The passage of California's Proposition 47 this last November has brought both changes to the way charges are filed by the District Attorney's Office as well as changes to the criminal records of those already convicted of a whole host of crimes. Among other things, Proposition 47 has reclassified as misdemeanors offenses that were once felonies. These felonies include, but are not limited to, simple narcotic possession and certain thefts.
For example, prior to the passage of Proposition 47, simple possession of methamphetamine was a felony. Proposition 47 has now reclassified simple possession of methamphetamine as a misdemeanor. The same goes for simple possession of cocaine, heroin, and other narcotics.
Additionally, Proposition 47 has redefined the crime of Petty Theft. Prior to the Passage of Proposition 47, if someone entered a commercial establishment, like a department store, with the intent to steal property of any value, that person could be charged with Commercial Burglary, a felony. Proposition 47 requires that the property stolen be valued at more than $950 in order for the person to be charged with Commercial Burglary. While there are some rare exceptions, a person who now enters a store with the intent to steal and does steal property valued at $950 or less can now only be charged with Petty Theft, a misdemeanor.
These are not the only crimes to which Proposition 47 applies. For a complete list, please contact Fisher and Fisher or another competent criminal defense office.
What does Proposition 47 mean for individuals who currently are facing charges for felonies that may now be misdemeanors under Proposition 47? For such individuals, their felonies may be reclassified as misdemeanors. This can be accomplished by motion to the court following that court's local rules for filing such a motion. The benefit of such a reduction is that the defendant would be exposed to less severe consequences should he/she be convicted of the misdemeanor rather than the felony.
What does this mean for individuals who have already been convicted of a felony(ies) that might now be a misdemeanor(s) under Proposition 47? For such individuals, they would need to petition the proper court for resentencing under Proposition 47. For individuals still on probation or some other supervision, their supervision level might be reduced to misdemeanor probation. This reduces their level of supervision as wells as the total time in custody they may receive for violations of their probation.
For individuals already convicted of felonies that are now misdemeanors under Proposition 47, misdemeanor reclassification can bring significant benefits. One benefit realized by such individuals is that they would no longer be required to claim the felony conviction(s) on their record when applying for jobs, loans, or housing. Another benefit realized by individuals already convicted of felonies that are now misdemeanors under Proposition 47 is that, should those individuals receive a felony conviction in the future, their sentencing cannot be enhanced due to the prior felony conviction for the Proposition 47 eligible offense(s). This greatly reduces the penalties for future felony convictions.
If you or someone you care about has questions about a current or prior felony and whether Proposition 47 might apply, contact Fisher and Fisher for a free consultation so that we may determine the relief available.