Proposition 47 was a controversial initiative when it was placed on the November 2014 ballot, and it continues to be a source of controversy more than nine months after it went into effect. Prop 47 reduces the classification for non-violent minor drug and theft crimes from felonies to misdemeanors. While many have applauded the reforms, others continue to criticize the policy. Now some lawmakers are looking to make changes to the law, calling them corrections to address flaws in Prop 47.
Some are claiming Prop 47 has resulted in an increase in crime, while others say it has had no major impact. However, it may still be too early to see what the lasting effects of the law will be. An editorial in The Desert Sun claims rising crime statistics in many areas can be attributed in part to Prop 47 releases. An opinion piece by a deputy public defender in that same newspaper said that it was still too early to judge Prop 47.
State Senator Cathleen Galgiani of Stockton, and Assemblyman Tom Lackey of Palmdale, have joined with the Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley over a specific type of drug possession, which was reduced to a misdemeanor under Prop 47. Specifically, they are concerned about the possession of date-rape drugs being treated as a misdemeanor, which is only considered a felony if it is later used in a sexual assault.
“Let's be honest,” said Lackey, a freshman Republican and a former highway patrolman, “if you have a date-rape drug in your pocket, your intention is not to get high.” D.A. O'Malley echoed these sentiments, saying the only reason to possess these drugs are for the purpose of committing sexual assaults.
Some changes to the law are receiving more support than others. Many lawmakers are in support of a bill to reverse Prop 47's DNA rollback. After changing low-level crimes to misdemeanors, police lost the ability to collect DNA samples from those convicted. State Assemblyman Jim Cooper, a Democrat from Elk Grove, announced AB 390 to require people convicted of specific misdemeanors to submit DNA samples. District attorneys and lawmakers on both sides have supported AB 390's DNA rollback.
Under AB 390, DNA would be gathered for the specific misdemeanors that were felonies prior to Prop 47, and would not be gathered upon arrest, but only after a conviction. Cooper said his bill would leave the effects of Prop 47 intact, and the changes were necessary because many of the voters didn't know the details of the law at the time they approved the measure.
Another change that has received general support is the subject of AB 150. Introduced by Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez of Lake Elsinore, the bill would make any gun theft a felony, even if the value of the firearm is under $950, which could qualify as a misdemeanor under the Prop 47.
At Gorelick Law Offices, attorney Lynn Gorelick has dedicated her legal career to defending people facing DUI and other criminal charges in the East Bay. With more than 30 years of experience, Lynn Gorelick understands the law, and will make sure you get the justice you deserve. If you are facing a DUI, or other criminal charges, contact the local East Bay DUI defense attorney who understands that you do not have to plead guilty just because you were arrested.