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While there is a general understanding that criminals should be punished for violations of the law, a tug-of-war exists between how to classify crimes and the appropriate punishments. This conflict is one of the principal reasons a criminal defense attorney needs to be involved in all criminal cases. California voters previously, in 2014 and 2016, passed resolutions reforming the State’s criminal code. Specifically, in 2014, Proposition 47 reduced some non-violent, non-serious crimes from felonies to misdemeanors, and, in 2016, Proposition 57 increased parole and good behavior opportunities for felons convicted of non-violent crimes, and also allowed judges to decide whether to try certain juveniles as adults in court. Although delayed until 2020, an initiative was approved for placement on the ballot asking voters whether they wish to retract some of the reforms from Propositions 47 and 57, which, if it passes, would make the retention of a criminal defense attorney with knowledge of the criminal code even more crucial. A discussion of this initiative, and its effect on Propositions 47 and 57, will follow below.


The 2020 Initiative


As mentioned above, the initiative approved for placement on the 2020 ballot is intended to retract some of the reforms enacted after the voter approval of Propositions 47 and 57 in 2014 and 2016, respectively. Specifically, the approved initiative:


  • Imposes parole restrictions for non-violent offenders who have completed the full term for their primary offense;
  • Expands the list of offenses that disqualify an inmate from the parole program;
  • Amends parole requirements;
  • Authorizes felony charges for specific crimes of theft, which are currently chargeable only as misdemeanors, including theft crimes where the value of the items stolen is between $250 and $950; and
  • Requires persons convicted of specific misdemeanors to submit to the collection of DNA samples for the State database.


Effect on Propositions 47 and 57


As discussed above, Proposition 47 reduced various felonies to misdemeanors, and has been cited as a contributing factor to the overall rise in crime in California. As an example, all thefts in which the value of the stolen item was $950 or less would be considered a misdemeanor. Accordingly, a thief could theoretically steal a television a day, and be charged each time with only a misdemeanor. The initiative aims to change this possible outcome by allowing prosecutors to aggregate the sales for serial thieves to increase the charge to a felony. Additionally, the initiative will allow thefts committed by snatch-and-grab gangs to be charged as felonies.


Also, proponents of the initiative argued that the reduction of felonies to misdemeanors reduced law enforcement’s ability to solve violent crimes, since DNA collection for misdemeanors was eliminated. In response, the initiative will reinstate DNA collection for specific misdemeanor convictions.


Proposition 57 was billed to the public as allowing early release for non-violent offenders. However, proponents of the initiative believe that way too many crimes qualified as non-violent. As such, they hope to add various crimes, such as child trafficking for sex, rape of an unconscious person, domestic violence, assault of a peace officer, drive-by shooting, and exploding a bomb with intent to injure, to the list of crimes for which the early release program is not available. Finally, the initiative will require a mandatory court hearing for anyone charged with a third parole violation, in an attempt to overcome the law that prohibited a return to prison for parole violators.


Hire A Criminal Defense Attorney


If you, or someone you love, have been charged with a crime, and you are curious of its current status in light of Propositions 47 and 57, as well as what the ramifications would be if this new initiative passes, or are generally looking for criminal defense representation, contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys at the Los Angeles law firm Manshoory Law Group, APC as soon as possible. Our  knowledge of criminal law, and the California criminal code, is excellent, and we will use this knowledge to formulate a strategy to present the best case for your or your loved one’s defense. Attorneys are available 24/7 to take your call. Contact us today for an initial consultation.

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