Answers from a Modesto Criminal Defense Attorney
The 2014 midterm election resulted in the passing of a bold new law: Proposition 47. Called the "Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act," the measure hopes to bolster afterschool, drug, and mental health programs with money saved from lessening the burden on the penitentiary system. The funds will come by decreasing penalties on a number of common crimes, making many prison sentences shorter and in-turn, less expensive for the state.
What's most encouraging is that Prop 47 also works retroactively—meaning those who have already been convicted of these select crimes and are currently incarcerated may be eligible for early or immediate release. While this is good news for many, and hundreds have already benefited, it is still a complex process to gain this resentencing.
What crimes are affected by Prop 47?
Proposition 47 primarily targets non-violent fraud and theft crimes. Now, under the new proposition, any money or goods stolen in exceeds of $950 will only result in misdemeanors charges, roughly double what the limit was in the past.
The kinds of theft and fraud crimes Prop 47 addresses are:
- Possession of stolen property
- Grand theft
- Check and credit fraud
The possession of illegal drugs, such as heroin, cocaine, and substances classified as "date rape" drugs, is now also considered a misdemeanor and carries lesser penalties. The proposition also allows certain individuals to clear their felony record, getting essentially a fresh start.
Am I eligible for a lighter sentence?
Due to the new classification of these crimes, many convicted individuals stand to see the time of their sentence reduced or may even be eligible for immediate release. However, not everyone who has been convicted of these crimes is eligible for this resentencing. The state has established several measures to make sure the proposition doesn't serve as a free pass to those convicted of more serious crimes, especially those with previous criminal records.
For an individual to be considered for retroactive amendment under Prop 47, they must not have any prior violent or sexual convictions on their record. Anyone with this kind of history must serve the entirety of their original sentence and will not be eligible for resentencing.
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The changes Prop 47 brings are exciting. Not only do they benefit community programs that will help prevent future crimes, but they also decrease prison populations, provide early release for those eligible, and create a healthier penitentiary environment for those serving time.
Sweeping change like this requires major adjustments for the judicial system. Many petitions are going to be filed and reviewed in the next few years, which is why having an attorney look over your case prior to submission is crucial. At Scott Mitchell Law Incorporated, we realize how important this new proposition is and how many families and futures hang in the balance. Our Modesto criminal defense lawyer is ready to bring his experience and knowledge to your case and help you receive the support you deserve during this time.
If you or a loved one believe that your case is affected by Prop 47 and you'd like to explore what can be done to reduce sentencing, contact our firm today.