People v. Ramirez, No. B085282

CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals
Writing for the CourtGRIGNON; TURNER, P.J., and GODOY PEREZ
Citation39 Cal.Rptr.2d 374,33 Cal.App.4th 559
PartiesThe PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Appellant, v. Andrew RAMIREZ, Defendant and Respondent.
Decision Date28 March 1995
Docket NumberNo. B085282

Page 374

39 Cal.Rptr.2d 374
33 Cal.App.4th 559
The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Appellant,
v.
Andrew RAMIREZ, Defendant and Respondent.
No. B085282.
Court of Appeal, Second District, Division 5, California.
March 28, 1995.

Review Denied June 1, 1995.

Page 375

[33 Cal.App.4th 561] Gil Garcetti, Dist. Atty., Brentford J. Ferreira and Diana L. Summerhayes, Deputy Dist. Attys., for plaintiff and appellant.

Michael P. Judge, Public Defender, Albert J. Menaster, Thomas MacBride and Alex Ricciardulli, Deputy Public Defenders, for defendant and respondent.

GRIGNON, Associate Justice.

The prosecution appeals from a judgment of conviction following a guilty plea by defendant and respondent Andrew Ramirez to [33 Cal.App.4th 562] residential burglary and his admission of a prior serious felony conviction within the meaning of PENAL CODE SECTION 6671, subdivision (a) and subdivisions (b) through (i). We are asked to determine the appropriate sentence of a defendant who is convicted of a serious felony and has suffered a single prior serious felony conviction within the meaning of section 667, subdivision (a) and subdivisions (b) through (i). The question presented is whether the sentence of such a defendant must be doubled, pursuant to the provisions of section 667, subdivision (e)(1), and also enhanced by five years, pursuant to the provisions of section 667, subdivision (a). Concluding that it must, we reverse.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Defendant was charged by information with a March 29, 1994 first degree residential burglary in violation of section 459. It was further alleged that defendant had suffered a prior serious felony conviction within the meaning of section 667, subdivision (a) and subdivisions (b) through (i). Defendant pleaded guilty and admitted the special allegations with the understanding he would be

Page 376

sentenced to seven years in state prison. The trial court sentenced defendant to the lower term of two years for the burglary in addition to five years for the section 667, subdivision (a) enhancement, for a total of seven years. The trial court did not double the term for the burglary as prescribed in section 667, subdivision (e)(1). The prosecution appeals, contending the trial court was required to double the two-year term and also impose the five-year enhancement, which would have resulted in a nine-year sentence.
DISCUSSION

If a defendant is convicted of a serious felony and has suffered a single prior serious felony conviction, did the Legislature intend that his or her sentence for the new offense be doubled and a five-year enhancement also be imposed?

The prosecution contends the clear language of the March 1994 legislation amending section 667 and the stated intent of the Legislature to increase the punishment of recidivist offenders dictate the conclusion that a single prior serious felony conviction must be used both to double the term for the current felony and to add five years to the sentence. The prosecution argues that this conclusion is buttressed by evidence of the voters' intent in adopting a virtually identical initiative in November 1994.

Defendant responds that the Supreme Court's holding in People v. Jones (1993) 5 Cal.4th 1142, 22 Cal.Rptr.2d 753, 857 P.2d 1163 compels us to [33 Cal.App.4th 563] construe the ambiguous language of the statute to require either a doubling of the term for the current felony or the imposition of a five-year enhancement, whichever results in a greater sentence. Defendant further argues that the cumulative imposition of both penalties is precluded by section 654.

Statutory Construction

" 'We begin with the fundamental rule that our primary task in construing a statute is to determine the lawmakers' intent. [Citation.] ... To determine intent, ' "The court turns first to the words themselves for the answer.' '' [Citations.] ' "If the language is clear and unambiguous there is no need for construction, nor is it necessary to resort to indicia of the intent of the [lawmakers]...." ' " (People v. Jones, supra, 5 Cal.4th at p. 1146, 22 Cal.Rptr.2d 753, 857 P.2d 1163.) "Words used in a statute ... should be given the meaning they bear in ordinary use." (Lungren v. Deukmejian (1988) 45 Cal.3d 727, 735, 248 Cal.Rptr. 115, 755 P.2d 299.) "We are not prohibited 'from determining whether the literal meaning of a statute comports with its purpose or whether such a construction of one provision is consistent with other provisions of the statute. The meaning of a statute may not be determined from a single word or sentence; the words must be construed in context, and provisions relating to the same subject matter must be harmonized to the extent possible. [Citation.] Literal construction should not prevail if it is contrary to the legislative intent apparent in the [statute.]' " (Lakin v. Watkins Associated Industries (1993) 6 Cal.4th 644, 658-659, 25 Cal.Rptr.2d 109, 863 P.2d 179.) "The intent prevails over the letter, and the letter will, if possible, be so read as to conform to the spirit of the act. [Citations.] An interpretation that renders related provisions nugatory must be avoided [citation]; each sentence must be read not in isolation but in light of the statutory scheme [citation]...." (Lungren v. Deukmejian, supra, 45 Cal.3d at p. 735, 248 Cal.Rptr. 115, 755 P.2d 299.)

Statutory Scheme

Section 667 was enacted by the voters in 1982, as part of Proposition 8. (People v. Jones, supra, 5 Cal.4th at p. 1146, 22 Cal.Rptr.2d 753, 857 P.2d 1163.) As enacted by the voters in 1982, section 667 prescribed a five-year sentence enhancement for any defendant convicted of a serious felony, who had previously suffered a conviction for a serious felony. 2

Page 377

[33 Cal.App.4th 564] Effective March 7, 1994, the Legislature adopted Assembly Bill No. 971 which amends section 667 to include the so-called "three strikes" legislation 3 increasing the sentences of certain recidivist offenders. (Stats.1994, ch. 12, §§ 1 and 2.) This amendment significantly increases the sentence of persons convicted of any felony offense who have previously been convicted of one or more serious or violent felonies. 4 The 1994 legislation contains a stated purpose: "It is the intent of intent of the Legislature in enacting subdivisions (b) to (i), inclusive, to ensure longer prison sentences and greater punishment for those who commit a felony and have been previously convicted of serious and/or violent felony offenses." (§ 667, subd. (b).)

Sentences of recidivists are increased by the 1994 legislation both indirectly and directly. "Notwithstanding any other law, if a defendant has been convicted of a felony and it has been pled and proved that the defendant has one or more prior [serious and/or violent] felony convictions," the legislation provides for certain indirect or collateral sentencing consequences. (§ 667, subd. (c).) Those indirect consequences include: inapplicability of aggregate term limitations for consecutive sentences; ineligibility for probation; ineligibility for diversion or commitment to the California Rehabilitation Center (CRC); conduct credit reductions; and mandatory consecutive sentences. (§ 667, subd. (d).) 5

The legislation also directly increases sentences for felony recidivists. In the case of a single prior serious or violent felony conviction, the term for [33 Cal.App.4th 565] the current felony conviction is doubled. In the case of more than one such prior conviction, the sentence is life. "For purposes of subdivisions (b) to (i), inclusive, and in addition to any other enhancement or punishment provisions which may apply, the following shall apply where a defendant has a prior felony conviction:

"(1) If a defendant has one prior felony conviction that has been pled and proved, the determinate term or minimum term for an indeterminate term shall be twice the term otherwise provided as punishment for the current felony conviction." (§ 667, subd. (e).) 6

Page 378

The provisions of the legislation are to be applied "[n]otwithstanding any other law...." (§ 667, subd. (f)(1).) The prosecutor must plead and prove all serious or violent felony prior convictions except under certain circumstances. (Ibid.) The plea bargaining of such cases is prohibited. (§ 667, subd. (g).) 7

On November 8, 1994, the voters enacted virtually identical legislation by approving Proposition 184, which adds new section 1170.12 to the Penal Code. 8 The voters enacted the measure for the stated purpose of ensuring "longer prison sentences and greater punishment for those who commit a felony and have been previously convicted of serious and/or violent felony offenses." (Ballot Pamp., Preamble of Proposed Law Gen. Elec. (Nov. 8, 1994) p. 64.)

[33 Cal.App.4th 566] The Ballot Pamphlet Legislative Analysis of Proposition 184 described to voters the effect of the initiative. 9 The analysis noted that the initiative was identical to the March 1994 legislation amending section 667 passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor. (Ballot Pamp., analysis of Prop. 184 by the Legislative Analyst as presented to the voters, Gen. Elec., supra, p. 32.) The analysis explained that the initiative would have no direct impact on the recently enacted legislation other than to prevent the Legislature from weakening it. (Ballot Pamp., supra, at p. 33; Ballot Pamp., rebuttal to the argument in favor of Prop. 184 as presented to the voters, Gen. Elec., supra, p. 36.)

The ballot analysis sets forth the sentencing consequences of the initiative using an example virtually identical to the facts of this case: "[U]nder the prior law, a person convicted of burglary of a residence and who was previously convicted of the same crime would have received a prison sentence of four years [middle term] with five years added for the prior offense, for a total of nine years.... Under the current law and as reaffirmed by this measure, the person would receive a prison sentence of eight...

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108 practice notes
  • People v. Ramirez, No. B098331
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • April 14, 1997
    ...234, 40 Cal.Rptr.2d 903, 893 P.2d 1224. The Jones contention has been rejected in a respected line of cases (People v. Ramirez (1995) 33 Cal.App.4th 559, 562-574, 39 Cal.Rptr.2d 374 (rev. den. June 1, 1995); People v. Turner (1995) 40 Cal.App.4th 733, 740-743, 47 Cal.Rptr.2d 42; People v. A......
  • People v. Bailey, No. B087285
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • August 8, 1995
    ...is not an enhancement provision. (People v. Martin (1995) 32 Cal.App.4th 656, 666-668, 38 Cal.Rptr.2d 776; People v. Ramirez (1995) 33 Cal.App.4th 559, 566-567, 39 Cal.Rptr.2d 6 Article III, section 3 of the California Constitution provides, "The powers of state government are legislative, ......
  • People v. Jones, No. S179552.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • June 21, 2012
    ...to [278 P.3d 832]cite section 654 to demonstrate its intent to create an exception to its provisions. In People v. Ramirez (1995) 33 Cal.App.4th 559, 573 [39 Cal.Rptr.2d 374], the court held that, with regard to section 667, subdivision (e),7 ‘A statute which provides that a defendant shall......
  • People v. Fuhrman, No. S055920
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • August 28, 1997
    ...P.2d 1288.) The plain language of the statute establishes what was intended by the Legislature. (See People v. Ramirez Page 6 (1995) 33 Cal.App.4th 559, 566, 39 Cal.Rptr.2d 374 [it is unnecessary to look beyond the plain words of the statute to determine Accordingly, we commence our analysi......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
108 cases
  • People v. Ramirez, No. B098331
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • April 14, 1997
    ...234, 40 Cal.Rptr.2d 903, 893 P.2d 1224. The Jones contention has been rejected in a respected line of cases (People v. Ramirez (1995) 33 Cal.App.4th 559, 562-574, 39 Cal.Rptr.2d 374 (rev. den. June 1, 1995); People v. Turner (1995) 40 Cal.App.4th 733, 740-743, 47 Cal.Rptr.2d 42; People v. A......
  • People v. Bailey, No. B087285
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • August 8, 1995
    ...is not an enhancement provision. (People v. Martin (1995) 32 Cal.App.4th 656, 666-668, 38 Cal.Rptr.2d 776; People v. Ramirez (1995) 33 Cal.App.4th 559, 566-567, 39 Cal.Rptr.2d 6 Article III, section 3 of the California Constitution provides, "The powers of state government are legislative, ......
  • People v. Jones, No. S179552.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • June 21, 2012
    ...to [278 P.3d 832]cite section 654 to demonstrate its intent to create an exception to its provisions. In People v. Ramirez (1995) 33 Cal.App.4th 559, 573 [39 Cal.Rptr.2d 374], the court held that, with regard to section 667, subdivision (e),7 ‘A statute which provides that a defendant shall......
  • People v. Fuhrman, No. S055920
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • August 28, 1997
    ...P.2d 1288.) The plain language of the statute establishes what was intended by the Legislature. (See People v. Ramirez Page 6 (1995) 33 Cal.App.4th 559, 566, 39 Cal.Rptr.2d 374 [it is unnecessary to look beyond the plain words of the statute to determine Accordingly, we commence our analysi......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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