California v. MendozaAnnotate this Case
Defendant-appellant Kimberly Mendoza was charged with four drug-related offenses. The trial court suspended imposition of sentence and placed defendant on three years’ probation in connection with the case. Nearly two years later, defendant was convicted of a new felony in a different county. Defendant was sentenced to 16 months imprisonment, to be served in the county jail. Defendant filed a request in the first case to terminate probation and to impose sentence in absentia under Penal Code section 1203.2a. Defendant waived her right to be present and her right to an attorney. A petition to impose sentence in absentia, when a prison sentence has been ordered to be served in the county jail, has never been expressly provided for by the terms of Penal Code section 1203.2a. In addition, the “petition” defendant filed lacked attestation by the prison warden, or the warden’s designate, as required under the statute. The trial court called for hearing. The prosecutor was present, but defendant was not. When the court found that defendant was not present, it stated, “We’ll just drop it.” The court never acted on defendant’s request for sentencing. Several months later, defense counsel filed a motion in the first case for termination of probation under Penal Code section 1203.2a, because of the court’s inaction. The trial court apparently viewed the motion to terminate probation as inconsistent with the plea agreement to admit violations of probation and to reinstate probation. The court ordered the motion to terminate probation withdrawn, and proceeded to accept the negotiated disposition of the violation of probation allegations. Defendant admitted the violations, and was reinstated on probation. Counsel did not join in defendant’s waivers and admissions. Defendant filed a notice of appeal, alleging that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to rule on the violations of probation, because it had failed to act on defendant’s demand under 1203.2a. The Court of Appeal concluded after review of the provisions of Penal Code section 1203.2a, that the trial court’s failure to act on defendant’s petition for over 60 days after it was filed in January 2013 deprived the court of jurisdiction to impose any sentence or reinstate probation on the first probation offense. The trial court should have granted defendant’s motion to terminate her probation. Accordingly, the order reinstating probation (and requiring defendant to withdraw her motion for dismissal as a condition of her plea bargain) was reversed. The matter was remanded with directions to the trial court to terminate defendant’s probation and to discharge her from probation.