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Changes in California Criminal Laws in 2019

 Posted on January 28,2019 in Criminal Defense

Santa Cruz CA criminal defense attorney DUI marijuana chargesSanta Cruz County residents should be aware of three changes in California criminal law that took effect on January 1, 2019. These changes affect people with past marijuana convictions, juvenile offenders under age 16, and DUI offenders.

Past Marijuana Sentences Will Be Dismissed or Reduced

The Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA), which took effect on November 9, 2016, decriminalized or downgraded many marijuana-related offenses. AUMA specifically authorized application of the new, more lenient criminal laws retroactively. AB-1793, “Cannabis convictions: resentencing,” directs the California Department of Justice to identify all old cases where a person was convicted of a marijuana offense that is no longer a crime or has been downgraded in severity. 

Minor offenses will be marked for expungement, which completely clears the offense from a person’s criminal record. For crimes which have been downgraded (e.g., from a felony to a misdemeanor), sentences will be reduced appropriately. If no objection from prosecutors is received by July 2020, these changes will automatically be made. This law relieves individuals from the burden of having to file a court petition to request expungement or resentencing. 

Prosecution of Minors Will Be More Restricted

SB-439 prohibits the prosecution of a child under age 12 in juvenile court, ensuring that such young children will not be sentenced to spend time in a juvenile detention facility. An exception will be made for a child who is charged with rape or murder. 

Lawbreakers who are at least 12 years of age but less than 16 years of age will be prosecuted in juvenile court; they cannot be tried as adults. This ensures that children under the age of 16 cannot be sentenced to adult prison.  

DUI Offenders Can Get Back on the Road with In-Car Breathalyzers 

Due to the passage of SB-1046, most DUI offenders will now face an additional penalty and expense. Before they can get behind the wheel, they must have an ignition interlock device (IID) installed in their car. This prevents the car from starting if the driver fails a breathalyzer test. First-time DUI offenders who did not injure anyone will be IID-restricted for six months. First-time offenders who caused injuries and second-time offenders will have to drive with an IID for a full year. 

Contact a Santa Cruz, CA Criminal Defense Lawyer 

If you are facing criminal charges in Santa Cruz County, call a skilled Santa Cruz criminal defense attorney who has been in practice for over 30 years. With his thorough knowledge of the California criminal justice system, you can rely on attorney John W. Thornton to safeguard your civil rights and protect your best interests. Call 831-426-5800 to schedule a free consultation. 


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