What exactly is probation, anyway? AB 1950 changes the length of probation in California. But what exactly is probation, anyway? Probation is the suspension of the imposition or execution of a sentence and the conditional release of a defendant into the community. Probation is either under the direction of a probation officer (called “formal” or
California Gang Laws
A recent article in “The Appeal” describes California Gang Laws as “normalized racism.” Sadly, this is not hyperbole. The methodology that allows law enforcement to label someone a gang member – often documenting someone as a gang member based on neighborhoods, friendships and families – is notoriously flawed. As described in the article, police use
Felony Murder Law in California- How has it Changed?
On January 1, 2019 Senate Bill 1437 – the new “felony murder law” in California – went into effect. It implements yet another dramatic change to the criminal justice law system in California, by limiting the circumstances that a person can be convicted of first degree murder under the “felony murder doctrine.” What is the
Can Anyone Obtain a Police Officer’s Personnel Record?
Suppose you have a run-in with a police officer who you suspect is a “dirty cop?” Someone who has a history of using excessive force or lying or planting evidence. Can you obtain the police officer’s personnel record from his law enforcement agency? In California, the answer used to be a resounding “No” in most
NEW BAIL LAW IN CALIFORNIA COURTS
In January of 2018, the law on bail in California changed dramatically, after the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office appealed setting bail in the case of In re Humphrey and won. In that case, the Court of Appeals ruled that, except for very narrow exceptions, everyone has an absolute right to bail that they can afford.
New Laws on Gun and Drug Sentencing Enhancements
On October 11, 2017 Governor Brown signed two new laws taking on gun and drug sentencing enhancements in California. Sentencing enhancements are years added automatically to the sentences of people with criminal histories who are convicted of a new crime. Senate Bill 180 eliminates extra jail time for people convicted of minor drug crimes; Senate Bill
Youth Offender Parole Hearings
What are Youth Offender Parole Hearings? During the past decade there have been enormous changes in juvenile sentencing, both across the nation and in the state of California. Beginning in 2005, the United States Supreme Court issued a series of decisions expressly recognizing that the 8th Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment precludes the
Prop 57 – What is it and can it help me?
Proposition 57, passed by California voters in November of 2016, will have important implications for both the adult and juvenile criminal justice systems. Here is a brief summary of the law. For Juveniles Prop 57 requires a judge, not a prosecutor, to decide whether juveniles should be tried in adult court. Previously, prosecutors could “direct
What is a reasonable probation condition?
Two recent cases have ruled on the question of what is a reasonable probation condition for a judge to impose on a defendant who has been convicted of a crime and placed on probation. In People v. Moran the California Supreme Court ruled that a probation condition prohibiting the defendant (who had been convicted of
Criminal Justice News
Here are some recent stories in the news related to criminal justice that were somewhat dispiriting. Warrantless Searches In June, the Supreme Court issued an opinion in the case of Utah v. Strieff which further whittles down our Fourth Amendment right to be free from warrantless searches. In a five justice majority opinion by Judge