The Reduced Penalties for Some Crimes Initiative

As mentioned in my previous post, Prop 47 (“the Reduced Penalties for Some Crimes Initiative”), which was approved by California voters via a ballot initiative last November 2014, would reduce the classification of most nonviolent and non-serious property and drug crimes from a felony down to a misdemeanor.

Since then, the California Legislature in its 2015 legislative session has introduced bills to amend Proposition 47 to weaken it.  If any of these bill are passed and signed by the governor, the changes must go on a 2016 ballot for constituents to vote on. Some of the proposed changes include:

  • Senate Bill 333 and Assembly Bill 46 would allow felony charges to be filed against suspects accused of having certain date-rape drugs (Proposition 47 reduced the personal use of most illegal drugs to misdemeanors).
  • Assembly Bill 390 would require persons convicted of specified misdemeanors to provide DNA samples (California law currently only requires individuals convicted of felonies to provide DNA samples).
  • Assembly Bill 150 would make stealing a gun a felony crime (Proposition 47 made stealing an item that is valued at less than $950 a misdemeanor). Therefore, the proposed change would make stealing a gun valued at less than $950 a misdemeanor.
  • Assembly Bill 1104 would allow the issuance of search warrants for misdemeanor crimes that were previously classified as felonies before Proposition 47’s passage.

Recently, a key legislative panel blocked several attempts by Republican lawmakers to scale back the ballot measure and restore felony punishments, including A.B. 150 and A.B. 46.  The bills were amongst the ones held by the Assembly Appropriations.

Additionally, legislation introduced to increase accountability in investigations of police shootings and to reduce tensions between minority communities and law enforcement continued to struggle. The committee shelved A.B. 86 by Assemblyman Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento), which would have required independent investigations of police shootings with reports made public, and A.B. 619 by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber (D- San Diego) which would have required an annual report by deaths in police custody.  Lastly, the committee blocked A.B. 953 (another Weber bill) to collect data on police traffic stops.

What This Means for You

The legal arena is changing.  While police reforms are still hard to come by, it is comforting to know that some reforms will be made to lower penalties from felonies to misdemeanors.  Still, if you or a loved one has been charged with a felony or even a misdemeanor, do not try to represent yourself.  Felony charges are serious and require a skilled and dedicated legal professional to advocate for your rights.

San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney

Our experienced California felony criminal defense attorneys will represent you zealously and do everything in our power to win your case.  We will always do our best to lower your charges from a felony to misdemeanor, or no charge at all, regardless of Prop. 47.  To schedule your free and confidential consultation, call our San Diego office at (619) 229-1870 or our North County location at (760) 476-0901. You can also visit us online.

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