The Passage of Proposition 47 Mandates Several Common Felony Crimes To Be Deemed Misdemeanors

On November 4, 2014, California voters passed Proposition 47, the Safe Neighborhood and Schools Act.   This new law will have an astounding impact on the criminal justice system statewide since it reduces a number of low-level theft and drug offenses to misdemeanors.  The only possible exception is if the person has certain specified prior strike convictions.

As an Orange County criminal lawyer,  I have already seen the huge impact this is new law is having in the courtrooms since it was passed just a few days ago.  Those who are benefitting from this new change in the law were charged with low level theft related crimes and drug possession offenses.

Low Level Theft Related Crimes

The new low level theft related misdemeanors that have now been amended or added to the Penal Code are the following:

459.5 Shoplifting (added) – where value of shoplifted property does not exceed $950, punishable as a misdemeanor unless the defendant has specified prior strike offenses.

473 Forgery (amended) -Forgery of a check, bond, bank bill, note, cashier’s check, traveler’s check, or money order where amount is under $950.

476a Insufficient Funds Checks (amended) – Making or delivering check with insufficient funds where total amount does not exceed $950.

490.2 Theft (added) – Theft of property where the value, labor, or personal property does not exceed $950, punishable as a misdemeanor unless the defendant has specified prior strike offenses.

496 Receiving Stolen Property (amended) – If the value of the stolen property does not exceed $950, the offense is punishable as a misdemeanor unless the defendant has specified prior strike offenses

666 Petty Theft With a Prior (amended) – allows for the new theft offense to be prosecuted as a felony only if:

  1. Person was convicted and served a prison term for petty theft, grand theft, theft from an elder, auto theft, burglary, carjacking, robbery or receiving stolen property felony;
  2. Has a specified prior strike conviction, has a conviction for elder theft, or is a registered sex offender.

Low Level Drug Possession Crimes

The low level drug possession offenses that have now been amended to the Health and Safety Code are the following:

11350 Possession of Controlled Substance (amended)

11357 Possession of Cannibis (amended)

11377 Possession of Controlled Substance Previously Classified as Restricted or Dangerous Drugs (amended)

For all of the above drug offenses, they are now punishable as misdemeanors unless the defendant has one or more specified prior strike convictions, or is a registered sex offender

Relief for Past Cases

Proposition 47 allows for resentencing for individuals who were previously convicted of a felony offense that would be a misdemeanor under the new law.   If the person is eligible to be resentenced under the new law, the felony sentence shall be recalled and the petitioner shall be resentenced to a misdemeanor unless the court determines that resentencing the petitioner would pose an “unreasonable risk of danger to public safety”.

If a person has already completed their sentence, the new law provides: “a person who has completed his or her sentence for a conviction, whether by trial or plea, of a felony or felonies who would have been guilty of a misdemeanor under Prop 47 had this act been in effect at the time of the offense, may file an application before the trial court that entered the judgment or conviction in his or her case to have the felony conviction or convictions designated as misdemeanors.”

If you or someone you know may be eligible for resentencing under Proposition 47, contact the Law Office Of Karren Kenney for more information.


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