People v. Padilla (Cal., May 26, 2022, No. S263375) 2022 WL 1672203, at *1
Summary: In 2016, California voters passed Proposition 57, a measure that amended the law governing the punishment of juvenile offenses in adult criminal court by requiring hearings to determine whether the offenses should instead be heard in juvenile court. Adjudicatng theseoffenses in juvenile court typically results in less severe punishment for the juvenile offender. (People v. Superior Court (Lara) (2018) 4 Cal.5th 299, 306–307, 228 Cal.Rptr.3d 394, 410 P.3d 22 (Lara).)
“New laws that reduce the punishment for a crime are presumptively to be applied to defendants whose judgments are not yet final.” (People v. Conley (2016) 63 Cal.4th 646, 656, (Conley), citing In re Estrada (1965) 63 Cal.2d 740, (Estrada).) The retroactivity rule extends to all “nonfinal judgments.” (People v. Esquivel (2021) 11 Cal.5th 671, 677, (Esquivel).) Proposition 57 “ameliorated the possible punishment for a class of persons, namely juveniles.” (Lara, supra, 4 Cal.5th at p. 308.) “Estrada’s inference of retroactivity applies” to the proposition’s juvenile provisions, making those provisions applicable to all cases in which the judgment was not final when the proposition went into effect. (Lara, at p. 309,.)
Issue: Whether Proposition 57 applies during resentencing when a criminal court sentence imposed on a juvenile offender before the initiative’s passage has since been vacated. Padilla was originally sentenced before Proposition 57 was enacted, but his judgment later became nonfinal when his sentence was vacated on habeas corpus and the case was returned to the trial court for imposition of a new sentence. The California Supreme Court held that Proposition 57 applies to his resentencing.
Proposition 57 requires that charges against minors be filed in juvenile courts
Proposition 57 requires all criminal charges against minors to. Estrada applies to the juvenile provisions of Proposition 57. (Lara, supra, 4 Cal.5th at p. 309) Before the proposition passed, “prosecutors were permitted, and sometimes required, to file charges against a juvenile directly in criminal court, where the juvenile would be treated as an adult.” Proposition 57 eliminated that direct filing procedure, reestablishing the historical rule that charges against juveniles must be brought in juvenile court. (Lara, at p. 305,.) If the case is retained by the juvenile court after a transfer hearing, and if the court finds that the minor committed the charged offense, the court then conducts a dispositional hearing, where potential custody commitments are less lengthy than in criminal court. (See Welf. & Inst. Code, § 607; see also id., § 730, subd. (a)(2).) Proposition 57 reduced “the possible punishment for a class of persons, namely juveniles,” and made “an ‘ameliorative change[ ] to the criminal law’ that the legislative body intended ‘to extend as broadly as possible.’ ” (Lara, at pp. 308, 309,, quoting Conley, supra, 63 Cal.4th at p. 657, 203 Cal.Rptr.3d 622, 373 P.3d 435.) The Supreme Court held that “this part of Proposition 57 applies to all juveniles charged directly in adult court whose judgment was not final at the time it was enacted.” (Lara, at p. 304,.) proposition, minors may be tried and sentenced in criminal courts “ ‘only after a juvenile court judge conducts a transfer hearing to consider various factors such as the minor’s maturity, degree of criminal sophistication, prior delinquent history, and whether the minor can be rehabilitated.’ ” (Lara, supra, 4 Cal.5th at p. 305, quoting People v. Vela (2017) 11 Cal.App.5th 68, 72, 218 Cal.Rptr.3d 1.)
When is a case final
A case is final when “the criminal proceeding as a whole” has ended (Esquivel, supra, 11 Cal.5th at p. 678) and “the courts can no longer provide a remedy to a defendant on direct review” (In re Spencer (1965) 63 Cal.2d 400, 405, 46 Cal.Rptr. 753, 406 P.2d 33 (Spencer)). When Padilla’s sentence was vacated, the trial court regained the jurisdiction and duty to consider what punishment was appropriate for him, and Padilla regained the right to appeal whatever new sentence was imposed. His judgment thus became nonfinal, and it remains nonfinal in its present posture because the Court of Appeal ordered a second resentencing, from which the Attorney General now appeals. There is no “constitutional obstacle” to applying the Estrada presumption to his case. (Esquivel, at p. 679,.)
Ameliorative criminal laws apply to all nonfinal cases. (Estrada, supra, 63 Cal.2d at p. 745.) Proposition 57 reflects a decision by California’s voters that the range of punishments meted out in criminal court is too severe for most juvenile offenders. The resumption is that the voters wanted that reduction in punishment to stretch “ ‘as broadly as possible, distinguishing only as necessary between sentences that are final and sentences that are not.’ ” (Lara, supra, 4 Cal.5th at p. 308, quoting Conley, supra, 63 Cal.4th at p. 657.) This presumption applies when a case is nonfinal because the defendant’s sentence has been vacated.
Transfer hearings for defendants over age 25
The law already requires some defendants who exceed the age of juvenile court jurisdiction to have their amenability to juvenile adjudication considered retrospectively under the new standards of Proposition 57. (See People v. Ramirez (2019) 35 Cal.App.5th 55, 59–60, 246 Cal.Rptr.3d 897 [affirming order for transfer hearing for defendant over the age of 25].)
Under Lara, these defendants must receive a transfer hearing; their sentence will be reinstated if the court finds criminal adjudication appropriate, or else their convictions will be “ ‘treat[ed] … as juvenile adjudications.’ ” (Lara, supra, 4 Cal.5th at p. 310.) For a defendant over the age of 25, a juvenile court generally will not be able to retain continuing jurisdiction if it finds juvenile adjudication proper. (Welf. & Inst. Code, § 607, subds. (c), (h)(2).)