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Name: People v. Orabuena
Case #: H025987
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 6 DCA
Opinion Date: 02/25/2004

A trial court has discretion to dismiss a misdemeanor that would make a defendant ineligible for Proposition 36 sentencing. The defendant here was charged with and pled no contest to drug possession charges as well as a Vehicle Code violation for driving on a suspended license. First holding that the Vehicle Code charged rendered the defendant ineligible for treatment under Proposition 36, the court of appeal nonetheless held that the trial court retained discretion under Penal Code section 1385 to dismiss that misdemeanor offense in the interest of justice. The court distinguished In re Varnell (2003) 30 Cal.4th 1132 on the ground that the sentencing factors at issue in that case were not charged in the pleadings, whereas the factors making this defendant ineligible for Proposition 36 treatment were pleaded and admitted. Penal Code section 1210.1 does not demonstrate a clear legislative intent to eliminate the sentencing court’s discretion under section 1385, so such an intent should not be read into that statute. The appellate court thus remanded the matter to allow the sentencing court to exercise its discretion under section 1385, since the record showed that the judge believed he lacked that discretion.