In People v. Anderson, the Supreme Court today holds a defendant did not have adequate notice of his possible exposure to, and thus could not have imposed on him, 25-year-to-life sentence enhancements for robbery, even though the same enhancement was alleged — and ultimately imposed — in connection with a murder count.
In accord with a concession by the Attorney General, the court’s unanimous opinion by Justice Leondra Kruger concludes that “[t]he information . . . did not comply with the applicable statutory pleading requirements, nor did it comport with the due process principles underlying those requirements.” The court says, “When a pleading alleges an enhancement in connection with one count but not another, the defendant is ordinarily entitled to assume the prosecution made a discretionary choice not to pursue the enhancement on the second count, and to rely on that choice in making decisions such as whether to plead guilty or proceed to trial.”
Although conceding a pleading failure, the Attorney General sought to uphold the enhancements based on, among other things, the lack of an objection in the superior court to the pleading failure. The court rejects the argument in this case, but it also backs away from language in one of its 2002 decisions, clarifying that the earlier opinion “does not stand for the broad proposition that imposition of an unpleaded enhancement necessarily results in an unauthorized sentence that may be raised, and corrected, for the first time on appeal.”
The court reverses the First District, Division Three, Court of Appeal, and it disapproves a 2004 Second District, Division Seven, decision.