Does SB 620 Allow Judge to Lower Gun Enhancement?

A reading of the text of the revised form of Penal Code § 12022.53(h), one can see that the statute allows the judge to “strike or dismiss” a firearm use enhancement. The statute does not state that the judge also may decrease the term of the enhancement. The statute does not state that the judge may lower, for example, an enhancement from 25 years to life to 20 years or 10 years. However, if the jury were to also find true an enhancement that supported a shorter sentence, could a judge in effect, strike the longer enhancement and impose the lesser enhancement? This issue was brought to an appellate court’s attention in the following case. To read a short summary of this, please click on the following link –

Can Romero Bypass 1170.91 Determinate Sentence Rule?

If a judge were to grant a Romero motion to strike a strike and then change an indeterminate sentence, i.e., 25 to life, to a determinate sentence, i.e., 12 years, an otherwise qualified prior servicemember is not entitled to resentencing under Penal Code § 1170.91. Eligibility for resentencing under 1170.91 is determined before any potential resentencing under Romero or any other grounds are considered. To read more about 1170.91 resentencing, please click on the following link –

People v. Sanchez, Proving Predicate Acts, Gang Crimes

Under People v. Sanchez, the California Supreme Court reversed a conviction out of the Fifth Appellate District because the trial court admitted testimony of an officer about predicate acts that he had no personal knowledge about – it was textbook hearsay. Consequently, defendant could not cross-examine the officer about such knowledge, in violation of the Sixth Amendment. To read more about this recent ruling, please click on the following link –

What is Penal Code § 653.23(a)(1)? Punishment?

Penal Code § 653.23(a)(1) is best known as the misdemeanor version of pimping or pandering, meaning one cannot be sentenced to state prison for this. The maximum punishment is six months in county jail and / or a fine of $1,000, plus penalties and assessments, which can mean the maximum fine is actually closer to $4,200. To read more about this lesser form of pimping and pandering, please click on the following link –

What is Penal Code § 315? Punishment? Defenses?

Penal Code § 315 makes it a crime (a misdemeanor) to own a home, live in a home or work in a home that is used for prostitution “or lewdness.” Section 315 can also apply to a “massage parlor” or spa where prostitution is conducted, as well as a strip club or topless bar. Punishment can be up to 180 days in county jail, a fine up to $500 plus penalties and assessments and the judge can order the business to close. Defenses include lack of knowledge of the business taking place. To read more about this offense, please click on the following link –

Compassionate Release, Federal Custody Requirements?

If you or a loved one is in federal prison, compassionate release may be an issue, particularly if illness is a major issue. Just what are the federal law requirements for being allowed to leave federal prison on compassionate release? Must one have a terminal illness? The answer is no, but one must first and foremost exhaust administrative remedies with the Bureau of Prisons first. Then one must demonstrate “extraordinary and compelling reasons” why a sentence modification is proper. To read more about this issue, please click on the following link –

Supreme Court: Criminal Jury Verdict Must be Unanimous.

In 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court decided a case from Oregon, concluding that all jury verdicts in criminal trials must be unanimous (this was already the law in California). In 2021, a person convicted in Louisiana without a unanimous jury verdict in 2007 sought to have his conviction vacated based on this new 2020 ruling. The U.S. Supreme Court denied such a request because it found that the 2020 ruling was not retroactive because it was not a “watershed” ruling, as it only affected two states. To read more about this ruling, please click on the following link –

Juvenile LWOP: Must Permanent Incorrigibility Exist?

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Brett v. Mississippi (2021) that a state court judge does not have to make a deliberate finding of “permanent incorrigibility” before imposing a sentence of life without the possibility of parole (LWOP). The Supreme Court did not want to impose such a strict standard and preferred to defer to the discretion of the trial court in each case, who would be much more familiar with the case facts and because of this, such a sentence was not barred without such a finding. To read more about this U.S. Supreme Court ruling, please click on the following link –

Is a Police Shooting, an Attempt to Restrain, a Seizure?

When police shoot at a fleeing suspect, in an attempt to stop (and restrain) that person, the U.S. Supreme Court has found that this is legally considered a seizure because the governmental attempt is to restrain. Once it is regarded legally as a seizure, there is legal analysis for a prolonged detention and certain Fourth Amendment principals that may apply to evidence gathered thereafter. To read more about this U.S. Supreme Court ruling on this issue, please click on the following link –

No Search Warrant Needed for Massage Establishments?

The Fourth Amendment requires that a search warrant is needed to search the interior of a home, unless the homeowner consents to such a search or other exceptions apply. Likewise, a commercial establishment may not be searched without a warrant, unless consent is given or certain exceptions apply. One of those exceptions is for “closely regulated businesses,” which include massage establishments. To read more about this exception, please click on the following link –