- May 8, 2017
- by Ben Adams
The criminal defense attorney at the Santa Rosa CA law firm of Adams Fietz have reviewed the case of People v. Arce, filed May 8, 2017.
The Defendant was a citizen of Mexico and a lawful resident of the United States. In 2015, he pled guilty to possession for sale of one kilo of heroin and one kilo of cocaine. Under the terms of his plea agreement, Arce agreed that he would be sentenced to a total term of five years in jail and that he could ask the trial court to impose a "split sentence" under Penal Code section 1170, subdivision (h)(5), which requires that in eligible cases a trial court suspend the concluding portion of a jail sentence and impose mandatory supervision.
At the time of his sentencing, the trial court considered Arce's request for a split sentence and denied it. The court noted that upon his release from physical custody, Arce was subject to deportation proceedings initiated by the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The trial court found that, given the risk Arce would be deported during the period of any mandatory supervision, and thus not be subject to the probation department's supervision or able to participate in the rehabilitative services offered by the department, a split sentence was not a realistic disposition.
On appeal, Arce argued the trial court erred in finding his immigration status was a complete bar to a split sentence. Arce argued the trial court should have considered the possibility that he would be able to challenge his deportation and stay in this country either temporarily while his immigration status is litigated or, although unlikely, permanently.
The Court of Appeals agreed with the trial court that a period of supervision following deportation is impractical and inconsistent with the goals and purposes of the legislation that mandates imposition of split sentences. Split sentences are the preferred disposition in eligible cases because they provide released prisoners with close supervision and supportive services designed to substantially reduce the risk of recidivism. As a practical matter, such supervision and services are not available after a prisoner has been deported.
Because his conviction for possession for sale of heroin and cocaine made Arce subject to mandatory deportation and mandatory detention under the terms of the Immigration and Nationality Act, the trial court did not err in denying his request for a split sentence.
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