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Name: People v. Cuevas
Case #: S147510
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 07/10/2008
Subsequent History: Rehearing denied

When the sentence imposed is a result of a negotiated plea agreement, an appellate claim of sentencing error resulting from a Penal Code section 654 violation is a challenge to the plea requiring issuance of a certificate of probable cause. Appellant and the prosecution negotiated an agreement whereby appellant pled to specified counts and enhancements and the remaining counts in the information were dismissed, and appellant agreed that the maximum penalty was 37 years and 8 months. Had appellant gone to trial on the charged offenses and been convicted, he would have faced a maximum sentence which included two life-terms. At sentencing, the court imposed a prison term of 35 years, 8 months. Appellant filed a notice of appeal and requested a certificate of probable cause, which was denied. On appeal he argued Penal Code section 654 error. The Supreme Court found that the record clearly established that appellant agreed to a maximum sentence of 37 years and 8 months and negated his claim that he was merely advised of the maximum penalty. As such, his section 654 challenge was a challenge to his plea, requiring a certificate of probable cause.