The Citizens of California Have Spoken
It is easy to forget, because California is doing better financially at the moment, but just a few years ago the State’s financial situation was nearly catastrophically bad with enormous deficits and no money to pay for some of the basic services that we have come to rely on. In many counties, court houses closed down, as funding ran dry. Similarly, jails and prisons were over crowded leading to court ruling deeming that conditions of California Prisons to be in violation of the constitution.
Proposition 47 was voted in at the recent November election as a partial solution to California’s overcrowded prisons and jails.
What is Prop 47?
Proposition 47 is a new bill that reclassifies certain specific felony charges as misdemeanors. Therefore people who will be convicted of these charges going forward will be less likely to be sentenced to jail time, thereby reducing the strain on the jails. Interestingly, this bill applies retroactively, so individuals who were previously convicted of these felony charges can petition the court to be re-sentenced to misdemeanor charges. Thus, there will be many people who are currently sitting in jail or prison for felony violations, who will be eligible to have those felonies reclassified to misdemeanors and be re-sentenced under misdemeanor sentencing guidelines in many cases resulting in immediate release from jail or prison.
Every day since prop 47 passed I get phone calls from eager defendants or their families wanting to have me help them evaluate whether they qualify for proposition 47 relief. Many of these people have unrealistic expectations as a result of the media coverage which has made it sound like all felonies will be magically washed away. The reality is that only following specific charges qualify under prop 47 and even many of these charges are subject to qualifications.
Forgery (PC 473)
Passing a Bad Check for $950 or less (PC 476a)
Commercial Burglary (PC 459)
Grand Theft Under $950 (PC 487)
Petty Theft with a Prior Petty Theft Conviction (PC 666)
Receiving Stolen Property worth $950 or less (PC 496)
Possession of a Controlled Substance HS 1350
Possession of Concentrated Cannabis HS 11357
Possession of Methamphetamine HS 11377
The charges that do not qualify for proposition 47 that I get asked about frequently are the possession of drugs with the intent to sell. These charges are not covered. Also, note that first degree burglary is not covered, just commercial burglary.