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Name: People v. Garrett
Case #: C067436
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 06/30/2014
Subsequent History: Review granted 9/24/2014: S220271

Juvenile offender’s entitlement to youth offender parole hearing after 25 years of incarceration does not cure the constitutional error in his defacto LWOP sentence for nonhomicide offenses. The 17-year-old minor, Garrett, was tried as an adult and convicted of multiple robbery offenses. The jury found true firearm allegations and the trial court imposed a term of 74 years and 4 months to life in prison. On appeal, Garrett contended that his sentence constituted cruel and unusual punishment because he was 17 when he committed the offenses. Held: Remanded for resentencing consistent with People v. Caballero (2012) 55 Cal.4th 262. Garrett’s defacto LWOP sentence was unconstitutional because the trial court failed to consider the mitigating factors articulated in Graham v. Florida (2010) 560 U.S. 48 and Miller v. Alabama (2012) 132 S.Ct. 2455. Although Penal Code section 3051, subdivision (b), added by SB 260, entitles Garrett to a youth offender parole hearing during his 25th year of incarceration, it does not cure the constitutional error. Under the controlling case law, the sentencing court is required to evaluate the mitigating circumstances in a juvenile offender’s crime and life when selecting the initial punishment. “The statutory promise to have a future parole board review an improperly considered sentence does not cure the constitutional error.” (See also People v. Gutierrez (2014) 58 Cal.4th 1354.) The appellate court disagreed with People v. Gonzalez (2014) 225 Cal.App.4th 1296 on this issue. Remand was required to allow the trial court to resentence Garrett to a term that does not violate his constitutional rights and provides him with a meaningful opportunity for release.