Articles Posted in New Laws

AB 256 “The Racial Justice Act For All”

AB 256 provides relief in cases where a final judgment was entered before January 1, 2021. This bill  requires the court, upon a showing of good cause, to order disclosure of evidence related to a potential violation of the prohibition on seeking a criminal conviction or sentence based on race, ethnicity, or national origin. An exception to disclosure would apply when a statutory privilege or constitutional privacy right cannot be adequately protected by redaction or a protective order.

Evidence of a criminal conviction or sentence based on race may  include non statistical evidence.

Senate Bill No. 483, effective January 1, 2022, makes changes to the law that invalidated enhancements for prior prison terms and certain drug enhancements retroactive. The Bill retroactively applies Senate Bill 180 and Senate Bill 136 to all persons currently serving a prison for these repealed sentence enhancements.

Senate Bill 180 effective January 1, 2018 repealed the 3-year enhancement for prior drug convictions

 SB 180 repealed the three-year sentence enhancement for prior drug convictions, with the exceptions of drug manufacturing and convictions involving a minor. The enhancement was applied consecutively — three years for every prior conviction for possession for sale, sale or similar drug offense to any person currently convicted for a similar offense.

SB 775 expands SB 1437 which changed the felony murder rule for aiders and abettors

SB 1437, passed in 2018 changed the laws about conviction of aiders and abettor for murder  People with murder convictions under the old laws could file a petition asking the court to be resentenced on a less serious felony. Penal Code section 1170.95 details the procedure for resentencing:.

“A person convicted of felony murder or murder under a natural and probable consequences theory may file a petition with the court that sentenced the petitioner to have the petitioner’s murder conviction vacated and to be resentenced on any remaining counts when all of the following conditions apply:

CDCR incarcerates people convicted of violent felonies, supervises those released to parole, and provides rehabilitation programs to help them reintegrate into the community with the tools to be drug-free, healthy, and employable members of society. The Budget proposes total funding of $13.1 billion ($12.7 billion General Fund and $345 million other funds) for the Department in 2021-22.

The COVID-19 Pandemic has impacted every aspect of prison operations and the 2020 Budget Act projected an overall adult inmate average daily population of 122,536 in 2020-21. The average daily adult inmate population for 2020-21 is now projected to be 97,950, a decrease of 20 percent from spring projections.

Some of this decrease is attributable to suspending county intake in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, which when resumed, will increase the population. Current projections show the adult inmate population is trending downward and is expected to decrease by another 2,626 offenders between 2020-21 and 2021-22.

AB 3234,  taking effect on January 1, 2021, allows for diversion in almost all misdemeanor cases, including DUI, vehicular manslaughter, elder abuse, child abuse, assault, hate crimes, carrying a concealed firearm, possession of a firearm in a school zone, criminal threats, and dissuading a witness.  Upon completion of diversion, as defined by the judge, the case shall be dismissed and the crime deemed to never have occurred.

Diversion and dismissal of the case under AB 3234

Under AB 3234, a judge in the superior court in which a misdemeanor is being prosecuted can offer misdemeanor diversion to a defendant over the objection of a prosecuting attorney, except as specified. A judge can continue a diverted case for a period not to exceed 24 months and order the defendant to comply with the terms, conditions, and programs the judge deems appropriate based on the defendant’s specific situation. At the end of the diversion period, if the defendant complies with all required terms, conditions, and programs, the judge is required to  dismiss the case  against the defendant. The arrest upon which diversion was imposed  will be deemed to have never occurred.  The court may end the diversion and order resumption of the criminal proceedings if the court finds that the defendant is not complying with the terms and conditions of diversion.

Contact Information