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Name: People v. Griffis
Case #: C070266
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 01/14/2013
Summary

Under the 2011 Realignment Act, a prior “strike” conviction disqualifying a defendant from local custody need not be pled and proven, but there must be sufficient evidence that the out-of-state conviction qualifies as a California “strike.” Defendant pled guilty to possession of methamphetamine and stolen property and was sentenced to two years and eight months in prison rather than local custody. In denying local custody, the court relied on appellant’s prior conviction for a Washington state residential burglary. Under the statute implementing the Realignment Act, there is no requirement that, for purposes of place of incarceration, the disqualifying factor of a prior “strike” conviction be pled and proven. Such a factor does not operate to increase a sentence so as to trigger the requirement of pleading and proof, but only dictates place of incarceration. (People v. Lara (2012) 54 Cal.4th 896; In re Varnell (2003) 30 Cal.4th 1132.) Under the Three Strikes Law, an out-of-state prior conviction constitutes a “strike” if it is for an offense that contains all the elements of the felony defined in the California “strikes” statute. The court may consider the entire record of the prior conviction as well as the elements of the crime to determine if the prior foreign conviction qualifies as a serious or violent felony in California. If the record insufficiently reveals the facts of the prior offense, the court must presume the conviction was for the least offense punishable under the foreign law. Here, the only evidence in the record was a passing reference in the probation report to appellant’s Washington felonies and the prosecutor’s comment that the Washington felonies are “similar enough to the California statute that they would be considered a strike . . . .” As the court stated, “This was plainly not enough.” Remand for resentencing.