Prop 47

I still get a lot of questions about Prop 47, so I thought it would be a good idea to address some of the most commonly asked questions. I hope the answers below clear up some confusion.

1. What is Proposition 47?

On November 4, 2014, voters of California passed Proposition 47. This law changes some low level felonies like drug possession and petty-theft related offenses into misdemeanors.

Prop 47 also mandates that the state prison cost savings be applied to mental health/drug treatment programs, K-12 schools, and crime victims.

2. Can I Get My Felony Changed to a Misdemeanor?

It depends. If you have been convicted of the following, you may be eligible for a reduction:

  • Shoplifting, i.e. Commercial Burglary of $950 or less of a Store during Business Hours (PC §459.5)
  • Forgery of $950 or less (PC §470-476)
  • Fraud/Bad Checks of $950 or less (PC §476a)
  • Grand Theft of $950 or less (PC §487)
  • Petty Theft/Shoplifting of $950 or less (PC §§484, 484/666)
  • Possession of Methamphetamine (HS §11377)
  • Possession of Controlled Substance (HS §11350)
  • Possession of Concentrated Cannabis (HS §11357(a))
  • Receiving Stolen Property of $950 or less (PC §496)

3. If I am Currently in Jail/Prison – Can I be Resentenced?

Yes, if you are currently serving a sentence for one of the above offenses, you may be eligible for resentencing and possibly a release. Individuals with specific priors and people registered as sex offenders are not eligible for resentencing. You must petition a judge before you can be resentenced.

4. How do I Get Resentenced?

The best thing to do is call the lawyer or public defender who represented you so they can file a petition for you.

5. Is Prop 47 Retroactive?

Yes, Prop 47 is retroactive. This means that you are eligible to have any qualifying prior felony conviction(s) reduced to misdemeanors, regardless of how long ago you were convicted. Prop 47 also applies, even if you were previously denied a reduction from a felony to a misdemeanor by the court during any pre-conviction court hearing, at sentencing, or after requesting an expungement.

6. Can I Get Out of Jail if My Felony is Reduced to a Misdemeanor?

It depends. The maximum jail time for most misdemeanors is one year in county jail. If you have already served more than the maximum term of a misdemeanor, then you’ll likely be released. If you have not served the maximum term for the misdemeanor charge(s), the court may hold a hearing to determine if your sentence should be reduced. However, it is important to understand that if you have other cases or charges that are holding you in custody, you will not be released even if your felony is reduced to a misdemeanor.

7. How do I Change My Felony Record?

You must file a request to change your record in the county that you have a felony conviction. I recommend checking the website for the respective county court, to see if they have their own form for you to fill out. It is also a good idea to have an attorney review your form before you submit it to the court and you should also submit a copy of the form to the District Attorney’s office in that county.

8. Will There be a Court Hearing?

Generally, there is only a court hearing if there are questions of your eligibility that need to be addressed.

9. If My Case is Reduced From a Felony to a Misdemeanor, Will I be on Probation or Parole When I am Released From Jail or Prison?

It depends on what type of sentence you received before, and the decision will be made by the judge who resentences you. If you are resentenced, be sure you have a clear understanding of whether or not the court is ordering you to report to probation or parole when you are released.

It is important to follow any terms and conditions ordered by the court. If you think there has been a mistake or have any questions about any of the new terms and condition of your sentence after resentencing, speak to an attorney or public defender in your county.

10. If My Case is Reduced to a Misdemeanor, Will I Still Have to Pay Restitution?

Yes. Even if your case is reduced to a misdemeanor, you are still required to follow the requirements of your restitution order. However, the court will likely reduce your court fines and fees, if your case is reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor.

11. If My Felony is Reduced to a Misdemeanor, What Should I put on a job, School, Licensing, or Military Application if There is a Question About Whether I Have a fElony Conviction?

According to Prop 47, any felony conviction that is recalled and resentenced or designated as a misdemeanor is a misdemeanor for just about all purposes, except for your ability to own a gun.