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People v. Castel

California Court of Appeals, Second District, Second Division

June 26, 2017

THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
IGNACIO CASTEL, Defendant and Appellant.

         APPEAL from an order of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, No. 6PH00808 Robert M. Kawahara, Commissioner. Affirmed.

          Wayne C. Tobin, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Defendant and Appellant.

          Xavier Becerra, Attorney General, Gerald A. Engler, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Lance E. Winters, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Shawn McGahey Webb, Supervising Deputy Attorney General, Noah P. Hill, Deputy Attorney General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

          HOFFSTADT, J.

         When a supervising agency files a petition to modify, revoke, or terminate a criminal defendant's parole or postrelease community supervision, its petition must be accompanied by a written report containing information specified by statute and the California Rules of Court. (Pen. Code, §§ 1203.2, subd. (b)(1) & 3000.08, subd. (f);[1] Cal. Rules of Court, rule 4.541.) When a district attorney files such a petition, its petition need not be accompanied by such a report. (§ 1203.2, subd. (b)(1); cf. § 3000.08, subd. (f).) Does this procedural difference violate equal protection by treating similarly situated defendants differently without a rational basis for doing so? We conclude there is no equal protection violation, and affirm the revocation of parole in this case.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Ignacio Castel (defendant) pled no contest to one count of felony assault (§ 459), and he was sentenced to three years in state prison. Following his release from state prison, he was placed on parole.

         In 2015, while on parole, defendant threatened to kill two of his in-laws. The People charged him with a misdemeanor violation of making criminal threats (§ 422). He pled no contest to the charge, and the trial court sentenced him to three years of informal probation, including nine days in jail.

         Soon thereafter, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office (District Attorney) filed a petition seeking revocation of defendant's parole.

         Defendant filed a demurrer to the petition. He argued that the District Attorney's petition was facially deficient under People v. Osorio (2015) 235 Cal.App.4th 1408 (Osorio) because it was not accompanied by the written report that must accompany petitions filed by supervising parole agencies. Defendant also filed a “motion for sanctions” in which he sought an order compelling the preparation of a written report, asserting that the Legislature's failure to require a written report for district attorney-filed petitions violated equal protection.

         In a nine-page order, the trial court overruled the demurrer and denied the motion for sanctions. The court overruled the demurrer because the pertinent statutes authorize a district attorney to file a petition to revoke parole without any accompanying report. The court also rejected defendant's equal protection argument. The court accepted that parolees and other supervised persons are similarly situated no matter who (a district attorney or a supervising parole agency) seeks their revocation. However, the court concluded that our Legislature had a rational basis for treating the two groups differently-namely, (1) that a written report spelling out additional information about the parolee's or supervised person's “history and background” as well as an explanation as to why sanctions short of revocation are appropriate “is less essential for parole-revocation petitions filed by a district attorney because they typically involve violations amounting to criminal conduct (rather than technical violations)”; and (2) that the information necessary to compile the required written report is not available to district attorneys.[2]

         Defendant then waived his rights to a contested hearing and admitted the parole violation. The trial court sentenced defendant to 150 days in jail and reinstated his parole.

         Defendant filed a timely notice of appeal. Although defendant's appointed counsel filed a brief pursuant to People v. Wende (1979) 25 Cal.3d 436, and defendant filed no supplemental brief, we independently reviewed the record and ...


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