Would a drug and weapons charge qualify for Californias Proposition 47?

Recently on our legal forum a user asked, “I have been charged with drug possession and a minor gun charge. I am wondering if my charges may be eligible for reduction under California’s Proposition 47?”

What is Proposition 47?

On November 5, 2014, California voters passed Proposition 47, the “Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act.” Under this act California residents agreed that certain drug and theft crimes, which had previously been charged as felonies or wobblers (charged as either a felony or misdemeanors) should now be charged as misdemeanors with fines limited to $1,000 and jail time limited to one year.

What crimes are affected by Proposition 47?

Now you specifically asked about your drug and gun charges and whether they would be reduced to misdemeanors. Without more information, it’s hard to say for sure.

Let’s take a closer look at the new law. Under Proposition 47 the following types of crimes may be reduced:

  • Grand theft auto of cars worth $950 or less
  • Grand theft firearm of a gun worth $950 or less
  • Shoplifting if the stolen property is worth $950 or less
  • Receiving stolen property if the property is worth $950 or less
  • Certain forgery and bad check crimes if the amount in question is $950 or less
  • Certain drug possession charges (i.e. possession of concentrated cannabis and methamphetamine for personal use)

Not all criminals will qualify for charge reductions

Now, it’s important to note that even if you are charged with one of the crimes listed above, you still might not qualify for a reduction of your charge. In fact, the court may refuse to allow your charges to be reduced after reviewing your criminal history.

For example, if you have any prior convictions for certain serious crimes, including rape, murder, and sex crimes against children or you are a registered sex offender with a prior sex offense conviction, you may not qualify.

Assuming this is your first offense or you have not committed any of the prior offenses listed above, you may qualify, including individuals who are already facing felony penalties. These individuals may apply to the judge for resentencing. Individuals who are already in jail serving prison time for convictions which qualify for Proposition 47 may also be eligible for early release.

Pros and Cons of Proposition 47

Proposition 47 is considered a very controversial law, one that proponents argued was necessary to counter an overcrowded prison system within the State of California, a result of California’s three strikes law which required mandatory 25 year sentences for all criminals convicted of three felonies.

Although the proposition had strong support from many groups and individuals in and out of the state, opposition was also strong. The most adamant opponents argued that this proposition was little more than a “get out of jail free” card for non-violent felons within the state, many of which would be eligible for release if the bill passed.

In the end, however, proponents of the bill won. The state, faced with mounting debts within the prison system, were able to convince the public that the proposition was needed to save the state millions of dollars, much of which the state promised to use to treat those who were mentally ill or addicted to drugs.

Talk to a lawyer about your case

So let’s go back to your question. If your criminal charges were for stealing a gun worth less than $950 or using drugs for personal use there’s a good chance your charges could be reduced. You will, however, need to talk to a lawyer and give them specific information about your case to find out for sure.

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