California Proposition 47, Do You Qualify?
California Proposition 47 is a recently approved law, which allows many individuals who have criminal convictions, to reduce their felony conviction(s) to misdemeanor convictions. Further, it allows those who are currently being prosecuted for felonies, to have their charges reduced to misdemeanors and prosecuted as misdemeanors. It is important to note that not all felony convictions and charges are eligible and not all individuals are eligible. Below is a brief overview of Proposition 47 and who qualifies.
Simply put, the new law reduces the classification of most non-serious and non-violent crimes from wobblers or felonies to misdemeanors. Wobblers are crimes that may be prosecuted and either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending upon the circumstances. Typically, the types of crimes eligible for Prop 47 are property and drug crimes. However, individuals who have prior “disqualifying” convictions will not qualify for Prop 47. Those convictions include any felony offense, which requires Penal Code 290(c) registration or convictions under Penal Code 667(e)(2)(C), (serious, violent crimes, including murder and certain sex and gun crimes, and registered sex offenders). The following are some of the crimes eligible for reduction of penalties under Proposition 47:
- Grand Theft. The new measure limits when theft of property of $950.00 or less can be charged as grand theft. Under previous law, grand theft was a wobbler, depending upon the property involved and the defendant’s prior record.
- Shoplifting. Under the new law, shoplifting property worth $950.00 or less will always be prosecuted as a misdemeanor and cannot be charged as a burglary as previously allowed.
- Receiving Stolen Property. Under the previous law, receiving stolen property was a wobbler. Under the new law, if the stolen property received is worth $950.00 or less, it will always be prosecuted as a misdemeanor and not a wobbler.
- Drug Possession. Under the previous law, possession of illegal drugs, for personal use, could be prosecuted as a misdemeanor, a wobbler, or a felony, depending upon the amount and type of drug. Prop 47 requires that personal possession crimes always be prosecuted as misdemeanors. Possession of marijuana will remain either an infraction or a misdemeanor.
Proposition 47 will cause changes in penalties for those convictions that qualify. The result will mean a reduction in the length of the sentences, jail time and community supervision. Very few individuals ever received state prison sentences for these types of crimes under the old law, only those with prior serious or violent convictions. However, under Prop 47, no one with the qualifying convictions will receive a state prison sentence.
Probably one of the most talked about results of Prop 47 is the resentencing of previous felony convictions, which affects those individuals currently in custody, as well as those who are out of custody. Quickly and simply put, those individuals who have been convicted of a felony (a qualifying felony) and are currently serving time for that conviction, may apply to have their felony conviction/sentence reduced to a misdemeanor and resentenced. For those convicted of a qualifying felony and have completed their sentence, they may apply to the Court to have their convicted reduced to a misdemeanor.
As discussed above, no one who has been convicted of those serious, violent, sex and gun related crimes applicable, may be resentenced or have their felony reduced to a misdemeanor. Further, Prop 47 says that the court is not required to resentence an individual, even if they qualify, if the court makes a determination that the individual will likely commit one of the specified severe crimes. Also, individuals who have been resentenced are placed on one-year state parole, unless the court removes the requirement.
The Orange County Superior Court has established a courtroom specifically designated to handle Proposition 47 cases. The procedures vary depending upon the status of your felony charge or conviction.
Anyone who feels that they may qualify for Prop 47 in Orange County should contact a Criminal Defense Lawyer who is familiar with the new Proposition 47 procedures. And any family member who has a loved one in custody on a felony conviction should consult with a good criminal defense attorney to find out if their loved one qualifies for Prop 47.