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Name: People v. Williams
Case #: B247704
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 4
Opinion Date: 07/01/2014

Trial court erred by imposing 10–year gang enhancements (Pen. Code, § 186.22, subd. (b)(1)(C)) instead of 15-year minimum parole eligibility term (Pen. Code, § 186.22, subd. (b)(5)) where defendant was sentenced to life under the Three Strikes law. Williams was convicted of three felony offenses, and admitted two prior strike convictions. The jury also found that each offense was committed for the benefit of a street gang. (Pen. Code, § 186.22, subd. (b)(1)(C).) He was sentenced under the Three Strikes law to a term of 25 years to life on each count plus applicable enhancements for a total of 93 years to life. On appeal, Williams contended that because he received life sentences as a result of the Three Strikes law, the trial court erred in imposing a consecutive 10-year term for the gang enhancement on each count, rather than the 15-year minimum parole eligibility requirement found in section 186.22, subdivision (b)(5). Held: Sentence modified. Under section 186.22, subdivision (b)(1)(C), the enhanced penalty for a violent felony committed for the benefit of a street gang is an additional 10-year term. However, section 186.22, subdivision (b)(5) provides that a 15-year parole eligibility requirement should be imposed instead of the 10-year term if the defendant is convicted of “a felony punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for life.” Here, the court held that life sentences imposed under the Three Strikes law are life sentences within the meaning of section 186.22, subdivision (b)(5). Subdivision (b)(5) encompasses life terms expressed as terms of years to life that are imposed as a result of a penalty provision. Because Williams received a life sentence as a result of the application of the Three Strikes law, which is a penalty provision, the trial court erred when it imposed the 10-year enhancements instead of the 15-year minimum parole term.