Senate Bill 1437 took effect in January of this year, yet many still challenge whether the new state law regarding felony murder is constitutional.
The old felony murder doctrine left countless people locked up in prison, some for decades, for murders they didn’t commit. Essentially, anyone who was an accomplice was considered equally responsible in a crime and could face charges of first degree murder, even it that person had no idea that someone else would take another person’s life.
While California’s felony murder rule was described as “barbaric” in a 1983 ruling by the state’s Supreme Court, nothing was done. Over 35 years later, we finally have a new felony murder law that will hopefully prevent those who did not commit murder or have any intent to kill someone from facing the same charges and penalties as someone who actually “did the deed.”