On November 4th, a majority of California voters passed Proposition 47, the “Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act,” which had an impressive impact on criminal law in California.
The biggest thing Prop 47 affected was that some California crimes that were considered felonies will now be considered misdemeanors.
Here is a breakdown of some the things Prop 47 changes in California:
Check fraud was considered a felony. Now, if the bad check(s) is for less than $950, it can be considered a misdemeanor.
Possession of a controlled substance is no longer a felony.
Grand theft auto and grand theft firearm have reduced sentences, as long as the car or gun that is stolen is worth $950 or less.
Receiving stolen property is not as heavily punished if the stolen property is worth $950 or less.
Additionally, Proposition 47 eradicated the concept of petty theft with a prior. Petty theft with a prior, formally known as Penal Code 666 PC, is one of the harsher, more unfair sentencing schemes that existed in California's legal system. Previously in California, if you have any prior convictions on your record, you could be arrested for either a misdemeanor or a felony charge if you so much as shoplift. Proposition 47 has now changed this.
The sentences which have not been affected by Proposition 47 include violent felonies or sex crimes. This includes crimes involving defendants who have violent felonies on their record, and those who have been convicted of sex crimes which required them to register as a sex offender.
If your current sentence is affected by the new law, Prop 47 allows you to apply for resentencing in certain circumstances. If you currently serve or have completed a felony sentence for any of the above crimes, you can now apply to have your conviction reduced to a misdemeanor. This would reduce your sentences accordingly, and possibly significantly.
Proposition 47 is a sign that the state of California is moving away from its mindless “tough on crime” approach. If you have questions regarding how your sentence could be affected by the passing of Prop 47, a skilled criminal defense attorney can help you understand your rights under the new law.