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Name: People v. Cruz
Case #: F062189
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 07/03/2012

Equal protection does not entitle defendants sentenced before October 1, 2011, but whose convictions were not yet final on appeal by that date, to resentencing under the prospective-only Realignment Legislation, Penal Code section 1170, subdivision (h)(6). A jury convicted Cruz of transporting methamphetamine and possession of methamphetamine for sale. Allegations of prior narcotic convictions were stricken in return for Cruz’ agreement for immediate sentencing. In March, 2011, he was sentenced to state prison for a term of four years. The offenses for which he received a prison sentence would, after Realignment, require a county jail sentence. He argued that under equal protection concepts he was entitled to the benefits of Realignment. Affirmed. Those inmates sentenced before and after October 1, 2011 constitute two similarly situated classes who are treated differently. The concept requires like treatment, but not absolute equality. The sentencing changes do not directly affect a defendant’s fundamental interest in liberty because his statutorily prescribed sentence is no greater under the law as it existed prior to the operative date of Realignment. There are legitimate state interests involved and the prospective-only changes are necessary to further Realignment’s purpose. It would overwhelm trial court resources to afford a resentencing hearing to the large number of inmates who could make this claim. The distinction maintains the integrity of sentences that were valid when imposed.