Proposition 47, the ballot initiative passed by California voters on November 4, 2014, reduces certain drug possession felonies to misdemeanors. It also requires misdemeanor sentencing for petty theft, receiving stolen property and forging/writing bad checks when the amount involved is $950 or less.
No one is automatically released from state prison because of Proposition 47. The new law allows people who are already serving a felony conviction for these crimes to petition the court for resentencing. In addition, Proposition 47 allows a person who has completed his/her sentence for the specified offenses to file an application before the trial court to have the felony conviction reduced to a misdemeanor.
Not all offenders can petition the court, even if their convictions were felonies that are now misdemeanors. Offenders cannot petition a court if they have previous convictions for: sex offenses including rape, child molestation and other sex offenses; murder, attempted murder and solicitation to commit murder; assault with a machine gun on an officer; or any serious or violent crime punishable by a life sentence or death are not eligible to petition a court for resentencing under Proposition 47. Any inmate required to register as a sex offender is not eligible.
Eligible inmates who petition the court are required to be resentenced unless the court finds an unreasonable risk to public safety.
Eligible inmates must file a petition or application to the court that sentenced them by November 4, 2017 (i.e., within three years of the effective date of the initiative).
The process for resentencing:
- Inmates need to file a petition for recall of sentence with the trial court. Inmates can file an application with the sentencing court to have a previous conviction designated as a misdemeanor.
- The county court will determine whether the inmate’s criminal offense history makes him/her eligible for resentencing.
- Under the new law, the court is required to resentence eligible offenders unless it determines that resentencing would pose an unreasonable risk to public safety, as specified.
- When determining the risk to public safety, the court may consider the offender’s criminal history, the types of crimes committed and when they occurred, the extent of injury to victims, the length of prior prison commitments, the inmate’s disciplinary and rehabilitation records while incarcerated, and any other relevant evidence.
- Offenders whose requests for resentencing are denied by the courts would continue to serve their terms as originally sentenced.
This information is being provided for reference only. Review the Secretary of State’s website for information regarding Proposition 47 or consult your legal counsel for more specific information.