A law that many people didn’t know about that goes into effect in 2022 changes how judges handle mandatory minimum prison time when they hand out sentences. The purpose of the law is to give judges more options when it comes to sentencing people for certain crimes.
The law reads:
“Existing law prohibits granting probation or suspending a sentence for persons convicted of specified crimes relating to controlled substances, including possessing or agreeing to sell or transport opiates or opium derivatives, possessing or transporting cannabis, planting or cultivating peyote, and various crimes relating to forging or altering prescriptions, among other crimes, if the person has previously been convicted of any one of specified felony offenses relating to controlled substances. Existing law also prohibits granting probation or suspending a sentence for persons convicted of specified crimes relating to controlled substances, including possessing for sale or selling 14.25 grams or more of a substance containing heroin and possessing for sale 14.25 grams or more of any salt or solution of phencyclidine or its analogs, among other crimes.
This bill would delete various crimes relating to controlled substances, including, but not limited to, the crimes described above, from those prohibitions against granting probation or a suspended sentence. The bill would authorize the remaining prohibitions on probation to be waived by a court in the interests of justice. By making additional persons eligible for probation, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program.
The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.
This bill would provide that, if the Commission on State Mandates determines that the bill contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement for those costs shall be made pursuant to the statutory provisions noted above.”
The law is too new to know how much it will change the average sentence.
This was not the only big change made to California’s criminal justice system. Another change involves felony murder charges. Until 2022, felony murder charges could be filed against anyone who was involved in a crime that involved a felony murder could be charged with felony murder. The most common example of this is someone driving a getaway car in a robbery where someone gets killed.
In 2022, Senate Bill 775 went into effect. The way the law is written, the only people who can be charged with a felony murder are those who were directly involved in the actual murder.