December 15, 2017 By Wallin & Klarich

California is strict when it comes to gun laws. For instance, using a gun in any way during the commission of a felony crime carries mandatory prison time.

However, this will change when a new law recently passed in California takes effect on January 1, 2018. The law will remove the mandatory prison time for using a gun during a crime.

California Ends Mandatory Sentence for Using Firearm During Crime (SB 620)

Until recently, using a firearm during the commission of a felony offense resulted in a sentence enhancement that carried mandatory prison time in California. Judges were prohibited from dismissing this sentence enhancement.

Using a firearm or assault weapon during the commission of a felony resulted in a minimum prison sentence of three years and a maximum of 10 years in addition to the sentence for the crime itself. Discharging the firearm resulted in a 20-year sentence enhancement, and causing great bodily harm by discharging the firearm carried a 25-year sentence enhancement.

However, this law changed recently when Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 620 into law. This law removes mandatory sentencing enhancements in cases where a firearm is used and instead allows judges to use their discretion when determining any sentence enhancements for firearm use.

Judges will look at the facts of a case to make sure the punishment fits the crime for each individual.

Why was the Law Changed?

Opponents of the new law criticized it for being too soft on criminals who use guns. Some law enforcement leaders have said the law could lead to an increase in gun violence.

“Why are we seeing 400 shootings in the City of Fresno this year as compared to what we had last year?” Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said. “…[I]t’s because we have a weakening of the criminal justice system because certain individuals are creating laws in the State of California because they are out of touch with local communities.”

Supporters of the new law say it is a major step in making California’s justice system more equal and fair.

“For far too long, extreme sentencing enhancements have fueled mass incarceration, failed to deter crimes, and disproportionately ensnared people of color,” said Lizzie Buchen, legislative advocate for the ACLU of California.

The bill’s author, Senator Steven Bradford, understands that firearm-related crimes are serious. However, Bradford says that the old law tied judges’ hands and the new law will give them the same level of discretion given to prosecutors when charges are being filed.

“With the signing of this bill, I hope to continue my work with the Governor, my colleagues in the Legislature and remarkable organizations such as the ACLU, who are championing these necessary sentencing reforms,” said Bradford. “These reforms will have tremendous impacts on individuals and families throughout the state. We will save lives, instead of throwing them away.”

Contact the Criminal Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today

If you or someone you love has been accused of a firearm-related offense, it is important that you speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. At Wallin & Klarich, our skilled criminal defense attorneys have over 35 years of experience successfully defending clients facing serious criminal charges in California. Let us help you now.

With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, West Covina, Torrance, Los Angeles and San Diego, you can find an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney available near you no matter where you work or live.

Call our office today at (888) 280-6839 for a free phone consultation regarding your case. We will get through this together.

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