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AB 1950: Can Judge Revoke Probation if It Ended?

In Sonoma County Superior Court, Christopher Arreguin faced two cases.  In the first case, he was charged with second degree robbery (Penal Code §§ 211, 212.5(c)) and dissuading a witness by force or threat based on a robbery by gunpoint.

In his second case, Arreguin was charged with pandering and human trafficking of a minor (Penal Code § 236.1(a)) for a sex act involving two victims.

The cases were not consolidated, but on September 27, 2016, he resolved both cases with open pleas to the court with an understanding that the maximum sentence could be six years in state prison.  In the first case, he pleaded guilty to second degree robbery.  In the second case, he pleaded guilty to human trafficking of a minor.

At sentencing on December 1, 2016, the judge imposed an aggregate term of six years in state prison comprised of five years for the human trafficking of a minor (low term), plus a consecutive term of one year for the robbery (one-third the three-year mid-term).  The execution of the sentence was suspended (“joint suspended”) and Arreguin was placed on formal probation for five years in each case with the terms of probation “to run concurrent with each other.”

Thereafter, his probation was tolled for eight months when the court summarily revoked probation, but later reinstated it.
On January 1, 2021, Assembly Bill (AB) 1950 became effective to limit the maximum probation term a trial court could impose for most felony offenses (including human trafficking) to two years (Penal Code § 1203.1(a), as amended by AB 1950).

Assembly Bill 1950 does not apply to “violent felony listed in Section 667.5(c),” which applied in this case.

On January 27, 2021, the trial court summarily revoked Arreguin’s probation in both cases based on a new case.  The terms of his probation were that he obey all laws.  He was arrested on January 15, 2021, when found in possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of methamphetamine, possession of brass knuckles (Penal Code § 21810) and driving under the influence of alcohol and/or a controlled substance. 

On April 20, 2021, the judge held a contested probation violation hearing.  Arreguin made a motion to dismiss the probation violation hearing on his human trafficking case, arguing that the judge could not find him in violation of probation in that case because his probation had already expired after two years due to retroactive application of AB 1950. 

The judge rejected that argument and and found Arreguin in violation of probation in both cases, revoked probation in both cases and imposed the previously suspended aggregate sentence of six years.

Mr. Arreguin appealed the sentence to the First Appellate District, arguing that the trial court erred in denying his motion to dismiss in the human trafficking case.  The First Appellate District agreed, finding that as a matter of law (1203.1(a), as amended by AB 1950), his probation term had ended in that case after he served two years of probation and therefore the judge lacked jurisdiction to order summary revocation.  When the two year mark had passed on that case, there was no order revoking his probation in that case, so he was on probation and his probation ended.

The appellate court clarified, however, that the trial court retained jurisdiction on the robbery case and its finding that Arreguin violated probation in that case was correct because the probation term in that case was statutorily exempt from AB 1950. 

The appellate court therefore remanded the cases back to the Sonoma County Superior Court with directions to reverse its ruling on the motion to dismiss the probation violation in the human trafficking case. 

We present this summary to exemplify how one facing a probation violation should look closely at the type of case it is if one was placed on probation before AB 1950 became effective.  His or her probation may have ended as a matter of law like Arreguin’s probation.

For more information about AB 1950, please click on the following articles:
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