Tuesday, November 20, 2007

People v. King (Cal. Ct. App. - Nov. 20, 2007)

This is amongst the plethora of reasons why it's so nice to read an opinion by Justice Bedsworth. Because he adds thoughts like these, which are technically irrelevant to the proper disposition of the case but that help the less sophisticated reader -- including yours truly, I must admit -- understand what's going on:

"The jury returned a verdict of guilty on all three crimes. The court subsequently sentenced King to terms of 25 years to life on the murder count; three years, to be served concurrently on the robbery count; and four years, to be served concurrently, on the burglary count. . . . King’s sole contention on appeal is that the court erred in imposing separate sentences for his convictions on the robbery and burglary counts, in addition to the sentence imposed for the murder conviction.

At first blush, this asserted error might appear to be a mere technicality under the circumstances of this case, since the robbery and burglary sentences King challenges are shorter than, and run concurrently with, the sentence imposed for his murder conviction – a conviction and sentence which he does not separately challenge. Thus, he will serve the same amount of time in prison on these charges whether or not he
prevails here.

However, there are real consequences stemming from the separate sentences. Penal Code section 667.5 requires the court to impose sentence enhancements for any future felonies King might commit, based upon the number of 'prior separate prison terms' he has served for past felonies. . . . Consequently, if King technically 'serves' the three distinct sentences imposed in this case, they would each mandate a separate sentencing enhancement in the event he is convicted of another felony in the future. It is therefore important to ensure the multiple sentences were properly imposed."

Which, apparently, they weren't. And the consequences of which I readily admit I didn't understand before reading Justice Bedsworth's helpful comments.

Thanks for helping out!