Ramifications of SB-710 on Parole, Wobblers, and DNA
As California is now a mail-in state for the November 2020 ballot, there are two major initiatives that can affect the criminal justice system. The first is SB10, which we have covered previously, but another major item is SB-710, which could change misdemeanor charges in felonies, modify parole eligibility, and change procedures for DNA evidence.
What is SB-710?
Senate Bill 710, also known as California Criminal Sentencing, Parole and DNA Collection Initiative, is a potential new law that is currently on the November 2020 ballot that will drastically impact the categorization of certain crimes in California, including changing misdemeanor charges to wobblers, which have the potential to turn into felony charges. This law was developed in response to previous bills, such as AB-109, Proposition 47, and Proposition 57, which provided reduced sentencing for violent felonies. This new law hopes to counteract these changes by pushing for harsher sentences that would limit the release of violent offenders into the general populace.
Changes to Wobblers
Currently, many theft and fraud crimes are classified as misdemeanors. However, under SB-710, the California criminal justice system would have to classify them as wobblers, meaning they can be charged as misdemeanors or felonies depending on the seriousness of the offense. Felony charges are significantly more serious than misdemeanors, which often involve some form of rehabilitation, smaller fines, and lighter sentences at county jails. With a felony, however, a defendant would not only face fines in the tens of thousands of dollars and months to years in a state prison, but also risk losing their right to vote, own a firearm, and apply for certain jobs or housing. The law would also add two more crimes to the California penal code: serial crime and organized retail crime.
How Parole is Decided
Under Prop 57, many criminals became eligible for parole through the use of a parole point system that accounted for good behavior, rehabilitation, and other factors. This was designed to reduce prison populations and drive more offenders to rehabilitation. With SB-710, up to 51 crimes would be reclassified or added as violent crimes, meaning that individuals convicted under such charges would become ineligible for parole.
Restoring DNA Evidence
Under the new law, criminals who were convicted of certain misdemeanors would be required to submit new DNA evidence. The crimes in question would be ones that were considered wobblers before 2014, when the categorization changed, and can include shoplifting, elderly abuse, domestic violence, and prostitution of a minor. This DNA would be collected and stored with both state and federal agencies.
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Currently, the new law is only on the ballot and it is yet to be seen how voters will respond to it. In any case, it is important to understand how these laws impact the criminal justice system, as you do not know when you could be on the wrong side of it.
If you are charged with a crime in San Diego County, then you should not hesitate to exercise your right to legal counsel and contact a San Diego criminal defense attorney at jD LAW. Our legal team has more than 30 years of experience defending clients and can provide in-depth legal advice about how to proceed with your case. To learn if we are the right firm for you, call us at (760) 630-2000 and schedule a free consultation.
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