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Name: People v. Nichols
Case #: C057665
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 08/05/2009

Defendant who failed to register was properly sentenced under the Three Strikes law. Appellant was found guilty of failing to register under Penal Code section 290 when he moved out of Rocklin. The jury also found that he had been previously convicted of three prior “strikes” and served three prior prison terms. The trial court denied appellant’s motion to strike his prior strikes, and sentenced him to a prison term of 28 years to life, consisting of 25 to life for the offense, plus three years for the prior prison term enhancements.) The appellate court held the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it denied appellant’s Romero motion to strike his prior convictions. The record shows the trial court considered whether appellant was outside the spirit of the Three Strikes law in light of the nature and circumstances of the present felony, his prior convictions, his background, character and prospects. The court did not reach its conclusion arbitrarily or irrationally. Further, the imposition of a life term for failing to register did not violate prohibitions against cruel and/or unusual punishment. The court distinguished this case from People v. Carmony (2005) 127 Cal.App.4th 1066, where a 25-year-to-life sentence imposed for failing to register within five days of the registered sex offender’s birthday was found unconstitutional. In Carmony, the defendant had correctly registered the proper information the month before, no change had occurred in the intervening period, and defendant’s parole agent was aware of this fact. In contrast, in this case, appellant’s whereabout were not known for eight months, thereby thwarting the purpose of the registration law and leaving the public at risk. These facts, coupled with the seriousness of appellant’s prior convictions, all demonstrate his sentence was not grossly disproportionate under the circumstances. It was no more disproportionate than the life sentence upheld in Ewing v. California (2003) 538 U.S. 11, for a third strike for shoplifting golf clubs.