In early 2021, the Anti-Racism Sentencing Reform Act, also known as Assembly Bill 1509, was introduced in the California Assembly. Currently, 40,000 incarcerated individuals are serving time for a gun enhancement, of which 89% of these individuals are people of color. One of the reasons why enhancements are so disproportionate is because often the enhancement is more of a punishment than the actual crime itself.
Gun enhancements are penalties added to a defendant’s sentence for the crime itself. For example, a defendant may be subject to a sentence of seven years for a burglary offense but then receive an additional ten years of prison time added to this sentence because she had a gun in her purse.
The purpose of AB 1509 is to modify the current gun enhancement law which adds penalties of 10, 20, 25 years to life and reduces them to 1, 2, or 3 years. For example, a 25-year-to-life enhancement for some gun use would be reduced to 3 years. AB 1509 will be retroactive and, therefore, apply to those individuals presently incarcerated in the California penal system. AB 1509’s removal of gun enhancements will not apply universally to all criminal offenses under California law as it will exclude sex crimes.
Existing law imposes various sentence enhancements, consisting of additional and consecutive terms of imprisonment, including, among others, enhancements for
- being armed with a firearm during the commission of a felony,
- being armed with a firearm during the commission of a street gang crime, as defined,
- being armed with ammunition designed to penetrate armor during the commission of a felony,
- furnishing a firearm to another for the purpose of aiding, abetting, or enabling that person to commit a felony,and
- using a firearm during the commission of a felony, and the infliction of great bodily injury on any other person during the commission of a felony.
AB 1509 would repeal these enhancements. Existing law imposes a sentence enhancement in the state prison of
- 10 years for personally using a firearm in the commission of specified felonies,
- 20 years for personally and intentionally discharging a firearm in the commission of those felonies, and
- 25 years to life for personally and intentionally discharging a firearm and causing great bodily injury or death to any other person during the commission of those felonies.
This bill would reduce these enhancements to 1, 2, and 3 years, respectively.
Existing law imposes a sentence enhancement of 5, 6, or 10 years in the state prison for
- discharging a firearm from a motor vehicle with intent to inflict great bodily injury or death in the commission of a felony and
- inflicting great bodily injury or death in the commission of a felony.
This bill would reduce the enhancements to 1, 2, or 3 years, respectively.
This bill would authorize a person serving a term for such provisions to petition the court for a recall of sentence and to request resentencing in accordance with these changes. Stay tuned for more on whether AB 1509 is enacted into law.
If you or a family member is currently incarcerated and serving an extensive prison sentence for a non-violent criminal offense, California’s ever-changing criminal law may provide options for relief that move up the effective date of parole resulting in a sooner release. John Patrick Dolan is a California State Bar Certified Specialist in Criminal Law, the highest achievement awarded by the State Bar of California to attorneys in the field of criminal law. The advice, guidance, and representation of experienced criminal defense counsel may be crucial to achieving the best possible result in any criminal matter. John Patrick Dolan has forty years of criminal defense experience. Contact Dolan Law Offices today at 760-775-3739 or 562-824-4007 to discuss your situation or find out more online here.