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DA's Challenge to Petitioner's Relief Denied

People v. Bartholomew Court: California Courts of Appeal, Docket: B316314 (Second Appellate District), Opinion Date: November 28, 2022. Defendant was charged in a felony complaint with attempting to dissuade a witness. At the conclusion of the preliminary hearing, the magistrate denied Defendant's request to reduce the charge to a misdemeanor. The District Attorney timely filed an information alleging dissuading a witness. The case languished for 21 months. Defendant then moved to have the charge reduced to a misdemeanor. His motion was granted. The case, however, had yet to be tried. The District Attorney appealed. The Second Appellate District dismissed the District Attorney's appeal, finding that it was not authorized by law. Dissuading a witness pursuant to section 136.1, subdivision (a), may be punished as either a felony or a misdemeanor. Section 17, subdivision (b), specifies the limited circumstances in which a trial court may designate a wobbler to be a misdemeanor. Further, the Penal Code strictly limits the rulings the People may appeal. Appeal of an order “modifying the offense to a lesser offense” pursuant to section 1238, subdivision (a)(6), includes “a trial court’s order reducing a wobbler to a misdemeanor.” (People v. Statum (2002) 28 Cal.4th 682, 692.) In this case, however, guilt had not been adjudicated. Consequently, the order was not “[a]n order modifying the verdict” pursuant to subdivision (a)(6).

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