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Remanded for New Gang Enhancement Standards Under AB 333

People v. Ramirez Court: California Courts of Appeal, Docket: H047847 (Sixth Appellate District), Opinion Date: May 25, 2022. Ramirez was convicted of first-degree murder (Pen. Code 187(a)) and the jury found true allegations that he committed the offense in association with a criminal street gang (186.22(b)(1)) and personally used a firearm (12022.53). In another case, Ramirez pleaded no contest to assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury (245(a)(4)) and admitted that he committed the offense in association with a criminal street gang (186.22(b)(1)). On appeal, Ramirez argued that his trial counsel was prejudicially deficient in failing to object to hearsay evidence that bolstered a witness’s credibility and in failing to object and request a curative instruction when the prosecutor shifted the burden of proof during closing arguments. While his appeal was pending, Assembly Bill 333 became effective January 1, 2022, amending section 186.22 to modify the showing necessary to sustain a gang enhancement. It also added section 1109, which, upon a defendant’s request, requires the bifurcation of the trial of gang enhancement allegations from the trial of the offenses. The court of appeal reversed and remanded for further proceedings concerning the gang enhancements. Amended section 186.22 applies to this case but the bifurcation provision does not apply retroactively. Ramirez’s defendant’s murder conviction remains valid.

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