California v. PerezAnnotate this Case
After defendant Jesse David Perez was released on his own recognizance (OR) on a felony drug charge, he was convicted of both the drug and felony failure to appear (FTA) charges and sentenced to prison. He appealed, voluntarily dismissed his appeal, and his conviction became final in early 2014. Later that year, California voters passed Proposition 47, the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act (the Act), which, among other things, reduced defendant's drug charge to a misdemeanor. Defendant petitioned to modify his drug sentence under the Act, and also sought to have the FTA reduced to a misdemeanor, reasoning that because the underlying charge was now a misdemeanor "for all purposes," the FTA should have been reduced to a misdemeanor. The trial court reduced the drug charge to a misdemeanor, declined to reduce the FTA, and sentenced defendant to prison based on the felony FTA. The Court of Appeal affirmed, finding that the Legislature deemed willfully failing to appear more serious when the underlying charge was a felony. The outcome of the underlying charge is irrelevant to the degree of the FTA crime. The Court found nothing in the Act changed this view. Accordingly, the Court affirmed defendant's sentence.