California Court Holds Defendants Who Have Not Yet Been Sentenced Are Entitled to Be Sentenced under Prop 47

In a recent decision, the California Supreme Court decided that defendants who had not yet been sentenced at the time of Proposition 47’s effective date were entitled to the initial sentencing under Proposition 47. Proposition 47 was a 2014 ballot initiative that reduced certain felony offenses to misdemeanors. It also allowed certain defendants who were already serving their sentences to petition the court for resentencing. However, the resentencing provision only allows resentencing if a trial court finds that the defendant would not pose an unreasonable risk of danger to public safety. Proposition 47 was approved during the November 2014 election, and took effect on November 5, 2015.

According to the court’s opinion, in January 2015, the defendant was charged with unlawfully taking or driving a vehicle and with receiving a stolen vehicle. He was alleged to have committed the offenses in August 2013, when he was found driving a stolen car. A jury found him guilty of driving a vehicle without permission under section 10851 of the Vehicle Code. The court sentenced him to three years in prison, which was increased to ten years because of sentence enhancements for prior prison terms and prior convictions. Proposition 47 went into effect after the defendant committed the offense but before he was charged, tried, or sentenced.

Under Proposition 47, offenses of obtaining property by theft where the value of the property is $950 or less are generally considered misdemeanor offenses. The defendant argued that the statute applied to convictions under section 10851 of the Vehicle Code, and that his conviction must be reduced to a misdemeanor offense according to the new penal code provision because the jury never found that the value of the vehicle exceeded $950. The issue before the California Supreme Court was whether Proposition 47 applied to defendants who committed crimes before the law’s effective date but who were tried or sentenced after the effective date.

The court held that it did not matter whether the alleged offense occurred before or after the effective date of Proposition 47, and that the defendant was entitled to initial sentencing under Proposition 47. However, the court found that the defendant did not benefit from the new provision. The court explained that the offense of which the defendant was convicted was driving a vehicle without permission under section 10851. The court determined that this offense was not a theft offense because it is committed by driving after a theft is committed. Therefore, he was properly convicted of a felony, and his conviction was affirmed.

Have You Been Charged with a California Crime?

If you have been charged with or convicted of a felony or misdemeanor offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney. Pleasanton criminal defense attorney John W. Noonan brings more than 45 years of experience in criminal law to his advocacy. With offices in Dublin and Manteca, attorney Noonan serves individuals throughout the Tri-Valley area. The California Penal Code and the criminal justice system can be complex and hard to navigate without an experienced attorney. You can reach the Noonan Firm 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by calling them at 925-479-0033 or by filling out a form through their website.

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