Articles Posted in Commutation

FELONY MURDER RULE RELIEF (SB 1437)

On September 30,  2018, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Senate Bill 1437. SB 1437 became known as the Felony Murder Rule effectively changing the rules for how California charges felony murders.

Prior to SB 1437, California law allowed a defendant to be convicted of first-degree murder in the commission of a felony even if the defendant did not intend to kill the victim or did not know a murder took place. This means that in the commission of a residential burglary, for instance, if someone were killed as a result of the incident a getaway driver would be charged with and convicted or murder even if they had not stepped into the scene of the crime. This former broader law meant hundred of convictions of murder for individuals who never intended on seeing someone harmed in the commission of a felony act.

Governor Gavin Newsom and Inmate Releases Amid Covid-19 (Coronavirus)

Since assuming office in January 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom has proven himself a firm proponent of broader criminal justice reforms. He has been supportive of bills to address prison overcrowding and rehabilitative/reentry measures for California prison inmates. 

Since the announcement of the California Major Disaster Declaration due to Covid-19 (Coronavirus) on March 22, 2020; much focus has been placed on prison sentence commutations and alternative sentences. Specifically when it comes to prison releases, within weeks of the emergency Governor Newsom had commuted sentences of 21 California prison inmates and granted pardons to half a dozen others. This includes over a dozen inmates convicted of homicides. As Coronavirus spreads into the prison system, the Governor’s office has taken immediate measures to reduce crowding and protect the population’s health.

How Long Can I File A Petition To Resentence Under Prop 47?

On November 4, 2014 California voters passed Proposition 47, known as the Criminal Sentences, Misdemeanor Penalties, Initiative Statute. This referendum – also called the Safe Neighborhoods and School Act – recategorized some nonviolent offenses as misdemeanors rather than felonies. These offenses included crimes of theft, fraud, and drug possession.

The objective of Prop 47 was to reduce overcrowding in the state’s prison system and provide an opportunity for nonviolent offenders to obtain release and rehabilitation services. Monies saved as a result of Prop 47 would be allocated toward education and dropout prevention, mental health treatment, and drug abuse programs. All meant to keep offenders out of the prison system.

Many people are curious about a commutation of sentence, and what it actually means. Basically, there is no impact on whether a defendant is guilty; it is simply a reduction in the sentence given a defendant by the governor of the state. A type of clemency, a state’s governor may reduce a defendant’s sentence, for example from 20 years to 10 years, however the governor must receive a recommendation from the state parole board before he or she can grant a commutation of sentence.

When the imprisonment is the result of a federal conviction, the only person who may commute the sentence is the President.

In addition to a reduced prison term, a commutation of sentence may also result in court-ordered fines being reduced.

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