On November 4, 2014, California laws changed significantly with the passing of an initiative known as “Proposition 47” or the “Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act.” With nearly 3 million ballots counted, this initiative had 58% voter support. This showed many in California that voters would do whatever it took to reduce prison populations and enhance public safety simultaneously by introducing other methods of penalties for crimes. This new proposition could ultimately affect about 40,000 offenders a year, which helps people realize that the goal here is to keep violent criminals off the streets instead of cycle addicts and more in and out of jail.
There are limits to Proposition 47, of course, as we cannot expect all crimes to apply. Here are some of the crimes that are affected under this new rule:
- Drug: There are now three offenses that target possession of controlled substances seen in this proposition. They have been reduced to misdemeanors from their original felony status. This includes possession of narcotic controlled substances like cocaine, heroin, morphine, or other opiates, possession of restricted dangerous drugs like methamphetamines, and possession of concentrated cannabis. If somebody has originally been convicted of this crime in the past and was charged with a previous felony, they will be able to petition the court to reclassify the charge as a misdemeanor.
- Theft: If somebody has stolen something that is not more than $950, they will now only be charged with a misdemeanor. This includes any type of property theft, receiving stolen property, forgery or check, petty theft with a prior, or passing a bad check. Shoplifting has also been added to this as long as the value of the property is less than $950.
Changing Conviction Records
You can now request resentencing or reclassification for a misdemeanor if you have committed any of these crimes in the past and qualify. This applies to those who were released from custody or probation as well as those who are currently serving time for their crimes. If the person is still incarcerated, then they could be immediately released and have a shorter term of parole. Sometimes, public defenders will post information online or provide information in-person on how to change your record of conviction. However, following the instructions may be more difficult than it initially appears. This is why it is a good idea to talk to an experienced attorney before trying to figure it out on your own. Also, it is a good idea to keep in mind that not everyone will be able to qualify for a conviction record change. Prop 47 does not benefit those who have previous convictions for the most serious crimes. This includes those who have committed a sexually violent offense against a minor under the age of 14, murder or attempted murder, assault with a machine gun on a police officer or firefighter, possession of a weapon of mass destruction, any person who is registered as a sex offender, or any offense that is punishable by life in prison or death.
If you have questions about what to do next in the process, you can call an experienced attorney who can help you every step of the way. Call The Law Office of Peter Blair today to get the information you are looking for.