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People v. Hampton

California Court of Appeals, Third District

November 1, 2019

The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
Gary Grant HAMPTON, Jr., Defendant and Appellant.

         [254 Cal.Rptr.3d 576] APPEAL from judgments of the Superior Court of Sutter County, Perry Parker, Judge in CRF121961 and CRF140755, and Susan E. Green, Judge in CRF122695. Reversed. (Super. Ct. Nos. CRF121961, CRF122695, CRF140755)

Page 841

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 842

         COUNSEL

         Elizabeth Campbell and Michael Allen, Hayward, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Defendant and Appellant.

         Xavier Becerra, Attorney General, Gerald A. Engler, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Michael P. Farrell, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Eric L. Christoffersen and Catherine Chatman, Supervising Deputy Attorneys General, Jesse Witt and Michael Dolida, Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

         OPINION

         HULL, J.

Page 843

         [254 Cal.Rptr.3d 577]  This opinion addresses a trial court’s authority to vacate dismissal of a criminal action as part of a plea bargain. Pursuant to a stipulation by the parties made at its suggestion, the trial court vacated its earlier dismissal of an information against defendant Gary Grant Hampton, Jr., in order to approve a plea agreement in this and other pending actions. The court placed defendant on probation, but later, it found he had violated probation and it sentenced him to prison. On appeal, defendant contends the trial court lacked jurisdiction to vacate its earlier dismissal and thus could not accept his plea, place him on probation, or sentence him to prison for violating probation.

          We reverse. No California authority vests a trial court with jurisdiction to vacate the dismissal of a criminal case upon the stipulation of the parties seeking to adopt a plea agreement. Under California jurisdiction law, a court loses subject matter jurisdiction upon dismissing a criminal case in its entirety, and these rules prevent a court from later vacating such a dismissal, even when the vacation was sought by stipulation of the parties.

          FACTS AND LEGAL PROCEEDINGS

          The People by information, charged defendant with battery, criminal threats, assault, spousal battery, false imprisonment, car theft, obstructing use of a cell phone to summon assistance, and five felony priors. Later, the People amended the information to allege defendant had been convicted of a serious felony for purposes of the Three Strikes law. Also, in two separate actions, the People claimed that defendant’s crimes violated his probation.

          The People later moved to dismiss the main case and file new charges, and to proceed to trial on the probation violations the following day. The trial court granted the motion and dismissed the main case. The court itself gave no reason for the dismissal. The minute order notes the case was dismissed in the interest of justice. Upon dismissing the action, the court ordered defendant to be discharged from custody for purposes of the main case only.

          The following day, during the afternoon of trial on the probation violations, the court announced that counsel had met with it in chambers and advised it of a possible resolution in the probation cases. The resolution involved "reactivating" the main case. After reconfirming with counsel, the court stated: "To the extent that I dismissed this matter ... I am setting aside that dismissal and that file will become operative for all purposes and do ...


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