The California Supreme Court’s decision in the case of People v. Romero allows California defendants to avoid injustice when California’s three-strikes law imposes a punishment that may not fit the crime. However, in People v. Williams, the defendant was less fortunate than the defendant in Romero. In Williams, the California Supreme Court listed the factors that trial court judges must consider when exercising their power under California Penal Code § 1385.
The California high court reviewed the case on appeal and reversed the judge’s decision to expunge a strike as an abuse of discretion. One factor mentioned by the court was whether the defendant may be “deemed outside the scheme’s spirit” given the defendant’s present felonies and past convictions, as well as the defendant’s background, character, and prospects.
The California high court believed that Williams was the kind of defendant who did, in fact, fall within the spirit of the three-strikes law based on his long criminal history that included rape, three DUI convictions, attempted robbery, and possession of a firearm by a felon. The current strike was for yet another DUI conviction. Thus, Williams could not be treated as though he had not previously been convicted of those serious and/or violent felonies.
Other factors enumerated by the California Supreme Court in Williams that judges must consider when deciding whether to strike one or more strike allegations include the following:
- the judge must consider both the right of the defendant to be free from cruel and unusual punishment and the interest of society to have prosecutors pursue cases against alleged criminals under the law;
- the judge should make a decision in the manner of a “reasonable judge”;
- the judge shouldn’t dismiss a strike allegation because of judicial convenience or court congestion;
- the judge shouldn’t dismiss a strike allegation because a defendant pleads guilty;
- the judge shouldn’t dismiss a strike allegation just because the judge doesn’t like the effect of the law on a defendant while ignoring that defendant’s background, the nature of the offense and other “individualized considerations”; and
- the judge should consider whether the defendant may be “deemed outside the scheme’s spirit” given the defendant’s present felonies and past convictions, as well as the defendant’s background, character, and prospects.
The attorneys at the Dolan Law Offices are experienced in helping California residents clear their criminal records. Our experienced attorneys always consider whether the filing of a Romero motion under the Romero case requesting a trial judge to strike one or more of our client’s past strike allegations is appropriate. Call us today at (760) 775-3739 or find out more online here.