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People v. Sasser

Supreme Court of California

April 23, 2015

THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
DARREN DERAE SASSER, Defendant and Appellant.

Superior Court Alameda County: No. C156534 Judge: C. Don Clay

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COUNSEL

Dirck Newbury, under appointment by the Supreme Court, for Defendant and Appellant.

Ronald L. Brown, Public Defender (Los Angeles), Albert J. Menaster and Albert Camacho, Jr., Deputy Public Defenders, for Los Angeles County Public Defender as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Defendant and Appellant.

William J. Arzbaecher III for California Public Defender’s Association as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Defendant and Appellant.

Kamala D. Harris, Attorneys General, Dane R. Gillette, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Gerald A. Engler, Assistant Attorney General, Laurence K. Sullivan, Catherine A. Rivlin and Gregg E. Zywicke, Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

OPINION

Liu, J.

When a defendant with one prior “strike” is convicted of a subsequent felony, the second-strike provision of the Three Strikes law requires that he be sentenced to “twice the term otherwise provided as punishment for the current felony conviction.” (Pen. Code, § 667, subd. (e)(1); all subsequent statutory references are to this code.) If the current offense is a serious felony, he is also subject to a five-year prior serious felony enhancement on top of that doubled term. (§ 667, subd. (a)(1).) In cases where the second-strike offender has only one current offense, the sentencing arithmetic is simple: The trial court selects the base term, doubles it, and adds five years.

But when a defendant’s second-strike sentence includes multiple terms for several offenses, calculating the correct sentence can become more complex. We granted review to determine whether the prior serious felony enhancement may be applied to the term imposed for each current offense or only once to the determinate portion of the overall sentence. Finding our decision

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in People v. Tassell (1984) 36 Cal.3d 77, 89-92 [201 Cal.Rptr. 567, 679 P.2d 1] (Tassell) applicable in this context, we conclude that the prior serious felony enhancement may be added only once to multiple determinate terms imposed as part of a second-strike sentence.

I.

Defendant Darren Derae Sasser was convicted of 11 offenses arising from sexual assaults on two separate victims. His convictions included three counts of oral copulation by force (§ 288a, subd. (c)(2)), three counts of sodomy by force (§ 286, subd. (c)(2)), and five counts of rape by force (§ 261, subd. (a)(2)). Sasser admitted that he had a prior conviction for a lewd act on a child (§ 288, subd. (a)), which qualified for sentencing purposes as a prior ...


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