Prop. 47’s Impact California Criminal Law?

Prop. 47’s Impact California Criminal Law?

If it passes, California Prop. 47 would be called the “Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act,” and would save the state a large sum of money currently earmarked for courts, prosecutors, public defenders, probation and parole, county jails and prisons.  25% of these savings would pay for school anti-crime and drug education programs.

Prop 47 – which has about a 60% chance of passing as of September, 2014 –  would classify many traditional felonies as mandatory misdemeanors. At worst, offenders convicted under Prop. 47 would serve time in county jail for crimes once considered felonies.   On a brighter note, it would also mean that for many crimes, felony records can be cleared to misdemeanors.

Prop 47 applies to non-violent theft crimes and possession for personal use of most street drugs, including methamphetamine, cocaine, and heroin. Shoplifting charges, forgeries, and check fraud, and receiving stolen property would be mandatory misdemeanors if the amount taken or possessed was less than $950.

Penal Code 666, now a petty theft with 3 prior petty thefts would no longer be a felony but a misdemeanor in most cases. All of this new legislation does not apply to people with serious or violent felonies on their records, or to sex offenders. However, for most other minor theft and drug offenses, this means no more exposure to the potential of state prison.

Possession of certain drugs such as certain anabolic steroids and growth hormones and Khat (popular in some Middle Eastern and Northern African cultures) are actually decriminalized. This would be the reverse of a trend of criminalizing possession of new drugs every January 1 that has continued for decades in California.

Is this proposition truly going to pass? Where are the usual “Vote NO and Keep our streets safe” campaigns? As of this writing, there is no organized opposition to this proposition.

Since it has a catchy title of “Safe Neighborhoods and Schools”, if there are no scary TV commercials paid for by a hasty committee, this may just pass. If you have a case pending in one of these areas, informed lawyers are moving slowly, in hopes of getting a much better resolution after election day. Only time will tell.

If you or someone you know is accused of a crime, arrested, or contacted by police, contact San Jose criminal defense attorney Maureen Baldwin at (408) 279-4450 to learn your options today!