Defendant who negotiated a plea agreement before Senate Bill No. 620 was signed was not required to obtain a certificate of probable cause to challenge his agreed-upon sentence that included a firearm enhancement (Pen. Code, § 12022.53, subd. (c)). Based on a negotiated plea agreement with an agreed-upon sentence, Hurlic pleaded no contest to attempted murder and admitted a firearm enhancement under section 12022.53, subdivision (c). After he was sentenced, SB 620 was enacted, which amended section 12022.53 to remove the prohibition on striking firearm enhancements. Hurlic appealed, arguing that he was now entitled to ask the trial court to exercise its discretion to strike the firearm enhancement. The People responded that a certificate of probable cause, which Hurlic did not obtain, was required to raise this issue on appeal. Held: Reversed and remanded. Generally, a defendant seeking to appeal from a judgment of conviction after entering a guilty or no contest plea must obtain a certificate of probable cause when the parties agreed that the court would impose a specific, agreed-upon sentence. However, under the law governing the retroactivity of new criminal statutes, courts have unanimously concluded that SB 620’s grant of discretion to strike firearm enhancements under section 12022.53 applies retroactively to all nonfinal convictions. After analyzing relevant authority on certificates of probable cause and retroactivity, the Court of Appeal here concluded that a defendant is not required to obtain a certificate of probable cause when his challenge to an agreed-upon sentence is based on a new criminal statute that applies retroactively in nonfinal cases and grants a trial court the discretion to waive a sentencing enhancement that was mandatory at the time it was incorporated into the agreed-upon sentence.
The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/B286082.PDF