New Criminal Laws 2023

Source: Garrick Byers, Statute Decoder

  • Racial Justice Act Expanded and Made Retroactive in Stages,

AB 256 (Stats. 2022, Ch. 739) Amends PC 745

PC 745, the Racial Justice Act (RJA)] prohibits the state from seeking a criminal conviction or sentence [based on] race, ethnicity, or national origin. In cases  in which judgment has not been entered prior to January 1, 2021, a habeas petition may be filed alleging a violation of that prohibition.

Existing law authorizes a court that finds a violation of that prohibition to impose specified remedies, including, among other things, vacating the conviction or sentence and ordering new proceedings.

This bill additionally authorizes that petition may  be filed for cases in which a judgment was entered as final prior to January 1, 2021, and in cases in which a juvenile disposition resulted in a commitment to the Division of Juvenile Justice.

Existing law allows a defendant to file a motion requesting disclosure of all evidence related to a potential [RJA] violation and requires the court to order the records to be released upon a showing of good cause. If the records are not privileged, existing law allows the court to permit the prosecution to redact information prior to disclosure.

This bill requires  the court, upon a showing of good cause, to order disclosure unless a statutory privilege or constitutional privacy right cannot be adequately protected by redaction or a protective order.

Under existing law, a conviction or sentence violates the RJA if a Defendant proves, that

their charge or conviction was of a more serious offense than Defendants of other races, ethnicities, or national origins, or they received  longer or more severe sentence, and the evidence establishes that the Prosecution more frequently sought or obtained convictions for more serious offenses against people who share Defandat’s race, ethnicity, or national origin, or if a longer or more severe sentence was more frequently imposed on Defendants of a particular race, ethnicity, or national origin.

Existing law requires this determination to be made pursuant to statistical evidence or aggregate data.

This bill allows  that evidence to include nonstatistical evidence.

The bill requires the court to consider whether systemic and institutional acial bias, racial profiling, and historical patterns of racially biased policing and prosecution may have contributed to, or caused differences ob- served in, the data or impacted the availability of data overall.

  • PC 1203.41 Relief Extended to State Prison Felonies (with Exceptions).

SB 731 (Stats. 2022, Ch. 814) Amends PC 1203.41

Existing law authorizes defendants who have completed a county jail felony sentence and who have met specified criteria, to petition to withdraw their plea of guilty or nolo contendere and enter a plea of not guilty.

Existing law requires the court to dismiss the accusations or information against Defendants and release them from all penalties and disabilities resulting rom the offense.

This bill makes this relief available to Defendants who have  been convicted of a felony including one with a state prison sentence, if that conviction does not require registration as a sex offender.

This relief  may be granted only after the lapse of one year following Defendant’s completion of the sentence and may be granted only if Defendant is not on parole or under mandatory supervision or charged with any offense.


Mental Health Diversion: Eligibility Criteria Changed.

SB 1223 (Stats. 2022, Ch. 735) Amends PC 1001.36, 1370, and 1370.1

This bill changes the eligibility criteria for Mental Health Diversion to include a diagnosis of a mental disorder as identified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders instead of the court finding the mental disorder,  and requires that the diagnosis or treatment for that be within the last 5 years.

The bill requires the court  to find that Defendant’s mental disorder was a significant factor in the commission of the offense unless there is clear and convincing evidence that it was not a motivating factor, causal factor, or contributing factor.

For a misdemeanor, diversion is limited to one year.

Compassionate release recodified and streamlined.

AB 960 (Stats. 2022, Ch. 744) (Amends PC 1170 & 1170.02; adds 1172.2) Compassionate is recodified from PC 1170, subd. (e), to new PC 1172.2.

Existing law authorizes a court, upon recommendation for consideration by CDCR  to resentence or recall the sentence of a prisoner if the court finds that the prisoner is terminally ill or is  permanently medicallyincapacitated and  release is not a threat to public safety.

 This bill requires CDCR to recommend recall or resentencing of an eligible person and removes  the 24-hour total care requirement, and includes functional impairments resulting in the permanent inability to complete ctivities of daily living,  and progressive end-stage dementia.

 The bill creates a presumption in favor of recall and resentencing if the court finds the person is eligible, unless the court finds Defendant is an unreasonable risk of danger to public safety.

 The bill requires appointment of counsel.

The eligibility criteria for the Compassionate Release program has been too narrow and the process too cumbersome for a population that poses the lowest risk to public safety. Very few people were granted relief and many died while awaiting a referral to the court.  The State was spending more money to cover costly health care services for a population that is nearing death or requiring thoughtful medical attention.

This bill authorizes the chief medical officer  instead of the CDCR Secretary, to determine that a person is medically eligible.

Jail Discharge: Information and Phone Calls Must Be Provided.

AB 2023 (Stats.. 2022, Ch. 327) Adds PC 4024.5

Existing law (PC 4024) authorizes a county sheriff to discharge a person from a county jail at any time on the last day that the person may be confined that is  in the best interests of that person. A   sheriff must offer to a person to stay in jail for up to 16 additional hours or until normal business hours, to allow the person to be discharged to a treatment center or during daytime hours.  The law requires a sheriff to allow the person to make a telephone call to arrange for transportation or to notify a bail agent.

This bill requires a sheriff to make the release standards, release processes, and release schedules of a county jail available to incarcerated per- sons, as specified. The bill also grants a person incarcerated in, or recently eleased from, a county jail up to 3 free telephone calls from a telephone in the county jail to plan for a safe and successful release.

The New “Recall and Resentencing” Penal Code Article

AB 200 (Stats. 2022, Ch. 58) Urgency, effective June 30, 2022

This 47-section omnibus bill, at its sections 7 to 12, renumbered and moved five sections of the Penal Code to a new Article 1.5, “Recall and Resentencing” (commencing with § 1172), in Ch. 4.5 of Title 7 of part 2, of the PC.

Renumbered and moved are:

1170.01 = 1172 (A pilot resentencing program)

1170.03 = 1172.1 (Recall within 120 days of the initial sentence)

1170.95 = 1172.6 (Felony murder resentencing; see below.)

1171 = 1172.7 (Resentence for the 3-yr. drug prior of former HS 11370.2.)

1171.1 = 1172.75 (Resentence for the former 1-year prison prior.)

Contact Information