California Court Holds Proposition 47 Applies to Minors

Late last week, California’s 4th District Court of Appeal ruled that Proposition 47 – the voter-approved measure that reclassifies certain petty crimes from felonies to misdemeanors – applies to minors in the same way it does to adults. It has been found in the past that Prop. 47 caused a noticeable drop in California’s incarceration rate. In light of this ruling, juvenile defendants charged with particular crimes previously classified as felonies should now only face misdemeanor charges, and some juvenile offenders may be able to have their prior felony convictions retroactively changed to misdemeanor convictions.

Background on Proposition 47

Proposition 47, the “Reduced Penalties for Some Crimes Initiative,” was approved by California voters last November. Unless a defendant has prior convictions for particular violent or gun-related crimes, Proposition 47 mandates that he or she be sentenced to a misdemeanor instead of a felony for the following seven petty crimes:

  1.       Shoplifting (where the value of the property stolen does not exceed $950),
  2.       Grand theft (where the value of the stolen property does not exceed $950),
  3.       Receiving stolen property (where the value of the property does not exceed $950),
  4.       Forgery (where the value of the forged check, bond, or bill does not exceed $950),
  5.       Fraud  (where the value of the fraudulent check, draft, or order does not exceed $950),
  6.       Writing a bad check (where the value of the check does not exceed $950), and
  7.       Personal use of most illegal drugs.

In addition, Proposition 47 permits re-sentencing for any offender who is currently serving a prison sentence for one of the crimes discussed above. It allows that offender to petition to have his or her previous felony convictions for those offenses reclassified as misdemeanors.

The recent case before the 4th District Court of Appeal dealt with a juvenile who had previously committed a felony commercial burglary and had subsequently applied to have his conviction reclassified as a misdemeanor in light of Proposition 47. The District Attorney’s Office had argued to the court that juveniles should not qualify for the relief offered by Proposition 47.  However, the appeals court held that Proposition 47 applies to all offenders, juvenile and adult.  The court’s ruling is the first statewide ruling at that level to address the issue of Proposition 47’s applicability to juveniles and will provide relief for many minors charged with petty crimes.

San Diego Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you, or someone you love, has been charged with one of the petty theft crimes covered by Proposition 47, or any theft crime, call an experienced San Diego criminal defense lawyer today and ask for a free consultation to learn whether the reforms of Proposition 47 are applicable to you and how we may be able to help. The Law Offices of David M. Boertje represents clients in all areas of criminal law, handles all misdemeanor and felony criminal cases, and represents individuals throughout San Diego County and Southern California. Our office has successfully represented many defendants and we are dedicated to protecting your constitutional rights and freedom. Consultations are 100% confidential – don’t wait, call today!