State Supremes rule juvenile convictions can qualify under '3 strikes' law

Overturn San Jose Appeal Court ruling stating juvenile judgments don't count

The California Supreme Court ruled in San Francisco Thursday that a previous juvenile court judgment can qualify as a "strike" increasing an adult's sentence under the state's Three Strikes Law.

The court by a 6-1 vote upheld a sentence of two years and eight months for Vince Nguyen of San Jose for possession of a gun by an ex-felon.

Nguyen, then 22, pleaded no contest to the charge in Santa Clara County Superior Court in 2005.

A judge set a prison term of one year and four months and then doubled the time because Nguyen had a 1999 juvenile court judgment that he committed assault with a deadly weapon at the age of 16.

The state Three Strikes law of 1994 provides increased sentences for repeat offenders with previous felonies or "strikes."

Nguyen argued in his appeal that the juvenile judgment shouldn't count as a strike because a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2000 said that sentences can't be increased without a jury finding. There is no jury in juvenile court cases.

But the state high court said that later federal rulings show that the U.S. Supreme Court decision "does not preclude the use of non-jury juvenile adjudications to enhance later adult sentences."

The majority decision was written by Justice Marvin Baxter. Justice Joyce Kennard dissented.

The panel overturned a decision in which a state appeals court in San Jose said Nguyen's juvenile judgment could not count as a strike.

Other appeals courts in the state had ruled in other cases that juvenile judgments qualify as strikes. Thursday's state Supreme Court decision resolves the conflict among appeals courts and sets a statewide standard for applying the law.

Jeb Bing, Bay City News

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Like this comment
Posted by Mike
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Jul 3, 2009 at 7:51 pm

There is something strangely compelling about the argument that a two-time loser adult's one juvenile conviction should be factored into sentencing.

Like this comment
Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Jul 3, 2009 at 8:32 pm

I appreciate the decision. It's a tough law and important to lock up individuals who are a danger to society. Guns in the hands of antisocial teens/adults can cause irreparable harm, lives can be ended and families completely destroyed.

I say TUMBS UP! As for the career criminal Vince Nguyen, good riddance.

Like this comment
Posted by Very Concerned
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 3, 2009 at 9:03 pm

An excellent ruling. A victory for law abiding citizens of California!

Like this comment
Posted by Alison
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 3, 2009 at 9:45 pm

The criminal behaviors that begin in the juvenile years and qualify under these laws, will only escalate. If they are given a clean slate at 18, they realize they have yet another chance to avoid the final results of a third violation.

They shouldn't get a "free shot" at the society just because they were under 18. If they commit a crime as a juvenile and learn their lesson, all is resolved for the community. If there is a string of offenses, they should all count toward the penalty. It just makes sense.

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Ridgeview Commons

on Jun 6, 2017 at 12:45 am

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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