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Effects of Proposition 47 on California Drug Prosecutions

Apr 22 2015, by Jessica McElfresh in Federal Marijuana Issues

Why Prop 47 Came to Be?

In 2011 the State of California was mandated by the federal government to fix the overcrowding of state prisons and jails by the end of 2013 (New York Times, 2015). By the end of 2013 overcrowding was still an issue with more than 10,000 prison and jail inmates needing to be released. Governor Jerry Brown encouraged the California legislature to propose changes to the sentencing laws for certain low level theft and drug charges to reserve prison and jails for only the most violent of criminals.

In 2014 the California Legislature created Proposition 47 to address this need and in November of that same year Proposition 47 was passed by California voters going into effect immediately.

Under Proposition 47, prison and jail time is reserved for only the most violent offenders. According to the following conditions, Prop 47:

  • Reduces the sentencing laws of certain low level drug and theft offenses
  • Reduces those same low level drug and theft charges from felonies to misdemeanors
  • Allows previous felony convictions to be reduced to misdemeanors on an individual’s criminal record as far back as convictions go.

How Prop 47 Could Affect You

One of the greatest changes Proposition 47 has had is reducing the types of charges that can be brought against an individual arrested for simple possession of an illegal substance for personal use. California law does not specify exact amounts for “personal use” which is left up to the prosecuting District Attorney to decide what amount of what substance qualifies as “personal use” for simple possession. Because of this fact it is best for an individual facing these types of charges to be represented by a criminal defense attorney to protect their individual rights and minimize the judgment, if any at all, against them in their simple possession case.

Individual’s that have previously been convicted of charges may be eligible to have their criminal records changed under Prop 47. A more detailed list of those specifics is provided by Californians for Safety and Justice.

Complications Due to Prop 47

There are many conditions a case must meet and certain legal criteria that must be established for a case to qualify for reduction from a felony to a misdemeanor. For those that have prior convictions, there are requirements to list each case individually for review. Sometimes charges have been added to previous convictions that individual’s are not always aware. With these complicated legal procedures and the confusing criteria for cases that qualify for reduction, the time and energy it takes to navigate around these issues can become frustrating and overwhelming.

Although the request petition is offered free of charge through the Public Defender’s office, some are choosing to forego this over-saturated route and turn to a criminal defense attorney who can skillfully navigate this process on behalf of a petitioner.

Criminal defense attorneys like Jessica McElfresh are knowledgeable about drug laws and can represent you in court making sure your current and or past case(s) are heard quickly and handled properly. Many who choose to use a criminal defense attorney experience peace of mind knowing they have a capable legal professional working on their behalf to navigate the complicated court process.

If you have a current or past drug possession case that qualifies under Prop 47, or would like to know if your current or past case or convictions qualifies under Prop 47 don’t wait. Call San Diego drug attorney Jessica McElfresh today at (858) 756-7107 and let her be the advocate that defends you in your current case and quickly handles any and all prior cases that qualify under Prop 47.

California marijuana laws change frequently. For updated information, see the following pages: Medicinal Uses of Marijuana and Recreational Marijuana Business