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All Changes in Sentencing Available in Resentencing

In September 2003, a Solano County jury convicted William Erik Monroe of first degree residential robbery (Penal Code § 211), two counts of false imprisonment by violence (Penal Code § 236), and possession of a firearm by a felon (Penal Code § 12021(a)(1)).

The jury also found true seven enhancements for personal use of a firearm on the robbery count (Penal Code § 12022.53(b)) and on both false imprisonment counts (Penal Code § 12022.5(a)).  A subsequent bench trial found true four prison priors (Penal Code § 667.5(b)) and one prior strike conviction for robbery (Penal Code § 667(a)(1)).

On February 24, 2005, Judge Stephanie Grogan Jones sentenced Monroe to state prison for 31 years and four months, calculated as follows: eight years for the robbery (high term of four years, doubled for the prior strike); two consecutive one year four month terms for the two counts of false imprisonment (1/3 the two year mid-term, doubled for the prior strike); ten years for the firearm enhancement (Penal Code § 12022.53(b)) on the robbery; two one year, four month terms of the 12022.5(a) firearm enhancement on the two false imprisonment counts; one year each for the three prior prison term enhancement and five years for the prior robbery conviction (Penal Code § 667(a)(1)).

On appeal to the First Appellate District in 2005, the conviction and sentence was affirmed.

In 2017, the Legislature passed Senate Bill 620, granting trial courts the discretion to strike firearm enhancements imposed under Penal Code § 12022.53 “in furtherance of justice” under Penal Code § 1385.

In 2018, Governor Brown signed Senate Bill 1393, which took effect on January 1, 2019, and granted trial court judges discretion to strike five-year serious felony enhancements under Penal Code § 1385 “in furtherance of justice.”

In October 2021, Governor Newsom signed Senate Bill 483, effective January 1, 2022, which added section 1171.1 to the Penal Code, subdivision (a) of which declares: “Any sentence enhancement that was imposed prior to January 1, 2020, pursuant to Penal Code § 667.5(b), except for any prior conviction for a sexually violent offense . . . is legally invalid.”

This law permitted resentencing under Penal Code § 1172.75(d) to resentence under SB 483.

On November 13, 2020, Mr. Monroe, acting in propia persona (“in pro per”) filed a “SB 620 Motion for Resentencing Pursuant to Penal Code § 1385,” asking the trial court to “exercise its judicial discretion to strike or dismiss Penal Code sections 12022.5 and 12022.53 enhancements relating to firearms.”

In 2021, after Senate Bill 483 was signed, but before it became effective, Mr. Monroe filed a second petition seeking relief under that statute as well. 

In 2022, before the judge ruled on the first motion, it held a hearing on both motions.  The trial court resentenced  Monroe, striking the three one-year enhancements, but concluded it was without jurisdiction to strike the firearm enhancements.  Monroe’s new sentence became 28 years and four months.

Mr. Monroe then appealed the judge’s ruling that he lacked jurisdiction to resentence him on the firearm enhancements under SB 620 or the prior serious felony enhancement under SB 1393, arguing that once the court has jurisdiction to resentence him under SB 483, the judge was obligated to apply all new resentencing laws.

The First Appellate District court agreed with Mr. Monroe and remanded the case to the Solano County Superior Court for resentencing.

The key to its ruling was the First Appellate not finding any cases discussing the scope of the relief available under Penal Code § 1172.75(d)(2) at a resentencing under Senate Bill 483.  The plain terms of § 1172.75(d)(2) required that at that resentencing, the trial court “shall apply . . . any other changes in law that reduce sentences or provide for judicial discretion so as to eliminate disparity of sentences and to promote uniformity of sentencing.”  Senate Bills 620 and 1393 were such changes in the law and thus, the trial court should have considered these laws, too.

What is significant about this ruling is that prior to it, it was generally understood that SB 620 and SB 1393 did not apply to final sentences, meaning it was not retroactive to final sentences.  SB 483 seems to undermine this understanding and open the door for full resentencing.

For more information about some of the new sentencing laws, please click on the following articles:
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