To gain a good understanding of Senate Bill 775 resentencing law, you need to understand the law as written before SB 775. Let’s first take a look at the law that so many were convicted under. Then, we can take a closer look at the changes put into effect as of January 1st, 2022. It could reverse so many sentences.
Legal Theories Affected by Senate Bill 775 Resentencing
- When one or more co-felons commit murder, hold all of the co-felons liable due to the felony-murder theory.
- The law states to hold anyone who aided and abetted the principal offender in a crime equally liable for their crime of aiding and abetting and the other crimes that occurred as a natural and probable consequence of their aiding and abetting up to and including murder. Professionals consider this the natural and probable consequence theory.
- For a felony murder conviction, the prosecution must show that the principal acted with malice aforethought. The natural and probable consequence theory attributes malice to an offender based only on their participation in part of the crime.
Senate Bill 1437
In 2018, the California Supreme Court ruled that the natural and probable consequences theory did not apply to murder. Just because the person took part in a crime, that does not automatically mean that they acted with malice. The court also determined that if the offender had no intention of committing murder they could not possibly have acted with malice aforethought. In 2019, Senate Bill 1437 passed with the intent of giving offenders a more proportionate sentence. This would be based on the offender’s level of involvement in homicide before Senate Bill 775.
Senate Bill 1437 encouraged offenders serving long sentences for murders they did not personally commit to petition the court to reconsider their sentencing. The bill gave offenders a chance at a more reasonable sentence based on the crime they actually committed. The bill worked retroactively so those who had already received a conviction could still benefit. Further, the bill did not include those offenders convicted for attempted murder or manslaughter.
Senate Bill 775 Resentencing Law Closes the Gap
Senate Bill 775 resentencing law was signed by the California senate in October of 2021 and went into effect on January 1, 2022. This bill is the same as SB 1437. However, it clarifies that an offender cannot remain guilty of attempted murder or manslaughter based on a natural and probable consequences theory or felony murder theory. Further, the court does not prove malice by their involvement in a criminal act. The bill works retroactively as well and encourages offenders to file a petition for resentencing in the court where they received their original sentence.
A Fair Chance
There is no guarantee that an offender will receive a new sentence, but the bill gives all offenders convicted of attempted murder or manslaughter based on natural and probable consequences theory, felony murder theory, or attributed malice theory, a fair chance at having their sentence reconsidered. Offenders must submit a petition to the court where they received their sentence. The petition must include the case number, the year of conviction, their supporting argument for resentencing, and any other information.
A New Day in Court
If the court accepts the offender’s petition, the bill allows for counsel appointments if requested. The bill also clarifies the degree of the burden of proof placed on the prosecution, beyond a reasonable doubt. If the prosecution cannot meet that burden, the judge orders resentencing based on the other charges.
Learn More About Senate Bill 775 Resentencing
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