On January 1, 2018, SB 180 went into effect and repealed the prior California law, which required a sentencing court to impose a 3-year enhancement for every prior conviction for controlled substance crimes. The only exception left was in instances where the prior convictions were for crimes that involve the use of a minor in the commission of the crime. Similarly, prior to January 1, 2020, the law required that a sentencing court impose a 1-year enhancement for each prior prison or felony jail term. Starting January 1, 2020, the SB 136 law limited the application of this enhancement to defendants who had served a prison term for a sexually violent offense.
While criminal justice reform advocates had welcomed these laws, criticism remained, as the laws did not apply retroactively. SB 483 or The Repeal Ineffective Sentencing Enhancements (RISE) Act corrects that by applying SB 180 and SB 136 retroactively. Governor Newsom signed SB 483 into law on October 8, 2021, which went into effect on January 1, 2022. This law is the latest attempt by the California legislature to correct the harm caused by unjust and disproportionately long sentences. It has long been argued that long sentences cause more harm than good, as they have been proven ineffective as deterrents to crime, and have had negative impact on the well being and safety of defendants and communities alike. As the Legislature specifically states in the new bill, the goal of the RISE Act is to address systemic racial biases in sentencing and to ensure equal justice under the law.
Under the new law, inmates do not have to petition the court for resentencing. Instead, the new law requires that the Secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations (CDCR) identify all incarcerated individuals serving sentences that include one of those enhancements. CDCR had until March 1, 2022, to identify all individuals that have served their base sentences and any other enhancements, and who are currently serving time based on the repealed enhancements, and until July 1, 2022, to identify all other individuals.
The law requires that the sentencing court, upon verification that the current judgment of an identified inmate includes one of the repealed sentence enhancements, recalls the original sentence and resentences the defendant. All reviews and resentencing have to be completed by October 1, 2022, for defendants that have served their base term, and by December 31, 2023, for all other individuals that have a repealed enhancement added to their sentence.
The new law allows the courts to consider various post-conviction factors, including age, physical condition, time served, record of rehabilitation and disciplinary record, as well as evidence that show changed circumstance that would deem the continued incarceration a miscarriage of justice. Notably, the new bill prevents the courts, under any circumstances, from imposing a longer sentence than the original. Furthermore, unless there is clear and convincing evidence that imposing a lesser than the original sentence would endanger public safety, at the resentencing, the court must impose a lesser sentence. Moreover, unless the court had originally imposed the upper term or upon resentencing finds that there are aggravating circumstance that justify deviation from the middle term, the sentencing court is barred from imposing a sentence exceeding the middle term. Finally, the sentencing court is required to appoint counsel for any inmate who is potentially eligible for resentencing.
We understand that it can be hard to trust someone after hardship related to life-changing trauma. This is why we believe that it’s very important to work with a reliable and experienced attorney who specializes in post-conviction matters. At the Justice Firm, we know that the attorney-client relationship is an important aspect of your legal journey. While the new law provides for appointment of a public attorney, it can be beneficial to hire an experienced attorney, who can gather evidence and present all arguments that would result in the lowest incarceration term possible.
If you believe that you are eligible for SB 483, contact our California appeals attorneys today for a case evaluation locally at (310) 914-2444 or at our Toll-Free number at (866) 695-6714, or click here.