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Firearm Enhancement Stricken

California v. Johnson Docket: C094491 (Third Appellate District), Opinion Date: October 4, 2022. Long before the passage of California Senate Bill No. 620 in 2002, defendant Frederick Johnson pleaded no contest in two cases to various counts in connection with multiple armed robberies and, as relevant here, admitted seven Penal Code section 12022.53(b) enhancements. He was sentenced to 46 years four months in prison, and resentenced approximately 15 years later to 46 years in prison. The issue this case presented for the Court of Appeal to decide related to the extent to which fairly recent legislation, when considered together with the available caselaw interpreting that legislation, conferred new discretion on trial courts at sentencing. The discretion at issue here was a trial court’s choice to impose an uncharged lesser included firearm enhancement in lieu of the greater enhancement of conviction, after the greater enhancement was stricken by the trial court in its exercise of discretion. The Court agreed with defendant that the trial court had broad discretion to impose a lesser uncharged firearm enhancement provided for by section 12022.5(a) when it exercises its discretion to strike a Penal Code section 12022.53(b) firearm enhancement of conviction. The Court remanded the case for a full resentencing hearing, where the trial court could consider exercise of its discretion and any other new laws related to sentencing that might apply to defendant.

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