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Name: People v. S.M.
Case #: A147596
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 4
Opinion Date: 03/01/2017
Summary

Trial court properly dismissed case under Penal Code section 1385 after considering the defendant’s education, professional background, lack of criminal record, “unfairness” of the four year process, and other factors. Defendant was charged with three felony and three misdemeanor fraud-related offenses based on his filing of an allegedly false $360 insurance claim in 2011. After a number of continuances requested by both sides, the preliminary hearing was held in January 2015. An information was filed in February 2015. More continuances followed. In December 2015, over the prosecutor’s objection, the trial court dismissed the case on its own motion in the interest of justice, after discussing defendant’s background, education, lack of criminal record, the manner in which a conviction would impair his career, the length of time the case was pending, and other factors. The prosecution appealed. Held: Affirmed. Penal Code section 1385 allows the trial court to dismiss an action in the interest of justice. The concept of “furtherance of justice” requires consideration both of the constitutional rights of the defendant and the interest of society represented by the People. “At the very least, the reason for dismissal must be that which would motivate a reasonable judge.” Society, represented by the People, has a legitimate interest in the “fair prosecution of crimes properly alleged.” Thus, a dismissal that arbitrarily cuts those rights without a showing of detriment to the defendant, is an abuse of discretion. Here, the trial court considered a number of factors before deciding that the detriment to defendant outweighed society’s interest in prosecuting the relatively minor offense. There was no abuse its discretion.

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/A147596.PDF