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REVERSED: Felony Probation to 2 Years

Bowden v. Superior Court of Marin County Docket: A163592 (First Appellate District), Opinion Date: August 26, 2022. Bowden was driving in Novato when she struck and killed a pedestrian in a marked crosswalk in May 2019. Blood and breath samples taken at the scene indicated that Bowden had been driving under the influence of alcohol. Bowden agreed to plead guilty to a felony violation of Penal Code section 191.5(b) in exchange for the prosecutor recommending a prison term of two years, the first year to be served in county jail, and the second on mandatory supervision. The superior court informed the parties that the agreement was “overly lenient” and proposed placing Bowden on probation for five years, consisting of a full year in county jail followed by probation supervision for the remaining four years. The parties agreed. Less than a year later, in January 2021, Assembly Bill 1950 took effect, amending section 1203.1 to restrict the length of many felony probation terms to two years. The superior court found that AB 1950 did not limit Bowden’s probation to two years. The court of appeal vacated. The prosecution and the trial court cannot retract their consent to the plea agreement. AB 1950 is retroactive to Bowden’s situation and contains no suggestion that the two-year limitation on felony probation does not apply if lesser, or lesser included, crimes expressly provide for longer probation terms.


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