In November 2014, California voters decided that the state’s classification of some crimes as felonies was overly harsh and needed to be changed. The voters passed Proposition 47 (also known as the “Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act”) to reduce the penalties for certain drug and theft crimes.
There law changed the way these crimes are charged. Due to the change, those that have prior convictions for certain crimes are allowed to bring a motion before the court to have those felony convictions reduced to misdemeanors on their criminal record. Also, those persons currently serving a prison or jail sentence due to convictions for certain felony crimes can request the court in a formal motion to reduce their conviction to a misdemeanor and ask that their sentence be reduced or eliminated completely.
This new law has now been in effect for more than one year. Los Angeles County officials have determined that many persons who may qualify for reductions due to their prior crimes are not coming forth to take advantage of the benefits under this new law.
Two Task Forces for Two Goals
Under Prop 47, the deadline to apply for a reduction of a current or past criminal conviction is November 5, 2017; just three years after it became law. One of the goals of the law is to clean up the records of many people with non-violent drug and petty theft felonies.
If you have a felony on your record, you probably already know how difficult it can be to convince an employer to hire you. Reducing a felony to a misdemeanor is a major step toward getting your conviction expunged from your record, which can open up many employment and housing opportunities that you may not have had with a felony on your record.
With that in mind, Los Angeles County supervisors voted to create a task force of county officials from criminal justice and social service agencies. This group will determine how many people are eligible to reduce their convictions in Los Angeles County. They will form a plan to reach those individuals who have not yet applied. The goal is to find as many people as possible to ensure that a large and untapped workforce has an easier path to becoming productive members of society.
The second task force will be made up of county officials as well as representatives from business associations and labor groups. This group will be responsible for helping those people who are coming back into society make the adjustments they need to remain free from trouble with the law. The group will help these ex-offenders find services they need, such as job-training programs, substance abuse programs, and counseling. The group will include two persons who have lived the life that many ex-offenders know all too well. They will help these newly freed prisoners find ways to prevent homelessness, deal with mental health issues and avoid the behaviors that landed them in jail or prison.
Can Prop 47 Help You?
Prop 47 only works with certain drug or theft crimes. If your conviction is for any other type of crime, you are not eligible for a reduction. Prop 47 also purposely excludes from eligibility persons who have been convicted of a number of serious, violent offenses. Many of these offenses are those that are covered under California’s “Three Strikes” law, which requires a mandatory life sentence if you’re convicted of a third serious or violent crime. However, not all of the offenses under the Three Strikes law will render you ineligible for a Prop 47 reduction. Prop 47 also excludes people whose criminal history has required them to register as a sex offender under California Penal Code section 290
While the list of crimes excluded from consideration under Prop 47 is lengthy, you should still consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney to determine whether your case is eligible for reduction from a felony to a misdemeanor. There is no reason that you should carry the burden of a criminal conviction on your record if the law gives you a way to avoid doing so. If it is not possible under Prop 47, your attorney may still find other ways to reduce your felony to a misdemeanor and eventually expunge the conviction from your record.
Call a Criminal Defense Attorney Right Away
If you were convicted of a felony and are interested in finding out if you are eligible for resentencing under Prop 47, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. At Wallin & Klarich, our skilled team of attorneys has been successfully helping clients clean their criminal records for over 30 years. We work tirelessly to help our clients reduce the impact of their prior criminal history on their lives. Let our knowledgeable attorneys help you, too.
With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney available near you no matter where you work or live.
Contact our offices today at (888) 280-6839 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.