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Prop 47: Many Felonies Reduced to Misdemeanors

In November 2014, California voters passed Proposition 47, “The Safe Neighbors Act,” by a wide margin. This legislation has made a major impact on how the California criminal system treats many drug possession and “minor” theft offenses. The major changes in the law:

  • Reduces several felony or “wobbler” (violations that can be charged as felonies or misdemeanors, in the prosecutor's discretion) offenses to straight misdemeanors
  • Provides a means for inmates currently serving felony sentences for certain offenses to be resentenced as misdemeanants
  • Allows those previously convicted of the enumerated felonies to petition the court to have those convictions deemed misdemeanors

Know Which Laws Are Affected By Prop 47

The specific violations affected by Prop 47 include:

  • Shoplifting: Now treated similar to petty theft if a commercial theft occurs during business hours and the amount of loss is less than $950; (Penal Code Section 459.5); unless the defendant has a “Super Strike” (defined below).
  • Forgery (473 PC), bad (NSF) checks, petty theft with multiple priors: All are misdemeanors if the loss is less than $950 and no “Super Strikes.”
  • Most possession-only drug offenses (heroin, cocaine, concentrated cannabis, methamphetamine): These are now straight misdemeanors.

“Super Strikes” preclude the benefits of Prop 47, and are defined in Penal Code Section 667(e)(2)(c)(4), which generally describes certain sexually violent offenses and other violent offenses.

Talk To An Attorney To Learn About Your Options

Anyone who has ever been sentenced for any of the above offenses should contact me, or an attorney today. I can help you begin the process of petitioning the court to recognize that the convictions “constitute a misdemeanor for all purposes.” This can remove all previously imposed encumbrances such as the right to vote and bear arms.


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