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Name: People v. McGee
Case #: A097749
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 5
Opinion Date: 02/09/2004
Subsequent History: Rev. granted 4/28/04: S123474

Under Apprendi v. New Jersey, a defendant is entitled to a jury trial on factual issues regarding prior convictions used to enhance his sentence. This case involved a Nevada robbery conviction that was used to enhance the defendant’s sentence under the Three Strikes Law. The court first noted that a Nevada robbery conviction does not establish as a matter of law that the defendant’s actions constituted robbery under California law, because the elements of robbery are defined differently in Nevada. Thus, in order to find the allegation to be true, a fact finder must look beyond the conviction to determine whether the record establishes the missing elements. Next the court held that it was error for the trial court to conduct this inquiry itself, because under Apprendi a defendant has a federal constitutional right to have factual matters related to enhancements determined by a jury. Finally, however, the court found that error of this nature was subject to harmless error analysis, and under the facts of this case the error was harmless.