On November 4, 2014 California voters passed an historic ballot initiative that actually lowers criminal penalties in as much as 20% of cases currently charged as felonies. Furthermore, it is estimated that proposition 47 will allow for the early release of as many as 10,000 inmates from the California prison system. Several thousand more inmates serving long felony sentences in county jail will also be eligible for release.
There are 4 criteria an inmate must meet to be eligible for re-sentencing:
1) Only theft and drug crimes are eligible for re-sentencing under the new law
The new law applies to dozens of specific law. But all the changes apply to theft crimes of less than $950 and simple possession of drugs.
As to the theft charges, it is important to remember that this does not apply to residential burglary (going into somebodies home or garage to steal) or to robbery (using violence or threat of violence to take something.
As to drug crimes, simple possession means possession for personal use. Possession for sales will still remain a felony.
2) The person requesting resentencing must not have any conviction for a sex crime listed in Penal Code section 290(c)
Most inmates who have a prior conviction for a sex crime will not be eligible for resentencing.
3) The person requesting resentencing must not have a violent felony prior conviction listed in Penal Code section 667(e)(2)(c)(iv)
It is important to note that not all persons having “strike” convictions will be disqualified. This list includes “sexually violent” crimes and top level violent crimes such as murder, attempted murder, or assault with a machine gun on a police officer.
4) The person seeking resentencing must not pose an “unreasonable risk to public safety”
This is the most subjective aspect of resentencing, and the area where having a thorough and creative attorney may well mean the difference between freedom and prison. The judge may consider the person’s criminal history, the nature of the current offense, and “any other evidence the court, within its discretion, determines to be relevant”. This leaves the field open for the defense to give information about a person’s background, family, or anything else that may make the person seem more sympathetic or at least not dangerous.