Parole period for crimes other than sex offenses and those carrying life terms limited to two years under section 3000.01

People v. Tan (Cal. Ct. App., Aug. 19, 2021, No. B308687) 2021 WL 3673888, at *1–2

Summary: Tan was convicted of robbery and first degree murder. In 2020, the trial court vacated Tan’s murder conviction under Penal Code  section 1170.95, resentenced him on the robbery count, and ordered him released on time served. The court also imposed a three-year parole term. Tan appealed and claimed that  section 3000.01, which was enacted before he was resentenced in this case, limits his parole term to two years. The People conceded the point, and, as a matter of first impression, the court of appeal  agreed and modifed Tan’s sentence to reflect a two-year parole term.

Legal Principles and Standard of Review for an Unauthorized Sentence and Section 3000.01

Am unauthorized sentence  may be corrected on appeal despite failure to object below. (People v. Scott (1994) 9 Cal.4th 331, 354, 36 Cal.Rptr.2d 627, 885 P.2d 1040.) A sentence is unauthorized if “it could not lawfully be imposed under any circumstance in the particular case.” (Ibid.)

Section 1170.95, subdivision (g), provides: “A person who is resentenced pursuant to this section shall be given credit for time served. The judge may order the petitioner to be subject to parole supervision for up to three years following the completion of the sentence.” Section 3000 governs the length of parole periods for defendants convicted of various crimes and includes many parole periods that exceed three years. But in 2020, the Legislature enacted a new parole statute that applies “notwithstanding any other law” to “persons released from state prison on or after July 1, 2020 ….” (§ 3000.01, subds. (b) & (a).)

Parole period under section 3000.01

Under section 3000.01, “[a]ny inmate sentenced to a determinate term shall be released on parole for a period of two years.” (§ 3000.01, subd. (b)(1).) And “[a]ny inmate sentenced to a life term shall be released on parole for a period of three years.” (Id., subd. (b)(2).) The statute specifically exempts sex offenders and inmates whose offenses carried shorter parole terms when their offenses were committed. (Id., subd. (d).) It does not exempt inmates granted relief under section 1170.95.3

Tan was sentenced to a 16-year determinate term on August 17, 2020, after section 3000.01’s effective date. Because he was released from prison after July 1, 2020, and is not excluded by subdivision (d), under the plain language of section 3000.01, Tan’s maximum parole term is two years.

Section 3000.01 does not conflict with section 1170.95.

Section 1170.95, subdivision (g) provides that a court, upon resentencing a petitioner under the statute, “may order the petitioner to be subject to parole supervision for up to three years following the completion of the sentence. In harmonizing the two statutes  (People v. Pieters (1991) 52 Cal.3d 894, 899, 276 Cal.Rptr. 918, 802 P.2d 420.), a court may not impose more than three years of parole on any offender granted relief under section 1170.95, but that maximum period may be shortened by other laws. Section 3000.01, imposed limits on which parolees may be subject to the maximum three-year term (those resentenced to life in prison) and which may only receive a two-year term (those resentenced to determinate terms).

Two cases have taken a more expansive view of section 1170.95’s parole provision: People v. Wilson (2020) 53 Cal.App.5th 42, 266 Cal.Rptr.3d 761 and People v. Lamoureux (2020) 57 Cal.App.5th 136, 271 Cal.Rptr.3d 222. The issue in those cases was whether a petitioner’s excess custody credits could be used to reduce his parole term in section 1170.95 cases. (Wilson, at p. 46, 266 Cal.Rptr.3d 761; Lamoureux, at p. 145, 271 Cal.Rptr.3d 222.) Neither case considered section 3000.01  and the People concede that they do not apply here. (See People v. Escarcega (2019) 32 Cal.App.5th 362, 378, 243 Cal.Rptr.3d 771 [“opinions are not authority for propositions not considered therein”].)

Wilson and Lamoureux were construing section 1170.95 alongside the general rule that extra custody credit must be applied against a released inmate’s parole term—a rule that predates section 1170.95 and had previously been addressed in the context of Proposition 47. (See People v. Morales (2016) 63 Cal.4th 399, 203 Cal.Rptr.3d 130, 371 P.3d 592.)

Section 3000.01was enacted after section 1170.95 and specifically states that it applies “notwithstanding any other law ….” (§ 3000.01, subd. (b); see In re Greg F. (2012) 55 Cal.4th 393, 406, 146 Cal.Rptr.3d 272, 283 P.3d 1160 [“When the Legislature intends for a statute to prevail over all contrary law, it typically signals this intent by using phrases like ‘ “notwithstanding any other law” ’ ”]; Arias v. Superior Court (2009) 46 Cal.4th 969, 983, 95 Cal.Rptr.3d 588, 209 P.3d 923 [“The statutory phrase ‘ “notwithstanding any other provision of law” ’ has been called ‘a “ ‘term of art’ ” that declares the legislative intent to override all contrary law’ ”].) We presume that the Legislature, when drafting this language, knew that it had enacted section 1170.95 the year before and intended to maintain a consistent body of rules. (See People v. Frahs (2020) 9 Cal.5th 618, 634, 264 Cal.Rptr.3d 292, 466 P.3d 844.)

Tan’s period of parole supervision was reduced to

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