When a conviction is reclassified as a misdemeanor for all purposes pursuant to a Proposition 47 petition, it may not later be used to enhance a sentence under Penal Code section 667.5, subdivision (b). In 2015, Warren pleaded no contest to three felony offenses and received a sentence that included four one-year enhancements under Penal Code section 667.5, subdivision (b) for felony convictions that occurred in 1993, 1995, 2002, and 2012. Warren appealed, arguing that the court erroneously imposed a sentence enhancement for the 2012 conviction, which the trial court had reduced to a misdemeanor under Proposition 47 prior to the commission of the offenses in the 2015 case. Held: Reversed. The law enacted by voters’ approval of Proposition 47 requires the court to designate as a misdemeanor an offense that was a felony at the time of conviction but that would have been a misdemeanor had Proposition 47 been in effect at the time. (Pen. Code, § 1170.18, subds. (f)-(g).) When this type of petition is granted, the offense shall be considered a misdemeanor for all purposes. Warren argued that since an enhancement under section 667.5, subdivision (b) must be based on a prior prison term imposed for a felony, the reclassified prior offense could not be a basis for such an enhancement. The Court of Appeal agreed. Because felony status is one of the requirements, “logic bars a trial court from imposing an enhancement pursuant to this provision based on a prior offense that the court shall consider a misdemeanor for all purposes.” The enhancement based on the reclassified 2012 conviction must be reversed.
When a felony conviction is reclassified as a misdemeanor, the prison term associated with that conviction may not be used to bar application of the washout provision of section 667.5, subdivision (b). An enhancement may be imposed under section 667.5, subdivision (b) when the defendant was convicted of a felony, was imprisoned as a result and, after being released from that imprisonment, failed to remain free of both felony convictions and prison custody for five years. Where the last requirement is not satisfied, the prior conviction may be disregarded or washed out. On appeal, Warren argued the enhancements imposed for his 1993, 1995, and 2002 convictions should be stricken under the washout provision. Warren was released from incarceration for the 2002 conviction in 2004, imprisoned for felonies in 2005, 2008, and 2012, which were all subsequently reduced to misdemeanors under Proposition 47, and then committed the current felony offenses in 2015. The People argued that notwithstanding the reclassification of the intervening felonies, under a literal interpretation of section 667.5, subdivision (b), Warren had no unbroken five-year period during which he was free of both felony offenses and prison incarceration. However, a goal of Proposition 47 is to relieve defendants of the burdens of both felony convictions and felony sentences. Despite its literal terms, section 667.5, subdivision (b) manifests no intent inconsistent with this goal. Therefore, the washout provision should be construed such that a term of incarceration in prison shall not prevent a prior felony from washing out if the term was imposed for an offense that has been designated or resentenced as a misdemeanor under Proposition 47. The enhancements for the 1993, 1995, and 2002 prior convictions must be reversed, and any custody credits exceeding the length of the new sentence should be used to reduce Warren’s time on post-release community supervision.
The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/F073159.PDF