Prop 47

Proposition 47 Frequently Asked Questions:

1.  What is Proposition 47?
On November 4, 2014, the voters of California passed Proposition 47 that permits some individuals who have been convicted of certain controlled substance and theft-related offenses (of less than $950) to request that their felony conviction be recalled and designated as a misdemeanor. As the Courts retain jurisdiction to deny such relief, Proposition 47's remedies are not guaranteed. Also, Proposition 47 states that petitions and applications must be filed within three years after the effective date of the proposition, which means all requests must be submitted by November 4, 2017.

2.  I think I may qualify for relief. How can I get my Santa Barbara County case(s) or conviction(s) reclassified as a misdemeanor?
If you are in custody, if you have a pending case, or if you are still on probation or any other form of supervision (PRCS, Mandatory Supervision, Parole), contact your lawyer at the Public Defender's office and we will handle your case. If you have a conviction, have completed your sentence and are no longer on probation or any form of supervision, come into one of our offices and fill out a "Financial Declaration and Information Packet." Here is the link to the information if you wish to print and fill out ahead of time. 

3.  Can I get my felony reduced to a misdemeanor?
You may be able to have your most recent case, and any earlier cases, changed from felonies to misdemeanors if you were convicted of the following charges:
• Commercial Burglary of a Store during Regular Business Hours (PC §459)
• Forgery (PC §470-476)
• Fraud/Bad Checks (PC §476a)
• Theft Offenses (including PC §§487, 484e, etc.)
• Petty Theft/Shoplifting (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 (PC §496)
For theft charges to be reduced, the amount stolen must have been less than $950. Simple possession of any controlled substance or unlawful drug has now been reduced to a misdemeanor.

4.  Who can't have their cases reduced from felonies to misdemeanors?

Charges will not be reduced for most individuals required to register as a sex offender or anyone who has specific serious prior convictions known as "super strikes," for example: rape, murder; possession of weapon of mass destruction.  Please contact our office if you have been convicted of one or more of the felonies listed above and we will advise you about whether you qualify for a reduction.

5. Can I have my felony conviction reduced to a misdemeanor even if it is not a recent felony conviction?     

Yes, this law is completely retroactive. That means that you are eligible to have any qualifying prior felony convictions reduced to misdemeanors no matter how long ago you were convicted. This is true 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.  Will there be a court hearing?

If there is any question about whether your felony case should be reduced or if you are currently on probation and will continue on probation if your matter is reduced to a misdemeanor, there will be a court hearing where you will be represented by a public defender from our office if you qualify financially.

7.  If I'm in jail and my case is reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor, will I get out of jail?

The maximum jail time for most misdemeanors is one year in county jail. If you have already served more than the maximum term of confinement, you should be released.  If you have not served the maximum term of confinement for the misdemeanor charge(s), the court may hold a hearing to determine if your sentence should be reduced.  However, if you have other cases or charges that are holding you in custody, you will not be released even if you receive a reduction on one or more charges. If you are currently in custody and believe you are eligible for Prop 47, contact your lawyer immediately.

8.  If I'm in prison and my case is reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor, will I get out of prison?

If you have no other charges keeping you in state prison, you may be released from prison.  If your case is reduced to a misdemeanor, your maximum sentence is no more than a year in county jail per charge. You cannot be sentenced to prison on a misdemeanor, but you can be sentenced to county jail.   Contact our office if you believe you are eligible.  We will file a petition on your behalf, if you qualify.

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?

This will depend on the type of sentence you received before, and the decision will be made by the judge who resentences you. If you are resentenced, you should receive a Minute Order from the court before you are released. Please read it carefully to see if you have been ordered to report to probation or parole when you are released. Please comply with 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, please call the Office of the Public Defender at 805-568-3470. 

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, any restitution orders will remain in full force and effect. However, your court fines and fees may be decreased if your case is reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor. The Order signed by the judge will have this amount.

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 the new law, any felony conviction that is recalled and resentenced or designated as a misdemeanor is a misdemeanor for all purposes, except for your ability to own or possess a gun.

12.  If my felony is reduced to a misdemeanor, can I vote?

Probably. To vote in the state of California, you must be at least 18 years old and a state resident. You can even vote while you are still on probation. However, you cannot vote if you are in prison; on parole; currently serving a local state prison sentence in county jail; currently serving a "split" sentence (this is sometimes called "Mandatory Supervision"); or on Post Release Community Supervision.
For more information about where you can pick up an application to register to vote, or to register to vote online, go to: http://registertovote.ca.gov/

13.  How does a reduction from a felony to a misdemeanor change benefits like student financial aid or HUD housing?

In general, it is better to have a misdemeanor than a felony on your record. However, this may depend on whether your misdemeanor record includes drug offenses. For more detailed information, please see:
http://www.abacollateralconsequences.org or http://nacdl.org/restoration/

14.  If I do not have any felonies on my record, can I serve on jury duty?

Probably. The law does not let people serve on juries if they have felonies which have not been expunged, or if they have committed malfeasance in a public office.

15.  If I have my felony cases reduced to misdemeanors, can I own or possess a gun?

No. Even if your felonies are reduced, it will still be a crime for you to own or possess a gun.

16.  I have questions about my cases and Proposition 47. Whom can I call for help?

If you believe you may be eligible for Proposition 47 relief or are unsure and cannot afford to pay for an attorney, please click here for more information and application for services.  The Office of the Public Defender is here to assist you in obtaining relief. 

Please call the Public Defender's Office at (805) 568-3470 for Santa Barbara office, (805) 346-7500 for Santa Maria office or (805) 737-7770 for Lompoc office and ask to speak to the Prop 47 Coordinator.