Reliable hearsay evidence contained in arrest and probation reports is admissible to determine eligibility for Proposition 64 relief. In 1996, Hall pleaded no contest to felony sale and transportation of marijuana. After the electorate passed Proposition 64 in 2016, which reduced or eliminated penalties for marijuana offenses, Hall sought to have his conviction either dismissed or reduced to an infraction. The trial court admitted into evidence the arrest and probation reports, which referenced a large quantity of marijuana, scales, and baggies in Hall’s possession at the time of his arrest. The trial court denied Hall’s requested Proposition 64 relief and instead reduced his offense to a misdemeanor. Hall appealed, arguing the trial court abused its discretion by admitting inadmissible hearsay. Held: Affirmed. The Court of Appeal applied principles of statutory construction to determine the electorate’s intent in passing Proposition 64 as to the use of probation and police reports to assess a defendant’s eligibility for relief under the new law. Because reliable hearsay statements in a probation report are admissible to show whether a petitioner is eligible for resentencing under Proposition 47, the Court of Appeal concluded that it logically followed that they were also admissible to show whether a petitioner was eligible for relief under Proposition 64. As to the use of arrest reports, the Court of Appeal presumed that the electorate understood that arrest reports would be admissible to the extent they fall within the official records exception to the hearsay rule (Evid. Code, § 1280) and where there was no showing by the party opposing the admission that the officer failed in his or her duty to observe and correctly report the events described. Here, because the hearsay statements in the probation report were reliable and no showing was made that the officer submitting the arrest report failed in his or her duty, the trial court did not abuse its discretion by admitting them into evidence.
The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: https://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/archive/B292330M.PDF