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Name: People v. Sledge
Case #: G048814
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 04/13/2015
Subsequent History: Review granted 7/8/2015: S226449
Summary

Trial court did not abuse its discretion by finding a third strike inmate would pose an unreasonable risk of danger to public safety if resentenced under the Three Strikes Reform Act (Pen. Code, § 1170.126; Prop. 36). In 1999, Sledge was sentenced to 25 years to life under the Three Strikes law (Pen. Code, §§ 667, 1170.12). He had been convicted of check forgery (Pen. Code, § 470, subd. (a)), possession of a fictitious instrument (Pen. Code, § 476), and second degree burglary (Pen. Code, §§ 459, 460, subd. (b)). After passage of the Reform Act, he petitioned for resentencing. The court denied Sledge’s petition after concluding that he would pose an unreasonable risk of danger to public safety if resentenced. (Pen. Code, § 1170.126, subds. (f), (g).) Sledge appealed, arguing that the court abused its discretion in reaching that conclusion. Held: Affirmed. Section 1170.126, subdivision (g) provides that a court may consider an inmate’s criminal conviction history, disciplinary record, and “any other evidence” it deems relevant “in deciding whether a new sentence would result in an unreasonable risk of danger to public safety.” Sledge’s inmate housing status (to a single cell due to his mental health issues that required isolation from others), use of a firearm during a prior offense, and failure to take responsibility for his actions, were all relevant “other evidence” of Sledge’s dangerousness. A trial court may also consider evidence of charged offenses that a defendant is not convicted of committing. The trial court did not abuse its discretion by considering those facts, among others, in making its dangerousness determination.

Definition of “unreasonable risk of danger to public safety” contained in Proposition 47 (Pen. Code, § 1170.18, subd. (c)) does not apply to resentencing under the Three Strikes Reform Act (Pen. Code, § 1170.126). On appeal, Sledge also argued that the new definition of “unreasonable risk of danger to public safety” contained in Proposition 47 should apply to resentencing under the Three Strikes Reform Act because Proposition 47 states that the new definition applies “throughout this [Penal] Code.” (See Pen. Code, § 1170.18, subd. (c).) However, the Court of Appeal agreed with People v. Davis (2015) 234 Cal.App.4th 1001 and People v. Guzman (2015) 235 Cal.App.4th 847 that Proposition 47 was in no way “intended by the voters to hamstring the Three Strikes Reform Act.” [Editor’s Note: This question is currently pending before the California Supreme Court. (See People v. Chaney (2014) 231 Cal.App.4th 1391, review granted 2/18/2015 (S223676/C073949); People v. Valencia (2014) 232 Cal.App.4th 514, review granted 2/18/2015 (S223825/F067946).]