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Name: People v. Gonzalez
Case #: G052436
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 01/09/2017

Trial court erred by finding a homeless man violated the conditions of his postrelease community supervision (PRCS) by failing to report a change in residence. Gonzalez was released from prison on PRCS in July 2012. He was transient and had no residence. In May 2015, he was held for a mental health assessment under Welfare and Institutions Code section 5150, subdivision (a). After his release from the facility, Gonzalez failed to notify his probation officer of his change of residence despite a PRCS condition requiring that he do so. The probation officer filed a petition to revoke his PRCS. The trial court found that Gonzalez failed to notify the probation officer of his change of residence and revoked and reinstated him on PRCS. Gonzalez appealed. Held: Reversed. An individual on PRCS “shall inform the supervising county agency of any pending or anticipated changes in residence, employment, education, or training.” (Pen. Code, § 3453, subd. (i)(1).) However, the PRCS Act does not define “residence.” The court looked to the definition of “residence” set forth in the Sex Offender Registration Act, which defines residence to mean “one or more addresses at which a person regularly resides, regardless of the number of days or nights spent there, such as a shelter or structure that can be located by a street address, including, but not limited to, houses, apartment buildings, motels, hotels, homeless shelters, and recreational and other vehicles.” (Pen. Code, § 290.011, subd. (g).) Under that definition, Gonzalez had no “residence.” He was homeless both before and after he was released from the section 5150 hold and there was no evidence admitted indicating that he was “regularly residing” in a homeless shelter or anywhere else for that matter. The treatment facility in which he was involuntarily placed was not a “residence.” Since Gonzalez never had a residence, “he could not have had a change of residence to report.” The trial court erred by concluding otherwise.

The fact Gonzalez was discharged from PRCS during the pendency of the appeal did not render the appeal moot. Gonzalez could still suffer collateral consequences of the PRCS violation. For example, if he commits a new offense, the trial court could use the violation as a reason to deny him probation. Additionally, the court reasoned the case posed an “issue of broad public interest that is likely to recur” thus falling within an exception to the mootness doctrine since it is often the case that an order revoking PRCS “may become subject to a mootness claim before a decision can be rendered.”

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: