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Name: People v. Haynes
Case #: F067275
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 04/24/2014
Subsequent History: Review granted 7/9/2014: S218982

An inmate petitioning for resentencing under the Three Strikes Reform Act (Proposition 36) is entitled to appeal a trial court’s initial ineligibility determination. In 1998, Haynes pled no contest to various drug offenses and possession of a firearm by a felon. He also admitted special allegations, including that he was armed with a firearm and that he suffered three “strike” priors. He was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison under the Three Strikes law. In November 2012, Haynes moved for resentencing under the Act. Following a hearing, the trial court found that Haynes was not eligible for resentencing because he had admitted that he was armed with a firearm during the drug offenses. The motion for resentencing was denied and Haynes appealed. Held: The trial court’s order was appealable. It is unsettled whether a trial court’s initial determination that an inmate is ineligible for resentencing under the Act (the first step of the two-step process the trial court undertakes in considering a Prop. 36 petition) is appealable. The court here agreed with the parties that such a ruling is appealable. Although Penal Code section 1170.126 does not specifically authorize an appeal from a denial of a petition or motion for resentencing, Penal Code section 1237, subdivision (b) provides that a defendant may appeal from any order made after judgment, affecting the substantial rights of the party. Under section 1170.126, inmates serving indeterminate life sentences under the Three Strikes law have a substantial right to have a trial court consider whether they should be resentenced. Although a trial court’s initial eligibility determination does not change an inmate’s sentence, it affects an inmate’s substantial rights because it determines whether the trial court will exercise its resentencing discretion. When the trial court determines an inmate is ineligible, the process is finished and the inmate has no further opportunity to be sentenced as a second strike offender.