October 28, 2014 • Jerod Gunsberg, Los Angeles Criminal Defense LawyerCalifornia’s Proposition 47 re-categorizes dozens of non-violent felonies, such as drug offenses and low-level theft offenses to misdemeanors. If a defendant has a significant criminal history, including any offense which requires registration as a sex offender or any offense under California’s Three Strikes Law, the prosecutor has the discretion to charge the offense as a felony. Despite what opponents of this measure say, charging discretion still stays firmly in hands of the prosecutors. They can use their judgment to decide the appropriate level of the offense. California is different than most other states in that we only have three very broad categories of offenses: Felonies, misdemeanors, and infractions. Other states have varying degrees of offenses with these categories.
So what happens in California under the current law? A college student caught with less than a gram of cocaine on him gets charged with an automatic felony. A young woman in her early 20s sneaks 17 ecstasy pills into a rave party for the large group of friends she’s with. She’s charged with possession for sale because of the quantity. Automatic felony. These are just two of the dozens of cases like this I’ve personally handled. This needs to change.
As for the contention that “violent felons with extensive criminal records will reap the benefits and even more will be released from prison early.” Not true. If someone has any violent or serious felony or any sex offense (whether felony or misdemeanor), this law does not help them. And trust me on this — when given the option of charging a felony or misdemeanor on someone with an extensive criminal record, there’s not a DA in the entire state of California that will elect to file the misdemeanor instead of the felony.
There’s an additional benefit here: All 58 California counties will save over $1 billion within the next 5 years. Why? Because we’d finally be doing away with lengthy incarceration for low level offenses. Prop 47 dictates that the money saved could be diverted to schools, services for crime victims and mental health treatment programs. This is a smart approach to crime and it deserves to pass on November 4…
If you or a loved one is accused of a crime, whether a felony or misdemeanor, in Los Angeles County or anywhere in California, do not hesitate to contact The Law Offices of Jerod Gunsberg at 310-210-0744 or via this contact form.