Simple Possession of Drugs for Personal Use No Longer a Felony as Voters Pass Prop. 47
California no longer prosecutes simple possession of drugs such as cocaine, heroin and even LSD as felonies in most cases under the “Safe Neighborhoods & Schools” initiative passed by voters on November 4, 2014. Changes to the law also include reducing certain property crimes which are currently wobblers (offenses that can be charged as felonies or misdemeanors) to straight misdemeanors. The new laws carve out an exception, however. People who have certain prior strike convictions or who are required to register as sexual offenders are excluded from the new law’s provisions.
Prior to Prop. 47, a person who committed a shoplifting offense where the property taken is valued at less than $950.00 would be guilty of petit theft, a straight misdemeanor. However, the prosecutor had the discretion of filing a burglary charge as well, despite the amount taken. Under previous law, burglary is a wobbler–it can be charged as a felony at the prosecutor’s discretion. After Prop. 47, however, a commercial burglary involving a loss of $950 or less has been turned into a straight misdemeanor and the prosecutor does not have the discretion to file a felony. This is also true of writing bad checks and other similar offenses as well as particular types of forgery.
The changes to the laws are explicitly retroactive. Defendants who are currently on felony probation or serving felony sentences on charges that are now misdemeanors are entitled to be resentenced. People with older felony convictions on their record may petition to have the offense reclassified as a misdemeanor. However, there is a three year window to do this which closes on November 4, 2017.
Call Wegman & Levin TODAY to find out if you are eligible for relief under Prop. 47. Wegman & Levin has successfully gotten reductions even when contested by the government.
But the clock is ticking— there is a deadline: