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Name: People v. Crockett
Case #: C074342
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 02/19/2015
Subsequent History: Review granted 5/13/2015: S225198

In deciding Three Strikes Reform Act (Prop. 36) resentencing petition, defendant’s history of recidivism is an insufficient basis to deny relief unless defendant’s priors give rise to a valid concern about public safety that is presently relevant to support a finding of unreasonable risk of danger. In 2009 Crockett was sentenced to a life three strikes term after suffering convictions for corporal injury to a spouse, false imprisonment, and assault by means of force likely to inflict great bodily injury. After Proposition 36 passed in 2012, he filed a petition seeking to reduce his sentence. The trial court found Crockett’s release posed an unreasonable risk of danger to public safety. Crockett appealed. Held: Affirmed. In a Proposition 36 resentencing hearing, the prosecution bears the burden of proving that a defendant eligible for resentencing presents an unreasonable risk of danger to public safety. A trial court’s ruling is reviewed for abuse of discretion. A history of prior convictions and violations of itself is insufficient to support a court’s unreasonable risk of danger finding, because the voters created a procedure whereby a defendant may seek mitigation of his punishment notwithstanding his criminal history. A defendant’s priors “that give rise to a valid concern about a danger to public safety,” combined “with evidence that this concern is presently relevant” provide a proper basis for the trial court to deny relief. There was no abuse of discretion here.

The definition of “unreasonable risk of danger to public safety” contained in Proposition 47 does not apply retroactively to this case. Proposition 47 contains a provision that defines “unreasonable risk to public safety” “as used throughout this Code” as being the commission of a new violent felony. Under In re Estrada (1965) 63 Cal.2d 740, a reduction in punishment applies retroactively to cases not yet final on appeal absent a savings clause which reflects an intent of prospective application. But this applies only “where there is a reduction of a particular punishment for a particular crime” not “a generally applicable ameliorative measure.”