In 2016, California voters passed Proposition 64, which eventually led to the legal recreational use of marijuana. Proposition 64 also contained provisions that reduced the criminal penalties for many California marijuana-related crimes, including for the cultivation and sale of marijuana. In a recent case, a state appellate court considered a defendant’s conviction for felony accessory.
According to the court’s opinion, in 2013, police officers had executed a search warrant at a residence, finding a large amount of marijuana. During their investigation, the defendant was arrested after officers saw him leave through the front door of the house. After his arrest, the defendant told officers that he was helping a friend package marijuana.
Initially, the defendant was charged with two felony counts of possession of marijuana for sale and cultivation of marijuana. However, under an agreement with the prosecution, the defendant pled guilty to felony accessory and was sentenced to a sentence of probation. After violating the terms of his probation several times, the judge revoked the defendant’s probation and sentenced him to two years of incarceration. The defendant appealed his conviction, arguing that under the subsequently enacted Proposition 64, he should be entitled to a resentencing.
The defendant argued that it would be “absurd and unjust” to deny him relief because both original counts (possession of marijuana for sale and cultivation of marijuana) are considered misdemeanor offenses under Proposition 64. The trial court disagreed, noting that Proposition 64 specifically lists the crimes that were eligible for a reduction, and felony accessory was not among them. The defendant appealed.
On appeal, the court reversed the lower court’s decision. The appellate court explained that in a case where the defendant was convicted of a marijuana-related crime before the passage of Proposition 64, the court must “determine whether the defendant would not have been guilty of an offense, or . . . would have been guilty of a lesser offense under [Proposition 64] had that act been in effect at the time of the offense.”
Here, the court concluded that the defendant would not have been convicted of felony accessory had Proposition 64 been in place at the time of the offense. The court explained to be found guilty of felony accessory, a defendant must be aiding another in committing a felony. In this case, the court explained that the person whom the defendant was helping would likely have been charged with cultivating marijuana or possession marijuana for sale, both of which would be considered misdemeanors under Proposition 64. Thus, the court determined that the defendant would not have been convicted of felony accessory if Proposition 64 was in place at the time, and that he should not be categorically barred from a resentencing hearing.
Are You Serving a Sentence Related to a California Marijuana Offense?
If you are currently serving a sentence of probation or incarceration related to a California marijuana crime, you may be entitled to a resentencing or other relief. At the Law Offices of John W. Noonan, we have extensive experience handling all types of California drug crimes, including marijuana offenses. We take the time to fully understand your situation before recommending any strategy, and stand by our clients’ side throughout the entire process. To learn more, call 877-463-3390 to schedule a free consultation today.