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Name: People v. Rhodes
Case #: A102776
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 02/18/2005
Subsequent History: Revw. den. 6/8/05

Appellant challenged the constitutionality of the homicide sentencing scheme which punishes the second degree murder of a police officer engaged in his duties with a sentence of life without possibility of parole, while the more serious offense of first degree murder of a person not a police officer carries a lesser sentence of 25 years to life. He argued that the sentence was arbitrary, and in violation of due process and equal protection guarantees. The appellate court here rejected the argument, finding that a rational basis exists to punish the aggravated form of second degree murder in the same manner as a first degree murder committed without the aggravating circumstances. The Legislature determined that the murder of a police officer with a firearm is a more egregious offense and therefore requires harsher punishment to promote the sentencing objectives of deterrence and protection of the public. Further, given the egregious circumstances of the case, the sentence imposed was not cruel and unusual punishment.