Will Reducing Penalties for Non-violent Crimes Help California?

September 22, 2014,

With the November election approaching, prosecutors and defense attorneys are turning their attention to a ballot measure that will reduce penalties for some non-violent, non-serious offenses. Although it is gaining traction with the public, prosecutors are split over Proposition 47.

According to an August field poll, the proposition has 57% support, which means it could be voted into law barring significant changes before November. However, that is not expected to change as opposition has failed to raise funds and has remained quiet.1 Here is what you need to know about Prop 47.

What Will Prop 47 Do?

Proposition 47 is appropriately being called the “Reduced Penalties for Some Crimes Initiative.” If passed, the proposition would reduce six non-serious, non-violent crimes from felonies and wobblers—which could be prosecuted as felonies or misdemeanors depending on the circumstances of each case—to misdemeanors.
The crimes being reclassified include drug and theft offenses. Most notably, crimes involving the possession of illegal drugs for personal use would always be charged as misdemeanors, regardless of what type of drug it is and how much of the drug the defendant possessed. Additionally, writing bad checks, shoplifting, receiving stolen property and theft of property worth $950 or less would be reduced to misdemeanors.

If Prop 47 passes, persons who commit these crimes would face a maximum of one year in county jail rather than three years in jail and a felony on their criminal record. It would also apply to convicted offenders already serving time for these offenses, allowing these individuals to petition for resentencing. Offenders who have completed their sentences would be eligible to apply to have their convictions reduced to misdemeanors on their criminal record. Anyone who has a prior conviction for certain violent or registerable sex crimes would not be eligible to have their sentences reduced under the proposed law.

What Effect Would Prop 47 Have?

Proposition 47 would have a profound impact on California and the treatment of individuals convicted of certain crimes. The state would save hundreds of millions of dollars each year. Sentencing fewer convicted people to shorter sentences could reduce overcrowded jail populations by thousands, according to the California Budget Project. 2

The goal of the measure is to stop spending so much of the state’s money on sending inmates to jail and redirect the funds towards the treatment of low-level offenders. The money saved by the state would be used for substance abuse treatment and support for mentally ill offenders. In the long run, treating these individuals rather than sending them to jail or prison will help reduce the chances that they will re-offend once released from custody.

Why You Should Vote Yes on Prop 47

California punishes persons convicted of non-serious offenses too harshly and does not prepare them to be released from custody, which could lead them to re-offend and wind up back behind bars. It is time for the state to stop focusing on punishing these individuals and offer mental health and substance abuse treatment instead.

If the measure is passed in November, the state will save hundreds of millions of dollars and convicted individuals will finally get the treatment they need. That is all the reason necessary to vote yes on Prop 47.

What do you think about Prop 47? Will you be voting yes on the measure in November? Wallin & Klarich welcomes your opinion. Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.

1. ["Prosecutors split on soft-on-crime measure” Daily Journal. Sept. 18, 2014.]

2. [http://www.cbp.org/pdfs/2014/140909_Proposition_47_BB.pdf2]

Governor Brown Seeks Another Extension to Reduce Prison Overcrowding

September 23, 2013,

California Governor Jerry Brown has come up with another plan to delay a reduction in prison overcrowding. Rather than to fully comply with a panel of three federal judges who ordered California to reduce its prison population more than four years ago, the Governor is prepared to go back to the justices yet again to ask for more time.

On Sept. 9, Gov. Brown and state Legislative leaders put together a new scheme to seek more time from federal judges to reduce the prison population. They plan to request an additional extension in order to comply with an August 2009 federal order, which was upheld in May 2011 by the United States Supreme Court.

The Governor has vowed to comply with the federal order, if necessary, without resorting to the early release of prisoners. If the federal judges deny the request for an extension, Republican and Democratic Legislative leaders are prepared to spend over $315 million of California’s $1.1 billion reserve this year alone to fund relocation of California prisoners to private and out-of-state prisons, county jails and other facilities. That figure is expected to increase to $415 annually in coming years.


California State Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) initially had called Gov. Brown’s plan “inadequate,” insisting on more programs to address drug abuse and mental illness. Sen. Steinberg had proposed asking attorney’s for inmates and the judges for a three-year extension. The panel of federal judges has already extended the deadline from June 30 to December 31.

Sen. Steinberg’s recommendations have been incorporated into the new plan, overwhelmingly approved by the state Assembly by a vote of 75-0. Sen. Steinberg’s goal is to reduce the rate offense by ex-cons by investing in rehabilitative programs. That is the reason for going back to the panel of federal judges to request an additional three years to reduce California’s prison population.

Lawsuits Challenging the Problems with California’s Prison Overcrowding

California has been battling prison overcrowding in the courts for over 23 years. Since 1990, two federal civil rights lawsuits brought by prisoner lawyers have been the driving force behind the changes continuously being resisted by the Governor and the state Legislature.

Coleman v. Brown

Coleman v. Brown is a federal lawsuit under the Civil Rights Act of 1873, 8th and 14th Amendments to the United States Constitution, and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The class action suit alleges that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) provides inadequate mental health care to inmates, resulting in unconstitutional violations of prisoner’s rights.

The case was filed on April 23, 1990 by the Prison Law Office. In June 1994, a U.S. magistrate judge heard the matter, finding that CDCR’s delivery of mental health care to class members violated the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

On September 13, 1995 the court issued a permanent injunction in the Coleman case. A special master was appointed to verify that the CDCR was in compliance with court ordered injunctive relief. The special master submitted multiple reports "reflect[ing] a troubling reversal in the progress of the remedial efforts of the preceding decade.”

Plata v. Brown

Plata v. Brown is a federal lawsuit alleging that CDCR medical services are inadequate and violate the U.S. Eighth Amendment, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

The case was filed on April 5, 2001 and amended in August 2001. The alleged violations include:

  • Inadequate medical screening of incoming prisoners;
  • Delays in or failure to provide access to medical care;
  • Untimely responses to medical emergencies;
  • The interference of custodial staff with the provision of medical care;
  • The failure to recruit and retain sufficient numbers of competent medical staff;
  • Disorganized and incomplete medical records; and
  • A lack of quality control procedures.
The claims alleged that patients being treated by the CDCR received inadequate medical care that resulted in the deaths of 34 inmate patients. California has the highest rate of prisoner suicide in the United States, a fact relied upon by the U.S. Supreme Court in their 2011 decision to require California to reduce its prison population.

The Three-Judge Federal Court Panel

In 2006, attorneys for prisoners in the Coleman and Plata cases filed motions to convene a three-judge court to cap the prison population. On July 23, 2007 both the Plata and Coleman courts granted these motions and recommended that the cases be assigned to the same three-judge federal court.

August 2009 Reduction Order

On August 4, 2009, the three-judge court ordered California officials to submit a plan within 45 days outlining "a population reduction plan that will in no more than two years reduce the population of the CDCR’s adult institutions to 137.5 percent of their combined design capacity."

California had to cut 40,000 inmates out of its prison population of 150,000 when the verdict was issued. Since then, California has slowly reduced its prison population by changing its laws defining certain non-serious, non-violent felony crimes as offenses punishable by a county jail sentence rather than prison time. This is known as the Realignment Act, which took effect on October 1, 2011. State officials have also increased the number of California prisoners being sent to private, out-of-state facilities at a substantial cost to taxpayers.

Neither the three-judge panel nor the United States Supreme Court mandated that California release inmates from actual custody. California responded by shifting certain state prisoners to county jails and privately run prisons. The federal judges recommended reducing the incarceration of nonviolent offenders and technical parole violators in order to reach the maximum capacity.

What’s Next for California?

State officials have yet to fully comply with the federal court order as the Governor seeks to yet again extend the deadline to reduce the prison overcrowding problem. This time, however, the Legislature is taking serious action to put a greater emphasis on rehabilitative efforts aimed at reducing prisoner recidivism. By beginning to invest in strategies aimed at the long term goal of assisting inmates with drug addiction and mental health issues once released from custody, the Legislature is finally making an effort that is long overdue: getting people out of prison and providing services to help former inmates to stay out.

One can only speculate as to the enormous amount of influence the California Correctional and Peace Officers Association (CCPOA) – California’s unionized prison guards – have had in the decisions being made at the state capitol level to prolong the problem of prison overcrowding. The guards’ union contributes significantly to California political campaigns and is a top supporter of Gov. Brown.

It’s up to the federal panel of judges as to whether or not to extend the December 31st deadline to reduce California’s prison population by about 8,500. A decision is expected by the end of September.

If I am sentenced to one year in county jail how much of the one year will I actually serve in custody?

September 27, 2012,

This is a question we are often asked. The answer to the question depends upon several factors.

Under California law for most crimes, if you are sentenced to one year in county jail you will actually serve 50% of that sentence or six months.


However, there are certain more serious crimes, where you could serve as much as 80% or 85% of the one year sentence. These crimes are normally serious felony matters where you were fortunate enough to receive probation or cases where you have received probation but you have a prior “strike offense”.

Of course prior to entering into any plea bargain it is critical you meet with a private experienced criminal defense lawyer to help you better understand the defenses to your case and how much time you would actually serve based upon the crime for which you are to plead guilty to.

In some counties in California the overcrowding in the local county jails can impact the actual time you do in custody on your case. For example, currently in Los Angeles County some defendants can end up doing as little as 10% of their actual sentence if the county jail population is at a high level when they begin their sentence. This could mean that on a one year sentence you could do less than 30 days in jail. However, this is something you should discuss with your Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer before you plead guilty to any crime.

At our law firm we realize that protecting your criminal record and freedom is your first priority. This is why you can always rely on the criminal defense lawyers of Wallin and Klarich to be there for you when you have a question about your criminal case. Call us toll free at 888-280-6839. We will be there when you call.

From Misdemeanor Drunk in Public to Felony Escape of Police Custody

September 9, 2009,

An Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney is the Only Place to Turn to Avoid a Lengthy Prison Stay

Unfortunately for many people, criminal charges tend to follow after a night of drinking. Such was the case for a 24 year old man arrested on August 3, 2009. After a long night of drinking, the defendant was arrested for public intoxication; a misdemeanor charge that in California, under California Penal Code Section 647, could result in 6 months in jail, as well as fines. The arresting officer claimed that the he observed the man stumbling in the street around 3:00am. Sadly, the man’s troubles did not end there.

According to police, the man was placed in the back of the police vehicle while he was transported to the county jail. Once the police vehicle reached the jail, the man pulled his legs between his hand-cuffed wrists to get his arms in front of him. The man then broke the police vehicle’s window and climbed through. Police quickly stopped the man before he got too far. He was then charged with felony for trying to escape police custody. The new felony charge for attempting to escape carries a 20 year maximum sentence.

Continue reading "From Misdemeanor Drunk in Public to Felony Escape of Police Custody" »

Several Grounds Give Law Enforcement Authority to Make a Misdemeanor Arrest

August 16, 2009,

Comments from a Wallin & Klarich Criminal Defense Attorney

There are several grounds that give law enforcement authority to arrest for a misdemeanor offense. Both statute and common law give authority to arrest for a misdemeanor committed in the officer's presence.

Some of the ground for misdemeanor arrests include:

  • crime committed in officer's presence

  • crime committed within the officer's jurisdiction

  • fresh pursuit of a misdemeanor suspect

Continue reading "Several Grounds Give Law Enforcement Authority to Make a Misdemeanor Arrest" »

Stages of the Criminal Process: Arraignment

July 12, 2009,

When a person is charged with a crime, the first formal legal process is the arraignment. The arraignment is a hearing before a judge where several important things occur. If a person is in custody, the arraignment must occur within two to three days. Otherwise, arraignment is usually set for a date several weeks in the future.

There are several purposes of an arraignment. First, the defendant is formally read the charges he or she is facing. Next, the defendant is informed of his or her rights. For misdemeanor and felony crimes in California, these include a right to a jury trial, a right to present evidence, a right to confront adverse witnesses, and, if any jail time is a possibility, a right to an attorney. To be appointed a Public Defender, a defendant must meet certain income criteria. Depending on your income level and assets, the court may or may not decide that you qualify for the services of the Public Defender. If the court determines you do not qualify, generally you will be allowed to continue the arraignment in order to obtain a private attorney.

In a misdemeanor case, even if you do qualify for a Public Defender, it is often wise to obtain the services of a private attorney, because they may appear at the arraignment (and several other proceedings) without your presence. A great benefit of retaining private counsel is the simple fact that you do not have to miss work and spend all morning in a courtroom waiting to be called. This is true in some proceedings in felony cases as well, although courts vary in their requirements for the presence of the defendant.

Continue reading "Stages of the Criminal Process: Arraignment" »

Reducing Your Felony Conviction to a Misdemeanor

June 22, 2009,

An Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney May Be Able to Obtain a Reduction of Your Felony Conviction to a Misdemeanor

A court may hear a petition to reduce certain felony offenses in California to a misdemeanor at any time following the suspension of judgment and granting of probation. In J.M. Meyer v. Superior Court (1966) 247 Cal. App.2d 133, 140, the court noted: “the word ‘thereafter’ in Penal Code Section 17 is not followed by a time limit, nor is it by express terms restricted to the probationary period.

Moreover, in conferring upon the court the power to declare an offense to be a misdemeanor after it has suspended imposition of judgment or sentence, the Legislature evidently intended to enable the court to reward a convicted defendant who demonstrates by his conduct that he is rehabilitated.

A court may also reduce a felony to a misdemeanor at any time following dismissal and expungement of the underlying felony. Meyer v. Superior Court (1966) 247 CA2d 133, 55 CR 350.

It is a wise decision to retain the services of an experienced criminal defense law firm if you are seeking a reduction of a felony criminal conviction offense to a misdemeanor under Penal Code 17(b). Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorneys in California have over 30 years experience helping their clients. You can speak to one of our attorneys by calling now at 1-888-280-6839, or visit us on the web at www.wklaw.com for more information about setting up an appointment.

How To Keep Your Criminal Record Clean By Entering Drug Treatment

March 2, 2009,

Which Prior Convictions Will Disqualify Me For Drug Diversion Under Proposition 36 or Penal Code 1000?

Prior convictions for California drug offenses, even drug sales, will not necessarily disqualify a defendant under Proposition 36. The only prior conviction that excludes a defendant under Prop 36 is one for a serious or violent felony listed in Penal Code 667.5(c) or Penal Code1192.7. However, even this exclusion can be avoided if the defendant has remained free of all drug possession offenses for 5 years or more.

Defendants who are charged with other non-drug offenses are not eligible for drug diversion under Penal Code 1000. Conversely, under Proposition 36, eligibility turns on the offenses of which the defendant is convicted, regardless of what the defendant is charged with.

Continue reading "How To Keep Your Criminal Record Clean By Entering Drug Treatment" »

Misdemeanor Charge Dismissal and ClearingYour Criminal Record

February 17, 2009,

How Can I Get My Misdemeanor Charges Dismissed? Why an Experienced Law Firm Can Help Keep Your Record Clean.

When you are charged with a misdemeanor offense in California, it is important to get the best legal advice so that every alternative is explored in getting your case resolved. It is extremely important to hire an experienced law firm that can explore all possible remedies and options to get your charges reduced or dropped completely.

One of those options in a misdemeanor case is to obtain a civil compromise under California Penal Code sections 1377 and 1388. Under those California Penal Code sections, if the injured person, or victim, comes before the court and acknowledges that he has received satisfaction for the injury, the court can discharge the defendant and order that all proceedings be stayed or halted. This means that your case could be dropped and the misdemeanor case would not appear on your record.

Continue reading "Misdemeanor Charge Dismissal and ClearingYour Criminal Record" »

California Criminal Defense Attorney Weighs in on Posting Bail

October 31, 2008,

Why i should have the assistance of a California criminal defense lawyer before i make the decision to bail out my loved one

What Is Bail, and How Is It Set?

The amount of bail is a sum of money that an accused must deposit with the court to ensure that you will appear. When someone is arrested the bail is initially set at the “bail schedule”. Each county has a bail schedule that is set by the Board of Supervisors of each county. However, in most counties if you retain the services of a criminal defense law firm they may be able to have your bail lowered by filing for a bail review hearing at the earliest opportunity. In Orange County, for example, there is a detention release officer system. What this means is that if you are arrested for a “new alleged crime” in Orange County, you can retain a lawyer and the lawyer can contact the detention release officer, who works for the county and ask that they review the clients bail and hopefully reduce the bail or release the accused without bail pending his/her appearance in court. In many cases our clients have saved thousands of dollars in bail bond fees by having the good sense of calling our Orange County criminal defense law firm prior to making the decision to bail a loved one out of jail.

Continue reading "California Criminal Defense Attorney Weighs in on Posting Bail" »

Orange County Jail Guards' Assault Prompts Inmate Lawsuit

August 15, 2008,

Orange County jail inmate sues for brutality by Orange County jail guards.

An inmate at the Orange County jail has filed a lawsuit alleging that he was kicked, punched and otherwise assaulted by police officers from the Orange County Sheriff's department while he was in custody. He also alleges that thousands of inmates in custody at the Orange County jail are denied basis privileges that the law allows. (Santa Ana). These types of things just should not happen to people who are in custody but they often do.

When a loved one is arrested it is critical that you realize that their safety is often at risk if they remain in custody. We regularly are contacted by persons who tell us that when they were in custody they were beaten or otherwise assaulted while in jail.

We often urge our client’s families that they should consider retaining our legal services so we can attempt to go to court and have our clients bail reduced so they can be released from custody. In some cases we are able to have our clients released on “their own recognizance” which means without having to post bail.

When a person finds himself accused of a crime they are facing the possibility of spending time in county jail or state prison. However, they should not be subject to beatings and violations of their civil rights. The longer an inmate is in custody the more likely it is that they can suffer injury at the hands of another. It is always a good idea to confer with a highly qualified Orange County criminal defense attorney to learn about all of your loved ones legal rights. Contact Wallin and Klarich 24hours a day, 7 days a week for assistance. Feel free to visit our website www.wklaw.com and give us a call at 888-749-0034. We will be there when you call.

San Diego Jails

July 23, 2008,

Afraid of going to jail in San Diego? These are alternatives. Many misdemeanor cases are settled for community service. Picking up papers and raking leaves in a Probation Department program may be a choice.

Did you know that “jail” doesn’t always mean bars and an orange jumpsuit? Competent, San Diego lawyers know about work furlough. It counts as jail, but you go to work and return. They have an electronic surveillance program! You can go to work and other necessary places but get credit like you were in jail.

Knowing about alternatives to jail is just on e reason to contact the competent, aggressive attorneys at Wallin & Klarich. Give us a call at 888.280.6839.

Phone Calls Made From San Diego Jails

June 9, 2008,

Do the police listen to calls coming from the jail? Absolutely! The San Diego Sheriff tapes every call made from the jail. Here’s how it works.

Inmates can call out collect. To make the call, they are supposed to use their booking number. The calls are all saved in the computer. The people on the sheriff system can simply enter the booking number and up pops all calls made using that booking number. They can also identify who is called. That’s bad enough. It gets worse. The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office is booked into the sheriff system. The District Attorney can sit in their office and access jail calls. That includes calls between an inmate and his san diego criminal defense attorney. They deny listening to attorney calls. But, isn’t it just so tempting?

BE CAREFUL. Don’t talk about the case, the witnesses, or the evidence. There is no such thing as a confidential call where one person is in the San Diego County Jail.

Sometimes an inmate needs to call his California criminal defense attorney. That’s where experience comes in. Experienced criminal attorneys know how to talk on the phone and avoid the pitfalls of taped calls. Don’t take a chance with amateurs. Call the experienced criminal attorney’s at Wallin & Klarich. Call us at 888-749-0034 and visit us at www.wklaw.com.


February 18, 2008,

Afraid of going to jail in San Diego? These are alternatives. Many misdemeanor cases are settled for community service. Picking up papers and raking leaves in a Probation Department program may be a choice.

Did you know that “jail” doesn’t always mean bars and an orange jumpsuit? Competent, San Diego lawyers know about work furlough. It counts as jail, but you go to work and return. They have an electronic surveillance program! You can go to work and other necessary places but get credit like you were in jail.

Knowing about alternatives to jail is just on e reason to contact the competent, aggressive attorneys at Wallin & Klarich. Give us a call at 888.280.6839.