Felony Reduction Under Prop 47
Information from Top San Diego Criminal Defense Lawyers
California's 2014 midterm elections resulted in the passage of Proposition
47. Titled the "Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act," the proposition
reclassifies a number of nonviolent crimes that were formally felonies
as misdemeanors. Prop 47 will help reduce the prison population, which
will save the state money that can instead be used for important school,
drug, and mental health programs. The proposition passed with nearly 60%
of the vote.
The new law classifications have already led to the release of hundreds
of inmates whose convictions have been reclassified as misdemeanors, but
with sweeping new reform like Prop 47, there are many new circumstances
to consider. Not all inmates convicted of the reclassified crimes are
eligible for new sentencing, so understanding the new requirements is
crucial to reassessing your case and new criminal cases going forward.
What offenses can be reduced under Prop 47?
Prop 47 specifically targeted nonviolent crimes. The reclassification spanned
across white collar crimes to drug offenses, many of which are now re-defined
Felonies reclassified by Prop 47 include:
Possession of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and substances considered "date-rape" drugs
theft of items whose value does not exceed $950
- Possession of stolen property whose value does not exceed $950
Forgery where check/bond/bill does not exceed $950
Shoplifting of items whose value does not exceed $950
Check and credit
fraud where illegal proceeds do not exceed $950
Under the reclassified misdemeanor definitions, maximum penalty for these
crimes is one year in jail. Those who have already served that time under
the felony definition can now petition for early release or lighter sentencing.
Who is eligible for early release under Prop 47?
Many of those who have been convicted, or who stand to be convicted, of
crimes outlined by Prop 47 (while they were considered felonies) are now
eligible for early release and lighter sentencing—that even includes
incarcerated persons who were convicted under the "three strikes"
law. However, not all of those convicted of these crimes are eligible
It is important to understand that Prop 47 does not work as a "free
pass" for those incarcerated. For petitioned cases to be considered
for time served and lighter sentences,
an individual cannot have a prior conviction for any registerable sex offense
or serious and/or violent crime. These serious and violent offenses are homicide or attempted homicide,
solicitation to commit murder, possession of a weapon of mass destruction,
assault with a machine gun on a peace officer or firefighter, and any
other felonies punishable by death or life imprisonment. [CA Penal Code,
Individuals with any of the aforementioned registerable sex offenses or
serious violent crimes on their record are not eligible for Prop 47 consideration
and must serve out the time dictated by their felony conviction.
Additional Benefits of Prop 47
Along with funding the youth programs outlined by the proposition, Prop
47 has several other benefits. It will begin to thin out California's
prison population, which is has long been considered overcrowded. Less
congested prisons means fewer burdens on the correctional system and more
resources—not to mention healthier environments for inmates.
Discuss Your Options with The Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC
Prop 47 is an exciting development in California, but also comes with many
questions and uncertainties. As our justice system continues to grapple
with the changes that Prop 47 brings, many of those convicted of the redefined
crimes and their loved ones linger in limbo, unsure if the new proposition
can even help them.
That's where an experienced
San Diego criminal defense attorney can help. Here at The Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC, we've
kept a finger on the pulse of Prop 47 since it was first proposed. Now
that it's passed, many stand to be positively affected—and we're
ready to help make that happen.
If your or a loved one has been convicted of a crime that is now reclassified
under Prop 47,
contact our firm to discuss your options!