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Name: People v. Gray (2024) 101 Cal.App.5th 148
Case #: F085699
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 04/04/2024

Trial court lacked jurisdiction to modify an NGI acquittees’s maximum commitment term under Penal Code section 1172.75 because NGI acquittees have not been sentenced and thus do not fall within the relief provided by the statute. In 2016, Gray pled no contest to felony offenses. The trial court found him not guilty by reason of insanity (NGI) and committed him to DSH for a maximum term that included six one-year prior prison term enhancements. Following the passage of Senate Bill No. 136 and Senate Bill No. 483, which limited one-year prior prison term sentencing enhancements to sexually violent offenses, the public defender filed a petition to recall the maximum commitment time and strike the enhancements on Gray’s behalf, citing section 1172.75. The court granted the petition, recalled Gray’s “sentence” and “reset the sentence” to a lower maximum. The People appealed. Held: Reversed. Section 1172.75’s recall and resentencing procedure is an exception to the general rule that, once a judgment is rendered in a criminal case and execution of the sentence has begun, the trial court does not have jurisdiction to vacate or modify the sentence. The Court of Appeal concluded that section 1172.75 does not apply to NGI acquittees because they have never been convicted or sentenced. Had the legislature wished to include NGI acquittees when providing relief under SB 483, then it would have done so. Although a trial court retains some limited jurisdiction over an NGI acquittee’s case, this continuing jurisdiction is narrowly circumscribed by section 1026 et seq., and none of these sections address the underlying maximum term of commitment. The court’s order recalling Gray’s judgment and recalculating his maximum commitment term is void. [Editor’s Note: The court declined to consider an equal protection claim because of forfeiture and lack of jurisdiction.]

Trial court’s orders determining NGI acquittee was entitled to relief qualify as “[a]n order made after judgment, affecting the substantial rights of the people,” and were appealable under Penal Code section 1238(a)(5). The People’s right to appeal is statutory, and appeals that do not fall within the exact statutory language are prohibited. Section 1238(a)(5) permits a People’s appeal from an order made after judgment, affecting the substantial rights of the People. Such an order is generally one that affects the judgment or its enforcement, alters the defendant’s status, or hampers the People’s ability to carry out future prosecutorial duties. This includes orders that affect the timing of the release of a defendant. (People v. Hampton (2022) 74 Cal.App.5th 1092, 1100.) Here, the orders resulted in a substantial modification of the original judgment and thus affected the substantial rights of the People and are appealable.