Each will now be eligible for a parole hearing
In mid-September, governor Gavin Newsom commuted the sentences of 21 people who had been convicted of violent crimes in California. 4 of the individuals whose sentences were commuted had been convicted of homicide-related charges, and had been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. So what exactly is commutation — and what does it mean for these 21 people?
A commutation is an action taken by the governor that does not change or reverse a finding of guilt. According to a criminal defense lawyer Rancho Cucamonga, CA, the critical part of a commutation is that it reduces or eliminates a prisoner’s sentence. In some cases, a governor’s commutation can make a person immediately eligible for parole. The California Board of Parole Hearings will then make a decision as to whether the individual is ready to be released.
Anyone who has been convicted of a crime in California can apply for their sentence to be commuted — except for government officials who were impeached. However, a California governor does not have the power to commute sentences committed in another state or country, under federal law, or in the military.
There are some limitations on the commutation power. For example, if a person has been convicted of two or more felonies, then a majority of the justices of the California Supreme Court have to agree to the commutation. However, if a person has been convicted of just one felony — or any number of misdemeanors — then the governor can commute his or her sentence without consent of the court.
To apply for your sentence to be commuted, you must first notify the district attorney of the county (or counties) where you were convicted. After that, you must complete and mail a notarized application to the governor. A skilled criminal defense lawyer Rancho Cucamonga, CA can work with you to put together a compelling case for why your sentence should be commuted.
For the 21 offenders whose sentences were commuted in September, Governor Newsom announced that his office considered a number of factors — including the circumstances of the crime, the sentence imposed, the person’s conduct while in prison and rehabilitation while in prison. In 15 of the 21 commutations, the applicant was a youthful offender, committing their crime before the age of 26. In these 21 commutations, each individual is now eligible for suitability hearings with the state board of Parole Hearings.
While a commutation does not “wipe the slate clean,” it can be an important tool for people serving a lengthy sentence. If a commutation is granted, then they may be released from prison early — or at least be given the possibility of parole, where before, they had a sentence of life without the possibility of parole.
At the Chambers Law Firm, we analyze every angle of our clients’ cases to help them achieve the best possible result. That includes thoroughly investigating each case from the start to build a strong defense — and then helping our clients throughout the process, including with post-conviction work. If you have been charged with a crime, we can help. Contact us today at 855-397-0210 or firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a free initial consultation.