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On November 8, 2016, California voters passed Proposition 57, otherwise known as “The Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act.”

What does Proposition 57 do?

Proposition 57 increases parole chances for individuals convicted on non-violent felonies. It also gives judges, rather than prosecutors, the power to determine whether to try juveniles as adults.

Proposition 57 adds a section to the California Constitution allowing parole consideration for any inmate convicted of a non-violent felony who has completed the full term for their primary offense. The primary offense is the longest term of imprisonment for any offense, but does not include enhancements, consecutive sentences, or alternative sentences. For example, an inmate who was convicted of two offenses and sentenced consecutively would now be eligible for parole consideration after the longer of the two sentences has been completed.

Additionally, inmates can also now earn credits for good behavior and educational or rehabilitative achievements. Previously there was a cap on how many credits inmates could earn.

What is a “non-violent felony”?

The proposition does not define non-violent felony. However, violent felonies are listed in California Penal Code section 667.5: murder, attempted murder, voluntary manslaughter, mayhem, forcible sex offenses, rape in concert, robbery, arson, kidnapping, carjacking, certain gang offenses, first degree burglary where victim is present, any felony punished by death or life in prison, any felony where great bodily injury is inflicted, any felony in which a gun is “used.” Thus, any felony not listed in section 667.5 will likely be considered a nonviolent felony, although this will ultimately be decided by courts as they interpret the new law.

How does Proposition 57 affect juveniles?

Additionally, cases with juvenile offenders must now be filed in juvenile court. Instead of a prosecutor deciding whether a juvenile should be tried as an adult, the determination will be left to a judge. Under the new law, cases with juvenile defendants must be filed in juvenile court. Then, if the prosecutor wants the juvenile to be tried as an adult, the prosecutor must request a hearing and the judge will determine whether the juvenile should be tried as a minor or an adult based on the offense, the defendant’s role in the offense, and the defendant’s background, as well as other factors.

Previously prosecutors could file cases with defendants as young as 14 years old directly in adult court. The juvenile system provides more rehabilitation and sentencing options than the adult system.

Do I need a lawyer?

The skilled attorneys at Moaddel Law Firm can help you take advantage of the new benefits provided by Proposition 57. If you or a family member is currently incarcerated, we can represent you at a parole hearing. We can also represent juveniles in fitness hearings to determine whether they can be tried in adult court. At Moaddel Law Firm, we pride ourselves on staying on the cutting edge of the latest developments in the law. We can make it easy and worry-free to take advantage of these new laws.