California lawmakers consider revising changes made under Prop. 47

California lawmakers recently considered several bills that would reverse some of the legal changes that were made under Proposition 47 last year.

Last year, Californians voted to reduce penalties for certain property and drug possession crimes by passing Proposition 47. According to the California Legislative Analyst's Office, this legislation reclassified a number of these offenses as misdemeanors. Additionally, as many people in Torrance know, the law allowed people serving time for these offenses to request resentencing and expungement.

These changes offered substantial benefits for nonviolent convicted offenders. These individuals may now qualify for earlier release and avoid the stigma of a felony conviction. However, critics have worried about the secondary impacts of these measures. Consequently, this legislative session, California lawmakers considered several bills that would have reversed certain changes made under Proposition 47.

Proposed changes and potential issues

According to KQED News, lawmakers considered nine bills that related in some way to Proposition 47 this year. Seven of these bills sought to change key aspects of the referendum. As The Long Beach Press-Telegram reports, the proposed changes included the following measures:

  • Allowing felony sentencing for the theft of firearms worth less than $950. The theft of other items worth less than $950 would remain a misdemeanor.
  • Distinguishing between possession of date rape drugs and recreational drugs. Steeper sanctions would be permitted for people convicted of possessing date rape drugs.
  • Collecting DNA samples from people convicted of crimes that are considered misdemeanors under Proposition 47. At present, authorities cannot collect DNA from people who have only been convicted of misdemeanors.

As KQED News notes, some of these proposed changes introduced problematic issues. As an example, some people may possess and use date rape drugs for recreational purposes. These people shouldn't be punished more harshly than people who possess other drugs for recreational purposes. Therefore, authorities would need to prove that a person intended to use these drugs to carry out sexual assault. This could be difficult, and it could leave room for wrongful charges.

Outlook for the suggested changes

The Long Beach Press-Telegram reports that the bills regarding firearm theft and date rape drug possession were blocked at the end of May. The DNA collection bill was permitted to move forward, but its terms were changed. Now, the bill limits DNA collection to people with prior convictions of certain misdemeanors, such as domestic violence.

Although some of the proposed measures stalled this year, lawmakers could seek similar changes in the future. For example, The Long Beach Press-Telegram notes that the reduction of firearm theft to a misdemeanor was one key reason for initial opposition to Proposition 47. As a result, lawmakers may try to press steeper sentencing for this offense again.

Addressing related criminal charges

These ongoing potential changes underscore why it is important for people facing charges involving Proposition 47 offenses to seek legal advice. While these offenses may have less serious sanctions now, the consequences can still be significant, and legislative changes are always possible. A criminal defense lawyer will be familiar with the current laws and may be able to offer advice on pursuing a more favorable outcome.

Keywords: drug, charges, arrest, penalties, Prop 47