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People v. Medina

California Court of Appeals, Second District, Fifth Division

May 31, 2018

THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
JOB LUNA MEDINA, Defendant and Appellant.

          APPEAL from an order of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County No. BA417306-02, David M. Horowitz, Judge. Affirmed.

          Claudia A. Martinez, for Defendant and Appellant.

          Xavier Becerra, Attorney General, Gerald A. Engler, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Lance E. Winters, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Blythe J. Leszkay and Marc A. Kohm, Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

          KIM, J. [*]

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Defendant Job Luna Medina appeals from an order denying his motion to reduce a felony conspiracy conviction to a misdemeanor under Penal Code section 17, subdivision (b)(3) (section 17(b)(3)) or Health and Safety Code section 11361.8, subdivision (e) (section 11361.8(e)). We affirm the denial order. We conclude the trial court had discretion to reduce the offense under section 17(b)(3) and properly exercised that discretion. We further conclude defendant's conspiracy offense is not eligible for reduction under section 11361.8(e).

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Background

         On June 5, 2015, defendant pled guilty to felony conspiracy to commit a crime. (Pen. Code, § 182, subd. (a)(1).) The target offense was marijuana possession for sale. (Health & Saf. Code, § 11359.) The trial court suspended imposition of sentence and placed defendant on probation for one year.

         Both at the time defendant engaged in the conspiracy (2013) and when he entered his guilty plea, marijuana possession for sale was a felony. (Health & Saf. Code, § 11359, Stats. 2011, ch. 15, § 161.)[1] Because the target offense was a felony, the conspiracy was a felony. (Pen. Code, § 182, subd. (a); People v. Athar (2005) 36 Cal.4th 396, 398, 400.) However, under the Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act (Proposition 64), effective November 9, 2016, with exceptions not pertinent here, the target marijuana possession for sale offense is now a misdemeanor. (Health & Saf. Code, § 11359, as amended by Proposition 64.)[2]

         On February 22, 2017, defendant filed a motion to reduce his felony conviction pursuant to sections 17(b)(3) and 11361.8(e). On March 22, 2017, the court held a hearing on defendant's motion and denied it. On April 27, 2017, defendant filed an amended motion to reduce under sections 17(b)(3) and 11361.8(e). The court considered the motion on June 26, 2017. Without referencing its earlier denial of defendant's motion, the court again denied it.

         B. Section 17(b)(3)

         Section 17(b)(3) allows a trial court, in its discretion, to declare a “wobbler” offense a misdemeanor rather than a felony when, as here, a defendant is granted probation without imposition of sentence. Section 17(b)(3) provides: “(b) When a crime is punishable, in the discretion of the [trial] court, either by imprisonment in the state prison or imprisonment in a county jail under the provisions of subdivision (h) of [Penal Code] Section 1170, or by fine or imprisonment in the county jail, it is a misdemeanor for all purposes under the following circumstances: [¶]... [¶] (3) When the court grants probation to a defendant without imposition of sentence and at the time of granting probation, or on application of the defendant or probation officer thereafter, the [trial] court declares the offense to be a misdemeanor.”

         Defendant's conspiracy crime became a “wobbler” (i.e., alternatively punishable as a felony or misdemeanor) after Proposition 64 made the target of the conspiracy-possession of marijuana for sale-a misdemeanor offense.[3] (Pen. Code, § 182; People v. Mullins (2018) 19 Cal.App.5th 594, 611; People v. Tatman (1993) 20 Cal.App.4th 1, 7.) That defendant entered a guilty plea to a felony did not preclude the ...


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