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Name: Thompson v. Superior Court
Case #: B144625
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 07/31/2001
Subsequent History: None

Petitioner was charged with possession of cocaine and two prior strikes. While he acknowledged that the courts have held that proof of strike priors is not required at a preliminary hearing, he argued in this writ proceeding that in light of the United States Supreme Court opinion in Apprendi v. New Jersey (2000) 530 U.S. 466, the prior convictions were elements of the charged offense, and therefore were required to be proved at the preliminary hearing. The appellate court here disagreed, holding that Apprendi did not alter the principle that California law does not require proof of strike priors at preliminary hearings. In fact, Apprendi specifically excepted prior convictions from its new rule. Further, requiring proof at preliminary hearings would be impractical and unworkable. Finally, failure to prove strike priors at preliminary hearings does not violate a defendant’s equal protection rights. A strikes defendant is not similarly situated to defendants charged with offenses in which a specified prior conviction is an element of the charged offense, or elevates the charged offense to a felony.