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Name: People v. Nakano (2023) 89 Cal.App.5th 623
Case #: H049057
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 6 DCA
Opinion Date: 03/20/2023
Summary

Trial court abused its discretion when it terminated sex offender’s probation early without applying the standard required by Penal Code section 1203.3(a). Nakano, a Japanese national, pleaded no contest to possession of child pornography. The trial court placed him on formal probation for three years, as well as ordering the completion of a sex offender counseling program and registration as a sex offender. However, the court stated its intention to terminate probation early, absent the completion of a sex offender management program, because it was “interested in [] Nakano being out of the United States [, since] [he] doesn’t have status here.” The District Attorney appealed. Held: Reversed. The Court of Appeal concluded the trial court abused its discretion when it terminated Nakano’s probation early because it failed to apply the standard set forth in section 1203.3(a) requiring the demonstration of “good conduct and reform.” The trial court stated it would terminate Nakano’s probation early because (1) it was “in everyone’s interest that Nakano [leave] the country”; and (2) the court was reluctant “to renege on its promise to terminate probation when Nakano left the country.” These reasons were not proper under section 1203.3(a).

Penal Code section 1203.067 (mandating a sex offender management program for certain probationers) does not preclude a trial court from terminating probation early under Penal Code section 1203.3. The District Attorney argued that the trial court acted in excess of its jurisdiction when it terminated Nakano’s probation without requiring that he complete a sex offender management program as mandated by section 1203.067. The Court of Appeal disagreed with this point. The plain language of section 1203.3 endows trial courts with expansive powers in relation to its probation orders, including the authority to terminate probation early. Section 1203.067(b), requires that a person who is required to register as a sex offender and placed on formal probation must complete a sex offender management program as a condition of release from probation. In enacting section 1203.067(b), the Legislature did not express an intent to restrict the court’s authority to revoke, modify, or terminate probation pursuant to section 1203.3. The Legislature has never expressed a clear intent to exclude sex offenders from early termination of probation and omitted the phrase “notwithstanding any other law” from section 1203.067(b).

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: https://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/H049057.PDF