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Name: People v. Thurston
Case #: A139587
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 01/15/2016

Prior juvenile adjudication for rape does not need to be pleaded and proved in the underlying third strike case to render a petitioner ineligible for resentencing under Proposition 36. In 2002, Thurston was found guilty of felony driving in disregard for safety of persons or property while fleeing from a police officer. The jury also found that he had suffered three prior strike convictions for robberies. After the Three Strikes Reform Act (Prop. 36) passed, Thurston filed a petition for resentencing. The trial court denied the petition after finding Thurston ineligible due to a prior juvenile adjudication for rape (Pen. Code, § 261). Thurston appealed. Held: Affirmed. Under Proposition 36, an inmate currently serving a third strike life sentence is not eligible to be resentenced as a second strike offender if the prosecution proves an enumerated disqualifying factor. One disqualifying factor is a prior conviction for a “sexually violent offense” as defined in Welfare and Institutions Code section 6600, subdivision (b). (See Pen. Code, §§ 1170.126, subd. (e)(3), 1170.12, subd. (c)(2)(C)(iv)(I), 667, subd. (e)(2)(C)(iv)(I).) A rape conviction under section 261 is a sexually violent offense under section 6600, subdivision (b). Thurston argued that his juvenile adjudication could not be used to deny eligibility because it was not pleaded and proved in 2002 trial. However, Court of Appeal decisions have held that there is no pleading and proof requirement for the factors that disqualify a defendant from Proposition 36 resentencing. (E.g. People v. Chubbuck (2014) 231 Cal.App.4th 737; see also Pen. Code, § 1170.126.) Although a pleading and proof requirement has been implied for a prior conviction to be used to increase penalties, there is no pleading and proof requirement for facts that render an inmate ineligible for downward resentencing.

Juvenile adjudication for rape could be used to disqualify inmate from resentencing under Proposition 36. Thurston argued that because section 1170.126, subdivision (e)(3) expressly refers only to “convictions” and not “juvenile adjudications,” the latter cannot serve to disqualify him from resentencing. The Court of Appeal disagreed. Section 1170.126, subdivision (e)(3) provides that an inmate is not eligible for resentencing if he has a prior conviction for an offense listed in section 667, subdivision (e)(2)(C)(iv) or section 1170.12, subdivision (c)(2)(C)(iv). Section 1170.12, subdivision (c)(2)(C)(iv) refers to subdivision (b) for the definition of a prior conviction. Although Welfare and Institutions Code section 203 provides “[a]n order adjudging a minor to be a ward . . . shall not be deemed a conviction . . . for any purpose,” section 1170.12, subdivision (b)(3) defines “prior serious and/or violent conviction of a felony” as including “[a] prior juvenile adjudication.” (See also Pen. Code, § 667, subds. (d)(3), (e)(2)(C)(iv).) As a result, a person who has a prior juvenile adjudication for an offense listed in section 667, subdivision (e)(2)(C)(iv) or section 1170.12, subdivision (c)(2)(C)(iv) is ineligible for resentencing under Proposition 36. Moreover, treating a juvenile adjudication as a conviction for purposes of three strikes sentencing in the first instance but not for purposes of resentencing under section 1170.126 would lead to absurd results: a juvenile adjudication could be used to impose a three strikes sentence but, once imposed, the inmate would be entitled to have the third strike sentence reduced under the resentencing provisions to a two strike sentence. (Accord People v. Arias (2015) 240 Cal.App.4th 161.) The voters did not intend such a result.

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: