In recent years, California has been reforming its criminal justice system to expand the legal rights of those convicted of crimes.
Murder, attempted murder, and manslaughter are serious crimes with stiff penalties. People convicted of these crimes face life-altering consequences, including jail sentences and costly fines. In recent years, California has been reforming its criminal justice system to expand the legal rights of those convicted of crimes and offering reduced liability and fairer sentencing.
It’s important to work with an attorney who keeps up with new developments and understands how the new laws impact your case. The Law Office of Mariya Melkonyan closely follows all legal reforms to better serve our clients. We know how important legal reforms are to your case, and we have the skills to guide you through any appeal or resentencing process.
What is California SB 775?
SB 775 is a California bill that was recently signed into law by Governor Newsom. This bill expands on recent penal code reform of felony murder, amending California Penal Code section 1170.95 by clarifying the language and extending legal rights to more groups.
SB 775 expands on the liability amendments first introduced in SB 1437, reducing liability for people convicted of manslaughter, attempted murder, or first or second-degree murder.
It also reduces liability for people convicted of murder who did not act with reckless indifference or malice and participants but were not the main perpetrator of the homicide. The Senate Bill 775 law specifically expands the legal rights to people who attempted murder but did not carry out the homicide. This group was left out of previous reform bills.
Under this new law, people convicted of these crimes are allowed to challenge the validity of their conviction by a direct appeal, as long as their conviction hasn’t been finalized. The court must consider all resentencing appeals, no matter how much-substantiating evidence the prosecutor has against the defendant.
Benefits of California SB 775
This bill offers the most benefits to those excluded from the previous reforms in SB 1437; people convicted of manslaughter or attempted murder. The previous bill only gave post-conviction relief to those convicted of first or second-degree murder. This relief included filing appeals for felony murder resentencing. SB 775 allows people convicted of manslaughter and attempted murder to petition the court to remove their crimes and sentences.
It also benefits people charged with a more serious offense who plead guilty to a lesser charge in the hope of receiving a shorter jail sentence. Since those convicted of lesser offenses were unable to appeal their cases, they often spent as much time in jail as those convicted of more serious crimes who could apply for post-conviction relief. Now all convictions are treated more equitably.
Who Does California SB 775 Apply To?
This law applies to anyone in the state of California currently charged with or convicted of:
- Manslaughter under the theory of natural and probable consequences
- Attempted murder under the theory of malice, implied by their involvement in the crime
To be eligible, you must not have been the active killer and did not act with the intent to kill during the crime. You only qualify for this appeals process if you had minor participation in the crime and did not act with reckless indifference while the crime was committed.
California SB 775 allows these individuals to file a direct appeal for resentencing before their conviction is finalized. The new bill closes an unintentional loophole formed by SB 1437 that only allowed murder convictions to be appealed directly. This newly passed bill will help hundreds of incarcerated people who were convicted of attempted murder and manslaughter to file petitions and access post-conviction relief like sentencing reductions.
What is the Appeal Process?
You have to file a petition with the court to appeal your conviction and sentencing. You’ll need a lawyer to help you gather the information you need for your petition and file it with the right court. You must file your petition in the court where you received your original sentence. A judge will review your petition to see if you’re eligible for post-conviction relief.
Filing your petition
Your petition needs to include important information about your case, such as:
- The number of your court case
- The dates of your conviction
- Any other materials the court requests
- Arguments in support of your eligibility, including any facts and new evidence
Once your petition is ready, your lawyer will file it with the court on your behalf. They also serve your petition to the district attorney and the lawyer who represented you during your original case. The district attorney is required by law to respond to your petition within 60 days. If required information is missing from your petition, you have 30 days to file a response. The court may deny your petition without prejudice if you cannot provide all the necessary information. This allows you to file a new petition at a later date.
Hearing for post-conviction relief
If the judge reviewing your petition finds you eligible, a hearing will be held in court. Your appeal lawyer will present arguments and evidence for your resentencing.
If the district attorney’s office disagrees with your eligibility, a prosecutor will argue against resentencing during the hearing.
If the prosecutors agree that you should be resentenced, they do not present arguments, and the court begins the process of resentencing your conviction.
How to Win Your SB 775 Petition
The best way to win your SB 775 petition is by working with an experienced attorney. They’re familiar with filing appeals and can ensure your petition contains all necessary information so it isn’t denied. Your lawyer will help investigate and gather new evidence and information to strengthen your argument for eligibility and resentencing.
A skilled lawyer will craft a strong legal strategy for your hearing. If the prosecutor agrees with your lawyer’s arguments or can’t meet the burden of proof, then your petition is successful, and a judge will order a resentencing of your case.
Other Laws Similar to California SB 775
Some other bills and laws offer similar reforms and relief to those convicted of crimes. They include:
● SB 1437
This bill previously reformed California’s felony murder law by removing the “natural and probable cause” doctrine in felony murder and not allowing malice to be implied or tied to specific crimes. It allowed for resentencing of felony murder convictions.
● SB 300
Also known as the Sentencing Reform Act of 2021, this bill reforms felony murder laws in California. It removes the death penalty and life without parole from cases of felony murder with special circumstances.
● SB 1393
This law deals with the reform of sentencing enhancements due to prior felony convictions. It gives the judge discretion to dismiss 5-year enhancements of sentences instead of the enhancements being mandatory.
● SB 260/261/1308
This collection of laws extend and promote parole for offenders that committed crimes under the age of 18. They include special parole hearings and changes to child sentencing practices.
● SB 620
Under this law, judges are allowed to remove firearm enhancements from sentences at their discretion.
● AB 2942
This law allows California District Attorneys to reevaluate past sentences and recommend resentencing of convictions.
How Our Firm Can Help
The recent passing of California SB 775 offers more equitable justice to people convicted of manslaughter and attempted murder. More people are now eligible to apply for post-conviction relief, but petitioning the court for resentencing is not an easy undertaking. You have to understand how SB 775 applies to your case and have knowledge of the court process. It’s crucial to work with an attorney to win your petition.
Mariya Melkonyan is a former Deputy District Attorney with 13 years of court experience. Her in-depth knowledge of the courtroom and winning legal strategies work to your advantage. She can fight for you and protect your rights. Contact the Law Office of Mariya Melkonyan today to learn how we can help your case.
What is the status of California SB 775?
SB 775 was first introduced to the California State Senate in February 2021. The bill was amended and finalized in September before being signed into law by Governor Newsom on October 5, 2021.
Who is eligible under SB 775?
Anyone convicted of manslaughter or attempted murder is eligible to file a direct appeal to have their sentence reduced before their conviction is finalized. SB 775 closes a loophole in the California Appellate Court that previously only allowed first and second-degree murder convictions to file for post-conviction relief.
Is California SB 775 retroactive?
Yes, this bill is retroactive and applies to all past convictions of attempted murder and manslaughter as long as their convictions aren’t finalized. This means people convicted and incarcerated can file a petition with the court to have their case resentenced.