June 7, 2023 By Paul Wallin

People v. Govan: Judges Have Discretion Not to Impose Strike Punishment

California’s One Strike Law imposes significantly harsher sentences for sex crimes if committed under certain aggravating circumstances. However, in the case of People v. Govan, the court held that judges have discretion not to impose a sentence for a one-strike offender. If you or your loved one has been convicted of a serious crime that warrants a strike under California’s One Strike Law, call Wallin & Klarich today to see how we may be able to reduce your sentencing. 

Background 

Defendant DeAnthony Tyquan Govan was found guilty of false imprisonment by violence, forcible oral copulation, forcible rape, and attempted forcible rape. Under the One Strike Law, the trial court sentenced Govan to 15 years-to-life for forcible oral copulation and rape, as well as a 3-year-term for false imprisonment. The court explained that it imposed the upper term for Govan because the crime involved “great violence, great bodily injury, threat of great bodily injury, or other acts disclosing a high degree of cruelty, viciousness, or callousness.” Additionally, the court believed that the manner in which Govan carried out his crimes contained planning, sophistication, or premeditation. 

Govan’s Appeal Under Amended Penal Code Section 654 

Govan appealed his conviction, arguing that he was entitled to resentencing for the One Strike Law under the newly amended Penal Code Section 654. Previously, when a defendant was convicted of more than one offense arising from the same conduct, the court was required to impose the longest sentence. However, with the passing of Assembly Bill 518, PC Section 654 now provides the trial court with discretion to impose and execute the sentence of either term. This change could result in the trial court imposing the shorter sentence rather than the longer sentence. 

State Argues for Penal Code Section 667.61 

On the other hand, the People argued that Govan was not entitled to resentencing because Penal Code Section 667.61(h) precluded the court from staying execution of a one-strike sentence. However, the appellate court agreed with Govan. The court read PC Section 667.61(h) to prohibit only probation and not a stay for forcible sex offenses. The court relied on the legislative history of the One Strike Law to show that the intent of the Legislature in enacting PC Section 667.61(h) was to prohibit trial courts from placing one-strike offenders on probation and not to extend the Section’s reach to bar other forms of suspended sentences. 

As such, because the One Strike Law did not preclude a stay under PC Section 654, Govan was entitled to resentencing under Amended PC Section 654. Accordingly, the court vacated Govan’s sentence and remanded the case for resentencing. 

Contact Wallin & Klarich Today 

If you or your loved one has been convicted of a serious crime under PC Section 654, contact Wallin & Klarich as soon as possible to see how we can help. At Wallin & Klarich, we stay up to date with the most recent legal developments so that we can better assist you. With 40+ years of experience, our attorneys have helped many clients win their cases or successfully reduce their prison sentences, and we have the skills and resources to help you or your loved one in your time of need.  

With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, Torrance, West Covina, Los Angeles, and San Diego, you are sure to find an available and convenient attorney near you. 

Discover how our team can assist you. Contact us today, toll-free at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free consultation with a skilled defense attorney. We will be there when you call. 

AUTHOR: Paul Wallin

Paul Wallin is one of the most highly respected attorneys in Southern California. His vast experience, zealous advocacy for his clients and extensive knowledge of many areas of the law make Mr. Wallin a premiere Southern California attorney. Mr. Wallin founded Wallin & Klarich in 1981. As the senior partner of Wallin & Klarich, Mr. Wallin has been successfully representing clients for more than 30 years. Clients come to him for help in matters involving assault and battery, drug crimes, juvenile crimes, theft, manslaughter, sex offenses, murder, violent crimes, misdemeanors and felonies. Mr. Wallin also helps clients with family law matters such as divorce and child custody.

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