Prosecution is not entitled to withdraw from plea agreement after trial court grants defendant’s Proposition 47 petition and reduces felony to misdemeanor, as plea agreements contemplate changes in the law. Perry pled no contest to grand theft (Pen. Code, § 497, subd. (c)) and admitted a prior strike. In exchange, the prosecution dismissed robbery charges. After Proposition 47 passed, Perry filed a petition to reduce his felony grand theft conviction to a misdemeanor. The People opposed the petition, arguing that reducing the conviction would violate the terms of the plea agreement and deprive the People of the benefit of its bargain. The People requested that, rather than resentence Perry, the court should instead vacate the plea agreement and reinstate the original charges. The court granted Perry’s petition and denied the People’s motion. The People appealed. Held: Affirmed. In Harris v. Superior Court (2015) 242 Cal.App.4th 244, review granted 2/24/2016 (S231489/B264839), the court held that the reduction of a plea bargained felony to a misdemeanor pursuant to Proposition 47 deprives the People of the benefit of a bargained-for term, justifying the People’s withdrawal from the plea agreement. However, Harris is inconsistent with the general rule articulated in Doe v. Harris (2013) 57 Cal.4th 64, “that plea agreements are deemed to incorporate the reserve power of the state to amend the law . . . .” Furthermore, the plain language of Proposition 47 states that its resentencing provisions apply to convictions that were obtained by trial or plea and that “[u]nder no circumstances may resentencing under [Proposition 47] result in the imposition of a term longer than the original sentence.” (Pen. Code, § 1170.18, subds. (a), (e).) Such language is inconsistent with the People’s position that they should be allowed to withdraw from the plea and reinstate the robbery charges.
The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/B263124.PDF