People v. Frahs, S252220

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (California)
Writing for the CourtOpinion of the Court by Cantil-Sakauye, C. J.
Citation466 P.3d 844,264 Cal.Rptr.3d 292,9 Cal.5th 618
Parties The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Eric Jason FRAHS, Defendant and Appellant.
Docket NumberS252220
Decision Date18 June 2020

9 Cal.5th 618
466 P.3d 844
264 Cal.Rptr.3d 292

The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
Eric Jason FRAHS, Defendant and Appellant.

S252220

Supreme Court of California.

June 18, 2020


Arthur Martin and Susan L. Ferguson, under appointments by the Supreme Court, for Defendant and Appellant.

Xavier Becerra, Attorney General, Gerald A. Engler, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Julie L. Garland, Assistant Attorney General, Matthew Mulford, Marilyn George, Meredith White, Daniel Hilton and Steve Oetting, Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye authored the opinion of the Court, in which Justices Chin, Corrigan, Liu, Cuéllar, Kruger, and Groban concurred.

Opinion of the Court by Cantil-Sakauye, C. J.

264 Cal.Rptr.3d 294
9 Cal.5th 624

In June 2018, the Legislature enacted Penal Code 1 sections 1001.35 and 1001.36, which created a pretrial diversion program for certain defendants with mental health disorders. (Stats. 2018, ch. 34, § 24.) We granted review in this matter to determine whether the mental health diversion statute applies retroactively to cases in which the judgment is not yet final, and whether the Court of Appeal erred when it conditionally reversed defendant Eric Jason Frahs's convictions and sentence and remanded this case for a diversion eligibility hearing.

466 P.3d 846

Here, defendant stole two beverages from a convenience store and threw rocks at passing cars. At trial, he introduced evidence that he suffers from a form of schizophrenia. After defendant was convicted, and while his appeal was pending, the mental health diversion statute came into effect. The Court of Appeal concluded that section 1001.36, which contains the diversion measure's substantive provisions, applies retroactively to all cases not yet final on appeal before the statute became effective, including defendant's case. It conditionally reversed defendant's convictions and sentence, and remanded the matter to the trial court with instructions to conduct a diversion eligibility hearing. ( People v. Frahs (2018) 27 Cal.App.5th 784, 238 Cal.Rptr.3d 483 ( Frahs ).)

In In re Estrada (1965) 63 Cal.2d 740, 48 Cal.Rptr. 172, 408 P.2d 948 ( Estrada ), we held that an amendatory statute lessening punishment for a crime was presumptively retroactive and applied to all persons whose judgments were not yet final at the time the statute took effect. In People v. Superior Court (Lara ) (2018) 4 Cal.5th 299, 228 Cal.Rptr.3d 394, 410 P.3d 22 ( Lara ), we applied the Estrada rule to legislation that mitigated the possible punishment for a class of persons. The statute here is similar to the scheme we considered in Lara , in that section 1001.36 by design and function provides a possible ameliorating benefit for a class of persons — namely, certain defendants with mental disorders — by offering an opportunity for diversion and ultimately the dismissal of charges. Moreover, neither the text nor the history of section 1001.36 clearly indicates that the Legislature intended that the Estrada rule would not apply to this diversion program. Therefore, consistent with our decision in Lara , we conclude that Estrada ’s inference of retroactivity applies. We also agree with the Court of Appeal's

9 Cal.5th 625

determination that defendant is entitled to a limited remand for the trial court to decide whether he should receive diversion under section 1001.36. We express no view regarding whether defendant will be able to show eligibility on remand or whether the trial court should exercise its discretion to grant diversion if it finds him eligible.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

In March 2016, defendant entered a small market in Santa Ana. The store owner, remembering that defendant had tried to steal a pack of cigarettes one week prior, told defendant to leave. Defendant exited the store, picked up rocks, and threw them at passing cars. He struck the windshield of one car, shattering the glass. Defendant then reentered the store and grabbed a can of beer and an energy drink. The store owner and his son stood

264 Cal.Rptr.3d 295

at the front door to block defendant from leaving. Defendant rushed toward the door, punched the owner in the head, and eventually pushed his way through. The store owner and his son detained defendant in the parking lot and called the police.

Defendant was charged with two counts of second degree robbery ( Pen. Code, §§ 211, 212.5, subd. (b) ) and one felony count of throwing a substance at a motor vehicle with intent to cause injury ( Veh. Code, § 23110, subd. (b) ). For sentencing purposes, it was alleged that defendant had suffered a prior serious felony conviction. ( Pen. Code, § 667, subd. (a)(1).)

Defendant testified in his own defense. He stated that he experienced hallucinations and delusions beginning in his early twenties and had been hospitalized at least eight times. In 2015, a conservator was appointed to care for him for approximately seven months. Defendant had stopped taking his prescribed medications four days before the incident at the Santa Ana market and was experiencing severe hallucinations and delusions during that time. He testified that he thought an angel flew by on a horse and talked to him just before he entered the market.

A clinical and forensic psychologist also testified on defendant's behalf. Based on his review of a hospital report detailing defendant's confinement and his conversations with defendant and his parents, the psychologist stated that defendant had been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, which is "a combination of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder," and was very ill and unstable. He also concluded that defendant had been suffering from a psychotic episode and was not

466 P.3d 847

in touch with reality in the days preceding the incident at the Santa Ana market. He testified that defendant's behavior at the market was a byproduct of a psychotic episode.

The jury found defendant guilty of two counts of second degree robbery and of the lesser included misdemeanor offense of throwing a substance at a

9 Cal.5th 626

motor vehicle without intent to cause injury. Following a bench trial on the prior serious felony conviction allegation, which the trial court found to be true, defendant was sentenced to nine years in prison.

When defendant's appeal was pending, the Legislature enacted sections 1001.35 and 1001.36 as part of Assembly Bill No. 1810 (2017-2018 Reg. Sess.) (Assembly Bill 1810), an omnibus budget bill. (Stats. 2018, ch. 34, § 24.) Section 1001.36 gives trial courts the discretion to grant pretrial diversion for individuals suffering from certain mental health disorders. ( § 1001.36, subd. (a).) As part of the budget bill, the diversion statute became effective immediately.

The Court of Appeal concluded that section 1001.36 applies retroactively to all nonfinal judgments. It also determined that defendant is entitled to a limited remand because his case is not yet final on appeal and the record demonstrates that he appears to satisfy at least one of the statute's threshold eligibility requirements, a diagnosed and qualifying mental disorder. ( § 1001.36, subd. (b)(1)(A).) On these grounds, the court conditionally reversed defendant's conviction and sentence and remanded the matter to the trial court to conduct a mental health diversion eligibility hearing under section 1001.36. ( Frahs , supra , 27 Cal.App.5th at p. 792, 238 Cal.Rptr.3d 483.)

II. DISCUSSION

A. The Mental Health Diversion Statute

Section 1001.36 authorizes a pretrial diversion program for defendants with qualifying mental disorders. The statute defines

264 Cal.Rptr.3d 296

" ‘pretrial diversion’ " as "the postponement of prosecution, either temporarily or permanently, at any point in the judicial process from the point at which the accused is charged until adjudication, to allow the defendant to undergo mental health treatment ...." ( § 1001.36, subd. (c).) The stated purpose of the diversion statute "is to promote all of the following: [¶] (a) Increased diversion of individuals with mental disorders to mitigate the individuals’ entry and reentry into the criminal justice system while protecting public safety. [¶] (b) Allowing local discretion and flexibility for counties in the development and implementation of diversion for individuals with mental disorders across a continuum of care settings. [¶] (c) Providing diversion that meets the unique mental health treatment and support needs of individuals with mental disorders." ( § 1001.35, subds. (a) - (c).)

As originally enacted, section 1001.36 provided that a trial court may grant pretrial diversion if it finds all of the following: (1) the defendant suffers from a qualifying mental disorder; (2) the disorder played a significant

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  • People v. Gentile, S256698
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • December 17, 2020
    ...( People v. Conley (2016) 63 Cal.4th 646, 657, 203 Cal.Rptr.3d 622, 373 P.3d 435 477 P.3d 552 ( Conley ); see People v. Frahs (2020) 9 Cal.5th 618, 628–629, 264 Cal.Rptr.3d 292, 466 P.3d 844 ; Estrada , at p. 745, 48 Cal.Rptr. 172, 408 P.2d 948.) However, when ameliorative legislation sets ......
  • People v. Sims, D077024
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • January 12, 2021
    ...‘the Legislature can ordinarily enact laws that apply retroactively, either explicitly or by implication.’ ( People v. Frahs (2020) 9 Cal.5th 618, 627, 264 Cal.Rptr.3d 292, 466 P.3d 844 ( Frahs ).) To determine whether a law is meant to apply retroactively, the role of a court is to determi......
  • People v. Flores, F081903
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • April 12, 2022
    ..." ( Stamps, supra , 9 Cal.5th at p. 698, 264 Cal.Rptr.3d 769, 467 P.3d 168 ; accord, 292 Cal.Rptr.3d 493 People v. Frahs (2020) 9 Cal.5th 618, 627–628, 264 Cal.Rptr.3d 292, 466 P.3d 844 ( Frahs )), and "[t]he Penal Code provides that ‘[n]o part of it is retroactive, unless expressly so decl......
  • Tan v. Superior Court of San Mateo Cnty., A163715
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • March 10, 2022
    ...laws when it enacts a statute and intends to enact a consistent body of rules. ( People v. Frahs , supra , 9 Cal.5th at p. 634, 264 Cal.Rptr.3d 292, 466 P.3d 844 ; People v. Superior Court (Zamudio) (2000) 23 Cal.4th 183, 199, 96 Cal.Rptr.2d 463, 999 P.2d 686.) Yet section 1001.95 does not ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
324 cases
  • People v. Gentile, S256698
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • December 17, 2020
    ...( People v. Conley (2016) 63 Cal.4th 646, 657, 203 Cal.Rptr.3d 622, 373 P.3d 435 477 P.3d 552 ( Conley ); see People v. Frahs (2020) 9 Cal.5th 618, 628–629, 264 Cal.Rptr.3d 292, 466 P.3d 844 ; Estrada , at p. 745, 48 Cal.Rptr. 172, 408 P.2d 948.) However, when ameliorative legislation sets ......
  • People v. Sims, D077024
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • January 12, 2021
    ...‘the Legislature can ordinarily enact laws that apply retroactively, either explicitly or by implication.’ ( People v. Frahs (2020) 9 Cal.5th 618, 627, 264 Cal.Rptr.3d 292, 466 P.3d 844 ( Frahs ).) To determine whether a law is meant to apply retroactively, the role of a court is to determi......
  • People v. Flores, F081903
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • April 12, 2022
    ..." ( Stamps, supra , 9 Cal.5th at p. 698, 264 Cal.Rptr.3d 769, 467 P.3d 168 ; accord, 292 Cal.Rptr.3d 493 People v. Frahs (2020) 9 Cal.5th 618, 627–628, 264 Cal.Rptr.3d 292, 466 P.3d 844 ( Frahs )), and "[t]he Penal Code provides that ‘[n]o part of it is retroactive, unless expressly so decl......
  • Tan v. Superior Court of San Mateo Cnty., A163715
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • March 10, 2022
    ...laws when it enacts a statute and intends to enact a consistent body of rules. ( People v. Frahs , supra , 9 Cal.5th at p. 634, 264 Cal.Rptr.3d 292, 466 P.3d 844 ; People v. Superior Court (Zamudio) (2000) 23 Cal.4th 183, 199, 96 Cal.Rptr.2d 463, 999 P.2d 686.) Yet section 1001.95 does not ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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