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Name: People v. Robertson
Case #: F040143
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 11/17/2003
Subsequent History: None

The court rejected defendant’s contentions that the statute of limitations under Penal Code section 803, subdivision (g) violated due process and ex post facto guarantees. Section 803(g) was originally enacted in 1994, as a special supplementary statute of limitations, extending it for certain sex crimes against minors. The statute was later amended, effective January 1, 1997, to expressly state that it was retroactive. In 1999, the California Supreme Court held that section 803(g) could be applied retroactively to an already expired statute of limitations without violating ex post facto priciples. (People v. Frazer (1999) 21 Cal.4th 737.) But, in 2003 the United States Supreme Court disagreed with Frazer, holding that section 803(g), as applied to crimes that were already time-barred when the section was enacted, violates ex post facto principles. (Stogner v. California (2003) 539 U.S. __ [13 S.Ct. 2446].) Following the issuance of Stogner, appellant here then argued that the statute of limitations for his crimes, occurring between 1990 and 1991, ran out on January 1, 1996, a date before the retroactivity amendment to section 803(g) took effect in January 1, 1997, and even though the statute of limitations had not expired on those crimes at the time the statute first took effect. The question the court analyzed here was whether the 1997 amendment was a “change in law” or merely a “clarification” (and thus extending it). However, in Frazer the California Supreme Court determined that the amendment was a clarification of the original version of the statute. Accordingly, this court found it was bound by that finding. (Auto Equity Sales, Inc. v. Superior Court (1962) 57 Cal.2d 450, 455.) Stogner, in fact, acknowledges that courts have upheld extensions of unexpired statutes of limitations. Thus, since the statute of limitations had not expired in this case by 1994 (original enactment date of section 803(g)), appellant could be properly prosecuted under the statute extending the statute of limitations.