Voters in California passed Proposition 47 on November 4, 2014. This law also referred to as “Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act” changed certain low-level crimes from felonies to misdemeanors. Savings generated from the reduced incarceration costs due to this act are invested into drug and mental health treatment programs for at-risk students and victims. Proposition 47 reduces the penalties for some theft and drug crimes in California.
Proposition 47 takes crimes that were previously classified as felonies or wobblers meaning that they could be charged as felony or misdemeanor and changes them to misdemeanors.
The maximum penalty for these crimes under Proposition 47 will be:
- Up to one (1) year in county jail; and/or
- A fine of up to one thousand dollars ($1,000)
The felony/wobbler offenses that are now charged as misdemeanors under Prop 47 are:
- Simple drug possession
- Petty theft under $950
- Shoplifting under $950
- Forging or writing a bad check under $950
- Receipt of stolen property under $950
- Possession of a controlled substance;
- Possession of concentrated cannabis
- Possession of methamphetamine.
Most people will be charged with a misdemeanor if they are accused of one of the above-listed crimes under Prop 47 but some people may still face felony penalties for these offenses. The Prop 47 sentence reductions in California do not apply to:
- Defendants with previous convictions for serious crimes;
- Defendants required to register as sex offenders for prior sex offense convictions.
People facing felony penalties can apply in court for resentencing under Prop 47. A successful application for resentencing means you will be deemed to have been convicted of a misdemeanor and eligible for an earlier release from incarceration. You may even be eligible for immediate release in some cases. The primary impact of Prop 47 on California criminal law is to change some theft and drug offenses from felonies or wobblers to misdemeanors.
A wobbler is a California offense that may be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony at the prosecutor's discretion. This usually depends on the facts of the case and the criminal history of the defendant. The prosecutor is thus unable to charge certain offenses as felonies and these offenses are charged as misdemeanors.
The Reclassification process associated with Prop 47 is for individuals that are no longer in custody or on probation or parole. You can apply to have an old felony conviction changed from a felony to a misdemeanor on your record if the conviction occurred in a California court. Applicants should work with legal counsel to assist with the reclassification process. The process of resentencing under Prop 47 is for people that are serving a sentence for any of the prop 47 eligible offenses. This includes serving a sentence in jail or prison, being on parole, probation, post-release community supervision or mandatory supervision.