How Proposition 47 Can Change California's Sentencing Policies on Drug Crimes

Across the United States, there's been a serious effort by advocates and lawmakers to change our criminal justice system. Why? Well, for many, our criminal justice system has been functioning on old, outdated policies that haven't proved to work. In fact, the argument behind such sweeping changes is that many of these outdated policies, such as those adopted during the 1980's War on Drugs, are actually hurting us – not only individuals who are charged for crimes and harshly sentenced, but also taxpayers who have to foot the bill of increased prison costs.

In the past year or so, politicians have taken firm stances on changing our criminal policies. As a result, many jurisdictions and states have passed policies designed to ease prison crowding and take a different approach to handling certain offenders. Take drug crimes for example:

  • Drug crime sentencing policies have been lessened in recent years.
  • Certain eligible non-violent drug offenders may now complete drug diversion programs that can allow them to receive treatment, stay out of jail or prison, and clear their criminal records.
  • More jurisdictions are focused more on rehabilitating offenders, rather than imposing harsh sentences.

As part of this effort, California voters will be deciding today (election day) whether or not to support California Proposition 47. Under Prop 47, certain non-violent and non-serious crimes would be reclassified from felonies to misdemeanors, resulting in less severe penalties. These crimes include a number of fraud and theft offenses of property under $950, as well as personal use of most illegal drugs.

To be eligible for reduced charges under Prop 47, defendants must not have prior convictions for violent or serious offenses. Individuals already serving harsher sentences under older laws may also be able to petition for resentencing or release should Prop 47 pass. The initiative is believed to be a safe way to reduce prison crowding and spending.

Facing drug charges? We can help!

At Chung & Ignacio, LLP, our Rancho Cucamonga criminal defense attorneys have seen how courts are now supportive of offering various sentencing alternatives to individuals facing drug charges, including Prop 36. Whenever possible, we try to help our clients understand these options, which can allow them to seek treatment in lieu of incarceration, and to keep a clean criminal record.

To learn more about your rights and options after a drug crime charge, contact our criminal lawyers today.

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