May a Sentence Enhancement Be Applied Twice for Same Day Act
The jury in Yolo County hearing the matter convicted Wooten of both charges and the judge sentenced him to 39 years to life in prison in addition to a determinate term of 17 years and eight months. The judge imposed the great bodily injury (“GBI”) enhancement to both counts.The Gist of This Article: A sentence enhancement can be applied twice to defendant for two crimes even when the two crimes are committed continuously if the criminal intent behind the two crimes is distinguishable. The following case summary illustrates this situation.
[a]n act or omission that is punishable in different ways by different provisions of the law shall be punished under the provision that provides for the longest potential term of imprisonment, but in no case shall the act or omission be punished under more than one provision.
The California Supreme Court recently held that Penal Code § 654 also applies to sentence enhancements. People v. Ahmed (2011) 53 Cal. 4th 156, 162. However, Ahmed did also state that separate enhancements could apply to different aspects of the same substantive offense.
Turning to the facts of Mr. Wooten’s offenses, the Third Appellate acknowledged that Wooten’s crimes seemed to be part of one continuous chain of events. However, the court distinguished the intent behind the oral copulation as different from that involved with the attempted murder. There were different criminal intents.
M.S., however, “got frustrated” and fled from the bathroom. Wooten wrestled with her and tried to get her back into the bathroom to continue. M.S. fled again and then Wooten, in tackling her, punched her repeatedly. He then tried to stab her in the back with a pen and then a spoon. He then chewed on M.S.’ ears and kicked M.S. in the head at least eight times, causing her head to cut open. A neighbor then broke into the motel room and Wooten ran away.
In other words, Wooten’s criminal intent first involved sexual gratification and later changed to “sadistic infliction of pain.” The second attack was intended to punish M.S.
The Third Appellate District consequently denied Wooten’s appeal, holding, that Penal Code § 654 does not bar staying the sentence enhancement on either crime because they involved distinguishable criminal intents on separate attacks.
For more information about sentence enhancements and double jeopardy, click on the following articles:
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