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Name: People v. Olay (2023) 98 Cal.App.5th 60
Case #: A166288
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 5
Opinion Date: 12/21/2023

Senate Bill No. 81’s amendments to Penal Code section 1385(c) do not apply to the Three Strikes law. In 2022, defendant pleaded no contest to grand theft and admitted a prior strike allegation. Prior to sentencing, he moved to dismiss the prior strike pursuant to Romero and SB 81. The court denied the motion, finding section 1385(c) does not apply to prior strikes. Defendant appealed. Held: Affirmed. Effective January 1, 2022, SB 81 added section 1385(c)(1) to require that a trial court “dismiss an enhancement if it is in the furtherance of justice to do so, except if dismissal of that enhancement is prohibited by an initiative statute.” Under section 1385(c)(2)(G), one mitigating circumstance favoring dismissal is where the “defendant was a juvenile when they committed the current offense or any prior offenses, including criminal convictions and juvenile adjudications, that trigger the enhancement or enhancements applied in the current case.” Defendant argued that the only way to give this provision any purpose or meaning is if “enhancement” applies to strike allegations, since a juvenile adjudication is not a “conviction” for purposes of an enhancement but can be considered a strike. Applying principles of statutory interpretation, the court disagreed. The well-established legal meaning of “enhancement” is an additional term of imprisonment added to the base term, and the court was skeptical that the Legislature intended to reject this well-established meaning by “obliquely referencing ‘juvenile adjudications’ as one of the relevant mitigating circumstances” under section 1385. If the Legislature intended section 1385(c) to apply to prior strikes, it would have said so. Further, the legislative history confirms the Legislature had no such intent, and such an interpretation is consistent with the purpose behind SB 81.