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People v. Boatwright

California Court of Appeals, First District, First Division

June 25, 2019

THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
WILLIAM ROY BOATWRIGHT, Defendant and Appellant.

          Mendocino County Superior Court No. SCUK-CRCR-13-74202 Hon. John A. Behnke Trial Judge

          First District Appellate Project, Jonathan Soglin, Executive Director, Stephanie Clarke and Deborah Rodriguez, for Defendant and Appellant.

          Xavier Becerra, Attorney General, Gerald A. Engler and Jeffrey M. Laurence, Assistant Attorneys General, Catherine A. Rivlin and Jalem Z. Peguero, Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

          SANCHEZ, J.

         Proposition 64 reduced or eliminated criminal penalties for various marijuana-related offenses and established a petitioning process for individuals to seek a reduction in sentence based on these changes in law. William Roy Boatwright was charged with possession of marijuana for sale and cultivation of marijuana, both felonies at the time, and later pleaded guilty to a single felony count of accessory. Defendant appeals from the denial of his petition for resentencing. This appeal presents an issue of first impression, whether a defendant convicted of felony accessory is categorically ineligible for resentencing under Proposition 64 because the crime of accessory is not specifically mentioned in the statute. We conclude defendant was eligible for resentencing and reverse.


         In September 2013, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant for a residence in Ukiah and seized 107 pounds of marijuana, four grams of methamphetamine, drug paraphernalia, a vacuum-sealing device, and 60 pounds of marijuana shake. Defendant was seen walking from the front door of the house and was detained. He told officers he was helping a friend package the marijuana inside the house. He was arrested.

         The People filed an information charging defendant with possession of marijuana for sale (Health & Saf. Code, [1] § 11359) and cultivation of marijuana (§ 11358). At the time, both crimes were classified as felonies. (Former §§ 11358 & 11359, as amended by Stats. 2011, ch. 15, §§ 160 & 161, eff. Apr. 4, 2011.) The information also charged two prior prison term enhancements pursuant to Penal Code section 667.5, subdivision (b). Under a negotiated disposition, defendant pleaded guilty to a single felony count of accessory (Pen. Code, § 32), [2] and the trial court dismissed the balance of the charges. Because defendant was found to have played a minimal role in this offense, the court suspended imposition of sentence and placed him on three years' formal probation. He served 228 days in county jail and received 114 days of credit for time served.

         Between August 2015 and December 2016, defendant's probation was revoked twice and he was ordered to serve a total of 135 days in jail. After a third probation violation petition was filed in December, the trial court continued the hearing to allow briefing on what effect, if any, the recent passage of Proposition 64 may have on the probation proceedings. The court ordered defendant released from custody and tolled his probation pending the hearing.

         Defense counsel petitioned for a reduction in defendant's sentence under Proposition 64. Counsel explained, “Although Proposition 64 does delineate the specific crimes to which it applies, the results in this case would be absurd and unjust if [defendant] were not afforded that relief” because “[b]oth of the original counts against [him] would now be misdemeanors.” Counsel also noted that defendant was not otherwise disqualified from seeking postconviction relief as he had no prior drug-related convictions or super strikes and was not a sex registrant. The trial court denied defendant's petition on the basis that “he's not specifically covered under Proposition 64....” The court expressed concern over defendant's repeated violations of probation and stated he “should get some sanction for what he's done.” The court permanently revoked probation and sentenced defendant to serve the middle term of two years and ordered him to pay various fines. After applying 794 days of custody credits for time served, defendant was released from custody.


         I. Standard of Review

         Whether defendant's accessory conviction is eligible for resentencing under Proposition 64 “presents a question of statutory interpretation, which we review de novo.” (People v. Medina (2018) 24 Cal.App.5th 61, 66 (Medina).) “We review voter initiatives by applying the same principles that govern our interpretation of statutes passed by the Legislature. [Citation.] In doing so, we turn first to the words of the provision adopted by voters, giving language its plain and ordinary meaning. [Citation.] If the language is ambiguous, ‘we refer to other indicia of the voters' intent, particularly the analyses and arguments contained in the official ballot pamphlet.' [Citation.] We construe statutory language ‘in context, keeping in mind the statutes' nature and obvious purposes,' and we ‘harmonize the various parts of the enactments by considering them in the context of the statutory frame work as a whole.' ” (People v. Laird (2018) 27 Cal.App.5th 458, 463.)

         II. ...

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