Monday, May 04, 2015

People v. Lopez (Cal. Ct. App. - May 5, 2015)

"Defendant has had a substance abuse problem since he was 14 years old. He completed three substance abuse treatment programs between 1986 and 1997, but his substance abuse continued unabated. He was convicted of theft in 1988 and incurred two burglary convictions, his two strikes, in 1989. Defendant has a long history of violence. During one of the 1989 burglaries, the victim awoke to find defendant trying to steal his stereo. Defendant tried to “gouge the victim’s eyes,” but fled when the victim escaped his grasp. Also in 1989, when the police contacted defendant after it was reported that “he was challenging passersby to fight,” defendant assaulted the police. While serving a jail term, he escaped by force. In 1992, while driving a stolen car and trying to evade the police, defendant “rammed an occupied police car.” In 1996, defendant assaulted and injured his girlfriend. When the police arrived, he threatened and assaulted them and damaged their patrol car. In addition to his violent offenses, defendant was convicted of driving under the influence in 1989 and again in 1993. He has served multiple prison terms, and his performance on parole has been dismal. He lied to his parole officer, made no effort to obtain employment, and continued to use drugs and commit crimes while on parole.

Defendant was on parole with a warrant out for his arrest in August 1997 when he was stopped by the police. Defendant had been seen dropping an object on the ground after seeing a police officer. He provided a false name to the officer. The object he had dropped was retrieved, and it was found to be a wallet containing five packages of methamphetamine and defendant’s California Identification Card. He was arrested and found to be both drunk and under the influence of methamphetamine. Defendant was convicted of possession of methamphetamine for sale and sentenced to 25 years to life in 1998.

Since 1998, defendant has spent most of his time in the Secured Housing Unit (SHU) at Pelican Bay State Prison due to his involvement in the Northern Structure prison gang. He has been disciplined for battery on a peace officer and mutual combat in 2000, possession of inmate-manufactured alcohol in 2003 and 2004, possession of contraband in 2003, possession of a deadly weapon in 2010, and gang activity in 2012."

Given these facts, to say that Mr. Lopez will not successfully challenge his three-strikes sentence -- notwithstanding the passage of Proposition 47 -- is an understatement.  The trial court validly found that he poses an "unreasonable risk of danger to public safety".