Monday, November 4, 2019
Court of Appeal:
By a MetNews Staff Writer
A court lacked the power to revoke the probation of a man because there was an absence of jurisdiction in the case after charges were dismissed, the Third District Court of Appeal held Friday under an unusual fact situation.
Gary Grant Hampton Jr. faced an array of charges in Sutter Superior Court. The prosecutor indicated a desire to dismiss the main case and file a new information the next day.
On the next day, a plea bargain was reached in chambers which entailed “reactivating” the dismissed case. In court, the judge said:
“To the extent that I dismissed this matter, ...I am setting aside that dismissal and that file will become operative for all purposes and do counsel agree to that?”
They did; the dismissal was vacated; Hampton was released, on probation. He was later found to be in violation of probation and sentenced to two years for the car theft and a concurrent sentence for spousal battery, crediting him with 588 days in custody.
Reversal came in an opinion by Justice Harry E. Hull Jr., who wrote:
“No California authority vests a trial court with jurisdiction to vacate the dismissal of a criminal case upon the stipulation of the parties seeking to adopt a plea agreement. Under California jurisdiction law, a court loses subject matter jurisdiction upon dismissing a criminal case in its entirety, and these rules prevent a court from later vacating such a dismissal, even when the vacation was sought by stipulation of the parties.”
Hull pointed to Penal Code §1387.2 which applies where a case is not brought to trial within 60 days of the arraignment. It provides, in part:
“Upon the express consent of both the people and the defendant, in lieu of issuing an order terminating an action the court may proceed on the existing accusatory pleading.”
The jurist remarked:
“By adopting section 1387.2 and expressly giving parties a right to stipulate to continue a case in lieu of it being dismissed, the Legislature recognized that a dismissal resulted in the trial court losing jurisdiction of the matter until it was refiled under a new complaint….‘In lieu of’ means ‘instead of,’ not ‘after.’…Nowhere did the Legislature give the parties the right to stipulate to jurisdiction after the dismissal was entered.”
He went on to say:
“Here, the dismissal at the time operated as a final judgment. The prosecution intended it to be a dismissal, as it announced it would file a new complaint. The trial court acted upon it as a dismissal with jurisdictional effect, as it released defendant from custody for purposes of the case. Everyone left the courtroom that day fully understanding the case had been dismissed and the court had lost subject matter jurisdiction over it. No California authority authorizes the parties in such a situation to reconfirm jurisdiction on a trial court by stipulation to implement a plea bargain.”
The case is People v. Hampton, C081038.
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