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Proposition 47 Reduces Many Felonies

With the passage of Proposition 47 in early November, many people convicted of felonies will now have those charges reduced to misdemeanors, especially if drug possession related. With the passage of this initiative, thousands of people convicted of felonies will be eligible for release from prison now that their charges have been reduced to misdemeanors.

Crimes That Proposition 47 Pertains to:

  • Reduces the penalty for certain offenders convicted of non-serious, non-violent offenses from wobblers or felonies to misdemeanors.
  • Requires misdemeanor sentences instead of felony for drug possession for personal use.
  • Requires misdemeanor sentence instead of felony for certain property offenses:
  • Limits reduced penalties to offenders who've not committed certain severe crimes such as murder, certain sex crimes, and gun crimes.
  • Permits felony sentence for someone who has previous conviction(s) for rape, murder, molestation, or is a registered sex offender.
  • Requires resentencing for persons serving felony sentences for these offenses unless a court finds they're a public safety risk.
  • The savings are applied to mental health and drug treatment programs, K-12 schools, and crime victims.

Drug Possession

Possession for personal use of most illegal drugs is now always a misdemeanor. Prop 47 does not change the penalty for possession of marijuana, which is either an infraction or a misdemeanor. Possession of concentrated cannabis shall be punished by imprisonment in county jail for a period not more than one year or by a fine of not more than $500, or by both such fine and imprisonment. (H&S 11357)

Petty Theft (PC 490.02)

Notwithstanding Section 487 or any other provision of law defining grand theft, obtaining any property by theft where the value of the money, labor, real, or personal property taken does not exceed $950 shall be considered petty theft and shall be punished as a misdemeanor. This does not apply to persons who may be punished by PC 1170(h) if that person has one or more convictions for an offense specified in clause (iv) of subparagraph (C) of paragraph (2) of subdivision (e) of Section 667 or for an offense requiring registration pursuant to PC 290(c) This shall not apply to any theft that may be charged as an infraction pursuant to any other provision of law.

Shoplifting (PC 459.5)

Shoplifting property worth $950 or less shall be punished as a misdemeanor.

Shoplifting will not be punished as a misdemeanor if the person has one or more convictions for an offense specified in clause (iv) of subparagraph (C) of paragraph (2) of subdivision (e) of Section 667 or for an offense requiring registration pursuant to PC 290(c) Prior to the passage of Prop 47, shoplifting property worth $950 or less, was a misdemeanor but could also be charged as burglary, a wobbler. Now, no person who is charged with shoplifting may also be charged with burglary or theft of the same property.

Receiving Stolen Property (PC 496)

Receiving or buying stolen property worth $950 or less shall be a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, if such person has no prior convictions for an offense specified in clause (iv) of subparagraph (C) of paragraph (2) of subdivision (e) of Section 667 or for an offense requiring registration pursuant to PC 290(c).

Prior to passage of Prop 47, individuals found with stolen property could be charged with receiving stolen property, a wobbler.

Check Forgery (PC 473)

Forging a check worth $950 or less is a misdemeanor.

Forging a check for $950 or less is a wobbler if the offender commits identity theft in connection with forging a check.

Writing Bad Checks (PC 476(a))

Writing a bad check is a misdemeanor, unless:

  • The check is worth more than $950; or
  • The offender had previously committed three forgery-related crimes.

If the bad check is worth more than $950 or the offender has three previous forgery related crimes, then the offense is a wobbler.

Prior to passage of Prop 47, writing a bad check was generally a misdemeanor. However, if the check was worth more than $450 or the offender had previously committed a forgery related crime, then it could be charged as a wobbler.

Resentencing for a Person Currently Serving a Sentence (Penal Code § 1170.18)

(PC 1170.18(a)):

A person currently serving a sentence for a conviction (by trial or plea), of a felony or felonies who would be guilty of a misdemeanor under Prop 47 may: – petition for a recall of sentence before the trial court that entered the judgment of conviction in his case to request resentencing in accordance with §§ 11350, 11357, or 11377 of the Health & Safety Code, or Penal Code §§ 459.5, 473, 476(a), 490.2, 496, or 666.

(PC 1170.18(b)):

Upon receiving a petition to request resentencing under PC 1170.18(a), the court shall determine whether the petitioner satisfies the criteria in 1170.18(a)

If the petitioner satisfies the criteria in subdivision (a), the petitioner's felony sentence shall be recalled and petitioner will be resentenced to a misdemeanor pursuant to H&S 11350, 11357, 11377 or PC 459.5, 473, 476(a), 490.2, 469, or 666 unless the court, in its own discretion, determines that resentencing the petitioner would pose an unreasonable risk of danger to public safety. A person who is resentenced pursuant to PC 1170.18(b) shall be given credit for time served and shall be subject to parole for one year following completion of his or her sentence unless the court, in its discretion, as part of its resentencing order, releases the person from parole.

Determining Unreasonable Risk to Public Safety

In exercising its discretion, the court may consider all of the following:

  • Petitioner’s criminal conviction history, including:
    • Type of crimes committed
    • Extent of injuries to victims
    • Length of prior prison commitments
    • Remoteness of the crime
  • Petitioner’s disciplinary record and record of rehabilitation while incarcerated, and any other evidence the court, within its discretion, determines to be relevant in deciding whether a new sentence would result in an unreasonable risk of danger to public safety.
  • “Unreasonable risk of danger to public safety” means an unreasonable risk that the petitioner will commit a new violent felony within the meaning of clause (iv) of subparagraph (c) of paragraph (2) of subdivision (e) of Section 667.

Change in Designation of Conviction for Persons Who Have Completed Their Sentence

A person who has completed his or her sentences for a conviction (by trial or plea), of a felony who would be guilty of a misdemeanor under Prop 47 had the act been in effect at the time of the offense, may file an application before the trial court that entered the judgment of conviction in his or her case to have the felony conviction(s) designated as misdemeanors. Unless requested by the applicant, no hearing is necessary to grant or deny an application for resentencing filed under PC 1170.18(f). Courts are not required to resentence an offender currently serving a felony sentence if the court finds the offender likely to commit a specified severe crime. Requires a “thorough review” of criminal history and risk assessment of any individuals before re-sentencing to ensure that they do not pose a risk to the public.

Change in Penalties for Offenders

Due to the nature of these crimes, the offenders will be handled at the county level. Offenders of these crimes will not be sent to state prison. The length of sentences – jail time and/or community supervision – would be less and served at the county level.

If you or a loved one has been convicted of a criminal offense which falls under Proposition 47, contact us today for a free consultation by calling (800) 922-6989. When you choose West Coast Defense for your legal defense, you will not find better legal representation. Period.

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