By a MetNews Staff Writer
A statute that went into effect on Jan. 1, 2021 limiting terms of probation in most cases to two years applies retroactively to a man who was sentenced to four years of probation in 2016, violated the terms of probation on Dec. 17, 2019 and had the probation revoked three days later, Div. One of this district’s Court of Appeal has determined.
The bill, AB 1950, has previously been declared to have retroactive effect in light of the California Supreme Court’s 1965 pronouncement in In re Estrada that an ameliorative sentencing law applies to defendants whose convictions are not yet final. However, Presiding Justice Frances Rothschild said in Wednesday’s opinion, in each of the cases in which AB 1950 has been applied retroactively, probation was violated after the bill went into effect.
“This case requires us to determine how far the retroactive application of Assembly Bill No. 1950 extends,” she wrote.
The Office of Attorney General, the presiding justice noted, takes the position that the benefits of AB 1950 are not available to defendant Ronald Reyes Canedos because Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Shannon Knight adjudged him to have violated probation before Jan. 1, 2021.
Rejecting the distinction, Rothschild set forth:
“[W]e see no principled basis for denying retroactive relief to defendants in Canedos’s position. Although Canedos had violated the terms of his probation before Assembly Bill No. 1950 became effective, neither the trial court’s finding of a violation nor his original conviction was yet final for purposes of retroactivity under Estrada.”
“Unless the Legislature specifies otherwise, it is a matter of ‘presumed legislative intent’ that an ameliorative criminal statute applies retroactively to all defendants whose convictions were not yet final when the law became effective….We see no indication in the text or legislative history of Assembly Bill No. 1950 that the Legislature meant to limit its retroactive application. Under the new law, Canedos’s probation expired in 2018, more than a year before he committed the violation. Thus, the court no longer had the authority to revoke Canedos’s probation and sentence him to prison.”
Supreme Court Decision
Rothschild said that Canedos’s 2016 conviction on firearms possession was not final, under the reasoning set forth last year in the California Supreme Court’s decision in People v. Esquivel. There, Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye wrote for a unanimous court in saying:
“We hold that a case in which a defendant is placed on probation with execution of an imposed state prison sentence suspended is not yet final for this purpose if the defendant may still timely obtain direct review of an order revoking probation and causing the state prison sentence to take effect.”
The Div. One jurist wrote:
“The same is true in this case.”
When Knight revoked Canedos’s probation, she said, “that decision was still on appeal, and therefore not yet final for purposes of Estrada, when Assembly Bill No. 1950 became effective.”
The conduct giving rise to the probation violation was Canedos’s assault on his wife with a deadly weapon. Oct. 21, 2021, Div. One, in an opinion by Rothschild, affirmed Canedos’s conviction on the new offense, rejecting his contention that there was an insufficiency of evidence.
Knight sentenced him to the high term of four years in prison on the assault—plus two years and eight months on the 2016 firearms convictions, which Wednesday’s decision orders stricken.
“The court shall resentence Canedos to four years in prison for the 2020 conviction of assault with a deadly weapon,” the opinion instructs.
The case is People v. Canedos, 2022 S.O.S. 1580.
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