On Tuesday, November 7 2014, California voters passed Proposition 47, which reduces the penalty to a misdemeanor for several nonviolent offenses that were previously sentenced as a felony or a potential felony (wobbler). Prop 47 allows reduction of simple drug possession offenses in addition to shoplifting, forgery, check fraud, theft, and receiving stolen property when the amount involved does not exceed $950.
Unfortunately for those with felony convictions that were hoping to once again be able to own a gun, relief under Proposition 47 does not restore a person’s right to own a firearm. Only reduction under Penal 17(b) can restore a person’s right to own a firearm. While Prop 47 does not affect firearm rights, one who was previously ineligible for an expungement due to a prison sentence may now be eligible to expunge their case once the felony is reduced to a misdemeanor under Proposition 47.
The sentencing reductions do not apply to those with a prior conviction of an offense requiring registration under PC 290(c) or a conviction of an offense listed in Penal Code section 667(e)(2)(C)(iv), which includes certain serious and/or violent felonies.1 This law became effective on November 5, 2014, the day following its passage.
Offenses Eligible for Reduction Under Prop 47
Simple possession for controlled substances (including cocaine, heroin, and GHB), as described in Health and Safety Code sections 11350, 11357, and 11377, must be sentenced as misdemeanors under the new law. The passage of Proposition 47 does not affect simple marijuana possession because that offense was already designated as a misdemeanor or infraction.
Prop 47 requires misdemeanor sentencing for the following offenses when the amount involved does not exceed $950: shoplifting, forgery, check fraud, theft, and receiving stolen property. Previously certain theft offenses, such as those involving certain property (cars or if the offender had committed a prior theft offense, would be charged as grand theft, a wobbler. Under this new law, if the amount involved does not exceed $950, these offenses can no longer be charged as grand theft.
Many of the offenses that are affected by this new law were already wobblers under the previous laws, meaning the judge had discretion to sentence these offenses as misdemeanors already. However, Prop 47 now requires judges to impose a misdemeanor sentence on individuals convicted of these offenses. Additionally, while wobblers are eligible for a reduction under Penal Code section 17(b), that relief is also discretionary. Under the new laws that went into effect this week, individuals previously convicted of a felony offense that would have been sentenced as a misdemeanor had this law been in effect at the time of the offense can petition the court to have their felony reclassified as a misdemeanor.
To find out if you are eligible to have your felony conviction reduced, please take our free online prop 47 eligibility test, contact us at 877-573-7273, or complete the contact form at the bottom of the page and we will respond to you. For a felony reduction, we charge a flat rate of $750, which includes all the costs and fees associated with petitioning the court for this relief.
Law Allows Those Previously Convicted to be Resentenced or Have The Felony Designated as a Misdemeanor
The provisions relating to how Prop 47 affects those with prior convictions is found in the newly added section 1170.18 of the Penal Code. For defendants still serving a sentence, this section provides that those who were convicted and sentenced for a felony offense can have the sentenced recalled and he or she can be resentenced to a misdemeanor. For those who have completed the sentence, a defendant can apply to the trial court to have the felony conviction or convictions designated as a misdemeanor if he or she would have been guilty of a misdemeanor under this act had this act been in effect at the time of the offense.
For those still serving the sentence, the court shall resentence the petitioner if the petitioner would have been guilty of a misdemeanor had this act been in effect at the time of the sentence.
However for those defendants still serving the sentence, the court is given discretion to not resentence the petitioner if the court determines the petitioner would pose an unreasonable risk of danger to public safety. Section 1170.18(c) defines “unreasonable risk of danger to public safety” as an “unreasonable risk that the petitioner will commit a new violent felony [as described in Section 667(e)(2)(C)(iv)].”
Petitioners who have completed the sentence and are seeking to have the felony designated as a misdemeanor are entitled to that relief if they meet the statutory requirements. The court has no discretion in deciding whether the grant or deny the application. The applicant must apply within three years of this law becoming effective, meaning applications for this relief should be filed before November 5, 2017, unless good cause is shown for the delay.
Effect of Having a Felony Reduced Under This Law
If the court resentences you or designates your prior felony as a misdemeanor under PC 1170.18, the conviction shall be considered a misdemeanor for all purposes, except that resentencing will not permit you to own or possess a firearm. This is a great form of relief for anyone who currently has a felony conviction on their record for a drug possession charge or a theft-related offense and is now eligible to have it reclassified as a misdemeanor. If the requirements of the statute are met and you have completed the sentence in the case, you are entitled to this relief.
If your offense at the time of sentencing was a wobbler, you are eligible to apply for a reduction under Penal Code section 17(b), which will reduce your felony and also restore your firearm rights; however, the court has discretion in deciding PC 17(b) petitions, and therefore this new form of relief available with the passage of Proposition 47 is another great form of relief to consider.
Expungement May Now Be Possible
If your offense is one of the ones listed above and you served prison time, you now may be able to expunge the conviction after it is reduced to a misdemeanor. Expungement has many benefits, including making it much easier to find better employment or housing opportunities. Unfortunately, expungement, like reduction under Prop 47, does not restore a person’s right to own a firearm.
How To Reduce your Felony under Prop 47
If you are interested in learning more about reducing your felony to a misdemeanor, under Penal Code section 1170.18 (Proposition 47) or Penal Code 17(b), please complete our online proposition 47 eligibility test or contact our office at 877-573-7273 to discuss your options and determine how we can assist you or fill out the contact form below. For a felony reduction, we charge a flat fee of $750, which includes all costs and filing fees and can be broken down into interest-free monthly payments.
To Find out If Your Offense Can Be Reduced under Proposition 47, Simply Take Our Free Online Eligibility Test or Contact Us through the Form Below
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(I) A “sexually violent offense” as defined in subdivision (b) of Section 6600 of the Welfare and Institutions Code.
(II) Oral copulation with a child who is under 14 years of age, and who is more than 10 years younger than he or she as defined by Section 288a, sodomy with another person who is under 14 years of age and more than 10 years younger than he or she as defined by Section 286, or sexual penetration with another person who is under 14 years of age, and who is more than 10 years younger than he or she, as defined by Section 289.
(III) A lewd or lascivious act involving a child under 14 years of age, in violation of Section 288.
(IV) Any homicide offense, including any attempted homicide offense, defined in Sections 187 to 191.5, inclusive.
(V) Solicitation to commit murder as defined in Section 653f.
(VI) Assault with a machine gun on a peace officer or firefighter, as defined in paragraph (3) of subdivision (d) of Section 245.
(VII) Possession of a weapon of mass destruction, as defined in paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) of Section 11418.
(VIII) Any serious and/or violent felony offense punishable in California by life imprisonment or death.