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Name: People v. Towne
Case #: S125677
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 06/26/2008

Imposition of an upper term sentence based on the aggravating factor of a prior prison term, commission of an offense while on probation or parole, or poor probation/parole adjustment based on commission of a new offense does not violate the Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial on aggravating factors because these factors fall within the Almendarez-Torres exception to the jury trial right. Appellant was convicted of one count of joyriding but acquitted of other charged offenses that were part of this single series of events, involving a single victim. Appellant admitted charged prior convictions, waiving his right to a jury trial on the priors. The court sentenced appellant to the upper term based upon its finding that the crime was aggravated because the victim feared for his life, and upon appellant’s lengthy criminal history. The Supreme Court found the criminal history factor fell within the Almendarez-Torres exception to the jury trial right. A sentencing court may refer to factors stemming from an offense of which defendant was acquitted to impose an aggravated sentence for the offense of which he was convicted. (Disapproving People v. Takencareof (1981) 119 Cal.App.3d 492.) Further, the Court sanctioned the trial court’s consideration of conduct underlying counts of which defendant was acquitted in justifying the upper term. As observed by the Court, in this case, the offenses charged were all part of a single series of events and involved a single victim. Therefore, there was no double jeopardy or jury trial violation consideration, because factors related to sentencing are not subject to the reasonable doubt standard required for a conviction.