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Court Allows Racial Justice Act Discovery Motion to Proceed

People v. Garcia Court: California Courts of Appeal, Docket: A163046 (First Appellate District), Opinion Date: November 10, 2022. Garcia was arrested after engaging in a physical altercation at his home, then firing a semiautomatic handgun at a responding officer. In 2018, Garcia was sentenced to 24 years after a jury found him guilty of assault on a peace officer with a semiautomatic firearm and other counts. The court of appeal remanded for corrections to the sentence. Garcia then sought to show that a longer or more severe sentence was imposed on him "than was imposed on other similarly situated individuals convicted of the same offense, and longer or more severe sentences were more frequently imposed for that offense on people that share the defendant’s race, ethnicity, or national origin than on defendants of other races, ethnicities, or national origins in the county,” California Racial Justice Act of 2020 (CRJA). The court denied a motion to strike a firearm use enhancement, stayed the sentence on one count, recalculated Garcia’s custody credits, and sentenced him to 23 years. The court of appeal reversed. Garcia was entitled to a continuance to prepare his CRJA discovery motion. He is also entitled to resentencing under Criminal Code 1170(b). as amended by Senate Bill 567, which requires that a sentence exceeding the middle term be justified by circumstances in aggravation and the facts underlying those circumstances have been stipulated to by the defendant, or have been found true beyond a reasonable doubt in a court trial. Garcia did not stipulate to the aggravating circumstance that the offense involved a threat of great bodily injury to multiple individuals and there was no trial in which the circumstance was found true beyond a reasonable doubt.

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