Get the Facts about SB 1437 and SB 775 – And What They Could Mean for Your California Criminal Case

Get the Facts about SB 1437 and SB 775 – And What They Could Mean for Your California Criminal Case

Senate Bill 775 (SB 775) took effect January 1st, 2022, with the goal of refining improvements to felony murder conviction procedures imposed by SB-1437, which was signed into law by previous Governor Jerry Brown in 2018.

While SB-1437 improved the procedures for prosecutors pursuing felony murder convictions in California, SB-775 addresses an unexpected consequence of SB-1437 that effectively barred the provisions from taking effect in cases involving convictions for charges less serious than felony murder.

If you or a loved one recently accepted a plea agreement to avoid felony murder charges, or if you or a loved one faces such charges as a result of SB-775’s passage, it’s critical to understand what this law changes and how it may improve your situation. Please contact Chambers Law Firm at 714-760-4088 to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help.

What is the Purpose of SB-1437?

Prior to the passage of SB-1437, prosecutors in California could prosecute a person with felony murder simply for taking part in any unlawful conduct that led in the death of another person, even if the person did not actively cause the death. For example, if two persons conspired to commit an armed robbery and one of them shot and killed their intended target, both of them would be charged with felony murder under the old ruling.

To qualify for a felony murder conviction, SB-1437 effectively requires the prosecution to show that a defendant acted with the purpose to kill. The statute was meant to make sentences more equitable for those prosecuted as accomplices to deadly crimes, but it accidentally created a loophole that prevented those convicted of comparable but lesser acts from using the newly available resentencing alternatives.

While this statute was intended to provide more fair prosecution criteria for California people, it featured severe phrasing that essentially limited it to individuals charged with felony murder or those who tried and lost in court, culminating in a felony murder conviction.

What is the Purpose of SB-775?

Many people charged with felony murder would accept a plea offer for a lesser crime like voluntary manslaughter. If SB-1437’s modifications were strictly applied, an individual who went to trial and lost may obtain a felony murder charge and be eligible for resentencing, but an individual who took a plea agreement for attempted murder or voluntary manslaughter would not be eligible for the same treatment.

SB-775 does not enact any new legislation. Instead, it defines the new criteria enacted by SB-1437 in order to make the newly enacted resentencing and vacated sentence procedures for felony murder charges more rational.

How does resentencing work?

The resentencing procedure is a type of appeal that allows convicted prisoners to argue for leniency in their sentences. Following their conviction and original sentence processes, the defendant must submit a request for resentencing. The petition must be reviewed by the sentencing court to see whether there were any clerical errors, if the initial sentence imposed on the petitioner was unconstitutional, or if the court made a judicial error.

SB-775 is retroactive, which means that thousands of incarcerated Californians will be eligible for resentencing under the updated definitions of felony murder and the new sentence guidelines. It’s also likely that some people’s sentences will be fully annulled. Anyone who qualifies for resentencing or vacated sentences under SB-775 may immediately commence actions to have their cases changed accordingly.

How Your Lawyer Can Assist You

SB-775 also assures that people who require public defense resources have easier and faster access to them, with the goal of speeding up resentencing processes for many California offenders facing lengthy prison sentences for earlier offenses. A skilled criminal defense attorney can give thorough legal guidance throughout these complicated procedures and aid clients in applying SB-775 to their specific circumstances.

Contact Chambers Law Firm at 714-760-4088 now to see if you or your loved one’s sentence is covered by these sentencing reforms.

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