California v. EandiAnnotate this Case
In a complaint filed in November, 2014, defendant Colette Jean Eandi allegedly failed to appear in August 2014 on a felony charge of possessing a controlled substance, and also alleged an enhancement for committing this offense while released from custody on her own recognizance. She failed to appear for her arraignments in July and August 2014. The trial court issued an arrest warrant. The warrant was served and defendant was taken into custody on October 31, 2014. Defendant told the probation officer that her failure to appear stemmed from transportation difficulties because she does not drive. Defendant entered a plea of no contest the next day in exchange for dismissal of the enhancement with a "Harvey" waiver; the trial court also dismissed the underlying possession charge (case No. CM041535). Defendant was referred to probation for a presentence report. By operation of a November 2014 initiative, defendant's crime of drug possession had been reduced to a misdemeanor at the time of its dismissal on November 5, 2014. On this basis, at sentencing approximately a month later, the trial court concluded that it should amend the charge of a felony violation for failure to appear on felony charges to a misdemeanor violation for failure to appear on misdemeanor charges. The trial court suspended imposition of sentence and granted probation to defendant subject to various conditions. The State appealed. Defendant did not cross-appeal the order of probation. The State argued the trial court's action was unauthorized. The Court of Appeal reduced the principal issue of this case to whether the November 2014 initiative had a collateral retroactive effect such that the pending felony drug possession charge at the time of the breach of promise of failure to appear in August 2014 became a misdemeanor as a matter of law retroactively, thereby negating a necessary statutory element of a failure to appear on a felony charge: having been "charged with . . . the commission of a felony" The Court of Appeal concluded the trial curt lacked authority to amend the complaint in this case to re-designate the offense as involving failure to appear on a pending misdemeanor charge. The order of probation was set aside and the case remanded for further proceedings on the original complaint, at which time the trial court could exercise discretion to reduce the failure to appear violation to a misdemeanor.