Proposition 47: Criminal Sentences. Misdemeanor Penalties
Should the penalties for certain offenders convicted of non-serious, nonviolent crimes be reduced from felonies to misdemeanors?
The California Penal Code classifies a felony as the most serious crime, with some felonies graded as “violent” or “serious,” and some, such as murder and rape, graded as both. Felonies not classified as violent or serious include grand theft and possession of illegal drugs. Felony convictions result in incarceration for at least one year, usually in a prison facility rather than a county or local jail.
After release, felony offenders are supervised by either state parole agents or county probation officers, depending on the severity of the conviction. Misdemeanors are less serious crimes, such as petty theft and public drunkenness, that usually result in fines, community supervision, and/or incarceration for less than one year in a county or local jail rather than a prison facility. Some crimes, called “wobblers,” such as check forgery, can be charged as either felonies or misdemeanors, depending on the offender’s history and the details of the crime.
Prop. 47 would reduce the penalty for most nonviolent wobblers and felonies to misdemeanors, unless the defendant has prior convictions for violent and serious crimes. Prop. 47 would permit resentencing for anyone currently serving a prison sentence for any of the offenses reclassified in Prop. 47 as misdemeanors, and certain offenders who have already completed a sentence for one of those felonies may apply to the court to have their convictions changed to misdemeanors.
State savings from Prop. 47 would go to a newly created fund, “Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Fund,” for truancy and drop-out prevention programs in schools, victims’ services, and mental health and drug treatment services designed to keep individuals out of prison and jail.
Who funded this proposal? Visit Voter's Edge.
The net state savings as a result of Prop. 47 are estimated to be in the low hundreds of millions of dollars annually based on fewer prisoners eligible for prison sentences and the release of current inmates through resentencing. County cost savings are estimated to be several hundred million dollars annually, primarily due to freeing up jail capacity and having fewer people under community supervision.