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New Laws for 2023

Criminal Justice Laws Passed By The Legislature In Sacramento And Approved By Governor Newsom For 2023. 

AB 256 -- “The Racial Justice Act For All" 

AB 256 provides relief in cases where a final judgment was entered before January 1, 2021. This bill requires the court, upon a showing of good cause, to order disclosure of evidence related to a potential violation of the prohibition on seeking a criminal conviction or sentence based on race, ethnicity, or national origin. An exception to disclosure would apply when a statutory privilege or constitutional privacy right cannot be adequately protected by redaction or a protective order.

Evidence of a criminal conviction or sentence based on race may include non-statistical evidence.

A court must consider the totality of the evidence in determining whether a significant difference in seeking or obtaining convictions or in imposing sentences (based on race, ethnicity, or national origin has been established. Courts must consider whether systemic and institutional racial bias, racial profiling, and historical patterns of racially biased policing and prosecution may have contributed to, or caused differences observed in, the data or impacted the availability of data overall.

AB 2195 (Jones-Sawyer) -- “The Alternate Plea Act”

Drug convictions can subject immigrants to mandatory ICE detention with no possibility of release on bond. Drug convictions are grounds for deportation and bar most forms of immigration relief. AB 2195 creates an alternative plea for those charged with specified drug offenses, while maintaining the same criminal penalties. 

Prosecutors will have the discretion to offer this alternative plea on a case-by-case basis and only at the request of the defense counsel. This bill amends PC 370 to create PC 372.5, which will serve as a substitute plea for a drug charge that can be offered after a negotiation between the defense and the prosecution.

AB 2417 -- "Youth Bill Of Rights”

The Juvenile Youth Bill of Rights protections will apply to all youth in California including those in county-run facilities. The Youth Bill of Rights includes protections against discrimination based on gender expression and immigration status, timely access to restroom facilities, clean clothing and education access.

SB 357 (Wiener) -- “The Safer Streets For All Act”

This bill repeals the provision of California law criminalizing “loitering with the intent to engage in prostitution” and allows those convicted of a violation of loitering with the intent to commit prostitution to petition the court for the dismissal and sealing of their case, and resentencing.

AB 960 -- “Expanding Compassionate Release”

This bill requires the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to make a recommendation for recall or resentencing of prisoners who have a serious and advanced illness with an end-of-life trajectory or who are permanently medically incapacitated. The bill creates a presumption in favor of recall and resentencing if the court finds that an incarcerated person is medically qualified and requires the appointment of counsel for indigent incarcerated persons referred for recall and resentencing under these provisions.

AB 1981 -- “Jury Pay”

The bill increases travel reimbursement for jurors to $12 per day and provides free or reimbursed public transit to and from courthouse for jurors statewide. It directs the Judicial Council to conduct a pilot program and study in six counties on whether increasing juror compensation and travel reimbursement increases juror diversity and participation.

AB 2167 -- “Alternatives To Incarceration”

Courts must consider alternatives to incarceration, including, collaborative justice court programs, diversion, restorative justice, and probation. Legislative intent is that the disposition of any criminal case use the least restrictive means available.

SB 371 -- “Criminal Records: Relief”

Allows withdrawing a plea and deleting arrest records for the purpose of most criminal background checks.

SB 990 -- “Parole: County Of Release”

Requires that prisoners paroled from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) be released, transferred, or permitted to travel to a county where they have educational, vocational, outpatient treatment, or housing unless the person would present a threat to public safety.

SB 1008 -- “The Keep Families Connected Act"

Makes all communication services — including phone calls, video calls, and electronic messaging — free in all county jails, juvenile halls, and state prisons in California, thereby eliminating predatory communications costs for incarcerated people and their loved ones.

SB 1106 -- “Victim Restitution”

Provides that failure to pay court-ordered restitution to victims of crime shall not be grounds denial of a defendant's petition for expungement relief; denial of release on parole to another state; or denial of a petition for reduction of a conviction.

— Information compiled by the Uthman Law Office of San Francisco

(via District Attorney David Eyster)

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