

In a Three Strikes case where the defendant was charged with multiple counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a minor under 14, the jury found the defendant guilty of ten counts and found his prior “strikes” to be true. The trial court found that consecutive sentences were mandatory and imposed ten 25-years-to-life terms. Following his first appeal, the court remanded for resentencing because the trial court had misunderstood the scope of its discretion to sentence concurrently, and to give the trial court an opportunity to make a record to permit a reviewing court to determine the factual and legal bases for any consecutive sentence. On remand, the trial court determined that it had discretion over only two acts committed on the same date, March 2. In this appeal, appellant argued that the trial court erred when it concluded that it only had discretion over two counts. Appellant argued that it was not possible to determine which of the numerous unlawful acts were used to convict him of the ten counts charged. The appellate court here agreed. The record neither clearly reveals what a reasonable jury could have found, nor establish that it could only have based two of its convictions on the acts which occurred on March 2. There was ambiguity concerning the bases for six of the convictions, and all of them could have been based on acts committed on March 2. Because this view would have afforded the most sentencing discretion, the court could have exercised its discretion to impose concurrent sentences on additional counts. However, the court determined that remand would be an idle and pointless exercise since the trial court had twice imposed 10 consecutive sentences, and indicated that it would impose them even if some were not necessary.