California v. GomezAnnotate this Case
On November 4, 2014, California voters approved Proposition 47, The Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act; it went into effect the following day. Penal Code section 1170.18 was added and provided that a person currently serving a sentence for a felony conviction, whether by trial or plea, who would have been guilty only of a misdemeanor had Proposition 47 been in effect at the time the plea was entered, or at the time of trial, may petition for a recall of the sentence before the trial court that entered the judgment of conviction in his or her case to request resentencing. Prior to the passage of Proposition 47, defendant entered a guilty plea to a felony violation of Vehicle Code section 10851 for unlawfully driving and taking a 2002 Chevy Suburban. Defendant filed a petition to recall his sentence, arguing that his conviction for violating Vehicle Code section 10851 should be reduced to a misdemeanor violation of petty theft under Penal Code section 490.2. The trial court denied the petition on the ground that all Vehicle Code section 10851 convictions were not eligible for resentencing under Proposition 47. Defendant argued on appeal to the Court of Appeal that: (1) Penal Code section 1170.18 should have been broadly interpreted to include violations of Vehicle Code section 10851; (2) the trial court should have provided the parties an opportunity to litigate the value of the loss to the victim prior to ruling on his Petition to determine if the offense committed was petty theft (loss to the victim was less than $950) within the meaning of Penal Code section 490.2; (3) the People had the burden of proving at the hearing on the Petition that the value of the vehicle taken exceeded $950; (4) the valuation of the loss for a temporary taking of an automobile should be that amount of compensation to make the victim whole, not the market value of the automobile; and (5) equal protection requires that offenses under Vehicle Code section 10851 be treated like violations of Penal Code section 487, subdivision (d)(1), and be reduced to misdemeanors. Finding none of these arguments availing, the Court of Appeal affirmed the denial of the Petition.