It may seem longer than just five years ago, but in November 2014, California voters passed the initiative known as the “Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act,” also better known as “Proposition 47” (Prop 47). This initiative reclassified many minor theft and drug possession offenses that were once felonies and wobblers as misdemeanors for certain defendants who qualify.
This significant modification of the California Penal Code and other related statutory provisions by Prop 47 had consequences for:
- Defendants facing charges at any stage prior to sentencing. These charges were immediately eligible for a downgrade from a felony to a misdemeanor.
- Convicted defendants who were serving time or on probation for felony convictions. These defendants are eligible to petition for reclassification of their charges. The result could be immediate release from custody or a reduction of probationary status.
- Convicted defendants finished serving time and no longer on probation or parole. These defendants are entitled to petition for reclassification of their felonies to misdemeanors.
Prop 47 provides no relief for individuals who have previous convictions for serious crimes, including:
- any offense punishable in California by life in prison or death;
- murder, attempted murder, and solicitation to commit murder;
- sexually violent offenses and sex offenses against minors under the age of 14;
- any person who is required to register as a sex offender under Penal Code section 290(c);
- assault with a machine gun on a police officer or firefighter; or
- possession of a weapon of mass destruction.
Anyone convicted of a Prop 47 felony, regardless of when it was committed, is entitled to request resentencing or reclassification as a misdemeanor offender, by petitioning the court where they were convicted. This applies to criminal offenders released from custody or probation well into the past, and any still incarcerated. For the latter, this potentially means an immediate release from custody, followed by a shorter term of parole.
Former offenders who may benefit from Prop 47 have until November 4, 2022, to file a petition to determine if their convictions are eligible for a reduction from felonies to misdemeanors.
Expungement, record sealing, and other post-conviction relief proceedings may be very complicated legal matters depending on the facts of the original case. If the State of California objects, a post-conviction relief matter may assume even more complexity. John Patrick Dolan has over forty years of experience helping well-intentioned Californians clear their criminal records and continue making present contributions to the Coachella Valley as valued members of the community. Call us today at (760) 775-3739 or find out more online here.