Proposition 57’s juvenile offender provisions do not apply retroactively to cases that were pending on appeal before its operative date. Marquez was 17 years old when he killed a woman during an attempted robbery. He was charged as an adult and convicted of first degree murder with special circumstances. He was sentenced to LWOP. After his case was remanded to the trial court to reconsider his sentence in light of Miller v. Alabama (2012) 567 U.S. 460, his LWOP sentence was reimposed. He appealed. After Proposition 57 was enacted, he filed a supplemental brief arguing that the new proposition applies retroactively to his case. Held: Affirmed. Proposition 57, passed by the voters on November 8, 2016, no longer permits a prosecutor to directly file serious felony cases involving minors in adult criminal court; such charges must be commenced in juvenile court. A juvenile accused of committing a felony offense is now entitled to a fitness hearing before being sent to superior court to be tried as an adult. Proposition 57 is silent on the issue of retroactivity regarding its juvenile offender provisions. In general, laws apply prospectively only (Pen. Code, § 3), absent clear legislative intent to the contrary. However, when a statutory amendment ameliorates the punishment for a particular offense, courts will infer that the Legislature (or voters) intended that the lesser punishment be applied to all defendants whose judgments were not final when the law becomes effective. (In re Estrada (1965) 63 Cal.2d 740.) The Estrada rule does not apply here because Proposition 57 does not mitigate punishment for a particular crime (See People v. Brown (2012) 54 Cal.4th 314, 325). Further, there is no certainty that a minor would receive a mitigated penalty because the juvenile court has discretion to transfer a minor’s case to adult court where the penalty for the offense remains the same as it was before Proposition 57. Finally, the Proposition 57 ballot materials do not reflect a clear intent that it apply retroactively.
The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/F070609.PDF